|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||New tool kit|
In 1937, the German Air Ministry – the Reichsluftfahrtministerium (RLM) – issued a specification for a single-engine reconnaissance aircraft with optimal visual characteristics. The preferred contractors were Arado with their Arado Ar 198, but the prototype proved unsuccessful. The eventual winner was the Focke-Wulf Fw 189 Uhu, as much as its twin-boom design did not match the requirement of a single engined aircraft. Blohm & Voss (Hamburger Flugzeugbau) although not invited to participate, pursued as their private venture something far more radical. The proposal of chief designer Dr. Richard Vogt was the unique asymmetric BV 141.
The perspex-glazed crew gondola on the starboard side strongly resembled that found on the Fw 189, and housed the pilot, observer and rear gunner, while the fuselage on the port side led smoothly from the BMW 132N radial engine to a tail unit.
At first glance, the placement of weight would have induced tendency to roll, but the weight was evenly supported by lift from the wings.
In terms of thrust vs drag asymmetry, the countering of induced yaw was a more complicated matter. At low airspeed, it was calculated to be mostly alleviated because of a phenomenon known as P-factor, while at normal airspeed it proved to be easily controlled with trimming.
The tailplane was symmetrical at first, but in the 141B it became asymmetrical – starboard tailplane virtually removed – to improve the rear gunner's field of view and fire.
Three prototypes and an evaluation batch of five BV 141As were produced, backed personally by Ernst Udet, but the RLM decided on 4 April 1940 that they were underpowered, although it was also noted they otherwise exceeded the requirements. By the time a batch of 12 BV 141Bs were built with the more powerful BMW 801 engines, they were too late to make an impression, as RLM already decided to put the Fw 189 into production. Indeed, an urgent need for BMW 801 engines for use in the Fw 190 fighter aircraft reduced the chance of the BV 141B being produced in quantity.
Vogt came up with several other asymmetric designs, including the piston-jet P.194.01, but none of those were actually built.
Several wrecked BV 141s were found by advancing Allied forces. One was captured by British forces and sent to England for examination. No examples survive today.
I was quite pleased to see this one being released as previously, the only kit of this aircraft in this scale had been the rather horrible HiPM version, which was VERY short run. The kit itself is molded like all modern Hobby Craft kits and that means crisp panel line detailing. No rivets on this one. There are three grey sprues with the one for the wings being so long that it doesn't fit flat in the box, having to be angled in there. The other sprues are clear. No photo etch is included, though it would have been nice to have p.e. seat belts.
The interior is quite nicely detailed, as it should be with all that clear. The pilot has his own mini floor section on which to put his seat and control stick. To his right is the other crewman's seat and to the left is a nicely detailed instrument panel that has separate controls. For this piece as well as the main instrument panels there are decals if you wish to use them. In the back of the aircraft are a number of storage bins for machine guns as well as what I assume are camera compartments.
On the right side of the aircraft is a full lower wing that includes the lower section of the crew pod and wheel well. For the top of that is an outer wing section, the upper crew pod, which is all clear plastic, and a short stub upper wing. The left wing assembly is normal. In between those fits the main fuselage section that carries the engine and tail planes. The horizontal stab is a single piece that fits into the tail. In the front is the engine that has a three piece cowling, forward bank of cylinders and to the rear a piece with exhaust stubs. A nicely molded prop and spinner fit onto an engine fan, just like on a FW-190 (which uses the same engine).
The underside contains the landing gear with each side having a three piece gear door and a ribbed tire/wheel. There are two bomb racks under each wing for light bombs. In addition to the main upper clear piece, there is a lower forward crew pod piece and a rear gun fairing. The entry hatches on the upper side are separate so you can pose them open. One thing for sure, there will be some rather intense masking on this one.
Instructions are well drawn and provide adequate interior color information. There are markings for two aircraft. If you haven't figured it out from the history section, these two aircraft are both the slightly larger BV-141B variants. The box art plane is a BV-141B-0 in standard RLM 70/71/65 splinter scheme. The other is a B-1 in RLM 02 over RLM 65. As a note the Stammkennzeichen (radio code letters) for the B-0 aircraft all start with NC. For the B-1, the radio letters are GK or GL. From the photos I've seen, the majority were painted in the splinter camo. If you visit the reference, you'll find the codes for all the aircraft so you can do some mixing and matching if you want something a bit different from those supplied in the kit. Decals are nicely printed and the under wing crosses have the well cutouts already done.
I'm quite pleased to see this one done. Once I heard about what a disaster the HiPM kit was, I knew I'd never get one. Now we have one that won't drive one to drinking. It is a big aircraft, larger than a Ju-87 or even a Hs-129 so it will take up some shelf space. Unfortunately, aside from a few test missions, these were never flown operationally, all being assigned to schools or used for testing, so you have no unit badges, or unit codes or even any additional color. Still, like the Do-335, it is an impressive and interesting aircraft that enthusiasts should have in their collections.
Preview kit courtesy of me.
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