The Focke-Wulf was not only faster but its superior handling and faster roll rate gave it an edge in the hands of even less experienced pilots. Such sparkling performance combined with the 190's superior armament presented Allied pilots with a real challenge until German pilot training began
to drop in quality. The standard Fw 190A was quickly modified to perform a number of roles, particularly that of fighter-bomber in the F and G versions. These deleted the outer 20 mm cannon in favor of various combinations of bomb racks or cannon pods for the MK 103 30 mm cannon. Later versions of the FW 190A featured up to six 20 mm cannon (FW 190A6R1); the A-6/R-6 had two 210 mm (8.27 in) unguided rockets with which to attack US heavy bombers. The wide
track landing gear assured ease of handling on takeoff and landing, unlike the twitchy
Messerschmitt 109. The 190 was also one of the first fighters to feature a clear rear canopy, allowing pilots to keep an excellent lookout for enemy fighters.
Meanwhile, the Fw 190 was also proving a good fighter-bomber, carrying a reasonable bomb load or, in some cases, rocket projectiles. The new war started by Hitler on the Eastern Front resulted in most of the new production Fw 190s being thrown into the fighting against the Russians. Others were needed equally urgently by Rommel in North Africa, to combat the Western Desert Air Force and Allied ground forces who, by the latter part of 1942, were pressing hard at Alamein.
As RAF and USAAF bombing raids got heavier and heavier in Europe, new tactics were employed by some German fighter units flying Fw 190s. Against US heavy bombers on daylight raids, several Fw 190s would form a queue and approach from the rear of the bomber formation. At very close range, the fighters would then 'open up,' so giving the rear gunners in the bombers very little chance of firing methodically at all the attackers.
During 1943, the Fw 190 was encountered frequently in Europe while performing night fighter missions. About the same time, the first Fw 190s came off the production line fitted with inline, rather than radial, engines. General appearance stayed the same, because of the use of an annular radiator at the nose.