Arado Ar 234 Blitz Vol 2

In early 1945 it was decided to start development work on a heavy night fighter version based on the Ar 234C airframe, designated the Ar 234P. This version was to feature an armoured cockpit of a new type, with both crewmembers sitting side by side. In the P-1 variant the engines were to be moved 400 mm further aft in order to balance the weight of the new cockpit. The onboard armament comprised a ventral pod with twin 30 mm Mk 108 cannons and a single 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon installed in the lower port side of the cockpit. The aircraft’s planned top speed was 862 kph and its range 950 km. However, the Ar 234P was another project that never left the designers’ drawing boards.
Yet another variant designed by Arado was the ‘D’ version, powered by two Heinkel-Hirth HeS 011 engines, each of 1300 kg (12,84 kN) thrust. The engines were never developed into series production units, and this fact effectively curtailed the entire project. Attempts were made to adapt the Arado Ar 234 to carry Fi 103 missiles (better known as V-1s). Arado engineers devised two methods of mounting a V-1. The first, code-named Huckepack (‘on the back’), involved fitting the flying bomb to the aircraft’s fuselage by means of special hydraulic extension arms on top of the fuselage or, alternatively, beneath it. In the other method, known as Deichselschlepp, the bomb was towed on a rigid shaft behind the Ar 234C’s tail. This method was actually tested. On 25th February 1945, the Ar 234 S8 took off with an experimental model of the flying bomb on tow. This version of the bomb was designed by DFS and designated SG 5041 V1. The missile was not powered; it featured a ventral pod with tow hook, wheels and streamlined fairings. This set was tested four times in flight. Eventually, the towed missile was wrecked.

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Ar 234 in service with reconnaissance units
Allied preparations for the imminent invasion of France were gathering pace in the autumn of 1943, and the German High Command took a keen interest. By that time the Germans’ intelligence network in Great Britain was practically non-existent, and the Allies’ absolute air superiority denied the Luftwaffe opportunities to carry out aerial reconnaissance. It was inevitable therefore that news of the jet-powered Ar234 would catch the attention of the aerial reconnaissance specialists.
On 23rd May 1944, Hptm. Cornelius Noell of Versuchsverband Oberkommando der Luftwaffe (experimental unit of the Luftwaffe High Command), stationed at Oranienburg near Berlin, suggested using Ar 234 prototypes to carry out reconnaissance flights over England. Three days later the idea was approved and the Arado ­company was ordered to mount sets of two Rb 50/30 photographic cameras in both the Ar 234 V5 and V7.
On 1st June 1944 the modified Ar 234 V5 was delivered to 1./Versuchsverband OKL, where it received the fuselage code T9+LH. The Ar 234 V7 reached the same unit on 29th June 1944 and was coded T9+MH. They were to be flown by Oblt. Horst Götz and Lt. Erich Sommer; both men had trained on the Ar 234 V4 (DP+AY) in June 1944.
After a few test flights the two machines were dispatched to an operational airbase at Juvincourt near Reims, France. On 25th July 1944 both jets took off from Oranienburg, bound for Juvincourt, but only the Ar 234 V7, with Lt. Sommer at the controls, reached the new base. Oblt. Götz was forced to turn back shortly after take-off when one of the engines in his Ar 234 V5 cut out. Repairing the faulty engine took time; the Ar 234 V5 was dismantled and delivered to Juvincourt on board a transport Junkers Ju 352 (coded T9+AB). Meanwhile, immediately upon its arrival the Ar 234 V7 was placed on a trailer and moved to a hangar. For the next few days this example of the most advanced reconnaissance aircraft in the world stood useless pending delivery of its take-off trolley by rail from Oranienburg. Finally, on 2nd August 1944, all the necessary equipment was assembled with the arrival of the other aircraft and personnel to Juvincourt. The unit had a complement of two pilots, 18 ground crew members, two signals men, two Arado technicians and two jet engine specialists from the Junkers company. On the same day, the Ar 234 V7’s first operational sortie took place, as described in the opening paragraphs of this book. During the next three weeks the two aircraft completed 13 missions each. Lt. Erich Sommer recalled his first flights in Ar 234 in the following words:

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I was sat all by myself in this magnificent piece of machinery and admired its skinning. Not a wrinkle in sight! Through the extensive glazing of the cockpit I could see everything under my feet. This was an ideal aircraft for reconnaissance missions.