Design begun spring 38 by team under Kurt Tank. Design may have been influenced by layout of Hughes racer with its slim fuselage, small wing, and tall landing gear with wide track. Result was small, compact aircraft with strong structure which allowed unusually heavy armament loads. A-1 went into service Jul 41 and showed superiority to Spitfire Mk. V in speed and maneuverability. A-2 and A-3 followed and differed in engines and armament. 1942, A-4 appeared, -5/6/7 following in 1943. -8 was last of A-series with main mod being engine. F-series, in which A was transformed into fighter-bomber, appeared toward end 42 followed by G-series-- both capable of carrying up to 3968 lbs of bombs. D-9 joined Luftwaffe autumn 44 and could compete with P-51; but only about 700 built by war's end.