Military Factory logo

Arado Ar E.381 (Kleinstjager)

Nazi Germany (1944)
Picture of Arado Ar E.381 (Kleinstjager) Rocket-Powered Parasite Fighter / Interceptor Proposal

The diminuitive Arado Ar E.381 was a Parasite Fighter prototype intended to be released into combat by an accompanying mothership.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Arado Ar E.381 (Kleinstjager) Rocket-Powered Parasite Fighter / Interceptor Proposal.  Entry last updated on 5/13/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

The Ar E.381 rocket-fighter proposal was submitted in 1944 for review by the German Air Ministry. Whilst a plethora of companies (including Arado, Heinkel, and Henschel) were competing to fulfill the role of what was to be dubbed the "Parasite Fighter" - inexpensive, small, and fast rocket-powered interceptors - the Arado Ar E.381 showed promise. By this point in World War 2 (1939-1945), the Allied bombing campaign was taking its toll on German war-making infrastructure and a solution was in dire need.

The Ar E.381 went through three major engineering revisions spanning a I, II and finally a III variant. Through its evolution, the fuselage design was enlarged and streamlined to a more acceptable form. In the end, the Ar E.381 III would become the closest version to mimic possible production models with the ability to be carried underneath an Arado Ar 234C-3 "Blitz" jet bomber. The parasite fighter itself would have been armed through 6 x RZ65 or 73 type spin-stabilized rockets and 1 x 30mm MK 108 cannon. Power to the airframe was to come from a Walter HWK 109-509B series rocket motor of limited endurance.

Perhaps the most interesting design element of the Ar E.381 III was the fact that the pilot was confined, in the prone position, at the nose of the vehicle which allowed the aircraft to be of a slim, aerodynamic profile and not require the use of a traditional cockpit. In the parasite fighter concept for the Germans, the Ar E.381 III would be attached to the underside of the Ar 234 bomber until taken to the desired altitude (about 3,281 feet or 1,000 meters) upon which the fighter would be released. From there, the Ar E.381 III would go into a dive and achieve a speed of up to 510 mph. It was during a second attack run that the rocket booster would be ignited. Once fuel was spent, the fighter would have to glide home and land under without power - the undercarriage consisting of a single skid running along the bottom of the fuselage (a braking parachute was also deployed to retard landing runs).

In theory, the Ar E.381III could conceivably make no more than two passes at a bomber formation before running out of fuel at which point the aircraft remained highly vulnerable to an enemy response.
The Ar E.381 was built to be simplistic, therefore all amenities such as heating were provided by the carrier craft until departure from the mothership. This sort of engineering kept the Ar E.381 light in operating weight and simple to produce in mass quantity. The aircraft was also designed to be taken apart into several major components consisting of the wing assembly, the fuselage and the tail section for ease of storage, transport and assembly.

In all, only a few mockups and airframes were constructed for further testing, with a reported unmanned air-towed version undergoing further trials, but ultimately the Ar E.381 remained an unfinished concept at best. In the end, the German Air Ministry decided against pursuing the idea of a parasite aircraft. About four wooden frames were all that was realized by the Arado program.

The E.381 as a parasite fighter held doubtful effectiveness - many attempts even with jet-powered types were made in the post-war years that also failed to deliver a quality concept. In theory the process held merit but, in practicality, the arrangement proved a complex offering that provided little more than traditional fighters already gave.




General Assessment (BETA)
Firepower  
Bar chart graphic
Performance  
Bar chart graphic
Survivability  
Bar chart graphic
Versatility  
Bar chart graphic
Impact  
Bar chart graphic


Rating: 44 (of 100)
The rating is an internal assessment derived from forty factors pertaining to this entry.
Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 750mph
Lo: 375mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (556mph).

    Graph average of 562.5 miles-per-hour.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
0
0


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
  Compare this entry against other aircraft using our Comparison Tool  
National Flag Graphic
Origin: Nazi Germany
Year: 1944
Type: Rocket-Powered Parasite Fighter / Interceptor Proposal
Manufacturer(s): Arado Flugzeugwerke - Germany
Production: 0
Status: Cancelled
Global Operators:
Nazi Germany (cancelled)
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Arado Ar E.381 (Kleinstjager) model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
1


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
18.70 ft


Meters
5.7 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
16.57 ft


Meters
5.05 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
4.95 ft


Meters
1.51 m


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
3,307 lb


Kilograms
1,500 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Walter HWK 109-509B rocket motor.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
556 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
895 kph


Knots
483 kts


Performance
CEILING


Feet
3,281 ft


Meters
1,000 m


Miles
0.62 mi

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an air-to-air missile weapon
Graphical image of a short-range air-to-air missile
Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Graphical image of aircraft aerial rockets
Armament - Hardpoints (6):

PROPOSED:
1 x 30mm MK 108 cannon
6 x RZ65 OR RZ73 spin-stabilized air-to-air rockets
Variants: Series Model Variants
• Ar E.381 I - Initial Design Prototype Model
• Ar E.381 II - Redesigned Prototype Model
• Ar E.381 III - Redesigned and Improved Prototype Model