Blohm & Voss BV 40
|Model of a BV 40|
|Manufacturer||Blohm & Voss|
|First flight||6 May 1944|
|} The Blohm & Voss BV 40 was a German glider fighter designed to attack Allied bomber formations during the time of the bombing raids over Nazi Germany.
The key features of this small and spartan-looking aircraft were a very narrow and fairly heavily-armored cockpit, and two 30 mm (1.18 in) MK 108 cannon in the wing roots with very limited ammunition. The undercarriage would be dropped after take-off and the plane would later land on a skid. Owing to war-related priorities, the fuselage was constructed almost entirely of wood in order to save strategic materials. The plane was also designed to be built in as short a time as possible by non-skilled workers.
This aircraft would have been towed in pairs by a Messerschmitt Bf 109 and released above the Allied bomber combat box. Once released, it would glide at a sharp angle towards the enemy bomber fleet. During its short attack time, the BV 40 would fire its weapons, then glide back to earth. The idea of carrying a bomb on a cable behind the glider was briefly considered. By eliminating the engine and positioning the pilot in a prone position (i.e., lying on the front), the cross-sectional area of the aircraft was much reduced, making the BV 40 harder for bomber gunners to hit.
The first flight was in May 1944. Several prototypes were completed, but the project was stopped later in the year as the end of the war drew near.
Owing to the potential dangers for the pilot inherent in the operation of this precarious aircraft, the BV 40 is sometimes listed as a suicide weapon, but it was not intended as such.
Data from Warplanes of the Third Reich