Arado Ar 240 Multi-Purpose / Multi-Role Heavy Fighter Aircraft
Designed as an all-around situational performer, the Arado Ar 240 was doomed by its poor flight characteristics.
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The Arado Ar 240 was designed to an RLM 1938 response to replace the twin engine, two seat Messerschmitt BF 110 Zerstorer heavy fighter, being made obsolete by the changing face of war. The Arado firm and the Messerschmitt firm (the latter already experienced in such a design) were tabbed for developing the BF 110's eventual replacement with Messerschmitt holding the edge. In the end, the Messerschmitt design was accepted as the Me 210 while the Arado design was relegated to nothing more than a test airframe for the company's future designs. The Ar 240 was done in by its overly ambitious and complicated design and poor flight characteristics though it did exhibit exceptional performance capabilities nonetheless.
Design of the Arado Ar 240 was headed up by Walter Blume, whose vision of this aircraft came about some years before. The design was to feature several groundbreaking components that included a fully pressurized cockpit for two, remote-controlled operated armament and a specially designed lift flap with a small overall wing surface area for low-speed venturing. In addition to its heavy fighter role, the Ar 240, like the Me 210 submitted design, was to be an inherently capable dive bomber design as well, complicating the Ar 240 design further with the introduction of a dive braking system. The end product, with all that the Arado team wanted to - and were forced to - fit into it, was a progressively heavy-laden design.
Externally, the Ar 240 followed a traditional twin-engine layout for the time. Engines were held out and away from the fuselage on a middle-mount monoplane wing assembly with the engine nacelle edge meeting up to the front of the cockpit nose and extended past the wing trailing edges. the fuselage was of a thin pencil-like design meeting in a tail section extending past the "T" style elevator and vertical fins with an additional vertical fin added to the extreme fuselage end. Crew accommodations amounted to two personnel - a pilot and a navigator/gunner - in a pressurized cockpit. The navigator/gunner was responsible for manning the two remote-controlled fuselage barbettes, each mounting twin 7.92m MG81 machine guns. An additional 2 x 7.92mm MG17 machine guns were available in fixed positions as well.
Models in the series became a list of prototype ventures from V-1 to V-6 each progressively featuring a new major component (the first prototype becoming airborne in 1940). With the arrival of the Ar 240A-0 series, the system had reach production stages. The definitive design would end up being the multi-purpose Ar 240C series of which several major variants would be developed.
Performance from a series of Daimler-Benz engines were impressive. The noted DB601A was of an in-line engine type, though designed in such a way as to appear as standard radials. Each engine amassed some 1,075 horsepower allowing for speeds of up to 384 miles per hour, a service ceiling of over 34,000 feet and a range of over 1,200 miles. As impressive as those statistics were, the Ar 240 still suffered from poor in flight characteristics that went on to doom the design. Nevertheless, the system was used in the unarmed reconnaissance role over England during the operational trials phase of the system's development at a time when few other two-engine platform types offered up such range. Reports of production totals amounted to a measly 14 systems in circulation.