Blohm & Voss BV 143

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Blohm & Voss BV 143
He 111 - BV 143a Test (1941).jpg
A He 111 coastal bomber drops a BV 143a during a 1941 test. Note the ventral altitude probe.
TypeExperimental anti-shipping glide bomb
Place of originNazi Germany
Service history
Used byNazi Germany (Luftwaffe)
WarsWorld War II
Production history
DesignerBlohm & Voss
No. built157
VariantsBV 143a, BV 143b
Mass1,073 kg (2,366 lb)
Length5.98 m (19.6 ft)

Warhead weight500 kg (1,100 lb)

EngineWalter HWK 109-501
9.8 kN static thrust
Wingspan3.13 m (10.3 ft)
PropellantLaunch and Midcourse: glider
Terminal: solid rocket engine
Flight altitude2 m (6 ft 7 in)
Gyroscopic autopilot; instrumented feeler probe, radar altimeter.
He 111

The Blohm & Voss BV 143 was an early prototype rocket-assisted glide bomb developed by the German Luftwaffe during World War II.


Blohm & Voss designers began to consider airborne missiles late in 1938, even before the outbreak of war. First of these to be developed was the Bv 143, a glide bomb with rocket booster. Trials began in 1939.[1]

By 1941, Allied merchant ships were slow and easy targets for German coastal bombers, but were proving increasingly well-equipped with anti-aircraft artillery, making short-range attacks prohibitively costly. Interest was raised in the development of a stand off weapon to engage unarmored merchant ships from beyond the range of the Bofors 40 mm gun. The BV 143 was one of several stand off bomb and missile designs researched by the Blohm & Voss Naval Engineering Works for this anti-shipping role.[2]

The Bv 143 was designed to be air-dropped from beyond the range of antiaircraft guns, glide towards the target, engage its solid rocket motor below the line of fire of guns, and commence a short (30 second, maximum) high speed dash to the target, striking 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) above the waterline. The first design, with straight wings and cross-like tail,[3] featured a 2-meter instrumented "feeler probe" suspended from the body, designed to start the rocket on contacting the sea surface.[4] A pitch-only autopilot then maintained the bomb at the 2 m probe length until striking the target. The first working prototypes of this design were completed in February 1941. Tests during 1943[5] showed the probe-based design to be unworkable and after additional design time it was replaced with a radio altimeter, which although being less fragile also ultimately proved unsatisfactory.

The bomb proved consistently unable to reliably maintain altitude stability with either design, with rocket misfires and failures also proving troublesome. After building and testing 157 examples, the project was eventually abandoned in favor of the Henschel Hs 293.[6][7]

Ship-to-ship variant[edit]

BV 143 B (Schiff-Schiff-Lenkflugkörper) was a late ship-to-ship variant of the BV 143 package. It was designed to launch the missile with an aircraft catapult. Only one test was ever conducted before the program was abandoned.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hermann Pohlmann, Chronik Eines Flugzeugwerkes 1932-1945 (Story of an aircraft manufacturer, 1932-1945), Motor Buch, 2nd Impression, 1982, pp.194-196.
  2. ^ Sterrenburg, Frithjof A.S. The Oslo Report: Nazi secret weapons forfeited. Retrieved on June 6, 2009.
  3. ^ Christopher, John. The Race for Hitler's X-Planes (The Mill, Gloucestershire: History Press, 2013), p.133.
  4. ^ Gustin, Emmanuel. Luftwaffe Research Group. Retrieved on June 6, 2009.
  5. ^ Christopher, p.133.
  6. ^ Hermann Pohlmann, Chronik Eines Flugzeugwerkes 1932-1945 (Story of an aircraft manufacturer, 1932-1945), Motor Buch, 2nd Impression, 1982, pp.194-196: "Es wurden insgesamt September 1943 (Baustopp) 157 Geräte abgeliefert und in Versuchen verbraucht."
  7. ^ Ford, Roger (2000). Germany's Secret Weapons in World War II. St. Paul: Zenith, p. 97.