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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. It was initially designated the Ha 138 as the design was from Hamburger Flugzeugbau which was a subsidiary of Blohm and Voss. The design work for the Blohm und Voss Bv 138 started in early 1935. It was to have a high wing, double tail, and a central hull that would be powered by 1,000 HP engines. Problems with the engines resulted in them being substituted for Junkers Jumo 205 diesels (650 HP).

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

There were initial problems with the design, but with modifications it began service in 1940.

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

Rockets could be used to assist in take off.

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

Prototype

The Bv 138 V1 prototype first flew on July 15, 1937. The second prototype flew in August 1937. 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. The hull and empennage were improved. This new design first flew in February 1939. Five of these preproduction aircraft were ordered. The Air Ministry eventually ordered 25.

Production

Blohm and Voss built 160 of the Bv 138s.

The Bv 138A-1 first flew in April 1940.

  • Prototypes and pre production: 6, 7
  • Blohm und Voss Bv 138A-0: 6
  • Blohm und Voss Bv 138A-1: 25
  • Blohm und Voss Bv 138B-1: 21
    • Production: December 1940 - 1941
  • Blohm und Voss Bv 138C-1: 227
    • Production: March 1941 - 1943
  • Total: 279
    • Manufacturer: Blohm und Voss Schiffswerft, Abteilung Flugzeugbau, Blohm und Voss, Wesser
    • Production: ? - 1943

Variants

  • Blohm und Voss Bv 138V2: Second prototype with larger tail surfaces.
  • Blohm und Voss Bv 138A-0: Pre-production.
  • Blohm und Voss Bv 138A-1: First delivered in January 1940. The engine was underpowered so couldn't do ocean patrols. Converted to a ten passenger transport.
  • Blohm und Voss Bv 138B-1: Had more powerful Junkers Jumo 205D installed. New tail design. First delivered in late 1940.
  • Blohm und Voss Bv 138C-1: First delivered in March 1941. Central engine drove a four blade propeller.
  • Blohm und Voss Bv 138MS: Had a large ring installed that could set off magnetic mines.

Usage

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

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

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

Units

The Blohm und Voss Bv 138 started to be delivered to units at the end of 1940.

Roles

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

Often times the Bv 138 would land near a U-boat and take on diesel fuel to increase its range.

Specifications

  Blohm and Voss Bv 138
Type Reconnaissance flying boat
Crew 4, 6
Engine (Type) 3: Junkers Jumo 205C
OR 3: Junkers Jumo 205D
Cylinders 12
Fuel Type Diesel
Propeller blades outer engines 3 each
Propeller blades center engine 4
Dimensions  
Span 88' 4", 88' 7"
26.92 m, 27 m
Length 65' 1.5", 65' 3", 72' 3"
19.85 m, 22 m
Height 19' 4.5"
5.9 m
Wing area 1,205 sq ft
112 sq m
Weight  
Loaded 26,200 lb, 36,300 lb
16,480 kg
Performance  
Speed 170 mph
272 kph
Climb to 10,000' / 3,050 m 24 minutes
Range 1,500 miles
Range with 825 gallons fuel 2,000 miles
3,200 km
Armament 4: MG
Turret - Lower Rear 1: 20 mm MG 151/20
Turret - Nose 1: 20 mm MG 151/20
Upper Rear 1: 13 mm MG 131
Bombs 6: 110 lb
6: 50 kg
OR  
Depth Charges 4
OR  
Sea Mines 2
  Blohm and Voss Bv 138A-1
Engine (Type) 3: Junkers Jumo 205C diesel
Cylinders Inline
HP 600 each
  Blohm and Voss Bv 138B-1
Engine (Type) 3: Junkers Jumo 205D diesel
Cylinders Inline
HP 880 each
Armament  
Bow turret 1: 20 mm
Rear turret 1: 20 mm
Rear center engine nacelle 1: 13 mm
Under wings 6: 110 lb bombs
6: 50 kg bombs
OR 4: 331 lb depth charges
4: 150 kg depth charges
OR 2: sea mines
  Blohm and Voss Bv 138C-1
Type Reconnaissance, Reconnaissance flying boat
Crew 5
Engine (Type) 3: Junkers Jumo 205
3: Junkers Jumo 205D diesel
3: Junkers Jumo 205D inline diesel
Cylinders Inline, Inline 6, Inline 12
Cooling Liquid
HP 850 each, 880 each
Dimensions  
Span 88' 4", 88' 7"
26.94 m, 27 m
Length 65' 1", 65' 1.5", 65' 3"
19.85 m, 19.9 m
Height 19' 4", 19' 4.25"
5.9 m
Wing area 1,205.56 sq ft, 1,206 sq ft
112 sq m
Weight  
Empty 24,250 lb, 25,948 lb, 25,970 lb
11,000 kg, 11,770 kg, 11,780 kg
Loaded 31,967 lb, 34,100 lb, 38,995 lb, 38,912 lb
15,468 kg, 17,650 kg, 17,670 kg
Performance  
Speed 177 mph
Speed at sea level 177 mph
285 kph
Speed at 8,200' / 2,500 m 170 mph
274 kph
Speed at 9,845' / 3,000 m 177 mph
285 kph
Cruising speed 146 mph
235 kph
Climb to 10,000' / 3,048 m 24 minutes
Service ceiling 16,400', 16,405', 18,700'
5,000 m, 5,700 m
Range 2,500 miles, 2,669 miles, 2,672 miles, 3,107 miles
4,023 km, 4,300 km, 5,000 km
Armament 2: MG
2: 20 mm
Bow turret 1: 20 mm, 20 mm MG 151
Rear turret 1: 20 mm, 20 mm MG 151
Rear center engine nacelle 1: 13 mm, 13 mm MG 131
Starboard hatch 1: 7.92 mm MG 15
Bombs 661 lb
Bombs under starboard wing root 3: 110 lb
3: 50 kg
OR 6: 110 lb
6: 50 kg
OR 4: 330 lb Bv 138C-1/U1 depth charges
4: 150 kg Bv 138C-1/U1 depth charges
Under wings 6: 110 lb bombs
6: 50 kg bombs
OR 4: 331 lb depth charges
4: 150 kg depth charges
OR 2: sea mines

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
  6. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
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