BV 138 Seedrache
Long-range Reconnaissance Seaplane
Blohm und Voss
The first flying boat built by the aircraft manufacturer Hamburger Flyugzeugbau GmbH (under the direction of Chief Engineer Dr. Tech. Richard Vogt) was the Na 138. Three prototypes of the original design were to be powered by two 746 kW (1000 hp) engines each ... For comparative purposes, the engines were made by different manufacturers, but their protracted development led to the need to redesign the aircraft to accommodate three Junkers Jumo 205C 485 kW (650 hp) engines. On July 15, 1937, almost two years after the creation of a full-scale model, the first prototype (On 138 VI) took to the air. In November, a second prototype (on 138 V2) with a modified hull joined the test program and research center in Travemunde, but it quickly became clear that the aircraft was unstable both hydrodynamically and aerodynamically. Improvement of characteristics due to the corresponding modification of the tail unit could not be achieved, therefore the aircraft structure underwent a serious redesign.
The result was the BV 138A, named after its parent company, Blom & Foss. The fuselage was significantly lengthened, the steps were improved, and the converted tail surfaces were attached to more durable spars. The prototype made its first flight in February 1939, after which five more pre-production BV 138A-0 aircraft were produced. Tests showed that the aircraft was still flawed and the BV 138A-04 was returned to the factory for structural reinforcement, after which it became the first of ten BV 138B-0s. At the same time, a batch of 25 BV 138A-1 units was released, since there was an urgent need for a coastal transport aircraft. The first two vehicles soon entered service with the 108 Special Purpose Bomber Squadron and took part in the Norwegian campaign. Some time later, in October 1040, 1./KuFlGr 506 was sent to the Bay of Biscay, and immediately 2./KuFlGr 906 joined it. During operation, the BV 138A-1 revealed disadvantages: problems related to the design, engines and bow armament. Many of them were eliminated and the BV 138B, which was equipped with more powerful Jumo 205D engines, due to the increased weight of the aircraft.
The first BV 138B-1 took off and the air took off in December 1940. and turned out to be much better than its predecessor. The bow armament included a 20 mm MG 151 cannon and an MG 15 machine gun behind the central engine nacelle in the open position. The factory version (BV 138В-1 / U1) added the ability to carry six bombs or depth mines. This aircraft was followed by the BV 138C-1 with an even more reinforced fuselage, with a four-blade propeller of the central engine (later supplied to the BV 138B-1), an additional machine gun on the starboard side of the radio operator and a MG 131 machine gun of 13 mm caliber and a central gondola. There was also a variant of the BV 138C-1 / U1 with enhanced armament. In 1942-1943. several aircraft were converted into a typical BV 138 MS, all weapons were removed from them, instead of which they installed a magnetic field generator with a coil in the form of a large ring for sweeping mines. This plane received the nickname "mousetrap plane".
In addition to operating from coastal airfields, BV 138 took off from floating bases serving seaplanes, some of them were equipped with attachment points for ship catapults. All aircraft could be equipped with launch boosters, and some with FuG 200 Hohentwil radars to detect convoys. The standard crew consisted of five (on the C-1 - six) people, and the location of the cannons and machine guns provided excellent fire capabilities. Despite the initial difficulties, the BV 138 became an excellent Navy patrol aircraft with long flight duration, high survivability and all-weather operation.
In early 1941, two BV 138A-1, based in France, were recalled to Germany for conversion to BV 138B-1, and later they were transferred to the Baltic. Meanwhile, Norway became the main site of action for aircraft of this type, where 2./KuFlGr 406 (later renamed the 3rd Squadron of the 130th Naval Air Group 3 / FSAGr 130), Z. / KuFlGr 906, 1st and 2nd long-range reconnaissance squadrons of the 130th naval air group l. (F) and 2. (F) / SAGr 130, as well as the 1st and 2nd long-range reconnaissance squadrons of the 131st naval air group l. (F) and 2. (F ) / SAGr 131. The area of operation of BV 138 from Norwegian bases covered the North Atlantic and the Arctic Ocean. They spotted and attacked convoys heading for the USSR. During this period, BV 138 shot down the Catalina seaplane and the Blenheim bomber. In northern waters, these planes refueled from submarines and, in the famous three-week offensive in the summer of 1943, operated from an airfield on Novaya Zemlya together with their crews.
Later, the areas of air operations included the Black Sea, where BV 138C-1 of the 3rd long-range reconnaissance squadron of the 125th naval air group 3 (F) / SAGr 125 flew combat missions from Constanta until the end of 1944. In 1943, a lot aircraft of this type were sent to the Biscay and Mediterranean theaters of operations. The third squadron of the 406th coastal-based group 3 / KuFlGr 406 (later the 1st long-range reconnaissance squadron of the 129th naval air group) until 1944 was based in Biscarosse, and the 3rd long-range reconnaissance squadron of the 126th naval air group - on the island of Crete ... This unit was subsequently transferred to the Baltic Sea region and at the end of the war capitulated in Denmark. Several BV 138s remained in service with the Luftwaffe in Norway until the very end of the war, including the aircraft of the 3rd long-range reconnaissance squadron of the 130th naval air group, one of which was ordered on May 1, 1945 to remove Hitler's will from Berlin. Despite the fact that the plane managed to land on Lake Berlin under a barrage of artillery fire, the commander of BV 138 did not allow the couriers to board, since they did not have identification cards, and instead took 10 wounded and returned to Copenhagen.
Armament on Ha 139B. One MG-151-20mm cannon, one MG-131-13mm, one MG-15 7.92mm machine gun. Three 50 kg bombs, in the BV-138C1 / U1 modification - 6 × 50 kg or 4 × 150 (deep sea bombs).