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  1. The Blohm & Voss Bv.141 – Airframe Detail No.1 (Second Edition) ISBN: 9781912932191 Valiant Wings Publishing The Bv.141 was perhaps one of the weirdest looking aircraft of WWII that almost made it to production, with its asymmetric design, large wings, fuselage nacelle reminiscent of an Fw.189, and the fact that much of its development and history has been lost in the confusion that reigned at the fall of the third Reich. In 1937 the RLM (Luftwaffe High Command) issued a request for proposals for a single-engined reconnaissance aircraft with a three-man crew. The initial concept by Richard Vogt, chief designer for Blohm & Voss, was a conventional layout with the cockpit behind the engine. However, this provided a limited field of view, leading him to come up with possibly the most radical WWII aircraft design ever. The crew cabin was moved onto the starboard wing, resulting in an asymmetrical configuration which looked as if it would be unstable and uncontrollable even if it could get off the ground. However, the RLM saw the potential and authorised the construction of three prototypes. The first BV141A took to the air on 25th February 1938 and proved to be surprisingly easy to handle. Vogt redesigned the cockpit to improve the field of view before the second prototype was built. This machine was lost when it crash-landed following an undercarriage problem. Nevertheless, the RLM gave its approval for further aircraft to be built. Along the way the plane got a more powerful engine, an asymmetric tailplane that improved the rear gunner’s field of fire, and a change of designation to BV141B. Then the project was suddenly cancelled for purely logistical reasons, which probably had something to do with the more conventional Fw.189 and Focke Wulf’s influence in the RLM. The engine used in later models was the same one fitted to the Do217 and the Fw190, and the factory where these engines were built found itself unable to meet the demand after it was bombed by the RAF. Understandably, the RLM felt that the war effort would be better served by bombers and fighters rather than reconnaissance aircraft, and the Bv.141 was consigned to history without ever seeing active service. Its role was filled by the Fw-189, even though it did not meet the initial request for a single-engined machine. Records show that twenty aircraft were built before the plug was pulled, but none survived the war. This book, by author Richard A Franks, with profiles and plans by Richard J Caruana and example model produced by Steve A Evans is perfect-bound as usual and consists of 66 pages within a card jacket, printed on glossy paper stock throughout. It is the Second Edition of course, and is three pages longer than the original edition, as a little more information has clearly been dug up in the interim. in the Airframe Detail series that concentrates more on the aircraft in question, with just a short section to the rear with an example build plus all the Bv.141 based aftermarket you can lay your hands on at time of writing, which covers only a page, as it’s not a mainstream subject with only 20 airframes having existed, and none of them seeing official service. Notes in the corner of the first page tells us that almost all known pictures, drawings and diagrams still extant of this aircraft have been included in the book, and this is evident from the sheer quantity, some of which are surprisingly good, and some necessarily small and grainy because, well, that's all we have, although someone is still bound to be looking. The book is broken down into sections as follows: Introduction 1. Technical Description Detailed coverage of the construction and equipment 2. Camouflage & Markings Colour side profiles, notes and photographs 3. Building a Bv.141 A quick build of the new 1:48 kit from Hobby Boss by Steve A Evans Appendices I Bv.141 Kit, Accessory, & Decal List II Bibiography Inside there are lots of photographs, many diagrams and a smattering of colour profiles, the pictures being in black and white due to that being the predominant film format of the day. The diagrams include some reference to the Fw.189, as some of their fittings were similar if not identical due to their shared intended task. The profiles show the few variants and crew nacelle designs, which varied immensely during development. The level of detail given within the pages is perfect for the modeller, and will be of use to anyone from novice to super-detailer, with some of the contemporary photos showing how the aircraft morphed during development, with a few photos showing them in repair and maintenance at the airfields where they were undergoing testing. Steve Evans' build of the excellent and solitary 1:48 Hobby Boss kit shows what can be done to the model, and results in a lovely example that anyone would be proud to have in their cabinet, with an incredibly detailed and subtle variation in the overall RLM02 scheme that it is wearing. From a modelling standpoint there is isn’t all that much of scope for building and painting of many different schemes, but some of the photos show well how the airframes weathered during testing. There’s also a little what-iffery you could engage in, and there the world is your salt-water bivalve mollusc Conclusion Another renewal of an excellent book from Valiant, and a left-field, interesting one personally, as I have a fondness for the weirdness that is the Bv.141, as well as a one of the HB kits in the stash with some Eduard goodies. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
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