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KIT REVIEW


Special Hobby BV 155B V-1 "Karawanken"
1:72 Scale



The B-17, B-24, Lancaster, and other bomber raids on Nazi Germany were a significant challenge for Luftwaffe defenses, but in all, there was a relative parity between the bombers and the German air defense fighters.  Many allied bombers made it to their targets, and many Fw 190s and Bf 109s were able to cripple or shoot down significant  numbers of bombers.  The prospect of the B-29 entering the air war in Europe would have nullified any German advantage, as it would have flown above their air defense cover.  Work began on high-altitude interceptors including rocket fighters, the Ta 152, and other designs such as the Blohm & Voss BV 155.  Special Hobby recently released a new injection molded kit of the BV 155V-1 in 1:72 scale, and here we review this kit of one of the most unique and rare German combat aircraft of WWII.          

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By early 1942, the estimated performance data of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress reached German intelligence.  It would operate above the service ceilings of the Bf 109 and Fw 190s.  Nothing in service or on the drawing boards could intercept the Superfortress.  Messerschmitt began urgent work on a new high-altitude interceptor, but in 1943 the project was passed on to Blohm & Voss.  Eventually, a flying prototype emerged before the end of the war, but this only followed a massively convoluted development process.

The BV 155 arose from a requirement for a carrier-based single-seat fighter destined for the GRAF ZEPPELIN, which was to have been Nazi Germany’s first operational aircraft carrier.  Messerschmitt proposed the Me 155, which would have used as many off-the-shelf Bf 109 parts as possible.  Ultimately, the Me 155 was abandoned as it became clear that the GRAF ZEPPELIN project would be abandoned.

Since a great deal of work was invested in the Me 155 project, Messerschmitt saw the opportunity to resurrect the design for a Luftwaffe requirement for a high-speed single seat bomber as the Me 155A.  This went nowhere, as did their proposed Me 155B, which would have been a high altitude interceptor.  Given the emergent B-29 threat, the German Air Ministry saw promise here and developed the extreme high-altitude fighter concept, or the Extremer Höhenjäge.  Seeing how Messerschmitt was over-saturated with work, the RLM transferred the project to Blohm & Voss.  A complete redesign took shape in the form of the BV 155 as they cut virtually all ties to the Bf 109 commonality philosophy.   

The new BV 155 design concept featured an armored and pressurized cockpit equipped with an ejection seat, high aspect ratio laminar-flow wings, widely spaced landing gear, and a very advanced powerplant.  The intakes on the underside of the fuselage and at the trailing edge of the wings fed external air to a turbo-supercharger, while a pipe semi-recessed into the left fuselage (visible below the cockpit and above the long exhaust pipe) fed cooled, high-pressure air from the intercooler to the engine-driven supercharger.  These features (and others) were necessary for the intended operational altitude of 52,000+ feet and an airspeed of 430 mph.
 
The BV 155B V-1 first flew on 08 Feb 1945 while work continued on two other airframes (the V-2 and V-3).  A few subsequent test flights followed but the British Army occupied Hamburg in May 1945 and soon discovered the BV 155s.  The V-1 was declared airworthy, but as an RAF pilot took off in the V-1 for England for postwar evaluation, it crashed just after takeoff.  The British shipped the unfinished V-2 and V-3 for evaluation at Farnborough.  Today, the unrestored but nearly complete BV 155B V-2 can be found at the Smithsonian Institution’s Paul E. Garber Facility in Silver Hill, Maryland.

Special Hobby’s BV 155B V-1 is a mostly injection molded kit consisting of 66 medium-grey injection molded parts on four sprues, two cast resin parts, and one clear part on a single sprue.  The full-color instructions guides the build over 12 steps, and markings are provided for one aircraft:

Strengths:  This is a cool little kit.  And to clarify – it is NOT a re-release of the 2003 Special Hobby kit, but it is a brand new tooling.  They may share some historical geneology, but that’s it.

The subject matter is interesting and really unique, and I gravitate towards that to begin with.  So perhaps I’m a little biased in that sense:  the BV 155B held an unfulfilled role in history and was unique concept and unique in appearance and aerodynamics.  There’s not a lot of reference material out there on the BV 155B, but what Special Hobby has developed here looks quite accurate in terms of shape and size/proportions.  In particular, the distinctive wings and exhaust pipes are nicely represented.

The build is simple without a lot of construction options, and builders with even limited experience should do just fine with this.  All surface details are nicely engraved.  The surface textures of the parts vary between Sprue A, C, and D (rather smooth and shiny) and Sprue B (matte and a bit grainy) (see below).  But especially on Sprue B that contains the wings and wing radiator parts, the recessed surface details are absolutely great.  The radiator faces on Sprue C are also very well done.  The two resin parts represent the side and aft walls of the main gear wells, and look great as well.  I snipped off the fuselage halves and wings to for a dry fit test and I found all-around good fits. 

Also note there’s a few parts that are not used in this issue of the kit, such as the underwing drop tanks and a few other items.

The small decal sheet covers just the one ill-fated BV 155B V-1.  Cartograf printed the markings and the sheet appears technically flawless.

Weaknesses:  there are only a few things to keep in mind here.  First, the cockpit seems simplified.  Decently made parts are given for side consoles, instrument panel, and stick, and rudder pedals, but I’ve had a hard time tracking down BV 155B V-1 cockpit references to evaluate this issue further.  There are no restraints for the pilot’s seat.  Also, you will want to take some Micro Mesh or other appropriate high-numbered grit sanding medium to all the parts on Sprue B to smooth them out.  While they don’t look grainy to the eye, they are in fact quite finely grainy to the touch and will have a different surface texture than the fuselage when painted. 

The choice to mold the exhaust pipes onto the sides of the fuselage is okay, but it will take a little time and care to properly mask them off.  Also, note that none of the control surfaces are separate parts and the windscreen and canopy are molded together.  The clear parts are also a little thick for my tastes in 1:72 scale, but it’s not too bad.

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Special Hobby deserves a sincere “tip o’ the hat” for producing this new incarnation of their BV 155B V-1 kit in 1:72 scale.  It is indeed a very interesting and rare subject, and Special Hobby continues to be the only mainstream kit manufacturer to offer a kit of this unique airplane in any scale.  Fans of esoteric subject matter, late Luftwaffe designs, and experimental and prototype aircraft should really enjoy what this kit has to offer. 

Sincere thanks are owed to Special Hobby/CMK for the review sample. You visit them on the web at http://www.specialhobby.info and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/specialhobby

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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** Click on the thumbnails below to view a larger image.**


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