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GOT: The Blohm & Voss BV 222


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#1 Romantic Technofreak

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Posted 31 August 2006 - 10:28 PM

Even for my lauded standard *bowes down once more*, this is not an usual GOT topic about the short life of a certain prototype. This time we discuss an extraordinary aircraft that saw various action during WWII, what makes this topic especially interesting (I have to admit, a lot more than I expected myself). I hope I can transport that to you with my writeup here!

I had the chance to use various sources for this article. The main body is from the German standard work on Luftwaffe aircraft: Heinz J. Nowarra "Die deutsche Luftrüstung (= German air armament) 1933 - 1945", publishing house Bernard & Graefe, Bonn, no year given (work finished 1977/78, I think I have it since 1995 or so), pages 111 - 115. I don't use quoting marks for this. The article is divided in sections. Every section without a quoting in the end is from Nowarra, although other (quoted) sources maybe inserted to that section. Most action is from the best written and most thrilling book I have in my little aircraft and WWII library. Author is Sönke Neitzel, and title is "Der Einsatz der deutschen Luftwaffe über dem Atlantik und der Nordsee 1939 - 1945" (translating the title is superfluous for English speakers, I think, Einsatz = actions), again publishing house Bernard & Graefe, Bonn, 1995. Neitzel used this as his dissertation, what explains the very high quality of the stuff (now he is already professor of history). I quote him using an "N" and a number, e.g. "N223" means page 223 in Neitzel's book. I didn't do 1:1 translation, for copyright reasons, and for adaption to the conclusive flow of the story as well. I also wasn't shy to use Wikipedia, the English (http://en.wikipedia....m_ _Voss_BV_222 )and the German (http://de.wikipedia....m_&_Voss_BV_222 ) version, which differ. The former I quote using "WE", the latter "WG". Lastly, I once got help from luftarchiv.info, and I also added some personal conclusions.
First, I planned to include the BV 238 here. But as the story grew more and more, I decided to have it its own (and, of course, a lot shorter) GOT topic. Now, let's read about the

Blohm & Voss BV 222 "Wiking"

On anticipated increasing demand for transcontinental passenger flight connections, the Deutsche Lufthansa in 1937 (conclusive year by RT) announced a competition for an aircraft to perform this. Heinkel responded with the only four-engined He 120/220, while Dornier proposed the Do 20, having 8 Diesel engines mounted in tandem position. The most promising draft came from Blohm & Voss, conservative for their standard with its six engines, and so the firm won the contract for its BV 222. Drawing work started in January 1938, and by August the construction of the V-1 began. Work on V-2 and V-3 followed soon.
As the firm had no experience with flying boats of this size, it was clear that finishing them would take a lot of time. Meanwhile, the war had broken out, and labourforce had to be withdrawn to concentrate on the BV 138. But work on the big one continued, and in August 1940 the V-1, wearing the civil registration D-ANTE, went to water. Swimming trials followed, and on September 7th, 1940, under the control of flight captain Helmut Rodig, it had its maiden flight. The flight characteristiscs were said being satisfying, although a tendency of instability both in air and in water was reported. The tests were continued during all late 1940, until the river Elbe filled with ice.

When in 1941 the tests were to continue, it was decided to save valuable fuel and to give the V-1 a task while being tested. The boat got a military camouflage and the registration index CC + EQ, and, until August 19th, 1941, it performed 7 supply flights to Kirkenes in the extreme northeast of Norway, carrying 65 tons of goods and retrieving 221 wounded soldiers. It had flown a total distance of 30,000 km. The performances were satisfying, a maximum speed of 385 kph and a range of 7,000 km were measured. The instability troubles proved still not totally solved, and the engines, BMW-Bramo 323 instead of the original BMW 132, were found a bit troublesome.

After maintenance in Hamburg (meanwhile mussels had settled on the fuselage), the aicraft was tranferred to Athens to continue its transportation task in the Mediterranean area. On the route back and forth to Derna in Libya, between October 16th and November 6th, 1941, it carried 30 tons of goods and took 515 injured soldiers out of Africa. As the machine was still completely unarmed, the crew also were no soldiers, but Blohm & Voss employees yet, it used to be escorted by two Bf 110.
The aircraft could carry 91 fully equipped infantrymen or 72 wounded persons on stretchers.

In winter 1941/42, the V-1 was generally overhauled in Hamburg. The registration index was changed to X4 + AH, and it got an armament of one MG 131 in a dorsal turret, a MG 81 in a nose station and four MG 81 in lateral stations. The flying boat formed the basic stock of LTS (Lufttransportstaffel, air transport sqadron) 222 and kept on serving in the Mediterranean area.

V-2, registered X4 + BH, had its maiden flight on August 7th, 1941 and was commissioned by LTS 222 on August 10th, 1942. You easily can guess the index of V-3, yes, it was X4 + CH. This aircraft flew on November 28th,1941, for the first time, and was comissioned by LTS 222 already on December 9th, 1941. Both had the same armament like the V-1, but LTS 222 saw this as superfluous and removed everything except the bow-mg. Between March and August 1942, V-3 performed 21 supply flights on the route from Taranto or Brindisi to Tripolis.

The next three BV 222, V-4. V-5 and V-6, also flew for supply in the Mediterannean area. V-4 got a new tailplane, because it should be tested for the successor type BV 238. V-6 had the shortest life of them all. On August 21st, 1942, south of Pantelleria island it was engaged by Beaufighters and subsequently shot down.

Meanwhile, also V-8 had gone into service. After the loss of the V-6, the German air transport commander had changed the route, but the BV 222s kept on flying on a timely regular base, and the Malta Beaufighters only had to look on their clock. On December 10th, V-1, V-4 and V-8 met a couple of Beaufighters and tried to give each other cover, while flying only 5 m (!!) over the waterline. But the Beaus went down to 2 m (!!!), to attack the German giants from the weakly protected ventral side. V-1 managed ro escape undamaged, V-4 was hit, and V-8 exploded.

In middle of February 1943, the V-1 headed to the harbour of Athens, when air alarm was given and darkening was ordered. While touching down, the V-1 hit a shipwreck lying close under the water surface. The warning buoy there was impossible to be seen in the darkness. The BV 222 V-1 sank within minutes.

Already beginning of 1941, the general staff of the Luftwaffe had claimed all aircraft capable to perform long-range missions, including V-series prototypes, to serve as Atlantic reconnoisaters. (N113, another staff, the "Luftwaffenführungsstab", had seen both BV 222 and BV 238 only as transporters, while Atlantic reconnoissance had to be done by the Heinkel He 177, N207, but we know this aircraft was not yet very servicable at that time). But it still wasn't the time for that. After the disaster of Stalingrad, the three sevicable BV 222 had to do transportation tasks around the Kerch Peninsula (eastern Crimea, N155). The situation only changed when Admiral Dönitz, CinC of the German U-boat weapon, on February 26th had the chance to tell Hitler that no other available aircraft but the BV 222 was able to help the submarines far out in the Atlantic. Hitler agreed (N160). Subsequently, two of the three BV 222, V-3 and V-5, were subordinated under the command of the so-called Fliegerführer Atlantik, a general as coordinator of all Luftwaffe far-range bombers and reconnoisaters based in France. Before transferring to their new base, they were equipped with a strong armament and a number of electric devices for reconnoissance. This lowered the maximum speed to 294 kph.

In the meantime, the BV 222 became subject to new and very interesting considerations. Deputy Luftwaffe Chief Milch had the idea to keep the BV 222 in a sit-and-wait-for-convoys position out in the sea near Greenland and to have it refuelled by submarines. But the BV 222 didn't show itself suitable for that task. There was no chance to store normal gasoline on German U-boats, what the available BV 222s needed. There also was no central refuelling valve, so every wing tank had to be refuelled one by one. The seaworthyness of the BV 222 was only valid for the two lowest levels of rough seas. Also, the engines had a maintenance interval of only 25 hours. Without a ground organisation, the BV 222 could not do its service for a longer time (N161). Milch saw his mistake very soon, remembering Atlantic crossings he had done by ship before the war (N210).

In this situation, the coming C-series of the BV 222, equipped with Diesel engines, seemed to be the solution. The submarines could feed the BV 222 C their own Diesel fuel, and for the engines, a maintenance interval of 50 hours was expected (N162).

V-7 was the predecessor of the BV 222 C-series, the first BV 222 equipped with Diesel engines, for this the Jumo 207 C giving a maximum performance of 750 hp was chosen. It had its maiden flight on April 1st, 1943.
After their reconstruction to become reconnoisaters, on May 17th, 1943, V-3 and V-5 flew to their new base at Biscarosse, southwest of Bordeaux. At least one reconnoissance flight (June 9th) can be proved. Probably by listening to radio traffic, the British side learned about the presence of the seaplanes at Biscarosse. On June 20th, four Mosquitos attacked the base, destroying both BV 222s together with a BV 138.
Dönitz was shocked. He compared the loss of the two flying boats with the loss of two cruisers in a naval battle. Then he ordered branch canals [found the correct translation 08/04/2013, original writing: "subsidiary canals (how to translate "Stichkanal"???, RT)"] to be built, where BV 222s could be camouflaged and repaired (N165).

On August 16th, V-7 was taken in commission by the Fliegerführer Atlantik, while C-09, the first serial C-series sample, already served there since July 23th this year. C-010, C-011 and C-012 followed. C-013 was finished, but never used (May 1944, N212).

In the second half of 1943, the exact date isn't known, refuelling experiments with the BV 222 V-7 in the Baltic Sea off Gotenhafen (this is a Nazi-renaming of the city's name. German: Gdingen, Polish: Gdynia) were undertaken. The submarine used was the former Dutch UD 4. But the connection did not prove to be completely shut. Together with the Diesel fuel, water flew into the BV 222's engines, causing a hazard on three ones. The V-7 had to be towed back to Gotenhafen . The experiments were not continued, especially a necessary one in the Bay of Biscay never took place (N162).

German air force and navy officers also favoured a plan to attack the North American east coast by refuelled flying boats. But Hitler, in a rare phase of mental clearness, refused the plan, "having no military influence and only causing unnecessary resistance (N209)" This means, he also never would have supported harassment attacks performed by the Messerschmitt Me 264 against the USA, RT.

On September 16th, V-2 and V-4 were transferred to Biscarosse. On the 25th this month, V-2 undertook its first reconnoisation flight. It took 19 hours. Between September 25th and October 8th, seven sorties were done. Practically, they were no success. Three convoys were found, but redirection orders after ULTRA messages annihilated any chance to sink a ship by the U-boats. On October 8th, a BV 222 piloted by Oblt. Möhring (he used to fly the V-2, see quoting later) found convoy SC 143 at a position about 56 degrees north, 25 degrees west. The position he told had a deviation of 41 km north to the real one of the convoy, what Neitzel calls "a navigatory masterpiece". But Möhring's radio operator had made a little mistake: he forgot to broadcast "I send direction signals", so the U-boats were not listening to them while the BV 222 shadowed the convoy. Also, the operation supervisor of the submarines, Kpt.z.S. Godt, did not believe in Möhring's position reporting. He calculated a deviation of 100 km south of the real position, so the U-boats (group "Rossbach, consisting of 15 vessels) could not find the convoy ((N173f., I don't know much about naviagtion and so won't judge this all, RT).

On October 22th, 1943, V-4 under the command of Hptm. Hasenberg (identity of the pilot told by comrade *Bakerman* from luftarchiv.info) shot down a US Navy PB4Y Liberator of VB-105 (BU#63917, possibly the registration, RT) commanded by Lt Evert. Obviously the crew reported having shot down an Avro Lancaster, what could be the source of frequent erroneous quoting in literature (WE, final conclusion by RT).

On October 30th, a BV 222 found again the Gibraltar convoy MKS 28, that had been missed by four Focke-Wulf FW 200 one day before. A German submarine sunk a ship of 2,968 tons, while one U-boat was alo sunk, another damaged (N175). The strain by the long flights caused technical difficulties, what made the two BV 222 unservicable when they were needed, e.g. to retrieve and shadow a convoy that had been reported by another airplane before (N184f.).

C-010 was shot down in 1944 by Mosquito nightfighters near Biscarosse.

The last provable reconnoissance flight of a BV 222 took plave on May 27th, 1944 (N233). At the time of the invasion in Normandy, four BV 222 were laying near Biscarosse. Subsequently, they were transferred to Norway (N224).

During WWII, Germany used to operate a couple of weather stations in the Arctic. One was located on Alexanderland, the western-most island of the Franz-Josef-Land archipelago. Beginning of July 1944, a doctor should do a parachute jump to the station from a FW 200, but the pilot decided to land. It came as it had to, on the very rough territory the Condor's undercarriage became damaged. Subsequently, Oblt. Möhring with his V-2 was ordered to drop some spare parts to have the FW 200 repaired. In the evening of July 8th, 1944, Möhring took off at Billefjord. In the midnight sun, he dropped the his load, and then returned in the early morning. On July 11th, the FW 200 managed to take off again, thus evacuating the wheather station's whole crew to Banak. This action was called "Operation Schatzgräber (= "treasure digger")" (Text WG, identity of the pilot from and aircraft from http://www.norsk-ret...php?det=ok&id=3, timetable from http://www.luftarchi...-voss/bv222.htm).

C-09 was destroyed in Travemünde by British Typhoon attackers in 1945.

Close to the end of the war, V-4 laid in Kiel-Holtenau, when probably a destruction order was announced (conclusion by RT, as also many ships and boats were ordered to be sunk). Subsequently, it was sunk by its own crew. The same happened to the V-7 in Travemünde.

V-2 and C-012 had been readied at the instructions of Hitler's pilot Hans Bauer in 1945 to fly the Führer to Japan via Greenland. These aircraft were prepared before Hitler's death, but interestingly the operation was still intended to proceed even after this according to orders dated May 1. A copy of this order to Oberstleutnant Lenschow, Kdr K-Stelle, Travemünde Fliegerhorst, still exists in archive form. The navigator of one aircraft involved was Hauptmann Ernst Koenig and he has come forward to corroborate details at the age of 93. Two of the aircraft which had been prepared for this mission were destroyed at their moorings in Germany (C-09?, text WG and WE).

V-2 and C-012 were captured at Soerreisa after the war and flown to Trondheim. V-2 was later scuttled by the British who filled it with BV 222 spare parts from the base at Ilsvika to weigh her down. V-2 was towed to a position between Fagervika and Munkholmen where it is thought she now rests perfectly preserved on the seabed, owing to low oxygen levels in the water. There are plans to raise and restore this aircraft (winks to Montanamotor to make him imagine a little bigger bird to be restored..., text WE).

C-011 and C-012 survived the war, and the former fell in American, the latter in British hands and were evaluated. In 1946, C-012 flew under control of Eric "Winkle" Brown and wearing the RAF markings "VP501" to Calshot. There still remains doubt about the fate of aircraft C-011 and C-013 said to have been flown to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, USA for testing. There is no corroboration and any further information is welcomed from readers who can clarify their fate (WE).

The BV 222 was the biggest WWII aircraft that flew frontline sorties. We Germans can proudly say that both Hughes H-4 "Hercules" and Saunders-Roe "Princess" were stimulated, if not influenced by our BV 222 (RT).

I thought to put the pictures to the end, as not all of them could be inserted when they all should match the text.

#1: The V-1 in civil markings (picture from msacomputer.com):

#2: The V-7 (says Nowarra, picture from simviation.com):

#3: The unlucky V-8(says Nowarra, picture from luftwaffepics.com). Nose and lateral gun stations are well visible, the big auxiliary floats as well, that divided into two parts and retracted to the inside and to the outside of the wing):

#4: A Diesel-equipped BV 222. Note the gun turrets on back and wing. Picture from luftwaffepics.com:

#5 - 7: We like to fly and swim! Picture #5 from luftwaffepics.com:

#6 (picture from simviation.com):

#7 (picture from luftwaffepics.com):

#8: A Diesel-equipped BV 222 somewhere in Norway. picture from simviation.com):

Hope you enjoyed this all, and best regards, RT

#2 montanamotor


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Posted 01 September 2006 - 12:18 AM

TOP-GOT, if I may say so...


But, regarding your suggestion, on restoring a BV 222 - well: I'd rather prefer entering the classic-aircraft-industry one engine after the other, if I may say so...:D



#3 GregP


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Posted 01 September 2006 - 01:02 PM

Hi RT,

Again, a really nice job on a very interesting topic. The BV-222s were the forerunners of a lot of modern aircraft and were cargo haulers of the first magnitude. Many credit the Messerschmitt Gigant with starting the "airlifters" of today, but I think the 222 and 238 were "right in there" with the Gigant.

The design is very indicative of, say, the C-54, but on a larger scale. Both have long, relatively skinny fuselages with high aspect ratio straight wings. The C-54 had taper built in all along the wing and the 222 had only the outer wing panels tapered, but the designs are similar in many respects.

I think they had a much bigger influence than is generally appreciated.

Thank you for a good look at a relatively "obscure" type. It is one of my favorites of the "cargo haulers" along with the Japanese Emily, which I consider to be the best flying boat of WWII by a wide margin. :)

#4 Romantic Technofreak

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 02:07 AM

As Greg mentioned the Kawasaki H8K "Emily", I would like to mention a certain detail about the refuelling actions. Above I said "There was no chance to store normal gasoline on German U-boats", I had extracted that from the source given and was wondering if there is a peculiar difficulty with gasoline onboard of submarines. But this looks like being not the case. During early WWI, contemporary American submarines used to have gasoline engines.

This I was told on j-aircraft.com: When the "Emilies" performed their night action against Oahu in March 1942, they became refuelled by IJN submarines I-15, I-19 and I-26. These were big vessels, dedicated to carry a Yokosuka E14Y "Glen" floatplane. For the "Emily"-refuelling duty, the "Glen" was removed, and gasoline tank and pumping equipment installed in the "Glen's" hangar. But Germany lacked a submarine able to carry a boardplane, so there simply was no easily suitable U-boat to refuel a BV 222!

Regards, RT

#5 Red Admiral

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 04:12 AM

If its possible to refuel a normal U-Boat at sea then it won't be much harder to refuel a plane from the U-Boat. Simply use one of the oil tanks to house petrol instead. Fit a large pump and have space for hose, probably at the expense of torpedo armament.

#6 Romantic Technofreak

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 09:34 PM

I have to say Gavin *Red Admiral* must be right. There have been german supply submarines, they should have been able to do the job. My teachers always told me not to quote so much but to have my own thoughts...

Regards, RT

#7 Ricky



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Posted 18 September 2006 - 11:32 PM

It would probably have been easier to arrange a rendevous as well. Although rough seas would mean a non-refulled plane and thus a potentially lost plane.

#8 Kutscha


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Posted 19 September 2006 - 06:19 AM

Revell of Germany had a 1/72nd scale Blohm & Voss Bv 222 V-2


Heinz J Nowarra wrote a book on the 222

ISBN: 0764302957

Over 100 b/w photographs, line drawings, 48 pages, softcover

#9 Romantic Technofreak

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 10:47 PM

These pictures are from the Luftwaffe Experten Message Board (LEMB).

The first two show the C-012 with British markings in England:



The third one is a post-armistice picture that shows the V-2 (the one Montana is earmarked to salvage... ;) ) already with a British roundel, towed at Trondheim:


Regards, RT

#10 Double T

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Posted 07 April 2007 - 09:55 PM

Well done and thanks for putting some great pix together. You've got my creative juices flowing now...
Must admit a fondness for seaplanes, the Bv222, the Emily... and the Sutherland was known as the "Flying Porcupine" if memory serves. Just bristling with defensive gun-stations. The more engines the better, and if they have power-turrets? Well, oh MY!!!
Yes, a major fan, and a modeling theme I'd like to explore... in 1/72 scale for a change. I think the US also had a 4-engine model didn't they, a Martin flying boat?
I'd always wanted to build the Monogram--name now gone forever--1/48 scale "Black Cat" PBY-4 Catalina, but TOO BIG. I just don't have room for the wingspans in my hobby-room. Do-able in 1/72 however.
(Make a note Tim.)

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