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Blohm and Voss Bv 222 Wiking (Viking)

Long Range Reconnaissance / Transport Flying Boat

Nazi Germany | 1941

"The Bv 222 was a mammoth machine by World War 2 standards, powered by no less than six 1,000 horsepower engines."

Authored By: Dan Alex | Last Edited: 06/23/2019 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
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.

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V3 was next online, flying first on November 28th, 1941 and entering service in on December 9th. She directly replaced the sunk V1 but was destroyed herself at the hands of the RAF at Biscarrosse in Southwest France in June of 1943. V4 followed and sported a slightly revised (taller) vertical tail unit. V5 was also lost in June of 1943 at Biscarrosse, France. V6 was lost to enemy fire on August 21st, 1942 along the all-important Taranto-to-Tripoli supply route. V7 achieved first flight on April 1st, 1943 and fitted 6 x Junkers Jumo 207C diesel engines of 1,000 horsepower each. V8 was lost on December 10th, 1942 along the same Taranto-to-Tripoli route as the V6.

Ultimately, the Bv 222 V7 prototype was selected as the official production model for the military Bv 222 and appeared with the definitive "Bv 222C" model designation form. The earlier prototypes (V2, V3, V4 and V5) pressed into military service became maritime reconnaissance platforms, differing mainly in defensive armament and some mounting FuG 200 series search radar systems while flying for Fliegerfuhrer Atlantik. Bv 222B was a proposed variant to fit Junkers Jumo 208 series engines but never materialized.

Bv 222 Walk-Around

At its core, the Bv 222C was a dedicated long-range transport. It could carry a full complement of 92 soldiers along with its base 11- to 14-person crew. The pilot and co-pilot sat in a raised flight deck with excellent overhead, side and forward views. All six engines could be accounted for between the two pilots by a simple glance outside. The deep fuselage proved a massive structure and was streamlined from the conical nose assembly to the tapered tail end. The wide-span wing assemblies were shoulder-mounted monoplanes with three Junkers Jumo 12-cylinder engines underslung, three engine nacelles to a wing. Wingtips were rounded edges. The empennage was made up of a single rounded vertical tail fin of large area and complemented by a pair of horizontal planes, also rounded. Crew access doors were found along the fuselage sides near the water line, a pair forward and a pair aft. The cargo hold was accessible via a large square cargo door fitted to the starboard side just aft of the wing assemblies. Including general wartime supplies and soldiers, the cargo hold could also take on wounded personnel in medical litters.

As the forte of any flying boat was its uncanny ability to land on water, the Bv 222 design featured the traditional boat-like hull for cutting and displacing such surfaces. This allowed the Bv 222 the capability to land or take-off from water surfaces with relative ease, provided there was enough straight line distance to do so. Having no undercarriage meant that the Bv 222 was limited to waterborne activities.

The production Bv 222C model maintained a wingspan of nearly 151 feet with a wing area of 2,744.8 square feet. Her height measured in at upwards of 36 feet while her length came in at over 121 feet. When empty, the beast still weighed 67,572lbs and displaced 100,503lbs when loaded. Her maximum take-off weight (MTOW) topped 108,030lbs. Maximum speed was a reported 242 miles per hour at 16,400 feet while she could cruise at 189 miles per hour at sea level. Range was an impressive 3,790 miles. Her service ceiling was limited to just 23,950 feet with a rate-of-climb equal to 473 feet per minute.

The Hammer Ultimately Falls

The Bv 222 fought on through to the end of the war to which several complete examples were taken as prizes by the Allies. The United States retained two of the completed aircraft whilst the United Kingdom brought one home for herself. The RAF actually operated their Bv 222 up until 1947 while the US studied the design and implemented a similar hull on their upcoming Convair R3Y "Tradewind" flying boat transport. Two further remaining Bv 222 examples were scuttled by their German crews prior to the end of the war.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Blohm and Voss Bv 222C-0 Wiking (Viking) Long Range Reconnaissance / Transport Flying Boat.
6 x Junkers Jumo 207C 12-cylinder diesel-fueled engines developing 1,000 horsepower each.
242 mph
390 kph | 211 kts
Max Speed
23,950 ft
7,300 m | 5 miles
Service Ceiling
3,790 miles
6,100 km | 3,294 nm
Operational Range
472 ft/min
144 m/min
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Blohm and Voss Bv 222C-0 Wiking (Viking) Long Range Reconnaissance / Transport Flying Boat.
11 to 14 plus 92
121.4 ft
37.00 m
O/A Length
150.9 ft
(46.00 m)
O/A Width
35.8 ft
(10.90 m)
O/A Height
67,638 lb
(30,680 kg)
Empty Weight
110,231 lb
(50,000 kg)
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Blohm and Voss Bv 222 Wiking (Viking) Long Range Reconnaissance / Transport Flying Boat .
1 x 13mm machine gun in bow position.
1 x 20mm cannon in forward dorsal turret.
4 x 13mm machine guns in four fuselage beam positions.

Bv 222C:
1 x 13mm machine gun in nose.
1 x 20mm cannon in forward dorsal turret.
1 x 20mm cannon in left overwing turret.
1 x 20mm cannon in right overwing turret.
4 x 13mm machine guns in four fuselage beam positions.
Notable series variants as part of the Blohm and Voss Bv 222 Wiking (Viking) family line.
BV 222 V1 - Intitial Series Prototype
BV 222 V2 - Prototype Version; coverted to maritime reconnaissance; destroyed by the Allies retaking Norway.
BV 222 V3 - Prototype Model; fitted with gun turrets on top of wings mounting 1 x 20mm cannon each position; destroyed by Allied fighters while docked.
BV 222 V4 - Prototype Version; coverted to maritime reconnaissance.
BV 222 V5 - Prototype Version; coverted to maritime reconnaissance; destroyed by Allied fighters while docked.
BV 222 V7 - Prototype that would go on to become production version.
BV 222A
BV 222B - Fitted with Junkers Jumo 208 series engines.
BV 222C - Production Model Aircraft
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Blohm and Voss Bv 222 Wiking (Viking). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 13 Units

Contractor(s): Blohm and Voss - Germany
National flag of modern Germany National flag of Nazi Germany

[ Nazi Germany ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (242mph).

Graph Average of 225 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
1 / 1
Image of the Blohm and Voss Bv 222 Wiking (Viking)
Left side profile illustration view of the Blohm and Voss Bv 222 Wiking flying boat; color

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Blohm and Voss Bv 222 Wiking (Viking) Long Range Reconnaissance / Transport Flying Boat appears in the following collections:
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