63 - Blohm & Voss BV 222

Luftwaffe’s Giant Flying Boat

The Blohm & Voss BV 222 "Wiking"

 

 

“The story of BV 222 (V2)”

 

 

Models and diorama by

Bjørn Jacobsen

 

The BV 222 was the largest flying boat to achieve production status during World War II.

 

The six-engine Blohm und Voss Bv 222 Wiking (English: Viking) was designed in 1936 as a passenger airliner for the North and South Atlantic routes but was taken over by Luftwaffe when the war broke out.

 

The first flight was on 7 September 1940 and the giant flying boat was quickly put into service.

 

A total of twelve BV 222 were built (the thirteenth was in the production hall when the war ended)

 

The first BV 222 (V1) made seven flights between Hamburg and Kirkenes (North Norway) up to August 1941, transporting a total of 65,000 kg (143,000 lb) of supplies and 221 wounded men, covering a distance of 30,000 km (19,000 mi) in total.

 

The BV 222 could transport 92 fully equipped soldiers or 72 casualties on stretchers or 19.000 kg (42.000 lb) of freight.

 

With a wing span of 46m (150ft), a length of 37m (121ft) and six engines with 1000hp each, it could reach a maximum speed of 390 km/t (242mi) at 5.000m (16.400ft) altitude and a range of 7.000 km (4.350mi).

 

The BV 222 served mostly as transport aircraft in the Mediterranean and in North Europe (Norway) and as a long-range reconnaissance aircraft out of Biscarosse in France.

While serving with Lufttransportstaffel See 222 (LTS See 222) in the Mediterranean, three were lost (two shot down by fighters and one sunk after striking a buoy while landing at Athens).

 

The remaining aircraft were converted for maritime reconnaissance and served with Fliegerfuhrer Atlantik, some with FuG 200 search radar.

 

Two BV 222 were destroyed at their moorings at Biscarosse by Allied fighters in June 1943, one was shot down outside Tunis and one BV 222 were shot down over the Bay of Biscay.

 

Another was hit by strafing Mustangs at Travemunde.

 

But, the BV 222 was far from defenceless, in October 1943, the BV 222 (V4) shot down a US Navy PB4Y-1 Liberator.

 

Some facts about the transportation capacity of the BV 222:

 

By the end of 1942, the Wikings operating in the transport role in the Mediterranean had carried 1.453 tons of supplies, 17.778 fully equipped troops and 2.461 causalities.

 

Outside the Mediterranean, the BV 222 carried 2.043 tons of supplies, 19.750 troops and 2.678 casualties.

 

 

The model I am building is the second production aircraft, the

BV 222 V2 (X4+BH)

 

The V2 had its first flight in August 1941.

It was fitted with strong defensive armament. 1xMG 81 in the bow, 2xMG 131 in dorsal turret, 4x MG 81 in window bays and 2xMG 131 in gondolas on the wings.

 

With this armament, the V2 was meant to operate as a long-range reconnaissance under command of Fliegerfuehrer Atlantic.

 

However, changes under the testing period, prevented this and one year after its first flight, the V2 became operational with Lufttransportfuehrer See 222 as a transport aircraft.

 

But, within short, the V2 saw service as a long-range reconnaissance aircraft with 1./SAGr 129 at Biscarosse (France).

 

During its lifetime, the V2 altered its appearance (cannons removed, windows blocked) and it received the FuG 200 “Hohentwiel” air-to-surface search radar in the nose and the FuG 216B rear-view warning radar on top of the wings.

 

Operation Schatzgräber (treasure-digger)

 

This was the code name for the rescue of personnel from the German weather station on Alexandra Land in the Franz Josef Land Archipelago in the Soviet Artic.

 

In July 1944, the whole weather station crew had fallen ill by eating infected polar bear meat and an Fw 200 Condor was sent to evacuate the men. During the landing, the undercarriage of the Condor was damaged and a new wheel was needed. T

 

he BC 222 V2 was ordered from Biscarosse for the rescue and supply operation. On its way to the north, a winter camouflage coat of removable white was painted on the fuselage in Billefjord (Norway). (Some sources claim that the painting was done in Travemünde, Germany)

 

On the 8th July 1944, the BV 222 V2 did a successful flight to Alexandria Land, but ice prevented a sea landing and the spare parts and supplies were dropped from the air.

A couple of days later, the Fw 200 were repaired, and the rescue operation came to a successful end.

Two BV 222 (V2 and C-12) were in Norway when the war ended.

Both aircraft were seized and tested by the allied and in August 1945, the BV 222 V2 was blown up by the British in Trondheim. (The C-12 was flown to Britain, tested and written off in June 1947)

The destruction of BV 222 V2 is the theme on the next page of this website

Building the BV 222

 

The BV222 was the 1/72 kit from Revell, a very nice kit of an exceptional aircraft.

The building was easy enough and very little sanding or filling was needed.

Of course, even in 1/72 scale, this is a large build, 50cm long and with a wing span of 63cm

 

The camouflage was the standard for all seaplanes in Luftwaffe (RLM72/73/65)

When they painted the white winter camo, they only painted the fuselage and not the upper wings.

This is rather strange because the upper wings are the largest visible part of the aircraft seen from above, and for the arctic trip to Alexandria Land you should expect it to be camouflaged.

The reason for not camouflage on the upper wings might be either that the time was too short to camouflage the whole aircraft, or that they just not have enough paint.

Remember the aircraft was enormous, and they were in a hurry to get it ready for the arctic.

 

Of course, the growth of the underwater fuselage was rather heavily because the big aircraft was not often on dry land, and I had to consider this when weathering the aircraft.

 

When the empty BV 222 was lying still on the water, one of the floats would be about one meter above water.

 

On the diorama, one of the engines needed an overhaul and I placed a mechanic on the scaffold.

The engine panels in the kit were of course far too thick and I had to make new ones from the thin metal of a tube bacon cheese. It's very easy to change the panel this way, and it looked far more authentic than the "thick" plastic piece in the kit.

And some pictures with the floats down – and with the winter camouflage for Operation Schatzgräber:

Building the diorama

 

I have tried to portrait this unique aircraft (BV 222 V2) both as a long-range reconnaissance aircraft with 1./SAGr 129 at Biscarosse (France) and as part of the rescue operation to Alexandria Land.

 

This meant the aircraft should both be in normal camouflage colours (RLM 72/73/65) and in the special winter camo for Operation Schatzgraeber.

It also meant that it should be photographed with the floats extended and withdrawn.

 

It also meant that I, at the end have to cut off the underwater fuselage to mount the flying boat on the water.

 

The diorama will of course be in 1/72 scale.

 

But, let us take one thing at a time:

Diorama Base

 

I used a 60x70cm (24x28in) wooden plate for the diorama.

The first I did was to sketch the layout with land, sea and aircraft.

The land was made of papier Mache and small pebbles, taking into account all the items that should be placed on the land (boathouse, landing place for vehicles, floating docks etc.)

Now comes the fun part: the painting of the water and the snow covered arctic land.

For those who wonder why no trees was included in the diorama, remember this is artic

For me, it is very important that the diorama should look as close to the North Norwegian coast as possible.

The water made by a layer of “Natural Water” from Woodland Scenics over the acryl painted “sea”

The paint I used was matt, and the snow looked rather dull. I had to use “Natural Water” to let the snow sparkle a little.

The floating docks and the boathouse

 

The BV 222 was a giant aircraft with the loading doors very close to the water line.

 

The difference between high and low water was so large that a permanent dock could not be used.

They, therefore, used a floating dock, which always had the same height above the water.

I made a couple of floating docks.

In practice, the docks would probably be

much larger than what I made, but that might be as it is.

 

I also needed a scaffold for engine maintenance.

This was made by styrene rods.

 

A boathouse is always to be seen in the North Norwegian fiords and I had to make one, heavily weathered of course.

 

The boat house was made by wooden sticks and styrene.

The Backgrounds

 

I painted a typical North Norwegian coast landscape on a cardboard and used it for background for the diorama.

 

When photographing the BV 222 in the air, I took pictures of the flying boat in the air. The running propeller was done with help of a photo editing program

 

I then pasted some of the pictures of the BV 222 on different backdrops to create a feeling of the BV 222 in the air.

Placing the BV 222 on the water

 

I could have made a hole in the base for the flying boat, but this is always difficult, especially if you decide to move the aircraft to another part of the base.

I decided to cut of the underwater hull instead.

 

It was just a matter of taking the saw and just cut it off. I thought that it would be difficult to saw it off, but in reality, it was very easy.

 

And now the giant aircraft could settle down on the water.

 

The vehicles, the boats and the men

 

I chose to make a fuel servicing truck (from CMK) which fuelled the BV 222 and a Steur 1500 cargo truck (from MAC) which is handling freight and supplies.

 

The men are from different kits and the transport goods are mostly scratch built.

 

The rowboats and the launch are from CMK

 

The shed and the arrangement with the fuel hose are scratch made.

So, at last:

a kind of presentation of the life of BV 222 (V2)

 

It started its carrier as a transport aircraft in the Mediterranean, then as a long-range reconnaissance aircraft out of Biscarosse in France and then to Germany and Norway as transport aircraft.

The last chapter of the BV 222 V2 will be the sinking of the aircraft by British troops in October 1945. But that will be it the next posting

 

Moored in a Greek harbour.

Now, we are over Norway and fast approaching the artic area:

Then we settle down in the

far north and go right into

the diorama:

I hope you enjoyed this website!

Thank you for visiting!

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions or comments

(bjorn@dioramas-and-models.com)

Bjørn Jacobsen

April 2017

I know some of you are wondering how to take pictures of your models with a photographic background.

 

Here is how I did one of the more difficult pictures, the one from the Greek harbour.

 

The starting point was a picture I found on the net. To fit the picture into the story of the BV 222, I had to "adjust" it a little bit by removing the fishing boat in the front, making the water more suitable for the big flying boat, adding some German seaplanes, putting up a swastika banner and making the colours not so Holiday-like.

This was done by a photo editing program

 

 

Then I took a picture of the BV 222 model which I pasted on the “Greek” picture (by the help of the same editing program).

 

To “paste” means I had to “cut out” the

BV 222 from the picture and transfer it to the harbour picture. When “cutting out” the

BV 222, I just left the underwater fuselage out.

 

That’s it. It sounds perhaps complicated. But, when you have learned how to use the data program, it’s actually very easy.

 

If you wonder: I use a photo editing program called Corel Paintshop Pro X9