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Blohm & Voss BV 238
The first and only prototype BV 238 V1, in June 1944
Role Flying boat
Manufacturer Blohm & Voss
First flight April 1944
Primary user Nazi Germany
Number built 1 (And 2 incomplete prototypes)

The Blohm & Voss BV 238 was a German flying boat designed in World War II. It was the heaviest aircraft ever flown when it first flew in 1944, and physically was the largest aircraft produced by any of the Axis powers in World War II. The BV 238 V1 prototype, bearing the four-letter Stammkennzeichen (factory radio code) of RO + EZ, first flew on 11 March 1944 after a first jump on 10 March 1944. Six 1,287 kW (1,750 hp) Daimler-Benz DB 603 inverted V12 piston engines were used in total, arranged in three forward-facing engine nacelles on each wing.

The sole completed BV 238 was strafed and sunk while docked on Schaal Lake in September 1944 by three P-51 Mustangs of the 361st Fighter Group. Named "Detroit Miss", the lead Mustang was piloted by World War II ace Lieutenant Urban "Ben" Drew, and another was piloted by William D. Rogers. This represents the largest single aircraft to be destroyed during the war.

Drew was told after the raid that he had destroyed a BV 222 Wiking (another large flying boat). He continued to believe this was the case until he was contacted by the BBC in 1974 for a documentary, and told that their research had determined that the aircraft he destroyed was actually the BV 238, undergoing flight tests at the seaplane base at Schaal Lake.

Production of two other prototypes was begun but neither was finished. A ¼-scale model of the BV 238 was made during the plane's development for testing. Known as the FGP 227, it made a forced landing during its first flight and did not provide any data to the program.



  • FGP 227 : A large ¼-scale model of the BV 238, powered by six 15.7 kW (21 hp) engines.

Comparison to US Hughes H-4 Hercules Flying Boat

The largest flying boat to be authorized for construction by any country during the Second World War was the H-4, nicknamed the Spruce Goose because of its wooden airframe. Although construction was started during World War II, the sole prototype was not completed before the end of hostilities, and did not fly until 1947. It made only one short and very low-level flight. with no payload (other than 28 persons) and minimum fuel, before being retired. For comparative purposes, a few of its specifications are listed below:

  • Maximum Takeoff Weight = 195,000 kg (430,000 lb)
  • Wingspan = 97.51 m (319.92 ft)
  • Length = 66.65 m (218.67 ft)

Specifications (BV 238)

General characteristics

  • Crew: 12
  • Length: 43.36 m (142 ft 3 in)
  • Wingspan: 60.17 m (197 ft 5 in)
  • Height: 12.80 m (42 ft)
  • Wing area: 362 m² (3,900 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 54,700 kg (120,593 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 100,000 kg (220,460 lb)
  • Powerplant:Daimler-Benz DB 603G Inline Piston, 1,417 kW (1,900 hp) each
  • * V1 Span only 57.75 m (189 ft 5.6 in)


See also

Comparable Aircraft





  • Green, William. Warplanes of the Second World War, Volume Five: Flying Boats. London: Macdonald & Co. (Publishers) Ltd., 1962 (5th impression 1972). ISBN 0-356-01449-5.
  • Green, William. Warplanes of the Third Reich. London: Macdonald and Jane's Publishers Ltd., 1970 (4th impression 1979). ISBN 0-356-02382-6.
  • Krzyźan, Marian. Blohm & Voss BV 222 & BV 238 (Monografie Lotnicze 29) (in Polish). Gdańsk, Poland: AJ-Press, 1996. ISBN 83-86209-47-3.
  • Nowarra, Heinz J. (translated by Don Cox) Blohm & Voss Bv 222 "Wiking" - Bv 238. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Military History, 1997. ISBN 0-7643-0295-7.
  • Smith J.Richard and Kay, Anthony. German Aircraft of the Second World War. London: Putnam & Company Ltd., 1972(3rd impression 1978). ISBN 0-370-00024-2.
  • Winchester, Jim. The World's Worst Aircraft. New York: Amber Books, 2005. ISBN 0-7607-8714-X.

External links


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