Blohm + Voss

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Blohm + Voss GmbH
Private, GmbH
Industry Shipbuilding
Founded 1877
Founder Hermann Blohm and Ernst Voss
Headquarters Hamburg, Germany
Parent Lürssen

Blohm + Voss. also written historically as Blohm & Voss and Blohm und Voss. is a German shipbuilding and engineering company. It is currently a subsidiary of Lürssen.

The company also oversees maintenance and repair of large cruise ships such as RMS Queen Mary 2 and the MS Queen Victoria.[1]

In the 1930s the company established the Hamburger Flugzeugbau subsidiary which built aircraft before and during World War II and, shortly before the war's outbreak, took on its parent company's name.


Early years[edit]

Blohm & Voss in 1877
Blohm + Voss Dock 10, Hamburg

Blohm & Voss was founded on 5 April 1877, by Hermann Blohm and Ernst Voss as a general partnership. It established a shipyard on the island of Kuhwerder, near the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, covering 15,000 m² with 250 m of water frontage and three building berths, two suitable for ships of up to 100 metres length. The company name was shown with the ampersand, as B&V, until 1955.

The company's initial products were steel-hulled sailing ships designed for long sea voyages. At that time steamships had a relatively short range, while many of the advantages of steel construction still applied to sailing ships as much as to steam. The company built its first steamship in 1900, while still continuing to build sailing ships until the late 1930s.[citation needed]

The Nazi era, 1933-1945[edit]

When Hermann Blohm died, his two sons Rudolf and Walther took over. Ernst Voss left soon afterwards. By this time the company was in financial crisis, so the Blohm brothers diversified into aircraft, setting up the Hamburger Flugzeugbau (see below) in the summer of 1933.[2]

With the rise of the Nazi Party to power in 1933, Germany began to rearm and both companies became increasingly involved in the programme.

From July 1944 to April 1945 the company used inmates of its own concentration subcamp at its shipyard in Hamburg-Steinwerder, a subcamp of Neuengamme concentration camp.[3] A memorial stands on the site of the camp and the company continues to pay an undisclosed amount to the Fund for Compensation of Forced Laborers.[4]


The company has built ships and other large machinery continuously for 125 years, despite being almost completely demolished by the end of World War II. It now builds warships both for the German Navy and for export (see MEKO), as well as oil drilling equipment and ships for numerous commercial customers. It administers the Elbe 17 dry dock at Hamburg. The company's logo is now a simple dark blue rectangle with rounded corners bearing the white letters "Blohm+Voss".

For a time the company was, along with Howaldtswerke at Kiel and Nordseewerke at Emden, a subsidiary of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems. In 2011 ThyssenKrupp agreed the sale of Blohm + Voss' civil shipbuilding division to British investment company STAR Capital Partners.[5][6]

On September 28, 2016, it was announced that Lürssen would acquire Blohm + Voss from STAR Capital Partners, in a long-term partnership.[7] Regulatory approval was given in October 2016.[8]

Hamburger Flugzeugbau[edit]

On 1 July 1933 the Blohm brothers hired Reinhold Mewes as their first head of aircraft design, thus signalling the creation of the Hamburger Flugzeugbau.[9] The company was intended to design and build long-range flying boats for the German state airline, Deutsche Luft Hansa. The first planes it produced were designated with the official RLM company code "Ha".

However its first design to be built and flown, the Ha 135 trainer, failed to receive any order and, with the rise of the Luftwaffe, production capacity was taken up with contract manufacture for other types, such as the Junkers Ju 52. In fact, the bulk of the company's output would be contract manufacture, including tens of thousands of aircraft each for Dornier, Heinkel, Junkers and Messerschmitt.[2]

The Blohm brothers wanted a more adventurous approach than the conservative design of Mewes. While the Ha 135 prototype was still under construction they recruited Richard Vogt to replace him as Chief Designer. Mewes left soon afterwards, the Ha 135 having been his sole contribution. Vogt indeed proved highly innovative and many of his designs had unusual features, typically incorporating a tubular steel wing main spar which also doubled as the fuel tank. He oversaw all the remaining types, until the company's closure in 1945.[2]

The aircraft produced by Hamburger Flugzeugbau were still commonly associated with Blohm & Voss and this was causing confusion, so in September 1937 Hamburger Flugzeugbau was renamed Abteilung Flugzeugbau der Schiffswerft Blohm & Voss and the RLM changed its company code to "BV".[10]

Its most significant designs were flying boats, mainly used by the Luftwaffe for maritime patrol and reconnaissance. Most numerous was the BV 138 Seedrache (initiated as the Ha 138), a twin-boom trimotor, while the BV 222 Wiking was much larger. Largest of all was the BV 238 prototype, the largest aircraft built by any of the Axis forces. Other notable types include the asymmetric BV 141, which was built in moderate numbers but did not enter production.

At the end of the war, aircraft production was shut down. Hamburger Flugzeugbau GmBH (HFB) would re-emerge in 1956, still under the ownership of Walther Blohm but no longer connected to B+V. Under further changes of ownership and company name, it continues to build aircraft.[11]

Ships and submarines[edit]

Blohm & Voss was established in the days of sail and did not produce a notable steamship until 1900. Notable ships built by Blohm & Voss include:

Tall ships[edit]

Ocean liners and other passenger ships[edit]

Private yachts[edit]

Warships of World War I[edit]

Warships of World War II[edit]

Modern warships[edit]

Aircraft and munitions[edit]

Some types were initially developed by the Hamburger Flugzeugbau under the Ha designation but later produced under the BV designation. Some munitions, such as glide bombs, were included in the series designations. Aircraft, munitions and design projects are listed at List of Blohm + Voss Aircraft and projects.

Although some 13 types of aircraft and 3 of munitions were built, few entered service. Types actually built were:

Illustrative internal projects of the World War II era under the RLM included:



  1. ^ "»Queen Victoria« once again at Blohm+Voss". Bohm + Voss. Retrieved 5 January 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c Pohlmann (1979).
  3. ^ The camp Blohm & Voss is listed as No. 550 Hamburg in the official German list Archived April 23, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. (List in German)
  4. ^ Herbert Diercks, Der Hamburger Hafen im Nationalsozialismus, 2008
  5. ^ Bryant, Chris. "ThyssenKrupp sells 'mega-yacht' division". Financial Times Limited. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  6. ^ "STAR Capital Partners buys Blohm & Voss' civil business". Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  7. ^ "Breaking news: Lürssen acquires Blohm + Voss". 28 September 2016. Retrieved 28 September 2016. 
  8. ^ German Fair Trade Commission approves Blohm+Voss Acquisition, B+V web site, 31 October 2016. (Retrieved 17 April 2017).
  9. ^ Hans Amtmann; The Vanishing Paperclips, Monogram, 1988.
  10. ^ B+V Geschichte v. 1933-1938 -Die Rüstungskonjunktur ab 1933
  11. ^ Pohlmann (1979), 1982 edition, Page 242.
  12. ^ a b c "Blohm + Voss". Wehrmacht history. Retrieved 2011-01-28. 
  13. ^ Pohlmann (1979), 1982 edition, Pages 195-198.
  14. ^ Pohlmann (1979), 1982 edition, Page 193.


  • Gunston, Bill. World Encyclopedia of Aircraft Manufacturers. Stroud, UK:Sutton Publishing, Second edition, 2005. ISBN 0-7509-3981-8.
  • Meyhoff, Andreas. Blohm & Voss im »Dritten Reich«, Eine Hamburger Großwerft zwischen Geschäft und Politik (Hamburger Beiträge zur Sozial- und Zeitgeschichte, Band 38) (in German). Hamburg, Germany: Forschungsstelle für Zeitgeschichte in Hamburg, 2001. ISBN 3-89244-916-3.
  • Pohlmann, Herrmann. 'Chronik Eines Flugzeugwerkes 1932-1945. B&V - Blohm & Voss Hamburg - HFB Hamburger Flugzeugbau (in German). Motor Buch Verlag, 1979 ISBN 3-87943-624-X.
  • Prager, Hans Georg and Bishop, Frederick A.(Transl.). Blohm + Voss: Ships and Machinery for the World. London: Brassey's Publishers Limited, 1977. ISBN 0-904609-14-6.
  • Witthöft, Hans J. Tradition und Fortschritt - 125 Jahre Blohm + Voss (in German). Koehlers Verlag, 2002. ISBN 3-7822-0847-1.
  • Wixey, Ken. Flugboots from Hamburg: An outline history of Blohm und Voss flying-boats Air Enthusiast No.82 July/August 1999 pp42–48
  • Aviso Grille - Hitler's War Yacht - Revel Barker

External links[edit]