The BV 222 from the Blohm & Voss Aircraft Company Ltd. of Hamburg originated in 1937 following an invite to tender from the German Lufthansa for a comfortable and secure non-stop air service capable of conveying 16 to 24 passengers between Germany and North America.
Considering the poor performance and reliability of engines of that period, this was a big challenge for the B&V engineers under Chief Designer Richard Vogt. Carrying the civil registration D-ANTE, the V1 prototype made its successful maiden flight from Hamburg Finkenwerder on 7th September 1940.
Due to the requirements of the war, the aircraft was fitted with a large cargo floor and door. It was painted in Luftwaffe colours and used on transport flights to Sicily and Norway where seaworthiness up to Beaufort force 2 was ascertained.
From the end of 1941 a total of 17 supply flights for the Africa Corps were undertaken between Athens and Derna in Libya. Early in 1942 the aircraft received a defensive armament and was allocated to 222 Maritime Air Transport Squadron (MATS). The flying boat sank after a crash-landing at the port of Athens in early 1943.
Of the following; V2 to V6 and V8 had been shot down by December of 1943. The Luftwaffe considered the BV 222 to be an indispensable and invaluable transport aircraft, despite this, the German Navy successfully gained control of the BV 222 for use as a long-range reconnaissance aircraft and for anti-submarine warfare.
By June 1943, V3, V4 and V5 had been converted into reconnaissance flying-boats. The FuG 200 Hohentwiel anti-ship radar with its characteristic antennas in the nose of the BV 222 was able to detect surface ships at a range of 150km (93 miles).
The first flights were undertaken by V4 from Petsamo in Finland, later by V3 and V5 from Bisccarrosse in Western France. V3 and V5 were destroyed there on 20th June 1943 during an air raid.
The BV 222’s six Bramo 323 engines required constant repairs, demanding maintenance every 25 hours. The V7 therefore was fitted with Jumo 207 diesel aircraft engines with a service interval of 50 hours.
In 1944, the V2 participated in Operation Schatzgräber (“Treasure Seeker”), the code name of a German weather station at Alexandra Land in the Arctic, whose sick crew needed to be evacuated. The BV 222 dropped a spare wheel for a Fw 200 which had sustained damage during landing near the station.
Starting with the V9, the last four aircraft fitted with Jumo 207C engines and a laterally hinged nose loading door were delivered by May 1944 and designated BV 222C. Late in the September of 1943, the 1./SAGr.129 (Maritime Reconnaissance Group 129) in Bicarrosse started regular flights with V2, V4 and V9, to reconnoitre enemy convoys in the Atlantic and guide German U-Boats to their position.
Later, the V7, C-011 and C-010 which was shot down at Bicarrosse on 8th February 1944, were also deployed. The last reconnaissance flight undertaken by a BV 222 took place on 27th May 1944. In June 1944, all BV 222’s were moved to Norway where they were assigned to Stab/SAGr.130 (Staff/Maritime Reconnaissance Group 130). In May 1945, British Forces captured the V2 and C-012 in the port of Sörreisa and C-011 and C-013 in Tromsø in Northern Norway. V2 was handed over to the U.S. Naval Test Division which flew and examined the aircraft in Trondheim and later sunk it there.
The kit is supplied in a large ‘tray-style’ opening box, an initial inspection reveals an extremely large aircraft moulded in pale-grey injection moulded plastic with fine recessed panel-lines and crisp detail. A small amount of flash is present around the spue-gates joining the wings and the gates are a little heavy but should pose few problems with a little care.
The instruction booklet consists of 19 pages with 72 build stages in ‘exploded-view’ format. Options for two aircraft are displayed on pages 18 and 19. These are; BV 222 V1, “S1”, LTS 222-See, Mediterranean Sea, 1942-43 and the option that I will be building for this site; BV 222, V2, “X4+BH”, SAGr.130, Norway, 1944-1945.
The decals appear to be in register and of good quality. The transparencies are clear and opaque. There are six sprue frames included in the kit (including the wings and fuselage), pictures of which can be seen below.
This is one big aircraft. Thankfully as the review sample was supplied by Spot-On Models of Fleet Street, Swindon in the UK, it will go on display in the shop, I simply don’t have the room to accommodate an aircraft of this size. If you have, the BV 222 looks like an unusual and exciting prospect. The build review will follow soon.