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Blohm & Voss BV 138B
A drawing of a BV 138 published in a British Aircraft guide.
Role Long-Range Reconnaissance
Manufacturer Blohm & Voss
First flight 15 July, 1937
Introduced October, 1940
Primary user Luftwaffe
Produced 1938–1943
Number built 297

The Blohm & Voss BV 138 Seedrache (Sea Dragon, but nicknamed Der Fliegende Holzschuh ("flying clog")[1], from the side-view shape of its fuselage) was a World War II German flying boat that functioned as the Luftwaffe's main long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft.


Design and development

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 preproduction prototypes and the BV 138 A-01 to BV 138 A-06, were powered by various makes of engines ranging from 485-746 kW (650-1,000 hp). The first standardized version, BV 138 B-1, was powered by three 656 kW (880 hp) Junkers Jumo 205D Diesel engines. Unusual were the aircraft's twin boom tail unit, and gun turrets at the bow and the stern of the fuselage, as well as behind the central engine. These features together produced the aircraft's ungainly appearance.

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 (.312 in) MG 15 machine guns, and a 13 mm (.51 in) MG 131 machine gun in the aft center engine nacelle. It could carry 500 kg (1,100 lb) of bombs or depth charges or, in place of these, up to 10 passengers. Most were fitted with FuG 200 Hohentwiel search radar for anti-shipping duties. Some were converted for minesweeper role. The BV 138 MS variant, with the "MS", signifying Minensuch (German for mine-clearing), carried a degaussing device, a hoop with the same diameter as the length of the fuselage and field-generating equipment, instead of weapons.


  • Ha 138 V1 (D-ARAK) - First flight on 15 July 1937
  • Ha 138 V2 (D-AMOR) - First flight in August 1937
  • Ha 138 V3 - Construction was abandoned due to redesign.
  • BV 138 A-01 to 06 - Operational testbeds
  • BV 138 A-1 - Flew reconnaissance during invasion of Norway
  • BV 138 B-0 - Officially entered service in October 1940
  • BV 138 B-1 - Entered service in November 1940
    • BV 138 B-1/U1
  • BV 138 C-1, also had minesweeper variant
    • BV 138 C-1/U
  • BV 138 MS - Minesweeping version.


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 Öresund Sound in 2000, and is on display at the Danish Technical Museum in Helsingør.

Specifications (Bv 138 B-1)

Data from

General characteristics

  • Crew: 6, pilot, navigator, radio operator, nose gunner, rear gunner, upper rear gunner + up to 10 passengers
  • Length: 19.9 m (65 ft 3 in)
  • Wingspan: 27 m (88 ft 7 in)
  • Height: 6.6 m (21 ft 7 in)
  • Wing area: 111.9 m² (1,205 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 8,100 kg (17,860 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 14,700 kg (32,400 lb)
  • Powerplant:Junkers Jumo 205D diesel, 656 kW (880 hp) each



See also

Related lists




  1. ^ Nowarra 1997, original German title of the Schiffer book.


  • Green, William. Warplanes of the Second World War, Volume Five: Flying Boats. London: Macdonald & Co.(Publishers) Ltd., 5th impression 1972. ISBN 0-356-01449-5.
  • Green, William. Warplanes of the Third Reich. London: Macdonald and Jane's Publishers Ltd., 4th impression 1979. ISBN 0-356-02382-6.
  • Ledwoch, Janusz. Bv 138 (Wydawnictwo Militaria 64) (in Polish). Warszawa, Poland: Wydawnictwo Militaria, 1998. ISBN 83-7219-015-1.
  • Nowarra, Heinz J. and Cox, Don (transl.) Blohm & Voss Bv 138 (Schiffer Military History). Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1997. ISBN 0-7643-0296-5.
  • 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.

External links


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