The Blohm & Voss BV 222 Wiking was a large, six engine German flying boat of World War II.
Originally designed as a commercial transport, it was the largest seaplane to attain production status during the war.
Prior to World War II, the German airline Luft Hansa had carried out many transatlantic mail flights.
Their main interest was passenger transport, and they initiated a program in 1936 for which Hamburger Flugzeugbau offered the Ha 222, a very large flying boat designed by Dr. Richard Vogt.
By the time an order for three was received and work began, the company had changed its name to that of its parent company, Blohm & Voss, and the design was redesignated the BV 222.
Construction of the first prototype, V1, began in January 1938, with construction of the V2 and V3 following within weeks.
V1 made its test flight on 7 September 1940, carrying the civil registration D-ANTE.
During trials it demonstrated that it could carry up to 92 passengers or 72 patients on stretchers over short distances at a maximum speed of 385 km/h (239 mph).
The flight characteristics were found to be satisfactory, but with some improvements required.
Further trials lasted until December 1940, when the V1 passed into Luftwaffe service, receiving a military paint scheme and the Stammkennzeichen individual alphabetic military aircraft registration code of CC+EQ, later changed to the alphanumeric Geschwaderkennung “wing code” designation of X4+AH, when in service with Lufttransportgruppe 222.
The type had a long flat floor inside the cabin and a large square cargo door aft of the wing on the starboard side, with such a flat floor for the hull interior being a welcome novelty for that era.
The usual balance floats for a flying boat design were ingeniously designed as a matching pair of retracting float units per side, which extended from beneath the wing’s outer panels in “clamshell” fashion when fully extended and fit fully flush with the wing panels’ undersides when retracted.
Only 13 aircraft are thought to have been completed.
Originally powered by Bramo 323 Fafnir radial engines, later aircraft were powered by six 746 kW (1,000 hp) Jumo 207C inline two-stroke opposed-piston diesel engines. The use of diesels permitted refuelling at sea by special re-supply U-boats.
C-13 aircraft was a sole example fitted with Jumo 205C and later Jumo 205D engines.
Early aircraft were identified as V1 to V8.
Production examples were designated C-09 to C-13.
V1 made seven flights between Hamburg and Kirkenes up to 19 August 1941, transporting a total of 65,000 kg (143,000 lb) of supplies and 221 wounded men, covering a distance of 30,000 km (19,000 mi) in total.
After being overhauled at Hamburg, V1 was sent to Athens, from where it carried supplies for the Afrika Korps, making 17 flights between 16 October and 6 November 1941.
The V1 was at this time unarmed and was given an escort of two Messerschmitt Bf 110 heavy fighters.
Following these flights, the V1 returned to Hamburg to have defensive armament fitted, comprising a 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 81 machine gun in the hull, two turret-mounted 13 mm (.51 in) MG 131 machine guns, and four 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 81s in waist mounts.
The registration was changed to X4+AH at the same time and the V1 formed the basis for the new air transport squadron Lufttransportstaffel 222 (LTS 222).
Between 1942 and 1943, the aircraft flew in the Mediterranean theatre, until in mid-February 1943 it sank following a collision with a submerged wreck while landing at Piraeus harbour.
The V2 (CC+ER) made its first flight on 7 August 1941, and after extensive testing was assigned to LTS 222 on 10 August 1942 as X4+AB.
Since the aircraft was intended for long-distance overwater flights, in addition to the armament fitted to the V1 it received two rear facing wing mounted turrets with dual 13 mm (.51 in) MG 131s, accessed via the tubular wing spar which was 1 m (3 ft 3 in) in diameter.
In 1944, the V2 participated in Operation Schatzgräber, 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.
The V3 (initially DM+SD) first flew on 28 November 1941 and was transferred to LTS 222 on 9 December 1941.
After V1’s sinking, V3 returned to Hamburg where it was armed.
It was destroyed along with V5 on 20 June 1943 at Biscarrosse by RAF de Havilland Mosquitos of No. 264 Squadron RAF.
V4, which had an altered height tail, was also assigned to LTS 222 for Africa flights.
V6 was shot down on 21 August 1942 on the Taranto to Tripoli route by a Bristol Beaufighter, V8 was shot down on the same route on 10 December 1942.
The V7 (TB+QL), which made its first flight on 1 April 1943, was fitted with six 746 kW (1,000 hp) Jumo 207C inline two-stroke diesel engines.
With a take-off weight of 50,000 kg (110,000 lb) and a range of 6,100 km (3,800 mi), it was intended as the prototype BV 222C.
Following the Invasion of Normandy in June 1944, the remaining BV 222 aircraft were transferred to KG 200.
Of these, C-09 was probably the BV 222 reported to have been strafed and destroyed by Hawker Typhoon aircraft of No. 439 Squadron RCAF on 24 April 1945 at Seedorf.
V7 and V4 were scuttled by their crews at Travemünde and Kiel-Holtenau airport respectively, at the end of the war.
C-10 was probably the BV 222 reported shot down southwest of Biscarrosse on the night of 8 February 1944 by a Mosquito of No. 157 Squadron RAF.
One BV 222, V4, is said to have shot down a US Navy PB4Y-1 Liberator of VB-105 (BU#63917) commanded by Lieutenant Evert, on 22 October 1943.
Since the war this has often been mistakenly quoted as a BV 222 shooting down an Avro Lancaster.
Proposed version powered by 1470 hp (1100 kW) Junkers Jumo 208 diesel engines.