Germany: Luftwaffe Warplanes, 1939-1945: Blohm + Voss BV 138

Blohm + Voss BV 138

(Luftwaffe Photo)

Blohm + Voss BV 138 MS, flying-boat variant adapted fora minesweeping role. The BV 138 MS variant, with "MS" standing for Minensuch (German for mine-clearing, literally mine-search), was equipped with a degaussing device. This device consisted of a large hoop with the same diameter as the length of the fuselage and field-generating equipment, replacing the aircraft's weaponry.

(Luftwaffe Photos)

Blohm + Voss BV 138, flying-boat (early versions as Ha 138) in Luftwaffe service.

The Blohm & Voss BV 138 Seedrache (Sea Dragon) was a Second World War German trimotor flying boat that served as the Luftwaffe's primary long-range maritime patrol and naval reconnaissance aircraft.

(Luftwaffe Photo)

A total of 297 BV 138s were built between 1938 and 1943. The aircraft had a unique design with three engines: one mounted high above the centerline driving a four-blade propeller, and one on each wing driving three-blade propellers. Some variants were adapted for minesweeping roles. The BV 138 MS variant, with "MS" standing for Minensuch (German for mine-clearing, literally mine-search), was equipped with a degaussing device. This device consisted of a large hoop with the same diameter as the length of the fuselage and field-generating equipment, replacing the aircraft's weaponry.

 

Blohm + Voss BV 138C, Hemnesfjorden, Norway, being serviced by its Luftwaffe crews.  (Karl Marth Photo)

Blohm + Voss BV 138C-1 reconnaissance seaplane, abandoned at Tromsø in Norway, 1945.  Possibly (Wk. Nr. 0310081), captured at Kastrup-See.  If so, this aircraft was designated RAF AM70, scrapped at Felixstowe, England in 1948.  (RAF Photo)

Blohm + Voss BV 138C seaplane being pulled from the water at at Kirkenes, Norway, during the Second World War.  In the left background is a Heinkel He 115 float plane from Küstenfliegergruppe 406 coded K6+EH.  (USN Photo, NH 45564, Naval History and Heritage Command)

The Blohm + Voss BV138 Seedrache (Sea Dragon), but nicknamed Der Fliegende Holzschuh ("flying clog", from the side-view shape of its fuselage) was trimotor flying boat that served as the Luftwaffe's main seaborne long-range maritime patrol and naval reconnaissance aircraft. A total of 297 BV 138s were built between 1938 and 1943. The aircraft was unusually powered by three engines, with one mounted high above the centerline driving a four-blade propeller, and one on each wing driving three-blade propellers.

The first of the 227 standard service variant, BV 138 C-1, began service in March 1941. Although various versions of the aircraft carried a variety of armament, the standard included two 20 mm MG 151/20 cannons, one in a power-operated bow turret and one in a power-operated stern turret, up to three 7.92 mm MG 15 machine guns, and a 13 mm (.51 in) MG 131 machine gun in the aft center engine nacelle. It could carry up to 500 kg (1,100 lb) of bombs or depth charges (under the starboard wing root only) or, in place of these, up to 10 passengers. Several were later fitted with FuG 200 Hohentwiel low-UHF band search radar for anti-shipping duties. Some were converted for the minesweeper role, as the BV 138 MS variant, with the "MS" suffix signifying Minensuch (German for mine-clearing, literally mine-search), carried a circular ring-shape degaussing device, a hoop with the same diameter as the length of the fuselage (encircling the entire hull), and field-generating equipment, instead of weapons.

Blohm + Voss BV 138, flying-boat, (Wk. Nr. unknown), captured at Kastrup-See.  Designated AM69, this aircraft was scrapped at Felixstowe.

Blöhm & Voss BV 138, flying-boat, (Wk. Nr. unknown), captured at Kastrup-See.  Designated AM71, this aircraft was scrapped at Felixstowe.

Blohm + Voss BV 138 wreckage on display in the National Museum of Science and Technology (Danmarks Tekniske Museum) in Elsinore, Denmark. The wing spar is poised over the aircraft in the same position as it was, when the wreck was discovered in The Sound, off of Copenhagen.  (Uffe R.B. Anderson Photo)

No complete Bv 138s remain in existence. However, the wreck of one aircraft, sunk after the war in a British air show, was raised from the seabed of the Øresund Sound in 2000, and is on display at the Danish Technical Museum in Helsingør. In June 2013, a vessel from the Norwegian Geological Survey filmed a Blohm + Voss BV 138 at a depth of 35 m in Porsangerfjorden, Norway, not far from the Second World War German seaplane harbour in Indre Billefjord.

(Luftwaffe Photo)

Falke & Bussard Class, Luftwaffe Catapult Ship, Bussard SB 21, with three Bv 138s on board. The Luftwaffe used 7 catapult vessels during the war, 3 were built directly for the Luftwaffe, and 4 were taken over from Lufthansa. They were frequently used as floating bases, for BV 138 Ketten deployed in northern waters, away from the principal seaborne aircraft bases.

Bussard SB 21 was launched 1.5.42 at Aalborg, Denmark. From 8.5.44 to 25.9.44 it operated at Trondheim for 1./SAGr.125; 1944/45 at Tromsö for 3./SAGr.130; also served 1./SAGr.131. The 1000th launch was a BV 138 from 2./Kü.Fl.Gr.406 in 1944. On 22.2.46 the Bussard was taken over by the US Navy at Kristiansand, Norway. In 1947 it was sold to Fa. Heygen in Gent, Belgium. In the Summer of 1950, it was bought by Boele & Osterwijk N.V., Rotterdam; Converted to suction dredger during the summer 1950 by N.V. Scheepswerven v/h Fa. Schram & Zn., and was renamed Ahoy; Subsequent fate unknown.

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