The Ar 234 “Blitz” (Lightning) jet aircraft was developed for the Luftwaffe and first flew in 1943 and first saw combat in 1944. Far advanced compared to Allied aircraft, the twin engine jet easily outpaced the piston engined fighters of the day. However, much like the Me 262, the Blitz arrived too late in the war to have a tangible effect on the outcome. Primarily used for reconnaissance, the Ar 234 was able to race over Allied positions unmolested. It was also able to function as a bomber (the B-2 variant), but only one unit, KG (Kampfgeschwader or Bomber Wing) 76, was outfitted with the Blitz before the war’s end.

It is frightening to think how history might have played out had larger numbers of Ar 234’s and Me 262’s been available earlier in the war. The Allied forces had nothing that could match their speed and would not have been able to assert the air superiority necessary to carry out D-Day or the bombing of Germany.

The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum at the Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center houses the only remaining example of the Ar 234 B-2 bomber, pictured above. It was restored between 1984 and 1989 and has been painted in KG 76 colors and fitted with underwing liquid fuel RATO (Rocket Assisted Take Off) units.

Arado Ar 234 B-2 Blitz

Speed: 459 mph
Ceiling: 32,800 ft
Armament: 4,400 lbs of bombs, 2 20mm rear firing cannon
Crew: 1