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Old 12th May 2019, 20:45
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Published Accounts of the Fw 200 C-3 – A Critique on Water-Methanol Injection

Part 1 of 5 The Challenge

This is a series of five posts exploring the minor mystery that in published works, methanol-water injection is not infrequently described as the defining characteristic of the Bramo 323R-2 engine. This engine was introduced to Luftwaffe service in late 1940 and was first fitted in the Fw 200 C-3. As a consequence it played a small but key role in the Battle of the Atlantic. The Bramo had replaced the commercial BMW 132 H-1 engines carried over from the original Fw 200 civil design and used to power the preceding Fw 200 C-1 and C-2 examples supplied to the Luftwaffe.
In effect, each post forms a little chapterlette in its own right. They are posted here for peer review and because the findings and corrections identified here may be wider interest. Also there are the hopes that there may be further information out there still to be discovered, and of attracting assistance in tracking down additional published source references as well as contributions that address the loose ends remaining. Any of those would be most welcome.
There are several interleaved threads here, each interesting in their own right. Taken together they do logically lead to a definitive resolution which is solidly based on primary source evidence. For clarity this exploration will use the Fw 200 C-3 as the thread around which everything else will be tied.

In his classic text published in 1970, 'Warplanes of the Third Reich', William Green wrote:
“By the summer of 1941, the improved Fw 200C-3 began to reach KG 40, this embodying major structural strengthening of both the rear spar and the fuselage, although the Condor was still to suffer structural failures, and the Focke-Wulf concern never succeeded in entirely eradicating the problem. In order to maintain the performance of the Condor despite the substantially increased structural and equipment weights, the Fw 200 C-3 received four BMW-Bramo 323R-2 Fafnir nine-cylinder radials which, rated at 1,000 h.p. at sea level, offered 1,200 h.p. for take-off by means of methanol-water injection.” (p.227)
This was consistent with at least one of Green’s earlier statements, an identical sentence appearing in the 1967 William Green volume, 'Warplanes of the Second World War, Volume 9: Bombers and Reconnaissance Aircraft, Germany Part Two' (at page 78-II).
The current Wikipedia article in English on the Bramo 323R-2 also follows this interpretation. "The final versions, P, R and T, featured a two-speed supercharger for better all-around performance. This allowed it to generate 1,000 PS at sea level as in the C/D models, but improved altitude performance considerably, delivering 940 PS at 4,000 m (13,000 ft). The R-2 subtype added MW 50 water-methanol injection for added low-altitude performance, boosting power to 1,200 PS at 2,600 rpm.”
Even the notionally authoritative Bernard & Graefe volume in their ‘Die deutsche Luftfahrt’ series, subscribes to this view: “Die Varianten Bramo 323 C, D, M und T waren Bodenmotoren mit der Laderübersetzung 9,52, die Bramo 323 A-, B-, J-, Q-Höhenmotoren mit den Laderübersetzung 11,4. Mit Zweigang-Einstufen-Ladern (Übersetzungen 9,6 und 12,4) waren die Baureihen Bramo P, R, S, N ausgerüstet und der N- sowie der R-Motor mit Methanol-Wasser-Einspritzung versehen." Kyrill von Gersdorff, Helmut Schubert, & Stefan Ebert: Flugmotoren und Strahltriebwerke; Bernard & Graefe; 4. Auflage 2007, pp.48/49.
There is, however, also a second, differing interpretation extant which simply identifies the Fw 200 C-3 as a strengthened design now powered by Bramo 323R-2 but limited to only 1,000 h.p. for take-off. Unfortunately, so far as I can discover, nowhere does this second school of interpretation actually include any statement as to the defining characteristic of the 323R-2. Rather a typical presentation is this from the 1972 Smith+Kay: 'German Aircraft of the Second World War':
"The first really major modification to the aircraft was in the Fw 200 C-3 which appeared during the summer of 1941. This was structurally strengthened and powered by four 1,000 h.p. Bramo 323R-2 radials and normally carried a load of four .... " (p.203)
[The wording in the 2002 Kay+Smith: Putnam German Aircraft of the Second World War at p.109-III is identical.]
The current Wikipedia article in English on the Fw 200 follows this second interpretation.
Almost finally, there is a sub-school close to but preceding the Smith and Kay position. This is represented in the biography of Kurt Tank by Heinz Conradis with appendices on the development history of the designs associated with Tank. As a close co-worker with Tank, Conradis knew more than a little about the Fw 200 and its powerplants. This biography was first published in English in 1960, in the wake of the second German edition of 1959, the first having appeared in 1955.
“It [the Fw 200 C-3] was powered by four BMW/Bramo 323R-2 radial engines each rated at 1,200 h.p. for take-off, and these provided a maximum speed of 240 m.p.h. at 13,120 feet, a cruising speed of 220 m.p.h. at the same altitude, and a normal range of 2,200 miles.” (p.232) This is the Smith and Kay picture linked to the higher engine performance data given by Green.

Note in passing, that the summer 1941 date given by both schools of interpretation is actually way too late. The Bramo 323 R-2 was actually introduced to Luftwaffe service with the Fw 200 C-3 around November of 1940. The Bedienvorschrift-Fl for the Fw 200 C-3 sub-type is dated Februar 1941, and the first recorded loss of a Fw 200 C-3 was on 23-Nov-40 in the RAF bombing of Bordeaux-Merignac airfield. That was W.Nr. 0027, the third C-3 built.

More recent publications are divided approximately equally between the two main interpretations. Along with William Green, the believers in water-methanol injection 323 R-2s are:
Jerry Scutts: 'The Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor', published 2008, p.51 "The Bramo 323 R-2 Fafnir engines of the Fw 200 C-3 onwards were rated at 900hp with two-speed superchargers designed to automatically cut in at 3,000 revolutions. Three-blade propellers became standard with this powerplant and for all subsequent aircraft. Water-methanol injection increased available power to 1,200hp, this figure usually being quoted as standard for the C series." (The same claim is repeated in the Specification for the Fw 200 C-3/U4 given in Appendix III on p.215.)
and
Juan-Carlos Salgado: Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor - The Airliner that went to War' also published 2008, pp.53/4 "The next step for the Focke-Wulf engineers consisted of the strengthening of the rear wing spar and the fuselage tail section, but the solution to this serious problem was never found, although it justified a new designation, C-3, which embodied another fundamental change: the introduction of the nine-cylinder BMW-Bramo 323 R-2 engines, affording 1,100 hp which water-methanol injection could boost briefly to 1,200 hp at 2,600 rpm."
More recently, approximations of the Smith and Kay position (in these instances without any mention of engine performance) have appeared in Chris Goss's 2016 'Fw 200 Condor Units of World War 2' (at p.25 and Appendix 6, p.90) and p.8 of his 2017 'Fw 200, The Condor at War 1939-1945' for Classic.

Interestingly, in this matter Heinz Nowarra is completely inconsistent. His very useful 1988 Bernard & Graefe German book on the Condor has no mention of methanol-water in connection with the Fw 200 C-3 (across pp.64/7 & p.134), and the same treatment applies to the Fw 200 C-3 in Teil 2 of his 'Die deutsche Luftrüstung 1933-1945'. (pp.100 & 102: "Treibwerk: Vier BMW-Bramo 323 R-2 luftgekühlte Neunzilinder-Sternmotore mit 4 x 1000 PS Startleistung.") However, when it comes to coverage of the Bramo 3213 R-2 in the engine section of Teil 4 of the same work, the Bramo 323 R version is now uniquely characterised by water-methanol injection. "Bramo 323 R Musterausführung des Bramo 323 P für Wasser-Methanol-Einspritzung. Durch konnte die Startleistung auf 1200 PS erhöht werden." [Nowarra: Die deutsche Luftrüstung 1933 - 1945 Band 4, MIAG - Zeppelin etc., p.97 (Bernard u. Graefe Verlag, 1993).


To summarize this first post, there are three schools of thought regarding the Bramo 323R-2:
For Green, Scutts, and Salgado (and sometimes Heinz Nowarra) the 323R-2 engine is characterised by methanol-water injection;
But according to Smith and Kay, and Chris Goss (and sometimes Heinz Nowarra) this engine was not defined by methanol-water injection (although quite what uniquely distinguished the Bramo 323R-2 from all of the other many versions of the 323 is never actually stated). Mysterious.
Whilst for Heinz Conradis the Bramo 323R-2 is also without methanol-water injection but uncannily has the same take-off power as the Green engine with methanol-water injection.
So this is the challenge to be resolved.
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