Germany: Luftwaffe Warplanes, 1939-1945: Blohm + Voss BV 155B V-2

Blohm + Voss Bv 155B V-2

(Luftwaffe Photos)

Blohm + Voss BV 155B V-2.

The BV 155 was designed to be a single-engine high performance fighter aircraft capable of capable of intercepting bombers at high altitudes and conducting reconnaissance as a secondary mission. One variant was also intended to operate from aircraft carriers with a tailhook system. The Bv 155 was powered by one Daimler-Benz DB 603 U engine and the Heinkel-Hirth TKL 15 turbo supercharger. It was armed with one MK 108 30-mm cannon in the nose and two 20-mm MG 151 cannons in the wing.

The BV 155 featured an armoured, pressurized cabin with an ejection seat, high aspect ratio laminar-flow wings, wide-track landing gear, and a very advanced, though troublesome and complex, propulsion system. An air scoop located on the underside of the fuselage at the trailing edge of the wing fed outside air to the TKL 15 turbo-supercharger. The supercharger compressed the air and fed it to an intercooler mounted above. A pipe semi-recessed into the left fuselage (visible below the cockpit and above the long exhaust pipe) fed the cooled, high-pressure air from the intercooler forward to the engine-driven supercharger.  Blohm + Voss designed the BV 155 to reach speeds of about 430-mph at over 50,000’.

Blohm + Voss completed the BV 155B V1 (V for Versuch, German for experiment) and the first of three prototypes flew on 8 February 1945 out of newly armoured hangars at Finkenwerder, near Hamburg. On 8 February the V1 took to the air but the right radiator leaked badly and chief test pilot Helmut “Wasa” Rodig terminated the flight. Following repairs, the aircraft flew twice more on 10 and 26 February. Repairs followed each flight but it is doubtful that the airplane flew again after the 26th.

All work had stopped on the third prototype, BV 155 V3, as Blohm + Voss concentrated on finishing the V2, but the war ended first. The British Army occupied Hamburg on 3 May 1945 and found the three prototypes at the factory. British officials examined the V1 and decided it was airworthy then directed an RAF pilot to fly it to England. The airplane crashed shortly after takeoff from the factory and was destroyed.  The British gathered up V2 and V3 and shipped them to the test establishment at Farnborough, England, for evaluation. They seriously considered completing the V2 for flight test but in the end, simply displayed the aircraft in October-November 1945 and then stored it. (Wikipedia)

Blohm + Voss BV 155B V-2, Farnborough, England. before being transferred to the USAAF, where it was designated USA FE-505.  (RAF Photos)

Blohm + Voss Bv 155B V2, USA FE-505, in storage at the Garber Facility, Paul E. Garber Facility in Silver Hill, Maryland.  (NASM Photo)

For years, the identification of the National Air & Space Museum's Bv 155B was mysterious. Historians knew the British shipped a Bv 155B to the US after the war and that the US Army Air Forces evaluated it at Wright Field, Ohio. They eventually transferred it (bearing Foreign Equipment Number FE-505) to the National Air & Space Museum. Most sources claimed this was the unfinished V3 prototype. In 1998, two restoration specialists reassembling the parts stored at the Paul E. Garber Facility in Silver Hill, Maryland, were amazed to discover nearly the entire V2 airframe. Except for wiring harnesses the factory never hooked up and other small parts, the aircraft appears to be 90-95% complete, including most of the propulsion system. German documents verify that the V3 was only half-finished at war’s end and the discovery of “V2” stamped into both sides of the windshield frame seemed to prove conclusively that the NASM aircraft is in fact the second prototype. The BV 155B V-2, (Wk. Nr. 360052) in the NASM is also the last surviving aircraft built by Blöhm und Voss during the company’s 12-year foray into aviation.

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