BV 138C-1/U1 Seedrache

The Blohm und Voss BV 138 was officially named 'Seedrache' (Sea Dragon) but unofficially it was instead mostly called 'the flying clog'. It was built and used as a long-range maritime reconnaissance flying boat - often flying for hours far out over the sea in search of allied convoys and shipping. Fully loaded it could fly over 4000 kilometers and stay up for 16 hours. This range could be increased even further when using RATO packs (Rocket Assisted Take-offs) or when launched from catapults on board seaplane tenders.

The BV 138C-1 was powered by three Junkers Jumo 205D-1 diesel engines and although they were fuel efficient they made the aircraft very slow and gave it a maximum ceiling of only 5000 m (16400 ft). However, armed with 20mm cannons in two turrets and a 13mm heavy machinegun in an open position as well as an optional MG15 the BV 138 could often take care of itself when attacked. It has for example been known to shoot down a British Blenheim as well as a Catalina flying boat in air-to-air combat. And since the BV 138 could also take a lot of battle damage and keep flying, especially as the diesel fuel rarely ignited when hit by machine gun fire, she was generally well liked by her crews.

Although the BV 138 was able to carry small loads of bombs and depth-charges and thereby do attack missions such as sub-hunting, most operations were pure reconnaisance and surveillance, often working together with the german U-boats. But they were also used for convoy escort, air-sea rescue, personnel and equipment transport or as a few modified ones for mine-sweeping duties.

The BV 138 flying boats were used almost all over Europe and patrolled the North Sea, Skagerrack and Kattegatt, Baltic Sea, Arctic Ocean, Norwegian Sea, Bay of Biscay as well as the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.

Max speed 285-300 km/h (177-186 mph)
Ceiling 5000 m (16400 ft)
Range 4000 km (2500 miles)

Wingspan 26.936 m
Length 19.850 m
Height 5.900 m

5-6 members; Pilot, Navigator, Radio operator, Nose gunner, Rear gunner, Upper rear gunner.

Armament BV 138C-1
1x MG151 20mm cannon in bow turret
1x MG151 20mm cannon in stern turret
1x MG131 13mm machine gun in open position aftward central engine
(optional) 1x MG15 7.9mm machine gun through hatch in starboard side of hull

(Early version) 3x 50kg (110 lbs) bombs on racks beneath starboard wing centre section or
2x 150kg depth charges
(U1 version) 6x 50kg (110 lbs) bombs or
4x 150kg depth charges

Major Production Models
Bv 138A-1 First production version. Service entry in April 1940, 25 built.
Bv 138B-1 Reinforced hull and floats, improved engines and armament. Service entry in Dec 1940, 24 built.
Bv 138C-1 Structural strengthening and improved armament. Service entry in March 1941, 227 built.

Other variants and modifications:
A few Bv 138C-1s were equipped with a large electric degaussing ring and used for minesweeping. Designated Bv 138MS.
Small numbers of Bv 138s were utilized as personnel transports whereby ten fully equipped infantry troops could be carried which actually required no modification of the plane. Luftwaffe's famous special-operations unit, KG 200, used for example one with this purpose.
Most if not all Bv 138s were equipped with catapult points for operation from seaplane tenders and about 20 Bv 138C-1s were equipped with a modified fuel filter to remove possible pollutants when refueling from u-boats. Some C-1s were also equipped with the FuG 200 Hohentwiel or FuG 213 Lichtenstein S radar to easier search out enemy ships and attack submarines.
Of the 227 Bv 138C-1s built, 164 were equipped with two racks for bombs and thereby doubling the offensive payload of the earlier built aircrafts. These later versions were designated Bv 138C-1/U1 although they were mostly still just called Bv 138C-1. Also some Bv 138B-1s are believed to have been modified into U1 versions.

All items on this page copyrighted © 2000