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Blohm & Voss BV 40

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BV 40
Role

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Manufacturer

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First flight

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Number built

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The Blohm & Voss BV 40 was a German glider fighter designed to attack Allied bomber formations during the time of the bombing raids over Nazi Germany.

History

The key features of this small and spartan-looking aircraft were a very narrow and fairly heavily-armored cockpit, and two 30 mm (1.18 in) MK 108 cannon in the wing roots with very limited ammunition. The undercarriage would be dropped after take-off and the plane would later land on a skid. Owing to war-related priorities, the fuselage was constructed almost entirely of wood in order to save strategic materials. The plane was also designed to be built in as short a time as possible by non-skilled workers.

This aircraft would have been towed in pairs by a Messerschmitt Bf 109 and released above the Allied bomber combat box. Once released, it would glide at a sharp angle towards the enemy bomber fleet. During its short attack time, the BV 40 would fire its weapons, then glide back to earth. The idea of carrying a bomb on a cable behind the glider was briefly considered. By eliminating the engine and positioning the pilot in a prone position (i.e., lying on the front), the cross-sectional area of the aircraft was much reduced, making the BV 40 harder for bomber gunners to hit.[1]

The first flight was in May 1944. Several prototypes were completed, but the project was stopped later in the year as the end of the war drew near.

Owing to the potential dangers for the pilot inherent in the operation of this precarious aircraft, the BV 40 is sometimes listed as a suicide weapon, but it was not intended as such.[2]

Specifications

Data from Warplanes of the Third Reich[3]

General characteristics
  • Crew: One pilot
  • Length: 5.70 m (18 ft 8½ in)
  • Wingspan: 7.90 m (25 ft 11 in)
  • Height: 1.63 m (5 ft 4⅛ in)
  • Wing area: 8.70 m2 (93.6 ft2)
  • Empty weight: 838 kg (1,844 lb)
  • Gross weight: 952 kg (2,094 lb)

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 900 km/h (560[4] mph)</ul>Armament
  • 2 × fixed, forward-firing 30 mm (1.18 in) Rheinmetall Borsig MK 108 cannon (35 rpg)

See also

Related lists

References

Notes

  1. ^ Blohm und Voss BV 40
  2. ^ German Suicidal Aircraft
  3. ^ Green 1972, p. 102.
  4. ^ In a dive.

Bibliography

  • Green, William. War Planes of the Second World War, Volume One: Fighters. London: Macdonald & Co.(Publishers) Ltd., 10th impression 1972, p. 78-79. ISBN 0-356-01445-2.
  • Green, William. War Planes of the Third Reich. New York: Doubleday, 1972. ISBN 0-385-05782-2..
  • Green, William and Swanborough, Gordon. The Complete Book of Fighters. New York:Smithmark, 1994. ISBN 0-8317-3939-8.
  • Smith, J. Richard and Kay, Anthony. German Aircraft of the Second World War. London: Putnam 7 Company Ltd., 3rd impression 1978, p. 84-88. ISBN 0-370-00024-2.
  • Wood, Tony and Gunston, Bill. Hitler's Luftwaffe, a pictorial history and technical encyclopedia of Hitler's air power in World War II. London: Salamander Books, 1977, p. 138. ISBN 0-86101-005-1.
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