Arado Ar 234 Blitz Vol 1

During his first flight Sommer gathered more intelligence data than all the other German reconaissance units had managed to collect during the past two months. It took him an hour and a half to photograph nearly the entire Allied beachhead in Normandy. The 380 photographs taken by the Arado cameras proved a sensation. By that time the Allies had transported to France over 1.5 million soldiers, ­nearly as many tons of supplies and close to a million vehicles. The initial analysis of the photographs, conducted by a team of twelve specialists, took two days. Further work on them continued for several weeks. As Sommer recalled: After my first operational mission many high-ranking officers of the Wehrmacht came to Juvincourt to have a look at our new machine. Nevertheless, since the entire project was classified top secret, they were simply refused entry to the hangar with the Arado.

arado 2

Design and development of the Arado Ar 234A variant In the latter part of the ‘thirties Germany became the birthplace of the first jet engines reliable enough to be used as a means of propulsion for aircraft. The RLM (Reichsluftfahrtministerium – Reich Air Ministry) became interested in the potential of this new propulsion system and invited tenders for the design of a jet powered high-speed fighter and reconnaissance aircraft. The bid for the fighter design was won by the Messerschmitt factory and resulted in the creation of the Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe. The task of creating a high-altitude jet-powered reconnaissance machine was, in turn, bestowed upon the Arado company.
The Arado Flugzeugwerke G.m.b.H. was created in 1925 from Flugzeugbau Friedrichshafen G.m.b.H. at Warnemünde, a company that had manufactured aircraft since 1917. Initially, the new company specialized in trainers, but by the end of the ‘twenties it had also begun to work on military projects. When the National Socialist Party seized power in Germany, the company received several lucrative contracts. It took upon producing the Arado Ar 64 and Ar 65 fighters, as well as Ar 66 trainers. The chief designer of the company at that time was Dipl.-lng. Walter Blume, who replaced Walter Rethel. Blume was born on 10th October 1896 in Hirschberg (presently Jelenia Góra in Poland) at the foot of the Riesengebirge (now Karkonosze) mountain range. When the Great War broke out, he volunteered for military service, quickly attaining the rank of Oberjäger. He was subsequently transferred to the air force and, on 30th March 1916, gained his pilot’s license. In June 1916 he was posted to join Feldfliegerabteilung No 65. At the beginning of 1917 he was promoted to the rank of Leutnant and served with Jagdstaffel 26. The deputy CO of the squadron at that time was the future Reichsmarschall, Hermann Göring. On 10th May 1917, Walter Blume achieved his first aerial victory. After several more, on 14th August 1917, he was awarded the Iron Cross First Class. On 2nd October 1918 he received the highly coveted Order Pour le Mérite. He scored his last victory on 28th October 1918.
After the war he studied engineering, graduating in the autumn of 1922. Thanks to his acquaintance with Göring he was given a job at Arado. (After the Second World War he formed his own company and worked with the Focke-Wulf-Werke in Bremen on production of a licensed version of the Italian Piaggio P-149Ds. Later, he was involved in producing the C-160 Transall. He died on 27th May 1964, after a long illness).

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Due to its reliance on government subsidies the Arado company was, in effect, directly controlled by the RLM. Hence, besides producing its own aircraft, Arado also manufactured Heinkel, Messerschmitt, Junkers and Focke-Wulf designs under license. The most successful of Arado’s own products was the Ar 96 trainer and its development versions, the Ar 296 and Ar 396, together with a reconnaissance hydroplane design, the Ar 196. By the end of 1944, the Arado factory and its subordinated plants formed a huge military-aviation industrial complex, ­employing 15,786 workers. A further 16,260 worked for Arado’s exclusive sub-contractors.
The RLM’s order for a high-speed jet reconnaissance aircraft was issued in the autumn of 1940 and inspired little interest in Dr. Walter Blume. Blume had no experience with jet propulsion and was somewhat skeptical about it. Moreover, Luftwaffe officials had informed him that no more than 50 serial machines of this new type would be produced. Such a small number was of little benefit to his company.