Hobby Boss Bv-141B-O
The asymmetric Bv-141 is perhaps the strangest airplane to fly during the Second World War and one of the strangest ever to fly anywhere. Despite its counterintuitive looks, it was an excellent aircraft which was rejected by the service that ordered it because of its strangeness.
The aircraft was the result of a 1937 specification issued by the the Reichsluftfahrtministerium (RLM) for a single-engine reconnaissance aircraft with optimal visibility for the crew. The preferred design was the Arado Ar 198; however, the prototype proved unsuccessful. The eventual winner was the Focke-Wulf Fw 189 Uhu, even though it had a twin engine design, rather than the desired single engine.
Blohm & Voss, although not invited to participate, pursued a private venture far more radical, designed by Dr. Richard Vogt, the asymmetric BV 141.
The conservative traditionalists at the RLM were horrified by a design that violated the “if it looks right, it is right” rule. With the personal backing of Ernst Udet, head of the technical branch, three prototypes and an evaluation batch of five BV 141As were produced, powered by the BMW 132 radial. On April 4, 1940 the RLM ruled they were underpowered, although it was noted they otherwise exceeded all requirements. Vogt redesigned the airplane to use the more powerful BMW 801, but by the time the first flew in 1941, the RLM had already put the Fw-189 into production, and the need for BMW 801 engines in the Fw-190 reduced the chance of the BV 141B being produced in quantity.
In 1945, several wrecked BV 141s were found by advancing Allied forces. Eric Brown is said to have flown one that had been captured by the Soviets, but he never wrote anything about it. No examples survive today.
Airfix first released a 1/72 kit of the Bv-141B in the late 1960s. In around 1995, a 1/48 kit was released by HiPM. The kit is very difficult, with things not helped by the fact that the clear plastic crew pod is split vertically, which wrecks many of the upper clear sections. While some of these were eventually built by committed modelers, the majority of modelers who attempted this kit were eventually defeated (including yours truly).
This new kit by Hobby Boss, which takes advantage of new developments in molding technology, solves all the problems of the HiPM kit, though it strangely manages to have a prop with the blades reversed. There is now a resin replacement available from Aires, and a rumor that Hobby Boss has changed the prop for future releases. Decals are provided for the first two Bv-141B prototypes.
The kit is well-designed and will present no problems for an OOB build following the excellent instructions. I first painted all the interior for the crew pod with Xtracrylix RLM 66 Schwartzgrau. I also painted the interior side walls of the clear upper section of the pod. While all that set up, I assembled the wing and fuselage, all of which went together without need of filler anywhere.
The pod was assembled and attached to the rest of the model. I then spent an afternoon masking all the myriad windows, then painted the whole pod externally with RLM 66, then followed that with a coat of light grey primer overall.
I was at first put off by the callout for the painting of the first prototype, in RLM 02/71 splinter on the upper surfaces. However, when I looked at a photo of that airplane in William Green’s “Warplanes of the Third Reich,” I noticed along the leading edge of the near wing that the two colors of the upper surface had a high contrast. This solidified the idea that it would have been 02/71 rather than 70/71, which is very low-contrast.
I painted the lower surfaces with Xtracrylix RLM 65 Hellblau, and the upper surfaces with RLM 02 Graugrun and RLM 71 Dunklegrun. Once dry, a coat of Future was applied.
The kit decals went on without problem. I then applied two coats of Micro-Scale clear flat. I have been using this lately for the first time in more than 30 years, due to the unavailability of any other acrylic flat, and find that cutting it 50-50 with tap water gives a very nice flat finish with a slight sheen, which is actually the way a flat finish looks out of the factory.
I unmasked the pod, then assembled and attached the landing gear. Since the model is headed for the Planes of Fame Museum, where the likely audience will not note the incorrect prop, I used that. If you have a Fw-190D-9 prop in the spares box, this will work, or you can order the Aries resin replacement. Other modelers have noted that the extra prop in the Eduard Fw-190A-8 kit (which is unused) is correct for this airplane.
She Who Must Be Obeyed took one look at the model and shook her head in wonder. I think no one who has ever seen a Bv-141 had had a different first reaction. Those who enjoy odd-ball airplanes will like this kit, which is well-designed and produced and presents no problems in building a very nice model. Highly recommended.
11 additional images. Click to enlarge.