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Fw 200 CondorThe Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor was the only four-engined, long-range aircraft in service with the Luftwaffe during WW II.
The aircraft was a simple development of a pre-war commercial craft. First flown in 1937 it was an all metal construction, four-engine monoplane capable of carrying 25 passengers up to 3000 km, it flew from Berlin to New York in twenty hours without stopping. To adapt it for wartime, hard-points were added on the wings for bombs, the fuselage was extended and strengthened to create more space and front, aft and dorsal gun positions were added. The extra weight of the improvements meant that a number of early Condors would break-up on landing, a problem that was never entirely fixed. Later models were equipped with radar.
The Luftwaffe intially used the aircraft in conjunction with the Kriegsmarine, making great loops out across the North Sea and (following the fall of France) the Atlantic Ocean, the aircraft undertook maritime patrols and reconnaissance, searching for Allied convoys and warships to be reported and targetted by U-boats. The Condor could also carry bombs or mines to be used against shipping and it was claimed that from June 1940 to February 1941 they sank 365,000 tons. From mid-1941 the aircraft were instructed to avoid attacking shipping and avoid all combat in order to preserve numbers, but the arrival of the new escort aircraft carriers was a very serious threat.
The Condor was also used as a transport aircraft, notably flying supplies into Stalingrad in 1943. After late 1943 the Condor came to be used solely as a transport aircraft. For reconnaissance it was replaced by the Junkers Ju 290 and as France was invaded maritime reconnaissance became impossible. Production ended in 1944 with a total of 276 aircraft produced.
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