Fw200 Cost Effectiveness

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by davebender, Dec 9, 2010.

  1. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Fw 200 Condor Vs Atlantic Convoys ... - Google Books

    1 Aug 1936.
    Lufthansa orders Fw200 prototype.

    6 Sep 1937.
    First flight of Fw200 prototype.

    27 June 1938.
    Fw200 flies non-stop from Berlin to Cairo. 21 passengers on board.

    10 Aug 1938.
    Fw200 flies non-stop from Berlin to New York.

    March 1939.
    Focke Wulf begins development of Fw200 military version in response to a Japanese request.

    Pre-War Fw200 orders. Price = 300,000 RM per aircraft.
    7 Lufthansa. 3 in 1938. 4 more during 1939.
    6 Japanese Navy. Not delivered.
    5 Japanese airline.
    2 Luftwaffe. VIP transports.
    2 Denmark.
    2 Finland. Not delivered.
    2 Brazil.

    18 Sep 1939.
    RLM orders 20 Fw200Cs for use as maritime patrol aircraft.
    Price = 280,000 RM each. Without weapons.

    19 Feb 1940.
    KG40 receives first Fw200C1.
    4 x 250kg bombs.
    1,500km combat radius.
    Two defensive weapon positions.
    Early models were structurally weak and did not have self sealing fuel tanks.

    4 March 1940.
    RLM contracts for serial production of the Fw-200.
    4 aircraft per month. Production rate continued until 1942.
    273,500 RM each. Minus defensive machineguns.

    18 Apr 1940.
    First Fw200 attack on British shipping.

    9 Jun 1940.
    First British merchant ship sunk by Fw200.

    27 Oct 1940.
    First Fw200 attack on a convoy.

    Jan to Feb 1941.
    Fw200s credited with sinking over 100,000 tons of Allied shipping. This was accomplished with no more then 6 Fw200 sorties on any single day.

    1941 Aircraft Price Comparison.
    273,500 RM. Fw200C. Production rate of 4 aircraft per month.
    265,650 RM. He-111H. Mass production.

    Historical data for the Fw200 gives me a new perspective on this converted airliner. The aircraft was inexpensive to produce. Crude or not, this converted airliner was very effective at sinking merchant ships. The Fw200C (military version) could have been in mass production (i.e. more then 4 per month) by early 1940.
     
  2. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Dave, the process of your analysis isn't bad. There are little oddities in there that might affect it. For instance, a mass produced aircraft (1000+ airframes) has a lower expense rate to fix than a lesser produced one because there are more spare parts produced, lowering the cost per unit.

    But I think I might be nit picking. My only "Things that make you go hmmmmm...." momment is the price for the FW vs the He111. Seems like a very expensive twin or a very, very cheap 4 engined bomber. Especially considering how much more "stuff" goes into a 4 engined bird. Seems low by comparison.

    But, again, all that doesn't really affect the idea that the Condor was one very cost effective aircraft. Just plays with the numbers. When you think that the RAF actually starting putting throw away Hurricanes on ships to counter them, the distance the Condor could fly and attack, the amount of damage done by this bird irrespective of the cost, you start seeing that the bang for the buck of the Condor was outstanding.

    Interesting idea Dave. Very interesting.
     
  3. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    #3 davebender, Dec 9, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2010
    I agree. A mass produced Fw200C might cost no more then 200,00 RM. About what the U.S. Army Air Corps paid for P-38 and P-47 fighter aircraft.

    Cost per aircraft for the Ju-88 program isn't an exact comparison as the Ju-88 entered mass production right from the beginning. However it does demonstrate aircraft price decline as more aircraft are produced.

    523,385. 1939 Ju-88 production cost (materials plus labor).
    216,523. 1940 Ju-88A4 production cost.
    198,019. 1941 Ju-88A4 production cost.
    167,129. 1942 Ju-88A4 production cost.
    139,274. 1943 Ju-88A4 production cost.
     
  4. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    It appears to me that early war naval bomber range and endurance were more important then speed and maneuverabilty. So let's do a fuel capacity check. All these aircraft entered production prior to 1940.

    Includes auxiliary tanks in fuselage and wings.
    Does not include auxiliary tanks located in bomb bay.
    Does not include auxiliary drop tanks.

    2,630 gal. Fw200C. 2,129.25 plus 500.6 aux fuselage tank.
    1,519 gal. He-111H.
    1,088 gal. Ju-88A. 766 plus 322 aux fuselage tank.
    645 gal. Do17Z. 409 plus 236 aux fuselage tank.

    It's readily apparent why the Fw200 had excellent range.

    The He-111 carries a lot of fuel for a twin engine bomber. If the German Navy does not mass produce the Fw200C then an extended range He-111 is probably the best choice for a 1940 maritime patrol bomber.

    B25J. For comparision purposes.
    B-25 Specifications
    670 gal. Inner wing panel tanks.
    304 gal. Outer wing panel tanks.
    125 gal. Aux tank ILO waist gunners.
    ------------
    1,099 gallons. Almost identical to the Ju-88.
     
  5. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    All good information but you also have to consider cost of maintenance, spare parts, repairs and overhauls. Additionally you would have to look at the "mission capable" rate of the aircraft, all of this is usually attained in time during operation. You can have aircraft that carries the initial cost and has a fuel consumption of a Piper Cub, carries the bomb load of a Lancaster and is faster than an Me 262, but all that is mute if its grounded 80% of the time, has to be overhauled continually and has spare parts costs greater than gold bullion. lastly longivity (attricion) has to be factored as well. The USAF has tons of programs to determine this on the aircraft they operate.
     
  6. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Think when it comes to fuel consumption/range, it might be better to do the math with another 4 engine patrol bomber. Do you have the numbers for the B24 or Privateer? Those would probably be in the same class as the Condor.

    Agree that range was far more a factor than speed. Endurance as well. Gives you loiter time. With a range that would put it 1000 to 1500 miles out into the Atlantic, the Condor could sit on a Convoy for several hours doing the math on course and speed. Coupled with a U-boat pack, it is a deadly combo. One I don't think the Germans ever truely exploited.

    Figure it could sit on a convoy for 3-5 hours (which would be 60-100miles of travel time for a Surfaced U-boat) and, at the end, make an attack on the convoy. Might even be looking for an opportunity the whole time to nip in and bomb a freighter or two, the whole time making radio calls giving Convoy course and speed. If the Germans had really gotten their act together and straightened out their work on the glide bombs a few years earlier, that would make them brutally hard to beat.

    With Glide Bombs, the could work over the escorts making life for the U-boats that much easier once they did show up (and knowing how short the Allies were on escorts up until 1943, it wouldn't have taken long for the losses to really hurt). With Glide Bombs, it would be the perfect escort hunter. Able to destroy DE, DD and Corvettes almost at will.
     
  7. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    I disagree. B24 prototype first flight didn't happen until December 1939. It is a generation newer and should be compared with the He-177. Even the B17 is a poor comparison. We would need to compare the Fw200 with the B17B which was flying during 1939.

    Here is the 1940 U.S. counterpart to the Fw-200
    Douglas B-18 Bolo - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  8. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    You have to be a little careful making comparisons based on RM vs $$.

    First, the difference in materials between the Fw 200 and even the P-38 is huge. I suspect the number of rivets easily scales to the size as well as number of stamped parts. Both of those processes add direct labor time to drill and tool and buck rivets, set up and operate stamping presses... for starters.

    I suspect the sheer allocation of material and labor would approach 3x-4x of the P-47... maybe 2-3x for the P-38... maybe more. In 1945 the Mustang was a 2000+ hour direct labor burden per ship - any idea where the Fw 200 fell?

    Have no idea how one compares real cost of powerplant and plumbing relative to materials and labor hours but thinkin 4 engines versus 2 or one has to be a factor in the GFE stuff.


    It would be interesting to time the throughput during the fabrication and manufacturing processes of the Fw 200 compared to either the P-38 or P-47. Throughput time is another scaler for overhead associated with the aircraft. I suspect without proof that the Fw 200 took at least 2x time to produce, maybe much more.

    I would want to look at resources and time consumed per unit rather than get lost in currency transfre rates..

    Having said this, there is no question that the Fw 200 was a 'successful and effective' raider in connection to the labor hours and raw material and human and cargo cost of the tonnage it sank!
     
  9. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Why?

    Over a dozen Fw-200s were sold to foreign customers during 1938 and early 1939. Because these were commercial sales currency conversion would be at the normal commercial rate. Currency conversion rates are public knowledge.
     
  10. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Simply because you made a comparison of 'cost' across different nations and cost accounting processes that have multi dimensions if you want to compare the Resources, Cost of materials and labor vs the $$/RM assignment to those resources.

    If the Reich paid zero for slave labor to build a factory, paid low wages for labor intensive processes, used scrap metal reclaimed versus buying Aluminum on a global commodity basis - there will be flawed cost comparisions against other nations with disparate labor practices.

    For example, what do you suppose that it would cost Germany to build a Mustang in the same plant as the Fw 200?

    In the case of comparing USSR vs GB vs US vs Germany vs Japan a better comparison is the one I presented to you - but it doesn't matter to me what rule of thumb you use - its your thread.
     
  11. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    While I could see using the B17 for a comparison (originally sold as a Maritime Patrol Bomber) based on time line, the use of a B24 would be better as the B17 never really hit it off as a Maritime Patrol aircraft. The B24 did a very good job in that realm and was available in the 1942, in limited numbers, in the 1942 time period.

    Beyond that, you only have the PBY and the Short Flying Boat as direct comparisons. But both were flying boats and are more expensive to build and maintain (fly and float as apposed to just fly).

    The comparison, to my mind, should be based on which did the job during the same general time period (WW2).
     
  12. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Very good point. Man hours is better than the actual cost. That can be manipulated.
     
  13. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    I thought your thesis was 'cost effective'.. not 'period effective'..

    the 'cost effective' comparison probably was the DC-3/C-47, neither of which truly engaged in armed combat role.. (forget the odd flexible machine gun version in USSR).

    And so what if the B-24 should be compared with the He 177.. why not also compare to Fw 200 in both bomber, long range recon and air transport (C-87)?
    And the He 177 would be a reach to connect the two words 'cost' and 'effective' given the looooooooong gestation period.

    BTW - in 1940 there was no comparison in the US to the Fw 200 other than B-17 and B-24 relative to either range or payload. .. and the USAAF was prohibited from any blue water mission save 'coastal defense'.. until 7 December 1941.
     
  14. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Deliveries of the FW200C began in March 1940, and by the end of 1940, 26 had been delivered. Attritional losses were relatively high due to the commercial origins of the type, rather than combat losses. The C subtype was virtually devoid of armour protection, and all fuel lines were on the underside of the aircraft, making them vulnerable to even light amounts of flak. I/KG40s task was a relatively simple one, with no escort carriers, and no LR escorts in the allied inventory.

    The "achilles heel" of I/KG 40 was the haste that the condors had been adapted for their task. Cheap the Condor might be for an off the shelf purchase, but this carried a lot of nastiness to it. They carried virtually no additional engineered structural strength, and they soon proved inadequate to meet the strain of continuous low flying altitudes and evasive manouvres. There are numerous instances of rear spar failures , and the fuslage breaking its back. Serviceability remained exceptionally low.....operational availibility rarely rose above 4 aircraft throughout 1940. In other words, it took a lot of maintenence effort to keep even a few aircraft opwerational, and this has to be facored into the cost equation somehow.

    Despite these obvious shortcomings the FW 200 was an effective weapons system. Between August 1940 and mid February 1940 I/KG40 accounted for 85 ships, totalling 363000 tons. In March 1941, I/KG 40 was placed under the command of Fliegerfuhrer Atlantik and the OB of I/KG 40 upgraded to a full 3 staffel gruppe, with an operational strength of 36 aircraft. Serviceability rates throughout 1941 rarely exceeded 25% which remained a major problem.

    It is a telling revelation of the types limited combat effectiveness, that standing orders were not to press home any attacks if damaged, and to disengage immediately if the threat was airborne. The Condors were considered far too valuable (not my words) to risk in any serious combat. this suggests anything but a cost effective type in my book....combat effective, yes, but operational types extremely valuable and hene extremely costly.

    What fall down in the analysis of the raqw numbers, is the low serviceability and vulnerability of the type. If we accept a unit cost of 300K per example, but a serviceability rate of just 25%, whilst other types typically enjoyewd serviceabilty rates of 70-80%, then the servicing costs are three times that of regular types for the Condor. That means, effectively the cost per unit of the Condor is not 300K, it is 900K, since you have to build three times the numbers of other types to achieve the same serviceabilityrates.
     
  15. RCAFson

    RCAFson Well-Known Member

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    From what I could gather, the FW-200 was only effective against unarmed merchant ships, and even Lewis guns could bring them down. I know that arming over a 1000 merchant ships with 20mm guns was costly, but was it more costly to supply, say 5000 20mm guns to arm the merchant fleet than it was to build several hundred Condors?
     
  16. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    We know that most U.S. and RAF heavy bombers only survived about 20 combat missions. Do we have historical data for how many combat missions a typical Fw200 survived? That would give us a basis for comparison.
     
  17. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    #17 drgondog, Dec 10, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2010
    Dave - rate per sortie would be interesting, just like hours flown versus hours available would give us some notion of reliability.

    Having said that, attacking merchant ships might be a 'different' threat environment for an Fw 200 than a B-17 attacking Schweinfurt so it is unclear how that helps other than being interesting. If there were statistics for a B-24 group whose sole role was shipping interdiction it would be a better parallel.

    Maybe comparing the Fw 200 against the PB4Y, PBM, etc would be closer to parallel mission profile?
     
  18. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Submarine AA fire would be small potatoes compared to convoy AA defenses. So we need to compare vs PB4Ys attacking merchant convoys.
     
  19. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    #19 drgondog, Dec 10, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2010
    That was my suggestion. Having said that, convoy AA defenses small potatoes to any city in Germany (AA and air) for your analogy on B-17..

    The PB4Y was a lot tougher than the Fw 200 but your thesis was 'effective' not tough and the Fw 200 did a superb job in a target rich environment. PB4Y never had the target quantity AFAIK and japanese merchant convoys were far less frequent by the time the PB4Y arrived in theatre in the PTO.
     
  20. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    The two scenarios are not comparable, and the logic test behind the question in the first place is faulty. The operational orders for Condors was not to press home attacks, whereas for BC and SAC aircraft the orders were basically to press home the attack regardless of flak and regardless of losses.

    A better way of assesing the relative strength of the Condor might be to compare the number of rounds expended per loss. Even here however, it would be influenced by speed and height of the aircraft. I cant give a complete answer in regards to these variables, but I do know a couple of details that might help....in 1941 the average attacking altitude for BC attacks was 14k'. Condors had an operational ceiling of 19k, but at this altitude they suffered severe buffeting and possible structural failures. The would generally want to operate outside the effective ceiling of the 20mm cannon defending their prey, so my guess is that their operating altitudes are going to be about 7-15K. At those altitudes, only the occasional 3in or 4in deck gun might be effective

    From here I have to speculate, so if anyone has better informeation, please correct me.....we know that from September 1940 through to February 1941, there were 85 losses, so at least 85 attacks occurred. We know that in that time the Condors lost about 30 aircraft, of which say half were due to structural failures (a guess). That means that their 85 targets, each armed with perhaps a single 3in deck gun, were able to bring down 10-15 Condors. Condor attack speeds were about 150knots. If we assume the Condor is going to stay above the effective ceiling of the 20mm cannon, we can estimate that the Condor will be under fire for about 3 mins (journey in and out), given the effective engagement range of a 3in gun is 8000m. Assumed ROF for the gun is 10rpm (effective). Max rounds that can be fired within at the targtet will be about 15-30 per attack, very roughly.

    That means for the 85 attacks, and the 15 losses, a total of about 2550 rounds were fired, give or take.....I have made no attempt to consider secondary fire from other ships. Thats about 200-300 rounds per kill.

    Compare that to 3-5000 rounds per kill needed to bring down each BC bomber at this time.

    There is no comparison between the survivability of the condor, and BC aircraft at this time
     
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