When I was at Paine Field a couple of weeks ago, I was able to get a glimpse of what was one of the most powerful radial engine aircraft during World War II. The aircraft, a Focke-Wulf FW190, belongs to Paul Allen’s Flying Heritage Collection and is the world’s only FW190 that still flies. After seeing it for the first time and mentioning that fact to local spotters that I met during the weekend, they offered up a fantastic story about this specific aircraft. I looked up the history of the aircraft on the Flying Heritage Collection website to confirm the details:
This aircraft was built in 1943 and entered service with the German Air Force’s Jagdgeschwader (fighter wing) 54 based near Leningrad. Shortly after entering service, she was shot down during a raid on a Soviet train and had crash landed in a marsh field. The pilot was able to survive the landing but was captured by the Soviet Army and became a Prisoner of War until the early 1950s.
Over the next 40-45 years, the aircraft laid untouched in the marshes and had become overgrown with trees and vegetation. After being discovered in the late 1980s by a ‘War Bird Hunter’, she was transported to England and then to the USA for a complete restoration which was completed in 2010.
An interesting part of this story was according to the actual pilot who crash landed the FW190, it was found EXACTLY as he had left it, including the hat that he left behind on his seat. Literally no one saw or touched this plane for 40+ years. Today you can see and hear her taking to the air at Paine Field.
Here is a video that shows her discovery by Russian War Bird Hunters: