FW 190 F-9 WNr. 440 340

This page has photos and the story of a late-war FW 190 F-9 that landed at Villafranca in Italy. Thanks to Mark O'Boyle for sending me his father's photos of this aircraft, as well as providing some information about it.

Photo from Mark O'Boyle

Photo from Mark O'Boyle
FW 190 F-9 WNr. 440 340, pilot and unit unknown, Villafranca, Italy, May 1945 (Mark O'Boyle)

This FW 190 F-9 was flown to Villafranca in northern Italy on 25 April 1945 by a German pilot. It was probably intended for N.S.Gr. 9, which had only recently left that airfield. The next FW 190 F-9 from this block, WNr. 440 341, was found at München-Neubiberg, and it also had no unit markings. München-Neubiberg was a major location for aircraft supply to Italy during the war. Another aircraft from this production block, WNr. 440 323, also served with N.S.Gr. 9.[1] The US 85th Mountain Infantry reported the following about the capture of Villafranca:
"By 1700, 25 April, the airfield was entirely in the hands of the battalion ... The closing curtain to this action came at 22:00, in the form of a German Volkswolf 190 which landed on the north end of the airstrip. The plane, apparently out of gas, was captured intact but the pilot escaped into the nearby woods."[2]
The photos above were taken by an American servicemen, 1/Lt. Ken O'Boyle. Mr. O'Boyle, who passed away in 1987, wrote the following in a letter home on 7 May 1945 about this aircraft:

"A Focke-Wulf 190 was captured intact - the others were burned in their hardstands. A funny story about the FW 190 - the pilot, an Eyetie, set it down and when he turned off the engine was surprised to see a flock of doughboys levelling rifles at him. He later said he thought the field was still held by the Jerries - that happened the day before we got up here." [3]
A member of the 57th FG, Dwight Orman, submitted his photos of this aircraft to www.web-birds.com [site now defunct], and he wrote the following about it:

"Late in the war we used a recently vacated German airfield at Villa Franco - story as I heard it - German pilot landed in his FW 190 thinking his guys were still there - on landing roll saw all the P-47s lined up - fled the scene with engine idling and brakes set - infantry guards used rifle butts to hole the canopy and while screwing around in the cockpit pulled the gear handle - last two pics show we extended the gear and towed it to the ramp - tarp over the canopy."
Further photo captions from Dwight Orman appear on War Wings Art, and include the following:

"Captured FW190 - German pilot landed at Villa Franco when we had already occupied the place."

"FW190 D is another view after the gear had been extended and it was towed to our ramp at Villa Franco. Note: We were very near the German lines at the time. I was carrying my Colt45 in shoulder holster."

"FW190II - same aircraft - that's L to R Robert R. "Mac" McCluskey and Gorman "Buck" Neel. Perhaps I explained this before. I didn't actually witness this but here is what I was told - The German pilot landed his FW190 thinking the strip was still in German hands. Upon seeing all the P47s he fled the aircraft leaving the engine running. Subsequently one of the GIs guarding the aircraft was fooling around the cockpit and accidentally pulled the gear handle collapsing the landing gear. The gear was later extended and the aircraft was towed to the ramp."

Photo from Jimmie R. Long Jr.
FW 190 F-9 WNr. 440 340, pilot and unit unknown, Villa Franca, Italy, May 1945 (Jimmie R. Long, Jr.)

This photo of WNr. 440 340 was taken by Jimmie R. Long Jr., who was a P-47 pilot with the 65th FS/57th FG.

[1] Beale, Ghost Bombers, pp.169-170, 171, 173 Beale, D'Amico & Valentini, Air War Italy 1944-1945, pp.200, 206
[2] Beale, Ghost Bombers, p.171
[3] Ken O'Boyle, Letter 7 May 1945

Nick Beale, Ghost Bombers: The Moonlight War of NSG 9, Classic Publications, Crowborough, 2001

Nick Beale, Ferdinando D'Amico & Gabriele Valentini, Air War Italy 1944-1945: The Axis Air Forces from the Liberation of Rome to the Surrender, Airlife, Shrewsbury, 1996

Ken O'Boyle, Letter 7 May 1945

Mark O'Boyle, Email 10 July 2004