Historic Plastic Models' 1/48 Bv-141B
By Tom Cleaver
There is a saying in aviation, "if it looks right, it is." At risk of annoying the Phantom Phanatics out there, there are those aircraft in history whose use and operations have put the lie to this statement, but by and large, it does seem to be true.
Thus, the appellation "weirdest airplane to during the 1930s" has to be awarded to Blohm und Voss' Bv-141B, surely the airplane that violated all the rules of aerodynamics and aeronautical aesthetics and still flew.
The Bv-141 grew out of a Luftwaffe requirement for a 3-seat reconnaissance/light bomber aircraft that provided outstanding all-round vision for the crew. The favored design, the Arado Ar-198, was completely traditional and totally unsuccessful. The ultimately-successful design to come from this competition was Focke-Wulf's Fw-189 Eule, a design that also went well into the aerodynamically strange.
Dr. Richard Vogt's asymmetric design looked strange, but the offset crew nacelle had the aerodynamic effect of cancelling engine torque. While the traditionalists at the Reichluftfartministerium (RLM) instinctively disliked the design, Ernst Udet, at that time the head of the technical development department for the Luftwaffe encouraged Vogt sufficiently that the Board of Directors at Blohm und Voss - which had recently purchased the Hamburger Flugzeugbau of which Vogt was Chief Designer - voted the funds for a private venture design. Udet himself flew the first prototype of the Bv-141A in February 1938. Even the RLM had to admit that despite its unorthodox appearance, the aircraft had thoroughly docile handling characteristics and completely met the requirements of the specification.
Eventually, it would be Hermann Goering himself, through the OberKommando der Luftwaffe (OKL) who would prevent the production order for this airplane awarded it by the RLM after it came in ahead of all its competitors, by claiming it was underpowered.
Vogt responded with the Bv-141B series, which was powered by the BMW801, the same engine used for the Fw-190. The airframe was completely redesigned to take the substantially more powerful engine, and the first of five pre-series Bv-141B-0 aircraft flew on January 9, 1941. Tests revealed the aircraft did not have the pleasant flying characteristics of the A-series, and numerous modifications were undertaken to cure the faults. The next three aircraft were not successful either, and it was not until May 1943 that the fifth and final Bv-141B-0 was delivered.
Though the General-Luftzeugmeister ordered that a staffel of Bv-141Bs be established for service on the Eastern Front in 1942, the teething troubles associated with the first five aircraft resulted in the Luftwaffe cancelling the option for ten more aircraft on the grounds that the Fw-189 was already performing the tasks for which the Bv-141 was designed. In addition, the
Blohm und Voss factory was being used for the production of the Fw-200C Condor after damage to the Focke-Wulf plant in a bombing raid, and as a result the Bv-141 never saw operational use.
Historic Plastic Models has been known previously as HiPM, and the company has released limited-run injection-molded kits of the SB2U "Vindicator," the Arado Ar-196 float plane, and the Heinkel He-100D. I built the SB2U, and while the result was more than acceptable, the experience was such that I took a pass on the Ar-196 when it came out. I changed my mind with the He-100D, which is a thoroughly-enjoyable kit that I highly recommend. Thus, when I heard that the Bv-141 would be released, I was curious.
On opening the thin cardboard box, one finds the crew nacelle molded in clear styrene in two parts, with additional glass panels, in a separate bag with the decals and photo-etch fret. The larger bag has four sprues, with the parts cleanly molded in light grey plastic with good surface detail, including fabric effect on the control surfaces, which - while a bit heavy - looks like it will turn out looking good under a coat of paint.
The kit is not as cleanly-molded as one finds nowadays from Eduard, but is light years ahead of MPM, though the clear components are not as clear as the canopy sections MPM did on their Fw-189.
The wings and horizontal stabilizer could do with a bit of sanding on the trailing edges, but initial test fitting shows no problems, and the model should be able to be assembled with a minimum of putty.
Though I have never seen any photos or drawings of the cockpit interior of this airplane, a well-equipped cockpit interior is provided in the kit.
The decals allow the modeler to create any one of the five Bv-141B-s.
Overall, this model piques my curiosity, and it has landed in the upper reaches of the kit pile for future projects.
1/32 Scale Guide $18.00
1/48 Scale Guide $25.00
1/72 Scale Guide $25.00
HH-43 Huskie Color
Reference Guide $15.00
Please add $3.20 Postage in the US.
PO Box 90933