Although the race for jet fighters usually gets most of the attention for late war aircraft designs, other types were developed too.
Join me for a brief look at the tail end of the global war and the first jet bomber to enter service.
Work on the Ar234 started about the same time as the Me262 fighter. The airframe design was simple and finished in 1941, long before the Jumo 004 engines were available. When completed the Ar234 had good flight characteristics and was capable of full aerobatics. Its biggest failing was the same as the Me262, reliance on a still underdeveloped jet engine technology. Really, only a desperate combatant could have considered the Jumo 004 engine ready for service use in 1944-45.
Over 200 Ar234 were built, including prototypes. The most numerous version, the Ar234B-1, was a photo recon type that could enter allied air space high and fast; and be gone before any response was possible (one of my sources claimed all B-1 aircraft started as B-2 and were converted. That seems contrary to normal Luftwaffe numbering standards, but I can’t argue it either way). The second most built type was the Ar234B-2 seen here, a bomber version. It had no internal bomb bay so ordnance was carried external on the belly of the plane.
A more powerful Ar234C was also built in small numbers (14?) that used four BMW 003 engines. This engine had most of the same development issues as the Jumo 004 and was slightly smaller, but had the big advantage of not being used in the Me262 program. This version was quite a bit faster and came in the same recon and bomber versions.
The airplane seen here participated in by far the highest profile operation of the Ar234. On March 7 1945, the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen Germany was captured by US forces. Over the next ten days the bridge was attacked continuously by Ar234 of KG76 trying stop the flow of allied forces into Germany. After ten days the bridge did collapse (it had also been mined and shelled by artillery), but several other structures had been built across the river by then (US Engineers worked very fast).
This is from the Hasegawa kit with Aeromaster decals. It was a complicated build, but the kit is well engineered and mostly goes together well. The only difficulty being around the cockpit. This is built from all clear parts, which means extra care must be used with plastic glues. Because of the weight and some fit issues I couldn’t really use white glue on those parts (I wanted a harder, stronger bond). This kit was co-developed with Revell and the “C” version of the type was released by them. I would expect similar quality from both brands, and that’s exactly what we see in the box (excellent kit, but not “drop fit” like Tamiya).
Beautiful job Dave! I made the Arado 234 in 1/72 a few years back. What struck me was how small it was for a jet bomber. I was expecting something the size of a Canberra and it’s not even close! I re-visited the movie Bridge at Remagen recently too. It’s a great movie, I just love Robert Vaughn as the Major.
Yeah it’s really only a little bigger than the Me262. It seems to have been a pretty good design, except for the Jumo engines.
Bridge at Remagen is a classic!
I love the Early jets in the Axis fleet. The AR234 is a great example of Axis know how.
It was definitely an outstanding aeronautic design.
A really interesting post about a really interesting aircraft. All in all, it was probably a good job that the Germans did not have a decent jet engine to use in these designs.
Originally equipped with a take-off trolley and landing skids. This configuration created problems so landing gear were installed, thereby reducing useful fuselage volume.
Yeah very much like the Me163. They did enlarge the fuselage some for the production versions, but not enough for any internal weapon stores.
Fabulous example you have there. Odd to see a periscope for rear defence in a one man aircraft. I wouldn’t want it be looking at that when trying to evade an enemy aircraft, even if I could out run it!
I’m pretty sure that’s why the idea of rear firing guns was scrapped!
Yeah it sure does seem clumsy, but I guess it’s not much different from a rear view mirror. But you’d think they could have come up with something a little smaller and simpler. Like, I don’t know, a rear view mirror!
German weapons do often seem to favor more complicated solutions. (“I don’t like this single mirror idea, not enough that can go wrong…”) You know the Panther tank had a clutchless semi-automatic transmission.
Lol. Absolutely Dave. If they could go for over complicated they did, that’s a small part of the reason they lost the war; repairs and maintenance were too difficult whereas the allied equipment was generally simpler and easier to fix. Why indeed not just put in a rear view mirror – after all it was a jet and could outrun pretty much anything the allies had!
Actually, looking at my own model (!), the curve of the fuselage might be too much for a simple mirror to work. They needed something to get above the highest part of the body of the plane.