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It is a Focke Wulf FW-190A5/U3 Würger WWII Luftwaffe aircraft of 4./JG54. The pilot Feldwebel Paul Rätz listed as MIA - Missing In Action. This aircraft was manufactured in April 1943, originally as an A5 variant and supplied with serial number 0151227 by the parent factory of Focke Wulf Flugzeugbau GmbH at Bremen.

On Monday 19th July 1943, probably a hot summer day, the Focke Wulf FW-190A5/U3 Würger with s/n 1227 "White A" took off on a mission carrying a SC250 550Ibs bomb. Taking off from Siwerskaja, the "White A" headed for the front line which was only fifteen or so minutes flight time away. Crossing the front line over the Dvina river, the FW-190, crossed it and headed East. Whilst behind enemy lines, in an area called Voibakala, the "Rotte" attacked an armoured train and reportedly suffered damage from FlaK. The loss report indicates the FW-190 crash landed due to this damage, although none was located on the airframe. It FW-190 suffered a catastrophic failure of the BMW 801 engine, caused by a rag sabotage is suspected as it was a new engine was fitted a few days before. The FW-190 was recorded as being 100% lost in the map reference co-ordinates of Pl.Qu.20124. This grid system based on 1/200,000 maps was used to identify crash sites, possibly for salvage, recovery of missing pilots or as the best way of identifying an area consisting of unpronounceable Russian towns, villages and large areas of forests and lakes. The more numbers the Pl.Qu. reference gives, the smaller the area of the location. A key to this code, would help identify literally dozens of possible recoveries within Russia! The pilot Feldwebel Paul Rätz survived the crash landed behind enemy lines. He removed his leather flying helmet but took the airplane's panel clock with him. He retrieved the first air kit from the rear fuselage and is thought to have headed West back to the front line only a dozen or so miles from the crash site. He was undoubtedly captured by the Russians and interned although the Luftwaffe reported him as 'Vermißt' (MIA - Missing In Action). The pilot remained imprisoned in Russia for 16 years before finally returning to Germany. Rätz died in 1989, never having learned that his airplane had been recovered. But his family did and, it turns out, they still have the clock. The FW-190 found in silver birch forest in 1989 and recovered in 1991.

Owners = Doug/David Arnold and later (till today) Paul Allen of Microsoft fame. The restoration revealed that this FW-190 most likely crashed from engine sabotage. The engine was newly installed and the oil lines were found to be blocked. The engine factories often used prisoner labor, so sabotage sometimes happened. The restoration is completed, including a new wing spar to replace the cracked original. A partial restoration was started in the early 1990ies, then it was sold to the Flying Heritage Collection. Much of the restoration was competed in the UK and the aircraft is now in the US.


NickKaratzides (Youtube)

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