The advent of the turbojet engine changed the face of aerial warfare from World War 2 (1939-1945) onwards. This new propulsion scheme now allowed aero-engineers near-limitless possibilities in the type of aircraft, and their inherent capabilities, that could be produced for any given over-battlefield role. For the Germans in the Second World War, the crushing might of the relentless Allied day-and-night bombing campaigns, coupled with a healthy emerging stable of fighters such as the Supermarine Spitfire, Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, and North American P-51 Mustang, brought about a new, and desperate, need for counters to better defend German holdings and - ultimately - Germany itself.
Blohm & Voss, known largely for its shipbuilding programs, threw its hat into ring of several Luftwaffe aircraft requirements during the conflict. However, its claim to fame would largely remain its oversized flying boats that the company supplied the service with. The company was eventually recognized for the many forward-thinking aircraft designs that were promoted to German authorities, particularly towards the end of the war when no idea was "off the table".
"Project 198", or Bv "P.198", was one of these wartime offerings, drawn up as a high-altitude, single-seat, jet-powered "interceptor-fighter". The design was originated from a German Air Ministry desire to mate the new, in-development BMW 018 turbojet engine with a capable aerodynamically-refined airframe, producing a solid platform of exceptional performance intended to exceed that of anything the Allies could field. The BMW 018, with its 12-stage, axial-flow arrangement, was set to output up to 7,700lb of thrust. Work on the engine was started in 1940 and, while promising enhanced capabilities and performance (it ended as the most powerful German-originated jet engine of the war), was larger and heavier than the preceding BMW 003 series (which was, by this time, still having its kinks worked out). As the new engine was being evolved along its own lines, the Air Ministry now needed a fighter capable of fielding it.
The P.198, another design from the mind of aeronautical engineer Richard Vogt, promised to fit the bill. It was largely a conventional design form which featured all of the usual features to be expected: the cockpit set over the nose section, mid-set mainplanes, and a cruciform tailplane arrangement. Because of the oversized nature of the turbojet engine, the unit would be embedded within the belly of the fighter, promoting a very deep appearance of the fuselage that was notable in the side and frontal profiles. To reduce the ductwork needed to move air about, the engine was neatly aspirated through an under-nose intake and exhausted under the tail of the aircraft, the exhaust port set well-ahead of the tail unit proper. The tail unit was somewhat unique in its own arrangement in that the horizontal plane would be positioned ahead of the vertical fin and located just above the fin's base.
The cockpit, to be pressurized and fitting an ejection seat, was lightly-framed and its position at the nose provided for a commanding view of the action ahead and to the sides of the aircraft. The mainplanes were relatively straight members with only slight sweepback of the leading edges and this offset by considerable sweep at the trailing edges. Ground-running would be accomplished by way of a wheeled tricycle arrangement with the nose leg retracting into the engine housing and the main legs retracting into each wing.
Armament was proposed to include 1 x 30mm MK 103 automatic cannon with 2 x 20mm MG151/20 autocannons or 1 x 55mm MK 112/M114 autocannon paired with 2 x MG151/20 autocannon systems - either configuration giving the P.198 a formidable "punch" against Allied warplanes.
As finalized, the P.198 was to sport a running length of 42 feet with a wingspan measuring 49.2 feet.
Engineers estimated this new interceptor-fighter to have a maximum speed of 555 miles-per-hour, reach an altitude of up to 50,900 feet (requiring cockpit pressurization), and feature a rate-of-climb of nearly 8,900 feet-per-minute. Its range was listed at 900 miles though less than two hours of actual flight time were possible depending on fuel burn.
Despite the promising nature of this interceptor-fighter, the war situation doomed it and its powerful BMW engine. The BMW 018 program - eventually yielding just three test units - was ended before the end of 1944 and further development of the P.198 besides some design work was not taken up. The existing BMW 018 engines were tested for a time longer but eventually scrapped prior to the German surrender of May 1945.
The P.198, therefore, joined other potential "what-if" designs of the war that ended its days as nothing more than a paper airplane destined to never serve The Reich.