In 1940, the German company Arado, on its own initiative, began to develop an experimental high-speed reconnaissance aircraft with the latest turbojet engines from Junkers. The prototype was ready in the middle of the 1942 of the year, but problems with fine-tuning the Jumo-004 engine forced us to postpone the plane tests.
In May 1943, the long-awaited engines were delivered to the Arado plant, and after a little refinement, the scout was ready for an experienced flight. The tests began in June, and the aircraft showed impressive results - its speed reached 630 km / h, whereas in the piston Ju-88 it was 500 km / h. The Luftwaffe command appreciated the promising aircraft, but at a meeting with Goering in July 1943, the decision was made to remake the Ar. 234 Blitz (Lightning) in a light bomber.
The design office of the company "Arado" has begun to finalize the aircraft. The main difficulty was in placing the bombs - in the small fuselage of the “Lightning” there was no free space, and the placement of the bomb suspension under the wings greatly worsened the aerodynamics, which resulted in a loss of speed.
In September Xeringg was introduced to Göring by the Ar-1943B light bomber. The design was a high-metal all-plane with single-fin tail. Crew - one person. The aircraft carried one 234-kg bomb, two Jumo-500 gas-turbine jet engines developed a maximum speed of up to 004 km / h. To reduce the distance of the takeoff, starting jet accelerators were used, which worked for about a minute, and then were dropped. To reduce the landing run, a system with a braking parachute was designed, which was opened after the landing of the aircraft. Defensive armament of two 700-mm guns was installed in the tail of the aircraft.
Ar-234B successfully passed all cycles of army tests and in November 1943 was demonstrated to the Fuhrer. Hitler was satisfied with Lightning and ordered the immediate start of mass production. But in the winter of 1943, interruptions began with the supply of Junker engines Jumo-004 - American aviation actively bombed German war industry. In addition, Jumo-004 engines were installed on the Me-262 fighter-bomber.
Only in May 1944, the first twenty-five Ar-234 entered service with the Luftwaffe. In July, "Lightning" made the first reconnaissance flight over the territory of Normandy. In this combat sortie, the Arado-234 filmed almost the entire area occupied by the landing Allied forces. The flight took place at an altitude of 11000 meters and a speed of 750 km / h. The British fighters raised to intercept the Arado-234 could not catch up with him. As a result of this flight, the Wehrmacht command for the first time was able to estimate the scale of the landing of the Anglo-American troops. Goering, struck by such brilliant results, ordered the creation of reconnaissance squadrons equipped with "Lightning".
Since the fall of 1944, Arado-234 has been conducting exploration throughout Europe. Due to the high speed, only the newest piston fighters Mustang P51D (701 km / h) and Spitfire Mk.XVI (688 km / h) could intercept and shoot down the Lightning. Despite the dominant superiority of Allied aviation at the beginning of 1945, the losses of the Lightning were minimal.
In general, the Arado was well-designed aircraft. An experimental ejection pilot's seat was tested on it, as well as an airtight cabin for flights at high altitude.
The disadvantages of the aircraft include the complexity of management, which required highly skilled pilots. Also, the complexity delivered small motor life of the engine Jumo-004.
All were released about two hundred Arado-234.