The middle-part of 1944 proved a watershed moment for the Germans in World War 2 (1939-1945). The Allies were making steady progress in the Italian campaign, across the vast East Front, and now were managing a foothold in northern France en route to Berlin by way of Paris. The decision was ultimately made to focus on curtailing the effects of the Allied bombing campaign which was wreaking havoc on various aspects of the German war machine and its people in both day and night.
One of the primary needs of the German Luftwaffe became a high-speed, high-altitude interceptor capable of dealing with the Allied bomber menace. With the increasing viability of turbojet engine technology, new generations of Luftwaffe aircraft could showcase unheard of performance and outpace anything the Allies could field. In the summer of 1944, German authorities laid down the requirements for such an aircraft encompassing a design to seat a single pilot, to be powered by twin turbojet engines, and be capable of operating at high-altitudes to meet the bomber threat head-on.
This led the concern of Blohm & Voss (BV), with a design directed by engineer Richard Vogt, to lay down plans for a largely conventional, compact, and aerodynamically-refined fighter to take advantage of turbojet technology. At the heart of this design, the "P.197", would be Germany's principle turbojet engine, the Junkers "Jumo" 004 series, featured in a paired installation. As each unit could produce between 1,800lb and 2,000lb of thrust, this would, in turn, provide the new aircraft with unparalleled performance at-altitude. To support the intended speed, the aircraft would have to be of compact form and feature swept wing surfaces.
The resulting BV design was true to form, the pilot seated well-forward in the fuselage under a largely-unobstructed canopy and aft of a short nosecone assembly - offered excellent vision from his seat. The body was well-rounded, made larger at its base than at the dorsal spine, and would house two of the turbojets in a side-by-side arrangement. To aspirate the propulsion scheme, there were two individual intakes featured under the cockpit and near each wing root - the engines then exhausting at the extreme end of the fuselage under the tail fin. The wing mainplanes were positioned slightly ahead of midships and were low-mounted along the fuselage sides, these members sporting sweepback at both their leading (up to 40 degrees) and trailing edges with clipped tips to boot. Similarly, the tailplanes, arranged in a "Multhopp-style" T-tail configuration, were all given sweepback. A tricycle undercarriage would be retractable and used for ground-running - the nose leg retracting into the fuselage while the main legs retracted under each wing member.
As drawn up, the aircraft was given a running length of 29.5 feet with a wingspan of 36.4 feet. Projected gross weight was 12,855lb.
The end result was an elegant fighter design representing one of the cleanest "paper airplanes" of the war and intended to become one of Germany's fastest in service due to its inherent power and small size. The design was made ready as soon as August 1944.
Performance estimates included a maximum speed between 620 and 660 miles-per-hour with a service ceiling slightly beyond 40,000 feet (necessitating both cockpit pressurization and an ejection seat system). Rate-of-climb was an optimistic 5,000 feet-per-minute (at best the classic Me262 could manage was 3,900 ft/min on twin Jumo 004 engines).
Proposed armament was an impressive 4 x 30mm MK 103 autocannons all mounted at the nose for concentrated firepower. This array would have been more than enough to bring down Allied heavy bombers in a single burst of fire. However, the large size of the projectiles would have limited onboard ammunition stocks. An alternative armament scheme involved 2 x 30mm Mk 103 autocannons with 2 x 20mm MG151/20 autocannons in the nose.
Despite all this, the P.197 went nowhere as there proved little interest in this impressive design from Blohm & Voss from German authorities.
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