Blohm and Voss Bv 222 Wiking (Viking) Long Range Reconnaissance / Transport Flying Boat
The Bv 222 was a mammoth machine by World War 2 standards, powered by no less than six 1,000 horsepower engines.
Authored By Captain Jack; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
The Blohm & Voss Bv 222 Wiking (translating to "Viking") was a large German flying boat design of World War 2. The behemoth system was fielded only in limited numbers and served primarily in the transport role with some reconnaissance sorties as secondary. Transport aircraft generally made strong reconnaissance platforms thanks to their inherently long ranges. The Bv 222 was delayed from production during her development and, once in practice, proved highly susceptible to enemy fighter attacks despite the supplied defensive armament. Some thirteen examples were produced.
Where No Plane Has Gone Before
The Bv 222 scored a few "firsts" during her combat tenure. She became the largest aircraft in the war to score a kill against an enemy aircraft (believed to be an Allied PB4Y Liberator of the USN though sometimes incorrectly stated in sources as an Avro Lancaster) while at the same time becoming the largest aircraft to be downed during the conflict. She also became the biggest flying boat-class aircraft type to achieve operational status in the war.
Bv 222 Origins
The Bv 222 started life from a 1936 design, which in itself was built to a civil airliner specification. While many-an-aircraft were used for the transportation of cross-continental mail deliveries, passenger transports were becoming en vogue and the German airliner corporation of Deutsche Lufthansa was in need of a large aircraft for such an opportunity. Three Bv 222 examples were placed on order and appeared in three respective prototype forms known simply as Bv 222 V1, Bv 222 V2 and Bv 222 V3. Construction of the first of these three systems began in January of 1938. First flight was achieved by prototype V1 on September 7th, 1940. Testing would continue on until December of that year. Early forms fitted the Bramo Fafnir 323-series radial piston engines. These would later be replaced by the Junkers Jumo diesel engines for easier resupply when at sea, with fuel provided for by via fuel-laden U-Boats.
War Comes Calling
However, by 1941, the Bv 222 was placed into service with the German Luftwaffe, ferrying much-needed supplies across the Mediterranean to Afrika Corps forces operating in North Africa. The initial cross-water flight, interestingly enough, was piloted by a civilian aircrew and made use of a fighter escort. The flight depart from Athens, Greece. To dispose of the escorting need - and thusly freeing up the much-needed fighters for combat elsewhere - the Bv 222 V1 was finally armed with an array of defensive machine gun and 20mm cannon positions throughout her design. A single 13mm machine gun was fitted in a nose position while a further four were positioned at fuselage beam windows. A 20mm cannon was added to augment the defensive capabilities, this via a forward-placed dorsal turret. Now that the V1 had officially been baptized in the German war effort, she became the backbone of the new Lufttransportstaffel 222 squadron. The V1 soldiered on until February 1943, to which she was lost at sea following a collision with underwater wreckage upon a landing attempt.
The V2 achieved first flight on August 7th, 1941. After nearly a year of evaluation, she was officially cleared for service. The major difference in the V2 was the addition of the overwing cannon turrets accessed by crew through a tunnel built into the wing spars. In all, the Bv 222 now sported 3 x 20mm MG 151/20 cannons (1 x in dorsal turret; 2 x in wing turrets) and 5 x 13mm MG 131 machine guns (1 x in nose an 4 x in fuselage beam positions). Despite this formidable array, the defensive bubble offered by these weapons was limited at best, especially considering the speed at which the Bv 222 could travel, plus her enormous size making her a tempting target to passing enemy fighters.