The Arado Ar 234 was the world’s first operational jet-powered bomber, built by the German Arado company in the closing stages of World War II. Produced in very limited numbers, it was used almost entirely in the reconnaissance role, but in its few uses as a bomber it proved to be nearly impossible to intercept. It was the last Luftwaffe aircraft to fly over Britain during the war, in April 1945. It was customary for Allied forces during the Second World War to give nicknames to aircraft for them to easily identify and refer to them during communications. Most nicknames were given just for the purpose of identifying planes easier. However, some nicknames given to planes were done so in respect to the enemy aircraft’s performance. Such is the case of the nickname “Lightning” given to the WW2 German aircraft known formally as the Arado Ar 234 Blitz.
The Ar 234 Blitz was a twin-engine designed plane and was considered as the first plane ever to be built that could change roles depending on the purpose intended.
Multiple models and versions were made from the first design of the Ar 234 and this included a four-engined version that was later produced to some extent. By the end of the war, over 200 planes of different versions were produced.
Of the Ar 234, there were several versions:
1. Ar 234 A-0: Recon without wheels
2. Ar 234 B-0: Pre-series
3. Ar 234 B-1: Recon
4. Ar 234 B-2: Lightning Bomber
5. Ar 234 C, D, E, P: more designs, some with four engines
6. Ar 234 R: altitude reconnaissance, drive only rocket engine
The base design of the Ar 234 was a twine-engine system with a high-monoplane design. The engines were installed away from the fuselage and the cockpit was located in the far front enabling a high amount of visibility. Aircraft take-offs utilized rocket-powered tricycles that are jettisoned immediately after takeoff. This WW2 aircraft used to land by skidding on grassy fields until a powered tricycle landing gear was installed to the later versions.
Armaments for the Ar 234 included two (2) 20mm rear-firing cannons which were operated using a periscope. The normal bomb-load for the Blitz consisted of two bombs that amounted to a total weight of 1,100 pounds. These bombs were suspended from the engines.
|Type:||multi-role bomber, reconnaissance plane|
|Design:||Arado Aircraft Firm|
|Engine(s):||2 x 1,980-HP Junkers 004B Orkan turbojet Engines|
|Max Speed:||742 kmh (461 mph; 401 knots)|
|Max Range:||1,556 kilometers or 967 nautical miles|
|Ceiling:||32,808 feet or 10,000 meters|
|Empty Weight:||5,200 kg|
|MTO Weight:||9,800 kg|