Just as Messerschmitt's
Me 262 was the world's first turbojet fighter, so the Arado Ar 234
Blitz (lightning) was the first jet-powered bomber, although it was
designed originally in response to a Reichsluftfahrtministerium
requirement for a fast reconnaissance aircraft. Work on the Ar 234
began in late 1940 and, early in the following year, Arado's design
team, led by Waiter Blume and Hans Rebeski, completed a project study
designated E.370 which emerged finally in prototype form as the Ar 234
early in 1943. A shoulder wing design, with its two engines underslung
from the wings, the Ar 234 featured a narrow fuselage cross section, so
narrow that it could not accept conventional retractable landing gear.
The solution adopted originally was the provision of a jettisonable
take-off trolley, and retractable skids on which the aircraft could
Delays in development
of the Junkers turbojet engines meant that the first shipment of 004B-0
engines was not delivered to Warnemfinde until February 1943, and the
waiting prototype airframe was fitted with them so that taxiing trials
could begin in March. By May two flight-cleared engines had been
installed and the aircraft transferred to Rheine airfield, where the
maiden flight took place on 15 June. The original takeoff technique was
to jettison the trolley on reaching a height of 195 ft (60 m), five
braking parachutes being deployed to return the equipment safely to the
ground for re-use. However, the parachute system proved troublesome,
and after the first two trolleys had been destroyed it was decided that
the wheels would be released immediately upon take-off.
version was designated Ar 234A and the third prototype, which flew on
22 August 1943, was equipped with rocket-assisted take-off gear (RATOG),
while the pressurized cockpit boasted an ejector seat. The fourth and
fifth flew on 15 September and 20 December 1943, respectively. The next
to fly was the eighth prototype fitted with four 1,764 lbs (800 kg)
thrust BMW 003A-1 engines arranged in pairs. The same engines, in four
separate nacelles, powered the sixth prototype, flown on 8 April 1944.
By then the Junkers 004B engines had been uprated from 1,852 lbs (840
kg) to 1,984 lbs (900 kg) thrust, and two of these units were installed
in the seventh and last of the A-series prototypes which crashed after
an engine fire, killing Arado chief test pilot Flugkapitan Selle.
The inability of the Ar
234 to he moved easily before the wheeled trolley had been fitted was
clearly unacceptable in an operational environment. Thus, the B-series
was evolved, with a slightly widened fuselage to take conventional
landing gear, albeit of relatively narrow track. The eighth prototype
was the first of the new model and it flew on 10 March 1944. It was
followed on 2 April by the tenth machine, which was without cabin
pressurization and ejector seat, but fitted with bombracks beneath the
engine nacelles and used to test the BZA (bombenzielanlage fur
Sturzflug) bomb-aiming computer. Of the remaining B-series prototypes
the most important was the thirteenth, with two pairs of BMW 003A-1
engines, and the fifteenth and seventeenth, each with two of the BMW
engines, and used as test-beds to hasten the solution of the turbojet's
thrust control problems.
Despite their lack of
mobility on the ground, in July 1944 the fifth and seventh prototypes
were subjected to operational evaluation in the reconnaissance role by
1./Versuchsverband Oberbefehishaber der Luftwaffe at Juvincourt, near
Reims. Fitted with Walter RATO equipment, they defied interception
during numerous sorties over Allied territory and were joined later by
some Ar 234B-ls which, in small detachments, equipped experimental
reconnaissance units designated Sonderkommandos Gotz, Hecht, Sperling
and Sommer. Two other units, 1.(F)/33 and 1.(F)/100, were stil
operational at the war's end. The bomber version first became
operational with the Stabstaffel of KG 76, deployed during the Ardennes
offensive, but at that stage of the war the number of sorties that
could be mounted was limited severely by fuel shortage. Among the most
noted bomber operations were attempts to destroy the Ludendorff bridge
over the Rhine at Remagen, which was held by US troops. For 10 days
from 7 March 1945 almost continuous attacks were made on this target
until finally the bridge collapsed, but within two more weeks bomber
operations had virtually come to an end for lack of fuel. The Ar 234
was also flown by Kommando Bonow, an experiment night-fighter unit
which operated until the end of the war under the control of Luftflotte
Total construction of
the Arado Ar 234 amounted to 274 aircraft, of which 30 were prototypes
and 244 production aircraft. This number included 20 Ar 234B-0
pre-production aircraft most of which, without ejection seats or cabin
pressurization, were delivered to Rechlin for intensive development
flying. They were followed by the first true series versions, the Ar
234B-1 reconnaissance aircraft which could carry two Rb 50/30 or Rb
75/30 cameras, or a combination of an Rb 50/30 and an Rb 20/30, and the
Ar 234B-2 bomber which had a maximum bombload of 3,307 lbs (1500 kg)
carried on ETC 503 bomb racks beneath the engine nacelles. Production
of these two versions totalled 210, and experience with these aircraft
left little doubt that the basic airframe was capable of using
increased power to improve performance, leading to development of the
Ar 234C. This resulted in two prototypes being flown, with alternative
arrangements of four-engine powerplant in individual and paired
nacelles, the latter proving to be the more efficient. The nineteenth
prototype served as the first true Arado Ar 234C prototype, having four
1,764 lbs (800 kg) thrust BMW 003A-1 Sturm turbojets in paired nacelles
beneath each wing. Satisfactory testing of this aircraft led to
production of the four-engine Ar 234C-1, which was otherwise similar to
the Ar 234B-1 except for having full cabin pressurization and being
armed with two rear-firing MG 151/20 20 mm cannon.
An Arado Ar 234B Sonderkommando Sperling - The Rhine, Germany 1944
The similarly powered
Ar 234C-2 was planned, corresponding to the Ar 234B-2, and several
prototype Ar 234C-3s were built, this was a multi-role version suitable
for use in bomber, ground attack and night-fighter roles, but a total
of only about 14 Ar 234C-1/-3s were produced. In addition to the
multi-purpose Ar 234C-3, planned specialised versions of the Ar 234C
included the Ar 234C-3/N two-seat night-fighter, Ar 234C-4 equipped for
armed reconnaissance, side-by-side two-seat Ar 234C-5, Ar 234C-6 and Ar
234C-7 bomber, reconnaissance and night fighter aircraft respectively,
and the Ar 234C-8 single-seat bomber powered by two 2,381 lbs (1080 kg)
thrust Jumo 004D engines. Other proposals which failed to materialise
were the Ar 234D-1 and Ar 234D-2 reconnaissance and bomber aircraft
respectively, which were to have been powered by two 2,865 lbs (1300
kg) thrust Heinkel-Hirth HeS OIIA turbojets, and a series of Ar 234P
advanced night-fighters with BMW, Heinkel-Hirth and Jumo engines.
aircraft, the majority of which were delivered to the Rechlin for
intensive development. These aircraft lacked the ejector seats and
version equipped with two Rb 50/30 or Rb 75/30 cameras. Could also be
equipped with a Rb 50/30 and a Rb 20/30 camera.
A bomber version with a
maximum bombload of 3,307 lbs (1500 kg) using ETC 503 bombracks under
the engine nacelles.
14 production four
engined version with the 1,764 lbs (800 kg / 7.85 kN) thrust BMW
109-003A-1 turbojet engines. The 19th prototype was to this standard
and first flown on 30 September 1944.
The four engined
equivalent of the B-1 but with full cabin pressurisation and armed with
two rearward firing MG 151/20 20 mm cannon.
The four engined
equivalent of the B-2 but capable of carrying 4,409 lbs (2000 kg) of
bombs using the ETC 504 bomb racks under the engine nacelles.
21st-25th prototypes completed with raised and redesigned cockpits;
armed as C-1 but with two additional 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon beneath the
nose; variable bomb load on three ETC 504 racks.
night-fighter with two forward firing 20 mm MG 151/20 and two 30 mm MK
108 cannon, using FuG 218 Neptun V radar.
version with two cameras and four 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon.
28th prototype had
side-by-side seating for pilot and bomb-aimer as development aircraft
for this proposed version.
Proposed two seat
reconnaissance aircraft, the 29th prototype in this configuration.
Night fighter similar
to C-3/N, but with crew side-by-side and enhanced FuG 245 Bremen 0
Proposed single seat
bomber with two 2,381 lbs (1080 kg) thrust Junkers Jumo 004D engines.
which were being built at the war's end, were to have been
representatives of this version, with a powerplant of two 2,865 lbs
(1300 kg) thrust Heinkel-Hirth HeS 011A engines.
(D-1) proposed Heinkel-Hirth
HeS 011A powered reconnaissance aircraft. (D-2) proposed Heinkel-Hirth
HeS 011A powered bomber.
Projected night fighter
(P-1) A two seater with
four BMW 003A-1 engines; one 20 mm MG 151/20 and one 30 mm MK 108
cannon. (P-2) Also a two seater, with redesigned cockpit protected by
13 mm (0.51 in) armour plate.
(P-3) Heinkel-Hirth HeS
011A powered P-2, but with two 20 mm MG 151/20 and two 30 mm MK 108
cannon. (P-4) Same as P-3 but with Junkers Jumo 004D engines.
Three-seat version with
Heinkel-Hirth HeS 011A engines, one 20 mm MG 151/20 and four 30 mm MK
Ar 234B-2 Blitz "Lightning")
Seat Reconnaissance Bomber
Blume and Hans Rebeski
Arado Flugzeugwerke GmbH
Series) Two 1,984 lbs (900 kW / 8.825 kN) thrust Junkers Jumo
109-004B-1/2/3 Orkan axial flow turbojet engines and provision for two
1,102 lbs (822 kW / 4.90 kN) Walter HWK 109-500 (R1-202b) RATO units
with a 30 second burn duration. (C Series) Four 1,764 lbs (800 kg /
7.85 kN) thrust BMW 109-003A-1 turbojet engines in paired nacelles.
Series) Maximum speed (clean) 461 mph (742 km/h) at 19,685 ft (6000 m);
service ceiling 32,820 ft (10000 m); climb to service ceiling in 12
minutes 48 seconds with a 1,102 lbs (500 kg) bomb load or 17 minutes 30
seconds with a 3,307 lbs (1500 kg) bomb load. (C Series) Maximum speed
(clean) 531 mph (855 km/h) at 19,685 ft (6000 m); service ceiling
36,090 ft (11000 m).
Series) Clean 1013 miles (1630 km) or 684 miles (1100 km) with 3,307
lbs (1500 kg) of bombs. (C Series) 765 miles (1230 km) with a 4,409 lbs
(2000 kg) of bombs.
Series) Empty equipped 11,464 lbs (5200 kg) with a maximum take-off
weight of 21,715 lbs (9850 kg). (C Series) Empty equipped 11,464 lbs
(5200 kg) with a maximum take-off weight of 24,250 lbs (11000 kg).
46 ft 3 1/2 in (14.11 m); length 41 ft 5 1/2 in (12.64 m); height 14 ft
1 1/4 in (4.30 m); wing area 284.18 sq ft (26.40 sq m).
unarmed reconnaissance version. (B-2) Two fixed MG 151/20 20 mm cannon
in rear fuselage, firing to rear and sighted by periscope and various
combinations of bombs slung under fuselage and/or engine nacelles up to
3,307 lbs (1500 kg) using ETC 503 bomb racks. (C-3) Same as B Series
but with the addition of two MG 151/20 20 mm cannon under the nose.
(C-3/N) Two forward firing MG 151/20 20 mm cannon and two MK 108 30 mm
(initial design project), Ar 234V-1/2/3, V-9 (initial design
prototypes), Ar 234B-0 (20 examples used for evaluation), Ar 234B-1
(reconnaissance), Ar 234B-2 (bomber), Ar 234C (four engine version), Ar
234C-1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8, Ar 234D, Ar 234D-1/2, Ar 234P, Ar 234P-1/2/3/4/5.
flight (Ar 234V-1) 15 June 1943, (Ar 234V-9 with landing gear) March
1944, (Ar 234B-0 pre-production) 8 June 1944, operational delivery