02 Jun

Battlefront Arado 234 “Blitz” Bomber Review by Ignacio Herrero

Arado with extra fuel Belly Tank

The Arado Ar 234 Blitz (English: lightning) 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.

Arado Blitz with USAF markings

Capable of 461 miles per hour at 20,000 feet and faster than any Allied fighter it was likely to face in the sky during its era, the Arado Ar 234 was the world’s first operational jet bomber. It was initially used for reconnaissance. Adolf Hitler considered it to be one of the wunderwaffen, or “wonder weapons” that would reverse his fortunes at a time when Nazi Germany was losing the war.

The background

In late 1940, the Reich Air Ministry (German: Reichsluftfahrtministerium, abbreviated RLM) offered a tender for a jet-powered high-speed reconnaissance aircraft with a range of 2,156 km (1,340 mi). Arado was the only company to respond, offering their E.370 project, led by Professor Walter Blume. This was a high-wing conventional looking design with a Junkers Jumo 004 engine under each wing.

Front side of the jet

Detail of the takeoff system

Arado estimated a maximum speed of 780 km/h (480 mph) at 6,000 m (20,000 ft), an operating altitude of 11,000 m (36,000 ft) and a range of 1,995 km (1,240 mi). The range was short of the RLM request, but they liked the design and ordered two prototypes as the Ar 234. These were largely complete before the end of 1941, but the Jumo 004 engines were not ready, and would not be ready until February 1943. When they did arrive they were considered unreliable by Junkers for in-flight use and were cleared for static and taxi tests only. Flight-qualified engines were finally delivered, and the Ar 234 V1 made its first flight on 30 July 1943 at Rheine Airfield (presently Rheine-Bentlage Air Base).

By September, four prototypes were flying. The second prototype, Arado Ar 234 V2, crashed on 2 October 1943 at Rheine near Münster after suffering a fire in its port wing, failure of both engines and various instrumentation failures. The aircraft dived into the ground from 1,200 m (3,900 ft), killing pilot Flugkapitän Selle.[4] The eight prototype aircraft were fitted with the original arrangement of trolley-and-skid landing gear, intended for the planned operational, but never-produced Ar 234A version.

The sixth and eighth of the series were powered with four BMW 003 jet engines instead of two Jumo 004s, the sixth having four engines housed in individual nacelles, and the eighth flown with two pairs of BMW 003s installed within “twinned” nacelles underneath either wing. These were the first four-engine jet aircraft to fly. The twin-Jumo 004 powered Ar 234 V7 prototype made history on 2 August 1944 as the first jet aircraft ever to fly a reconnaissance mission, flown by Erich Sommer.

Early versions did not have a conventional undercarriage, but took off using a three-wheeled trolley and landed by means of skids. This permitted more space in the fuselage for fuel, but had a serious drawback: Until it could be loaded onto a specialized vehicle to be moved, the Arado was a sitting duck for any Allied aircraft that might strafe the airfield.

Still, an early prototype became the first jet aircraft ever to fly a reconnaissance mission. On Aug. 2, 1944, Leutnant Erich Sommer whizzed over the Normandy beachheads at about 460 miles per hour and used two Rb 50/30 cameras to take one set of photos every 11 seconds.

“I liked the Arado very much,” said former Luftwaffe pilot Willi Kriessmann, who lives today in Burlingame, Calif. “It was a wonderful plane. I thought it was designed better than the Messerschmitt Me 262. It was a single-seater so we didn’t have time to practice much, so we had some ‘dry classes.’ Landing and taking off was very different from a prop plane.” Kriessmann noted that the RATO units often didn’t work properly.

B Model Blitz Bomber

Dropping two 500 kgs Bombs

The Ar 234B Schnellbomber, or “fast bomber” introduced a widened fuselage that permitted conventional landing gear, with a very narrow track. The B model, first flown in June 1944, was slightly heavier than reconnaissance versions at 21,720 pounds (9850 kilograms) and had two 20 mm fixed, rearward-firing MG 151 cannons in a remotely controlled tail position operated by the pilot using a periscope. There exists no record of anyone ever hitting anything with these guns, and many pilots removed them to save weight.

The Ar 234 Operational actions

Cockpit Detail

Despite its inherent special qualities, the Ar 234 really only managed a rather conventional service life for those units managing to reach frontline elements. The aircraft was known to have crossed into English airspace on several occasions to conduct unfettered reconnaissance and was utilized over mainland Europe as well – essentially immune to all Allied countermeasures. The type was also fielded during the crucial Ardennes Offensive of December 1944-January 1945 where they were used in the direct bombing role of Allied positions. In practice, the Ar 234 proved a fast, graceful-looking instrument though the design suffered from poor maneuverability at low speeds and poor visibility to the rear. Additionally, turbojet technology still held its limitations and failures were not uncommon.

Initial operational systems became prototypes V5 and V7 when these airframes were pressed into action following the Allied invasion of northern France during D-Day in June of 1944. Axis forces were already concentrated along the East Front and in Italy so confusion was appropriate in the weeks following D-Day in Normandy.

The first prototype on the scene in July of 1944 was stationed at Juvincourt Airfield with the second delayed due to an engine issue – both assigned to I/Versuchsverband.Ob.d.L near Reims. As first-series prototypes, these versions lacked the completed undercarriage and relied on the capable-but-limited trolley system.

The world’s first jet-powered reconnaissance sortie was recorded on August 2nd, 1944, providing German High Command with reconnaissance of the Allied beachheads beginning to form across the north. Both aircraft were outfitted with Walter rockets for quick take-offs and some thirteen total sorties were flown in the weeks following.

Lasts setups before takeoff!!!

September of 1944 saw the Sonderkommando Gotz special unit formed for operating the Ar 234 in preparation for Allied landings along the coast of The Netherlands.

After the German retreat from northern France, Ar 234Bs were the standardized operational-level models. These then accounted for 24 more missions up to October of 1944. On February 11th, 1945, the first Ar 234 was shot down by a Hawker Tempest of the Royal Air Force (RAF), the German aircraft having conducted a reconnaissance sortie over England and on its return trip home.

November saw Sonderkommando Hecht Sonderkommando Sperling set up as evaluation units for the Ar 234 bomber variant.

Artwork of a Arado “blitz” Squadron,…;)

During the Ardennes Offensive, weather played an early role in keeping the Ar 234 at bay. It was not until December 24th, 1944 that the Ar 234 would undertake its first bombing sortie against the Allies. Nine aircraft participated in the strike, each carrying 1 x 1,100lb bombs under their fuselages. The target was a rail hub at Liege in eastern Belgium. All bombs found their mark and all nine aircraft returned safely to base. The last night of 1944 saw the first Ar 234 night missions begin by KG 76 against targets in Brussels and Liege, Belgium.

Luddendorf Bridge Attack

See the Radio antennas

Attacks continued in January when Ar 234s were flown against all manner of targets across Belgium. Limited fuel stores ultimately limited flight time in turn, keeping one of the more potent Luftwaffe machines on the ground.

The final Ar 234 sorties were recorded in March when flights attempted to destroy the bridge over the Rhine at Remagen to no success (this over a ten-day period). The bridge then fell to the Americans by the end of the month. Despite their growing numbers, Ar 234 flights were not numerous enough and the formal German collapse in May of 1945 ended all future operations.1945 proved the critical year of the war for all sides.

The Allied in the West and the Soviets in the East made steady gains upon German-held territories. There proved an air of desperation emerging from the German camp with Adolf Hitler’s circle of trusted generals and confidants growing ever smaller. Upon learning of the existence of the Ar 234, the Allies were on the lookout for completed examples ripe for capture.

Several endeavors failed them until February 25th, 1945 when a pair of Republic P-47 Thunderbolts managed to flank an Arado Ar 234B-2 production model which had experienced a failure of one of its engines over Segelsdorf. Forced to make a “wheels-up” landing, the aircraft crash landed intact though near a German-American frontline still being contested.

After heavy fighting – the Germans attempting to preserve their technology and the Americans attempting to steal it – the airframe was secured by the US 9th Army only to be taken apart and moved onto England for evaluation.Production of Ar 234s managed approximately 232 units from June 1944 to February of 1945 when including the V-prototypes.

The primary Arado facility was overtaken by advancing Red Army forces and the Allied day and night time bombing campaign disrupted much of the German initiative. Production was therefore hampered through lack of supplies, lack of viable pilots, lack of fuel and other requisite ingredients. As a result, very few production quality units ever reached operational-level status and few saw direct combat sorties in the war.

There simply proved too few available units and their presence arrived much too late in the war to provide much impact. Furthermore, the high-speeds and fast handling of turbojet-inspired designs such as the Ar 234 required a cool hand at the stick and training had a way of “weeding out” the poorer candidates in a final, rather lethal sense.

The Ar 234 led a rather inglorious existence because of the factors against it, severely limiting its overall reach in the grand scale of World War 2. This was a fate that befell many of the German jet and rocket projects seeing some life into the final year of the war.

Specifications (Ar 234B-2)

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 12.64 m (41 ft 6 in)
  • Wingspan: 14.41 m (47 ft 3 in)
  • Height: 4.29 m (14 ft 1 in)
  • Wing area: 26.4 m2 (284 sq ft)
  • Empty weight: 5,200 kg (11,464 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 9,800 kg (21,605 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Junkers Jumo 004B-1 axial flow turbojet engines, 8.83 kN (1,990 lbf) thrust each
  • Powerplant: 2 × Walter HWK 109-500A-1 Starthilfe liquid fuelled jettisonable JATO rocket pods, 4.905 kN (1,103 lbf) thrust each (optional)

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 742 km/h (461 mph; 401 kn) at 6,000 m (20,000 ft)
  • Cruise speed: 700 km/h (435 mph; 378 kn) at 6,000 m (20,000 ft)
  • Range: 1,556 km (967 mi; 840 nmi) with 500 kg (1,100 lb) bomb load
  • Service ceiling: 10,000 m (33,000 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 13 m/s (2,600 ft/min)

Armament

  • Guns: 2 × 20 mm MG 151 cannon in tail firing to the rear (installed in prototypes only; never used in military service)
  • Bombs: up to 1,500 kg (3,309 lb) of disposable stores on external racks

 Arado “Blitz” from BF miniatures “The Unboxing”

First of all, it does not have to say that the model in question today is complicated to locate outside of BF, fortunately there is a online shop AirAlex , 1/144 scale miniature manufacturer in the United States, that have this model.

The model price is around € 15.

Category 1: Kit quality.

Exagerated Bended wings

Starting from this premise, the model has some obvious design flaws, for example the wings are not straight, but have an exagerated downward curvature, completely illogical in any plane, … another of the most palpable defects is the lack of symmetry in the position of the reactors and a deflection of the fuselage about 10 ° to the left, if we look at the model of front.

Asimetric Jet layout

Also note the presence of molding lines that require a pre-painted assembly job.

Casting bubbles

A general adjustment of metal parts that do not fit well with the reactors is also necessary. The wings can be corrected by immersing them in hot water and correcting a little that enormous deformity that they have of beginning.

The bubbles are filled and sanded without problem.

A query about such a number of errors, with the Battlefront customer service department was very clarifying and disheartening …

 

Body 10º left moved of the center of gravity

“Hi, Thanks for the email. I have looked at the pictures of your very nicely painted Arado.
The wings are designed to have a slight bend on them to match the model.
I have checked our stock and this is in all the kits.
Best Regards
GR”

Moulding lines

Jet´s cap don´t fits well

Faced with this I can only severely penalize the model for such blunders, since it is not what is expected of a product that comes from such a prestigious brand.

At this point I decided to take the bull by the horns and unpin the mini and improve some of the errors, craso error !!! Because I ran out of decals. Again I got in touch with the friendly guys from Battlefront, asking them to “sell” me a set of pants for the plane …. this was the answer, again disheartening …

Hi, Thanks for the email.
I have checked through our spares and sorry we do not have any decals.
The only ones I have seen on the store are the ones for the gliders but not sure if they are 2 large.
Best Regards, GR

At least they tried to answer me, but again I think that a company so prestigious, should have a sufficient stock of their references and obviously does not have it.

This forced me to try to locate decals between my stock of other planes and to make a salad with what I had !!!, historically unclassifiable, but at least better aesthetically than not having them.

Category 2: Wargaming suitability. 

The kit is solid.  It is a very resistant miniature that will endure the many matches to come,  as is usual in 15 mm you can base in a standard fligh stand from Battlefront or customize yours whith the same height that BF one, see in the tutorial how improve those flight stand easily!!!.

High-speed Jet

Ground attacks by Arado 234 B aircraft cannot be intercepted using the Fighter Interception rule on page 179 of the rulebook.

 Wunderwaffen

The war is being fought on German soil, and Hitler is determined to stop the Allies by any means. He has dispatched his most advanced weapons, such as the Arado 234 Blitz bomber and the Me 262 Sturmvogel to knock out the Ludendorff Bridge. These advanced aircraft are available for your forces.

 Category 3: Conv. capabilities &upgrades.

You can customize the vehicle by rigging the radio antennas, whith a plastic sprue streched then appliyng heat witth a candle, to match the real ones appareance. For the rounded antenna I used a thin wire and a 1 mm bit.

With superglue and patience we can fix the antennas

Antennas rigged over the fuselage

Texturized Standard Flying Base

You can upgrade the flying base, adding a texture, painting a finally flocking it´s easy and the final result it´s very cool!!!.

First add filling paste over the previously scratched flying base. Then add wattered down glue and sand to give grainny texture over the plastic base.

Highlighting and flocking

First I painted with a Burnt umber tone, once dried I used for highlighting dry brush with flat Brown and Iraqui sand.

Finnally I added some patches of green flock and some Warstuft flowered tufts.

You can apply a glossy coat in the cockpit to increase the glass effect.

Final job with a little floral touch

Complete painting worklog

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

No weathering it´s allowed because those planes are really clean and at this time.

Final job looks fine…

Category 4: The kit in the market & value. 

Decals are provided, but be careful whith them because there is not chance to claim another one if we have troubles, broke, etc. The price of the kit, betwen 10-12 € (not included handling fees), Its the tipical prize for BF despite the quality of the kit.

If you have not decals or you missed it,  there it´s one guy in the States who have those ones, AirAlex nice guy and sure will help you to solve your trouble!!!!.

Category 5: My summary. 

This is a tipical BF resin casted miniature. Some mistakes are visible and penalize much my final opinion.
This is a must have model if your objetive it´s to make a German “Bridge At Remagen” list  and play with it your very late period of WW2!!!.

Thx, for watching, Mates.

 

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: