Blohm & Voss Bv 141: Is This the Ugliest Airplane Model Ever Made?

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Blohm & Voss Bv 141: Is This the Ugliest Airplane Model Ever Made?
Blohm & Voss BV 141

Many aircrafts that fly the skies, impress not just aviation enthusiasts, but even many regular people, for its extraordinary and impeccable look. With the technologically advanced airplanes that we see today, it’s hard to think that there are “ugly” ones that exist.

According to the National Air and Space Museum archivist Brian Nicklas, who has formulated “Nicklas’ Law of Aircraft Identification,” he says that if an airplane is ugly, it’s British; it it’s weird, it’s French; and if it’s both ugly and weird, then it’s Russian.

But how about the ugliest airplane model ever made?

Blohm & Voss Bv 141
The Blohm & Voss BV 141 was an aircraft and light bomber used during the World War II for German tactical reconnaissance. It is obviously notable for its uncommon, and weird structural asymmetry with a design characterized by a Plexiglas-glazed crew gondola on the starboard side which strongly resembled that found on the Fw 189.

To some people, this airplane model looked more like conjoined twins than an actual, useful aircraft. At first glance, the placement of weight would have not supported the airplane to fly, but the weight was found to be evenly supported by the lift from the wings.

While the German Air Ministry – the Reichsluftfahrtministerium (RLM) definitely issued a specification to Arado and Focke-Wulf for a single-engine reconnaissance aircraft with optimal visual characteristics (in which, Blohm & Voss Bv 141 fits the bill), some people can’t help but think the airplane model still looks, undoubtedly ugly!

Who built the Blohm & Voss Bv 141?
The German Air Ministry – the Reichsluftfahrtministerium (RLM) already had a preferred contractor for its airplane model requirement - Arado with the Ar 198. Even during the early stage, Arado company’s proposal was favored by those in RLM, and they got the development contract for what was to be the totally unsuccessful Ar 198.

With the failed attempt of Arado to create the specific airplane model, the winner became Focke-Wulf Fw 189 Uhu, but they, too, even with the twin-boom design using two smaller engines, did not match the requirement of a single-engined aircraft! Hamburger Flugzeugbau wasn’t invited by the RLM to tender a proposal, but their chief designer, Dr. Richard Vogt, was inspired to fulfill the RLM’s specification, and deliver something that’s uniquely asymmetric and far more radical, and lo and behold, the Blohm & Voss Bv 141 was born.

Chief Designer Dr. Vogt believed that the only way in which adequate all-round vision (reconnaissance purposes) could be provided in a single-engined aircraft was to adopt and use an asymmetrical configuration, in which the crew will be housed in an extensively-glazed, nacelle offset to starboard. He was also firm in his idea that the symmetrically-mounted crew nacelle can cancel out the airscrew torque, which was considered a headache.

What is the operational history of the Blohm & Voss Bv 141?
Records say that three prototypes and an evaluation batch of five BV 141As were produced, and all are backed personally by Ernst Udet (German pilot and air force general during World War II), but the RLM decided they were underpowered, although it can actually exceed and surpass all expectations and requirements. By the time a batch of 12 BV 141Bs was built, it was too late. It was too late to make a splash, because the RLM already settled to put the Fw 189 into production. Many say the urgent need for the BMW 801 engines for use in the Fw 190 aircraft just lessened the chance of the BV 141B being produced in quantity.

The Blohm & Voss Bv 141 was supposed to have good flying qualities because the two prototypes had these:

Bv 141A
Five pre-production aircraft
Engine: 1,000-hp/746-kW BMW-Bramo 323
Wing span: 50 ft 8.25 in/15.45m

Bv 141B
Three-seat short-range reconnaissance plane.
Engines: one 1,560-hp (1,163-kW) BMW 801A radial piston
Maximum speed: 230 mph (370 km/h) at sea level
Service ceiling: 32,810 ft (10,000 m)
Range: 746 miles (1,200 km).
Empty Weight: 10,362 lb (4,700 kg)
Maximum take-offweight: 13,448 lb (6,100 kg).
Span: 57 ft 3.5 in (17.46 m)
Length: 45 ft 9.25 in (13.95 m)
Height: 11 ft 9.25 in (3.60 m)
Wing area: 570.51 sq ft (53.00 sq.m)
Rate-of-Climb: 1,860ft/min (567m/min)
Crew: 3
Armament: two fixed MG 17 and two trainable MG 15 0.312-in (7.92-mm) machine guns, and four 110-lb (50-kg) bombs.

But what good would it do if it’s too ugly?? There was a lot of thought put into the creation and development of this airplane model, but it just does not work! The Ilmavoimat / Maavoimat / VL team, which evaluated this particular model, conducted a series of test flights in 1938. According to the test flights, the performance was found to be good, and the observation visibility (one of the biggest requirements) was excellent, although the STOL capability was lacking.

Still, even with these observations, they found the design too “radical” and it was more of a “possibility,” than an actual “firm consideration.”

Wouldn’t it be interesting to see this airplane model fly the skies?

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Blohm & Voss Bv 141: Is This the Ugliest Airplane Model Ever Made?

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