Arado Ar 234 (Blitz) Jet-Powered Fast Bomber / Reconnaissance Aircraft
The German Arado Ar 234 Blitz became the first purpose-built, jet-powered bomber in history - this during World War 2.
Authored By Dan Alex; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
As the German Messerschmitt Me 262 "Schwalbe" ("Swallow") holds the distinction of becoming the world's first operational jet-powered fighter, the Arado Ar 234 "Blitz" ("Lightning") is recognized as the world's first operational jet-powered bomber. The system arrived in 1944 and became active into 1945, serving until the end of war in 1945. it proved one of the more technologically advanced and prized weapons of the German Luftwaffe but was never available in the numbers required. The aircraft proved so advanced, in fact, that it was able to evade all available Allied interceptors of the time, making it a very capable reconnaissance and high-speed bombing platform. Unfortunately for the Germans, related testing and manufacture facilities were disrupted consistently, fuel supplies restricted and factories ultimately overrun by advancing Allied fronts limiting production to a few hundred examples by war's end. The West seemingly benefitted the most from the captured technology, the Americans in particular designing, developing and producing several jet-powered bombers of the Cold War that superficially resembled the wartime Ar 234 series to an extent (though frequently on a much larger scale). The Ar 234 became the German Luftwaffe's second jet-powered aircraft to enter service following the more recognizable Me 262.
The German Need
Origins of the Ar 234 can be traced back in an original late-1930s German Air Ministry (the RLM = Reichluftfahrtminiserium) initiative requiring a new, high-speed naval reconnaissance platform. To this point, the Germans relied upon a collection of seaplanes and flying boats for the role though performance garnered from these machines were less than stellar (apart from their inherently excellent operational ranges). These aircraft were highly susceptible to enemy interception for they lacked the needed performance and handling to evade incoming threats - particularly those embodied by nimble, maneuverable fighter types being fielded by the Allies.