Italeri 1/72 Blohm und Voss Bv 138B-1/C-1/MS 'Flying Clog' Flying Boat Kit First Look
By Ray Mehlberger
|Date of Review||July 2007||Manufacturer||Italeri|
|Subject||Blohm und Voss Bv 138B-1/C-1/MS 'Flying Clog' Flying Boat||Scale||1/72|
|Kit Number||10-017||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Neat option of a mine detection aircraft. Separate control surfaces.||Cons||Decals do not match instruction profiles. Raised panel lines may not please some modelers.|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$43.99|
One of the first projects by the Hamburger Flugzeugbau, Blohm und Voss section, was for a long range reconnaissance flying boat. The selected configuration was of a central boat with twin booms carrying the tail. Construction of an example began in March of 1935. An order was placed for the prototypes with the designation Ha 138. It was to be powered by three Junkers Jumo 250 C diesel engines. A marked lateral stability deficiency was experienced during trials together with structural deficiencies in rough seas and poor hydrodynamic qualities.
It was decided to re-design the aircraft, but keep the original configuration of a central boat and twin booms. The new aircraft flew for the first time in February 1939 and was designated BV-138. The first production order was for 25 aircraft, some of which were immediately used in the occupation of Norway. This initial experience brought to light again the necessity to strengthen further the aircraft’s structure.
Following the modifications, the aircraft was designated Bv 138B-1. Additional defensive armament was fitted bringing the total to two MG 151 20mm cannons in rear and front turrets and a MG 131 13mm machine gun in a open position aft of the central engine. Offensive armament included three 50kg bombs attached to the central section of the starboard wing.
During the winter of 1940-41, units equipped with the Bv 138B-1 were based in Norway. They searched for convoys in the North Sea and in the Atlantic. In March 1941, an improved version – known as the Bv 138C-1 – entered production. This differed slightly externally from the previous version and was powered by three 12 cylinder Junkers Jumo 205D diesel engines of 880 hp.
Some Bv 138’s were converted for mine detecting and designated Bv 138MS. They were equipped with a duralumin ring and lacked the rear turret and armament for the front turret, which was substituted with the motor which supplied the power for the ring. After solving the teething troubles experienced by the prototypes, the Bv 138 resulted in an excellent operational aircraft. It showed itself a robust machine which could take much punishment from the enemy and at times came out as the victor against much more agile and faster aircraft. Bv 138s also worked in close consort with U-boats. Because the fuselage looked like the shape of a Dutch wooden shoe, it was nicknamed the Flying Clog.
The kit comes in a large, rather flimsy, end opening type box. The box art is by Don Greer who does a lot of the artwork for the Squadron in Action series of books. It shows a Bv 138 with a blue shield with a penguin, wearing wooden shoes and carrying a bomb under his arm, on the nose and the call letters white F and black H on the fuselage, on a all white background. (marking included on the decal sheet). I did some looking in my copy of Sea Eagles book (reviewed earlier on this site) and found this shield pictured on the nose of an Arado Ar-95A-1 of 3./SAGr.125, Baltic coast, 1941. I suppose that the Bv 138 was with this same outfit.
All the text, on the box and instructions, is in English, Italian, French and German.
The back of the box has full color illustrations of the 3 marking options provided on the decal sheet:
A BV-138B-1or C-1 (not clear which is which?) with the penguin mark on the nose. We are not told what outfit this is on the box, however. I did find it in a book as mentioned above. Or the same aircraft with a black shield with a armored fist on it. The FH fuselage lettering is shown different than the box art. It is all in white and positioned behind the German cross. The box art has it in front of the cross???.
A BV-138MS mine detection aircraft, with the duralumin ring. Fuselage lettering is B + JA. It is shown as all white lettering on this drawing, but on the decal sheet the lettering is all black. Again…confusing. We are not told what unit this is either.
A BV-138B-1 with the fuselage lettering K6+BK. This is shown as all white lettering on the fuselage drawing, but it is all black on the decal sheet. Larger black letters of this are for under the wings and the drawings show this should be black. Very bad Supermodel and should match the decal sheet. Again, we are not told what outfit this aircraft served with.
There is a scrap drawing of the beaching dolly included in the kit. Colors are called out in 4 languages: English, Italian, French and German.
Inside the box are three large medium gray trees of parts, a tree of clear parts, the instructions and the decal sheet.
The instructions consist of a single sheet that has been accordion folded into 12 narrow pages.
Page 1 has the history of the BV-138 in Italian and English.
Pages 2 –7 spill over into each other. They show the parts trees drawings and assembly steps 1 to 5.
Pages 8 – 10 have 4 more assembly steps (6 to 9). Steps 7 to 9 are used for building the Bv 138MS mine detection variant. If you opt to build this one you should not install the nose and rear guns shown in earlier steps.
Page 11 shows the box arts, in black and white, of 11 other aircraft kits that Supermodel marketed. There is also a listing of decal sheets that they marketed at one time too.
Page 12 has the Bv 138’s history, again, in French and German.
The decal sheet completes the kits contents it has the markings mentioned above, decals for the instrument panel and radio faces, swastikas for the tail and a white fuselage band.
The parts trees are not alphabetized. There are NO part numbers molded next to the parts either. This means the tedious job of having to look at the parts tree drawings and finding the part you need on the trees. Thank goodness these drawings at least are numbered. Bad move Supermodel.
The first parts tree holds: the propellers, ailerons, wing floats, bombs, rudders, control yokes cockpit interior parts, crewmen with their separate arms etc. (97 parts)
The second parts tree holds: fuselage halves, tail boom pieces and beaching dolly parts (18 parts).
The third parts tree holds: wing halves and the duralumin ring parts (13 parts)
The final parts tree is the clear parts for the cockpit, fuselage and turret transparencies (15 parts).
This is a nicely detailed model of an interesting aircraft. The panel lines are all raised, which may not please some modelers.
I intend to build mine as the mine detection version. I wish I could find out what outfits the markings in the kit depict. Highly recommended to modelers that have done other complicated aircraft kits, due the large amount of parts in this kit.