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German Balkenkreuz

Germany's Blohm und Voss Bv 138 reconnaissance flying boat
Nickname: Der Fliegende Holzschuh "Flying Clog"

Photos

  • Blohm und voss Bv 138 flying boat
  • Blohm und voss Bv 138 flying boat
  • Blohm und voss Bv 138 flying boat
  • Blohm und voss Bv 138 flying boat
  • Blohm und voss Bv 138 flying boat

Design

The Bv 138 was designed by Dr. Ing Richard Vogt.1,3 It was initially designated the Ha 138 as the design was from Hamburger Flugzeugbau which was a subsidiary of Blohm and Voss.2,3 The design work for the Blohm und Voss Bv 138 started in early 1935.3 It was to have a high wing, double tail, and a central hull that would be powered by 1,000 HP engines.3 Problems with the engines resulted in them being substituted for Junkers Jumo 205 diesels (650 HP).3

It's nickname was the Der Fliegende Holzschuh (The Flying Clog).1

There were initial problems with the design, but with modifications it began service in 1940.1

The controls were fabric covered and hydraulically operated allowing the Bv 138 to be flow easily.1

Rockets could be used to assist in take off.1

To help shadow convoys a FuG 200 Hohenwiel radar could be installed.1

Prototype

The Bv 138 prototype first flew on July 15, 1937.2,3 The second prototype flew in August 1937.3 These prototypes were found to be very unstable in the air and in the water so work on the third prototype was stopped and a redesign of the plane was started.3 The hull and empennage were improved.3 This new design first flew in February 1939.3 Five of these preproduction aircraft were ordered.3 The Air Ministry eventually ordered 25.3

Production

Blohm and Voss built 160 of the Bv 138s.2

  • Prototypes and pre production: 62, 73
  • Blohm und Voss Bv 138A-1: 252
  • Blohm und Voss Bv 138B-1: 212
  • Blohm und Voss Bv 138C-1: 2272
  • Total: 2792,3
    • Manufacturer: Blohm und Voss Schiffswerft, Abteilung Flugzeugbau3, Blohm und Voss2, Wesser2
    • Production: ? - 19432,3

Variants

  • Blohm und Voss Bv 138V2: Second prototype with larger tail surfaces.1
  • Blohm und Voss Bv 138A-1: First delivered in January 1940.2 The engine was underpowered so couldn't do ocean patrols.2 Converted to a ten passenger transport.2
  • Blohm und Voss Bv 138B-1: Had more powerful Junkers Jumo 205D installed.1 New tail design.2 First delivered in late 1940.2
  • Blohm und Voss Bv 138C-1: First delivered in March 1941.2,3
  • Blohm und Voss Bv 138MS: Had a large ring installed that could set off magnetic mines.1

Usage

Were used primarily against Allied convoys in the Atlantic and Barents Sea.1,2 Was also used in the Arctic, Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Mediterranean, North Atlantic, and North Sea.2,3

Used in support of U-Boats as far north as the Novaya Zemlya.1,3

Used primarily from shore bases, but could also be used from seaplane tenders.1

Units

The Blohm und Voss Bv 138 started to be delivered to units at the end of 1940.3

Roles

The Bv 138 performed long range reconnaissance, convoy patrol, mine sweeping, transport, and U-boat cooperation.2 The Bv 138 could stay in the air for 18 hours.2

Often time the Bv 138 would land near a U-boat and take on diesel fuel from it to increase its range.2,3

Specifications

  Blohm and Voss Bv 138
Type Reconnaissance flying boat2,5
Crew 44, 62
Engine (Type) 3: Junkers Jumo 205C4,5
OR 3: Junkers Jumo 205D5
Cylinders 125
Fuel Type Diesel4
Propeller blades outer engines 3 each2,5
Propeller blades center engine 42,5
Dimensions  
Span 88' 4"2, 88' 7"4,5
26.92 m2, 27 m5
Length 65' 1.5"2, 65' 3"4, 72' 3"5
19.85 m2, 22 m5
Height 19' 4.5"2
5.9 m2
Wing area 1,205 sq ft5
112 sq m5
Weight  
Loaded 26,200 lb4, 36,300 lb5
16,480 kg5
Performance  
Speed 170 mph4,5
272 kph5
Climb to 10,000' /
3,050 m
24 minutes5
Range 1,500 miles4
Range with 825 gallons fuel 2,000 miles5
3,200 km5
Armament 4: MG4
Turret - Lower Rear 1: 20 mm MG 151/205
Turret - Nose 1: 20 mm MG 151/205
Upper Rear 1: 13 mm MG 1315
Bombs 6: 110 lb5
6: 50 kg5
OR  
Depth Charges 45
OR  
Sea Mines 25
  Blohm and Voss Bv 138A-1
Engine (Type) 3: Junkers Jumo 205C diesel2,5
Cylinders Inline2
HP 600 each2
  Blohm and Voss Bv 138B-1
Engine (Type) 3: Junkers Jumo 205D diesel2,5
Cylinders Inline2
HP 880 each2
Armament  
Bow turret 1: 20 mm2
Rear turret 1: 20 mm2
Rear center engine nacelle 1: 13 mm2
Under wings 6: 110 lb bombs2
6: 50 kg bombs2
OR 4: 331 lb depth charges2
4: 150 kg depth charges2
OR 2: sea mines2
  Blohm and Voss Bv 138C-1
Type Reconnaissance3, Reconnaissance flying boat1
Engine (Type) 3: Junkers Jumo 2053
3: Junkers Jumo 205D inline piston1
3: Junkers Jumo 205D diesel2,5
Cylinders Inline1,2, Inline 63
Cooling Liquid3
HP 850 each3, 880 each1,2
Dimensions  
Span 88' 4"3, 88' 7"1
27 m1
Length 65' 1"3, 65' 3"1
19.9 m1
Height 19' 4"1,3
5.9 m1
Wing area 1,206 ft2 1
112 m2 1
Weight  
Empty 24,250 lb2, 25,948 lb1
11,000 kg2, 11,770 kg1
Loaded 31,967 lb3, 34,100 lb2, 38,912 lb1
15,468 kg2, 17,650 kg1
Performance  
Speed 177 mph3
Speed @ sea level 177 mph1
285 kph1
Speed @ 8,200' /
2,500 m
170 mph2
274 kph2
Cruising speed 146 mph1
235 kph1
Climb to 10,000' /
3,048 m
24 minutes2
Service ceiling 16,400'1,3, 18,700'2
5,000 m1, 5,700 m2
Range 2,500 miles2, 2,669 miles3, 3,107 miles1
4,023 km2, 5,000 km1
Armament 2: MG3
2: 20 mm3
Bow turret 1: 20 mm1,2
Rear turret 1: 20 mm2
Rear center engine nacelle 1: 13 mm1,2
Starboard hatch 7.92 mm MG 151
Bombs 661 lb3
Bombs under starboard wingroot 3: 110 lb1
3: 50 kg1
OR 6: 110 lb1
6: 50 kg1
OR 4: 330 lb Bv 138C-1/U1 depth charges1
4: 150 kg Bv 138C-1/U1 depth charges1
Under wings 6: 110 lb bombs2
6: 50 kg bombs2
OR 4: 331 lb depth charges2
4: 150 kg depth charges2
OR 2: sea mines2

Sources:

  1. Aircraft of WWII, General Editor: Jim Winchester, 2004
  2. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  3. World War II Airplanes Volume 1, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  4. Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook, Ensign L. C. Guthman, 1943
  5. Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II, 1989
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