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The 190 flies again
Click to watch Tom Heap's report
 real 56k

Saturday, 6 January, 2001, 20:56 GMT
WWII planes to fly again
Focke Wolf 190 plane
The plane should feel the same as the 1940s original
By the BBC's Tom Heap

Second World War fighters are being built once again in Germany.

For the first time since the 1940s, the Luftwaffe's most feared warplane - the Focke Wulf 190 - is being assembled from scratch.

Assembling the new  Focke Wulf  190
Rebuilding a dream - the new Focke Wulf 190
Roll up the door on a small warehouse in the field outside Munich and the first thing you see is the massive snub nose of a 190.

It was never the most elegant fighter - the radial engine gives it a brutish look which is entirely in character.

When it entered service in 1941, it could outfly anything in the Allies' hangar.

Pilot's dream

Claus Colling, a pilot with a German airline, had always dreamed of flying a 190.

A few years ago he teamed up with an engineer, Hans Wildmoser, with the plan to recreate the aircraft.

Their guiding principles were that the plane should look and feel the same as the 1940s original.

British pilots, 1940
British pilots did not have anything to match the Focke Wulf 190
They've had to build many components themselves.

But the real struggle was to find people with the skill to mimic the old production methods.

They found most of their engineers in eastern Europe, where some of the industrial methods are similar to those of the 1940s.

Flying again soon

They have 12 planes in production and the first one should be flying in a few months.

The customers come from Germany and across the world.

Mr Colling says it is only in recent years that Germans have felt happy to celebrate their wartime aircraft.

Good news for him, as each kit costs over 300,000 and you still have to put it together and fit the electronic equipment.

But the so-called war bird market is growing and he has found plenty of people to pay for the ultimate "boy's toy".

No hard feelings

So what is the reaction of those who fought the 190 and had their friends killed by its attacks?

In 1942, Len Thorne was flying sorties for the Royal Air Force over Europe.

In the month of April his number two was shot off his tail, his station commander went down in the Channel and two other colleagues were lost.

In each case the enemy flew a 190.

But now he can't wait to see one in the skies again. Far from being horrified, he says he has the greatest admiration for such an awesome feat of engineering.

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15 Sep 00 | UK
'Glad those days are gone'
09 Sep 00 | UK
Spitfires regain the skies
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