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Plane of the Week: Nazi Germany's BV 141

Posted by Jordan Ramirez on

The BV 141: one mean, lean, lopsided machine.

Let's just face the facts: this thing is flat-out strange. Likely one of the only asymmetric aircraft in all of human history, what's truly strange about the BV 141 is that it actually flew-and it flew pretty well!

The BV 141 was actually intended to be a tactical reconnaissance aircraft to be used to combat the Allied powers in World War II. Nazi Germany's Ministry of Aviation-more commonly (kidding) referred to as the Reichsluftfarhtministerium (not kidding)-desired to design a plane that had an exceptional field-of-view: one that spanned far beyond the small windows of other common reconnaissance aircraft designs.

PLANE of the week big

In an unbelievable feat of modern engineering, the Germans managed to design a craft that was capable of holding a crew of three in the cockpit, which sat a good meter or two away from the engine and propeller-giving it a rather unwieldy appearance. Somehow, this plane performed very well in early testing after several prototypes were built upon; Nazi Germany likely produced up to 28 of these funny-looking aircraft, yet not one of which has survived.

The BV 141 gets its name from its manufacturer, Blohm & Voss. Designed by Richard Vogt and funded further by Ernst Udet, the BV 141 quickly became appreciated for its ability to drastically improve the rear-gunner's visibility.

Still, the BV 141 lacked a proper engine-even though the aircraft had dramatically surpassed the many other performance standards set forth by the German Ministry of Aviation. Shortly thereafter, twelve BV 141's were produced with a far more powerful BMW 801 engine (yep, that BMW) and it had deemed by-and-large a near-perfect aircraft in terms of design and performance. Nevertheless, manufacturing of another plane, the Focke-Wulf Fw 189, had already begun, and all the BMW 801 engines were being used for that purpose. The BV 141 was cast aside.

At any rate-while the slightest variable could've changed the outcome of the Great War-the modern world should be quite glad that the majority of the BV 141's that the Allied soldiers encountered were already non-operational.