Blohm and Voss Bv P.188 Jet-Powered Heavy Bomber Proposal
The P.188 was a jet-powered proposal submitted by Blohm and Voss as a possible German frontline heavy bomber.
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Blohm & Voss delivered many futuristic-looking aircraft for consideration by the German Air Ministry during World War 2 - however few of these designs materialized into a useful wartime product. Such was the case with the Bv P.188, a jet-powered bomber project intended to succeed the then-current stable of prop-powered German bombers. The German bomber force lacked true heavy-hitters like the British Lancasters and American Flying Fortresses and Liberators as the Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor became the only viable four-engine type for the German Luftwaffe.
The P.188 was brought about due to the growing lack of faith in the Heinkel He 177 heavy bomber design. This project suffered from its unique conjoined engine arrangement which doomed it to just 1,169 production examples during wartime and the bomber never made its promised imprint on the war. Since the Arado Ar 234 "Blitz" jet-powered bomber had already flown in June of 1943, and made its mark as a very-fast bombing platform, the German Luftwaffe began to embrace a future where all of its bombers would be powered by turbojet technology.
From this thinking the Air Ministry drew up a new heavy bomber specification to be powered solely by jet technology. The turbojets would provide the necessary speed to keep the aircraft out of danger from ground-based fire and aerial interceptors and there would be enough power to carry a considerable war load over distance. Blohm & Voss returned with their P.188 development while competing firm Junkers pushed their forward-swept-wing Ju 287 design (detailed elsewhere on this site).
The P.188 was unique in its own right - definitely in line with other Blohm & Voss entries of the war. It was the wing mainplanes that set the design apart - an inner and outer section was used in which the inner span was swept rearwards and the outer span swept forwards. The idea was to combine the benefits of both rearward and forward swept wings into one mainplane - this based on research and data collected by Blohm & Voss engineers. The inner span held 20-degree sweepback.
Beyond this rather futuristic quality, the P.188 sported a rather conventional streamlined fuselage that was glazed at its nose and tapered at its tail. The tail unit utilized a single vertical fin and low-set horizontal planes. The cockpit, seating two, was fitted to the nose with unobstructed views of the action ahead. The undercarriage would be of a bicycle arrangement in which the double-wheeled main legs, one sitting fore and the other aft of the centralized bomb bay, retracted directly up into the airframe. Outrigger legs would support the aircraft at the wings during ground-running and retract into the forward-swept wing sections. Engine nacelles were to be featured under each wing.
Internally, the aircraft would be cleared to carry a bomb load of up to 4,400 pounds. Provision was also made for the carrying of 2 x "Fritz X" guided bombs. Comparatively, the famous B-17 held a bombload of 4,500lb on long-range missions. The B-24 managed better at 5,000lb over the same range.
The initial P.188.01 form was to be completely unarmed so as to keep the aircraft's gross weight down. It was intended that the aircraft could simply outrun any dangers encountered. Power would come from 4 x Junkers Jumo 004C turbojets held in individual underwing nacelles.
The P.188.02 was to be a dimensionally smaller version of the 01 and sport a twin-rudder tail arrangement replacing the single rudder design. Also the cockpit would be raised for better vision over the aircraft and no defensive guns would be carried to keep weight down.
The P.188.04 was a long-range model of similar design though with a slimmer fuselage. Its wings would also carry fuel tanks used to help increase operational reaches. Other structural changes including the twin-finned tail unit of 02 and paired engines in single nacelles for better streamlining, a single nacelle per wing element. For defense, the 04 was to carry a pair of remote-controlled, twin-gunned (30mm MG131) barbettes in a dorsal and ventral position. In addition to this there would be a pair of 30mm MG151 automatic cannons in a fixed, rearward-firing mounting at the aft fuselage sides. Another pair of MG151 cannons would be installed in the redesigned nose section (some sources state a simplified whole-aircraft armament scheme of 4 x 13mm heavy machine guns for the P.188.04).
The Junkers engines were rated to produce up to 2,690lb of thrust each which, it was estimated, would have given the P.188 a maximum speed of 542 miles per hour. Rate-of-climb was to reach 2,245 feet-per-minute and a service ceiling of 42,655 feet was believed attainable. The reach of the aircraft was out to 1,420 miles, or about six hours of flight time, which may have been a very optimistic estimate.
The P.188 was drawn up with a wingspan of 88.5 feet and an overall length of 57 feet.
The Blohm & Voss heavy jet bomber design was not selected by the German Air Ministry for further development and ended its days as a "paper airplane" on company drawing boards. The Junkers Ju 287 made a greater imprint in the post-war period as it was collected and studied at length by the conquering Soviets. It went on to influence several Soviet post-war jet-powered designs. Only two were built by the Germans before the end of the war though a first-flight was had in August of 1944.