In 1937 even though the Me-109 was a very capable fighter the Reichsluftfahrtministeriun
(RLM) or Reich Air Ministry was worried that future foreign designs might surpass its
performance so they called for submissions of designs. Kurt Tank won the competition with
his radical use of an air-cooled radial engine that he dubbed the Fw-190 Würger (Butcher
Bird). There were many skeptics who believed this new aircraft would surpass the
performance of the Me-109. However when the Fw-190 entered combat in the summer of
1941 it already was Germany’s premiere piston-powered WWII fighter. Over 20,000 of all
variants of the Fw-190 were built with 13,291 of these being of the 9 different “A” variants.
Flying a Bf-109 during the Spanish Civil War Hannes Trautlouft scored his first five victories.
When WW II began Trautloft was with 2./JG 77 and participating in the Polish Campaign and
scoring his first WW II victory. In 1939 he was promoted to Hauptmann and
Gruppenkommandeur of 1./JG 20. In 1940 JG 54 was newly formed and Trautloft was
appointed Kommodore. JG 54 took part in Operation Barbarossa where he scored his 50th
victory on February 15, 1943 flying an Fw-190A-4. His total victories were 58.