BV 138C

Known as "The Flying Clog" the BV 138 was designed to meet a rather vague specification for an ocean going reconnaissance flying boat by the Hamberger Flugzeugbau, later known as Blohm und Voss. The first prototype did not fair well having excessive hull drag, insufficient planing surface, the hull needed extensive reinforcement to withstand stresses of rough water conditions and maximum load. Once airborne the aircraft was directionally unstable and suffered from tail boom vibrations. The crew accommodations were also considered inadequate for long endurance patrols. The second prototype was basically a total redesign maintaining only the basic wing structure. It faired much better than the original although its structural strength was still considered to be insufficient and it was modified adding nearly 1500 pounds to its weight. 

The C version also included yet more strengthening and more powerful engines and improvements in armament. Once its teething troubles were over the BV 138 proved itself an effective patrol aircraft able to absorb a considerable amount of punishment from both nature and the enemy. It was a stable firing platform and its guns had a good field of fire. The long ranging cannon armament proved effective. The aircraft was used in the Black sea, the North Atlantic, the Baltic and the Arctic ocean, used primarily to track convoys. They were also used in the Bay of Biscay and the Mediterranean. Probably the last mission flown by Bv 138 occurred on May 1, 1945. A BV 138 stationed in Copenhagan was ordered to fly to Berlin and land on a lake after midnight to pick up to important couriers. It succeeded in landing under heavy gun fire but the couriers could not produce any identification papers. The pilot refused to take them instead evacuating 10 wounded troops back to Copenhagen. It was found out later that the couriers had been carrying Hitler's last will and testament.

The Kit

This kit has been around quite a while and I'm not sure what company released it first but I have boxings by Super Model, Italeri and Revell. The Revell kit is a more recent release and the box was in better shape so it got photographed for the review. I also liked the box art even though it's one of those dreaded end flap boxes. The one I plan on building is a Super Model release but it came in an even larger end flap box. Inside the box is one large bag with three large sprues in a dark gray color. The parts feature raised panel lines which seem to be a bit variable in their width and height. The surface is smooth and I found no surface defects on the major airframe pieces. I found no ejector pin marks that will show after assembly. The parts are virtually flash free with only parting lines to deal with on the smaller parts. The interior details are pretty much the standard for older 1/72 kits with floors, seats, control columns and instrument panel. There are some black boxes for the radio compartment and decals for them and the instrument panel. The crewmen feature separate arms and are a bit better detailed than many provided with 1/72 kits. The control surfaces, with the exception of the flaps are separate. The kit includes three small bombs and can be built with a mine detonating magnet ring, however only one aircraft was ever built with the ring. The kit also includes a beaching dolly. Altogether there are 129 gray parts. The clear parts are rather thick and only moderately clear. The turrets are in halves which means seams in clear parts which are never any fun. Altogether there are 15 clear parts for a kit total of 144 parts. See photos below.

The decals look thin and have a matte finish. They are in register. The sheet provides markings for three aircraft, one of which is the mine sweeper version. See photo below.

The instructions are printed on a large sheet that is folded in sixths which does not correspond to the assembly steps or much of anything else. It includes history in four languages, the assembly steps and a parts map and a catalog of other kits that were available at the time. Assembly is broken down into nine steps.

The only aftermarket item that I know of is from Falcon,they include a main canopy and turrets in vacuform in their set # 29.

Conclusions

This is not a bad kit except for the raised panel lines and they wouldn't be so bad but they are variable in width and protrude too much. Options are scribing or just sanding them all down. In 1/72 scale panel lines typically are over done and would not be all that visible at a normal viewing distance. The kit shouldn't provide and major difficulties for modelers with a moderate amount amount of experience and it's another kit that there really isn't any other choice except and rather rare and very expensive all resin kit in 1/48 scale.

Links to kit build or reviews

Reviews / builds can be found here, here and here.

References

"Bv 138" by Heinz J. Nowarra
"Warplanes of the Third Reich" by William Green

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Updated 5/10/08