05/31/2011. The most bizarre piston-engined fighter evolved by the German aircraft industry during WW II was without doubt the ungainly Blohm & Voss Bv 155 high-altitude interceptor with its inordinately large wing span and unique wing-mounted radiators. The development history of this warplane was as curious as its appearance, for its development was commenced early in 1942 by the Messerschmitt A.G. as the Me 155 shipboard fighter for the carrier Graf Zeppelin. This was to have employed the fuselage of the Bf 109 G married to an entirely new wing, a wide-track undercarriage and a 1,475 hp DB 605A engine.
Interest in shipboard fighters in Germany waned during the autumn of 1942 after the Graf Zeppelin carrier was cancelled, but during the following November the design was resurrected to fulfill a requirement for a high-speed single-seat bomber capable of carrying a 2,205 lb (1,000 kg) offensive load. Designated Me 155 A, the design was stripped of most of its defensive armament and all carrier equipment, internal fuel capacity was increased and a long tail-wheel leg fitted to provide ground clearance for a 2,205 lb (1,000 kg) SC 1000 bomb. Again Messerschmitt failed to obtain an order for the aircraft, but the basic design was further developed as the Me 155 B-1 to meet a specification for an Extremer Höhenjäger (literally: extreme height fighter).
Prototype construction of the Me 155 B-1 was about to commence when, in August 1943, the RLM instructed Messerschmitt to transfer all drawings to Blohm & Voss. At this time the design employed port and starboard Bf 109 wings attached to a new rectangular centre section,
spanning 68 ft 10.77 in (21.00 m) overall, a standard Bf 109 fuselage, tail plane and undercarriage, and vertical tail surfaces similar to those of the Me 209 V5. No less than eight individual radiators were mounted underwing! The fuselage had been lengthened to provide space for a large turbo-supercharger aft of the cockpit.
Dr. Vogt of Blohm & Voss considered extensive redesign essential, and although the first prototype, initially known as the Me 155 B-1 and later redesignated Bv 155 A-1 or Bv 155 V1, retained many Bf 109 fuselage components, an entirely new laminar flow wing was adopted. Large coolant radiators were mounted above and at the extremities of the wing centre section. The main undercarriage members were adapted from those of the
Ju 87 D-6, and the Bv 155 V1 was flown for the first time on February 8, 1945, this test being abbreviated as a result of an alarming rise in the coolant temperature shortly after take-off. Second and third flights were made on February 10 and 28 respectively, and a second prototype, the Bv 155 V2, had joined the test program on February 15.
The Bv 155 V2 was the result of further development work by Dr. Vogt's team and was intended as the first prototype for the Bv 155 B series and, like the Bv 155 V1, was powered by a DB 603A engine. The wing radiators were underslung, the wing chord was increased and a redesigned, all-round-vision cockpit canopy was fitted. A second B-series prototype, the Bv 155 V3 (Bill Pippin Collection), was shelved when seventy-five per cent complete in favor of the Bv 155 V4, the first prototype of the extensively modified Bv 155 C evolved by Blohm und Voss under the project number P.205.
The Bv 155 V1 and Bv 155 V2 served to test the TK 15 supercharger which was combined with the DB 603U engine in the Bv 155 V4 and offered 1,810 hp. Wing span was reduced from 67 ft 3.1 in to 61 ft 2.25 in (20.50 to 18.65 m), and undercarriage track from 21 ft 11.8 in to 12 ft 8 in (6.70 to 3.86 m).
The Bv 155 V4 was ready for flight testing in mid-April 1945, but the collapse of the came before a test was actually made. At this time, Blohm 7 Voss had an order for thirty Bv 155 C-0 fighters, all of which bore V-numbers
(V = Versuchsflugzeug, test aircraft), the first being the Bv 155 V4, and plans called for the completion of the Bv 155 V5 in May and the Bv 155 V6 and
Bv 155 V7 in June 1945. When the British Army occupied Hamburg on May 3,1945, the Bv 155 prototypes were discovered, the Bv 155 V1 was airworthy and a RAF pilot was instructed to fly it to the UK, however, it crashed shortly after takeoff.
On July 31, 1945, Bv 155 V2 and Bv 155 V3 were shipped to the RAE at Farnborough in the UK for examination, the former appeared in the static display at the German Aircraft Exhibition from October 29 to November 9, 1945. Bv 155 V2 was transferred to the USAAF (Foreign Equipment Number FE-505) and was shipped to the USA aboard the SS Port Fairy on January 27, 1946, and eventually ended up with the NASM, where it was briefly assembled as late as 1998. It is still with the museum in disassembled/stored condition.