“What is that hoop circling this plane?”
It is a kind of “cloaking device” actually! More on that below...
About the Scene
The Blohm & Voss BV 138 is a German military (Nazi) seaplane produced to a quantity of almost 300 between 1938 and 1943. The plane’s name was Seedrache (“Sea Dragon”) although its odd, clunky shape led some to call it “the flying clog.” (An even stranger-looking Blohm & Voss aircraft is the BV 141 which is asymmetrical – you will find here at MOCPAGES several builders who modeled it. My BV 138 is the first here at the MOCPAGES website.) The MOC recreates this scene:
There seem to be very few photographs of this actual seaplane to be found on the internet. I was curious about its weird antenna encircling the plane, which turns out to be a device triggering the detonation of mines having electro-magnetic triggers. Such mines detect changes in the magnetic field of steel ships whose hulls concentrated the earth’s magnetic field over them, so the degaussing ring generates an inverted magnetic charge effectively cloaking the ship or seaplane from detection and detonation. This would be critical on missions involving minesweeping, performed by the variant BV 138 MS (“Mine Sweeper”).
The BV 138 was a tri-motor, with three Junkers Jumo diesel engines. Notice that the top-mounted engine has a four-bladed propeller whereas the other two engine propellers are three-bladed. Armament of the BV 138 included two enclosed powered gun turrets (bow and stern) mounting MG 151/20 auto-cannons, and a 13 MM heavy machine gun on the stern above the other turret. Sometimes bombs were mounted under the right wing stub. The plane had a pilot, navigator, radio operator, and three gunners. The wingspan was 88 feet, length 65 feet.
Today there are no surviving flying BV 138 aircraft. The last survivor was used by the British for target practice, although the remains were later recovered to be put on display in a Danish museum.
About my Model
I designed this aircraft model because first it looks unusual and second it represented a challenge – especially the degaussing ring positioned above the waterline but below the wings. The plane alone is 1250 parts; the entire harbor scene where the plane is being hoisted is 1995 parts, done in 1:39 scale (1 stud=1 foot). This is a static model – no functionalities, not even spinning propellers.
One virtue of the LDD software is its Flex Tool feature that permits the user to “bend” flexible LEGO parts in the virtual space. The degaussing ring is comprised of six “soft axles” of 11-stud length (part 32199), linked together and attached by Technic connectors. Shaping the ring in virtual space is time-consuming because flexible parts are “wiggly” when bent and finicky when trying to “snap” them to other parts. Unfortunately such “bent” parts do not retain their shape when the model is exported into Stud.IO for high-quality rendering (if anyone has a solution for that, please advise me in Comments below). Here are a few low-resolution images that include the degaussing ring:
The engine nacelles / tail booms were also a challenge due to how skinny they are at this scale. At the wings the nacelles are 3 studs wide; at points beyond the rear fuselage the booms are only 1 stud wide. I always design my models with intent to have structural integrity so that an assembled brick model would not fall to pieces when picked up. So here gravity is a threat -- gravity would try to pry stud connections apart across the length of the tail booms, due to the unsupported weight of the tail pieces. For the first time in my model-designing I used an extremely long Technic axle (32 studs, part 50450) to prevent the separation of pieces on the booms. Here below is a cutaway view of that 32L axle, which is colored red:
My first design for the outrigger floats underneath the main wing used nothing but curved slopes and looked bloated and boxy. This model uses 3x6 cylinders (part 30360) not only for those floats but also for the three engine covers. At 3 studs wide, those components stay true to scale, too.
FOR FUN: If you can name the 6-wheeled truck parked on the dock, put your guess into a comment below.
Quoting Sam Sanister
Any plans on building WW1-era floatplanes?
So far the closest I have gotten to that era is with my Sikorsky S-38 Amphibion, a 1920s bird. Lots of bi-wings back then, yes? I remember someone suggesting the Caprioni Ca.60 but I would not have the patience to try it .. Thanks for the comment, rating, and suggestion!
Quoting Darth Designer
A beautiful creation and happy news to see the uploader working again :D
Thank you so much! Your helicopter creations caught my attention years ago and your latest models continue to impress me. Very shortly I hope to post here on MOCPAGES the Sikorsky VH-60N which was inspired by, and draws upon features of, your model of the HH-60 Jayhawk as posted in your 2014 YouTube video. I will plan to include a photo-realistic rendering of your HH-60 Jayhawk and show the link to your model and homepage. Keep designing please!
Quoting BATOH rossi
great job Tom! you always find "forgotten" subjects that it is pleasant to rediscover ... I had almost forgotten the B & V138 and I never noticed that only the central motor had 4 blades :)
Thank you so much! Slowly I am working to lower the number of untouched project ideas that I keep on my list. During this period MOC-PAGES has been effectively non-functioning, I have developed 2 more models of the POTUS helicopters known as Marine One - the VH-60N and the VH-3D (by contrast to BV-138 those helis are not-so-forgotten, are they?!)