Military Wiki
BV 238
The prototype BV 238 V1 in June 1944
Role Flying boat
Manufacturer Blohm & Voss
First flight April 1944[1]
Primary user Nazi Germany
Number built 1 (with 2 incomplete prototypes)[1]

The Blohm & Voss BV 238 was a German flying boat designed in World War II. It was the heaviest aircraft ever flown when it first flew in 1944, and was the largest aircraft produced by any of the Axis powers in World War II.[1]


The BV 238 V1 prototype, bearing the four-letter Stammkennzeichen (factory radio code) of RO + EZ, first flew on 11 March 1944 after a first jump on 10 March 1944. Six 1,287 kW (1,750 hp) Daimler-Benz DB 603 inverted V12 piston engines were used in total, arranged in three forward-facing engine nacelles on each wing, with each engine's coolant radiator in a chin cowl directly under the engine, bearing an almost identical appearance to those fitted to the Do 217M medium bomber and some examples of the Do 217J night fighter, and possibly were Kraftei, or "power-egg" unitized engine modules.[1]


The sole completed BV 238 was strafed and sunk while docked on Schaalsee. Sources differ in date, the attackers and the attack aircraft used.

According to American sources, the BV 238 V1 was strafed and sunk while docked on Schaalsee in September 1944 by three North American P-51 Mustangs of the US 361st Fighter Group. The lead Mustang, "Detroit Miss", was piloted by World War II ace Lieutenant Urban "Ben" Drew, and another was piloted by William D. Rogers. This represented the largest single aircraft to be destroyed during the war. Drew was told after the raid that he had destroyed a BV 222 Wiking (another large flying boat). He continued to believe this was the case until he was contacted by the BBC in 1974 for a documentary, and told that their research had determined that the aircraft he had destroyed was actually the BV 238 V1, undergoing flight tests at the seaplane base at Schaal Lake.[2]

German sources –based in part on the testimony of nearby inhabitants and Blohm & Voss employees– claim that the BV 238 V1 was discovered by the RAF between 23 April and 26 April 1945. The Allies were concerned that Hitler could use it to escape to South America, and so an attack followed shortly afterwards. The aircraft was attacked by Hawker Typhoons, or Hawker Tempests. Their strafing set the engines alight, and the aircraft burnt and sank with only part of a wing remaining above the surface.[2] According to the British, the attack happened on 4 May 1945. During the strafing the back of the flying boat broke and the forward part of the plane sank into the water.[citation needed]

Other prototypes

Production of two other prototypes was begun but neither was finished. A ¼-scale model of the BV 238 was made during the plane's development for testing. Known as the FGP 227, it made a forced landing during its first flight and did not provide any data to the program.[1][3]


Data from:[1]

BV 238 V1
The only completed prototype.
BV 238-Land
The initial designation for the land-based derivative of the BV 238.
BV 250
A land-based derivative of the BV 238 for use as a strategic maritime reconnaissance aircraft and long-range transport

Specifications (BV 238A-02 (V6))

Data from Aircraft of the Third Reich Vol.1,[1] Blohm & Voss Bv 222 "Wiking" - Bv 238[4]

General characteristics

  • Crew: ca 12
  • Length: 43.35 m (142 ft 3 in)
  • Wingspan: 60.17 m (197 ft 5 in)
  • Height: 12.8 m (42 ft 0 in)
  • Wing area: 360.16 m2 (3,876.7 sq ft)
  • Empty weight: 54,780 kg (120,769 lb)
  • Gross weight: 90,000 kg (198,416 lb) for reconnaissance mission
95,000 kg (209,439 lb) for bomber mission
  • Max takeoff weight: 100,000 kg (220,462 lb)
  • Powerplant: 6 × Daimler-Benz DB 603G inverted V-12 liquid-cooled piston engines, 1,417 kW (1,900 hp) each for take-off
    1,163 kW (1,560 hp) at 7,375 m (24,196 ft)
  • Propellers: 3-bladed constant-speed propellers


  • Maximum speed: 350 km/h (217 mph; 189 kn) at 60,000 kg (132,277 lb) weight at sea level
425 km/h (264 mph) at 60,000 kg (132,277 lb) at 6,000 m (19,685 ft)
  • Landing speed: 143 km/h (77 kn, 89 mph)[5]
  • Range: 6,620 km (4,113 mi; 3,575 nmi) at 365 km/h (227 mph) at 92,000 kg (202,825 lb) at 2,000 m (6,562 ft)
  • Service ceiling: 7,300 m (23,950 ft)
  • Wing loading: 261 kg/m2 (53 lb/sq ft)


  • Guns: 8 x 13 mm (0.512 in) MG 131 machine guns with 1,800 rpg; 4 in each nose and tail turret
8 x 13 mm (0.512 in) MG 131 machine guns with 900 rpg; 4 in each wing mounted turret
4 x 13 mm (0.512 in) MG 131 machine guns with 500 rpg; 2 in each manually aimed beam position
2 x 20 mm (0.787 in) MG 151/20 machine guns with 1,400 rpg in forward dorsal turret
  • Bombs: 20 x 250 kg (551 lb) SC 250 bombs in wing bomb bays
and 4 x 250 kg (551 lb) SC 250 bombs on external racks
or' 2 x 1,200 kg (2,646 lb) LD 1200 torpedoes on external racks
or 4 x Henschel Hs 293 missiles on external racks
or 2 x 1,000 kg (2,205 lb) BV 143 glide bombs on external racks

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Green, William (2010). Aircraft of the Third Reich (1st ed.). London: Aerospace Publishing Limited. pp. 165–168. ISBN 978-1-900732-06-2. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 GOT: The Blohm & Voss BV 238 thread 4245 from The Great Planes and warbirds Community; questions the American claim about the destruction of the aircraft, and reinforces the German version of the destruction.
  3. Nowarra 1997, p. 42.
  4. Nowarra 1997, p. 47.
  5. Performance data from engineering BV 238 V1 testing.
  • Green, William (2010). Aircraft of the Third Reich (1st ed.). London: Aerospace Publishing Limited. pp. 165–168. ISBN 978-1-900732-06-2. 
  • Green, William. Warplanes of the Second World War, Volume Five: Flying Boats. London: Macdonald & Co. (Publishers) Ltd., 1962 (5th impression 1972). ISBN 0-356-01449-5.
  • Green, William. Warplanes of the Third Reich. London: Macdonald and Jane's Publishers Ltd., 1970 (4th impression 1979). ISBN 0-356-02382-6.
  • Krzyźan, Marian. Blohm & Voss BV 222 & BV 238 (Monografie Lotnicze 29) (in Polish). Gdańsk, Poland: AJ-Press, 1996. ISBN 83-86208-47-3.
  • Nowarra, Heinz J. (translated by Don Cox) Blohm & Voss Bv 222 "Wiking" - Bv 238. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Military History, 1997. ISBN 0-7643-0295-7. (Translation of the German original Luftgiganten über See: BV 222 Viking - BV 238. Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas Verlag GmbH, 1980. ISBN 3-7909-0124-5.)
  • Smith, John Richard; Anthony L. Kay and Eddie J. Creek. German Aircraft of the Second World War. London: Putnam & Company Ltd., 1972(3rd impression 1978). ISBN 0-370-00024-2.
  • Wagner, Ray and Nowarra, Heinz. German Combat Planes: A Comprehensive Survey and History of the Development of German Military Aircraft from 1914 to 1945. New York: Doubleday, 1971.
  • Winchester, Jim. The World's Worst Aircraft. New York: Amber Books, 2005. ISBN 0-7607-8714-X.

External links

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