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Arado Flugzeugwerke GmbH
ARADO Handels Gesellschaft m.b.H.

As it was the case with Blohm & Voss, Arado was founded in the naval yards. Arado was a concern which played a considerable part in the equipment of its Germany's modern air force. By the Second World War Arado was a manufacturer of great importance, largely in connection with production of aircraft for other companies, but also in the development and production of its own types.

In 1913 the naval yards of Friedrichhafen specialized in the construction of all sorts of vehicles, including seaplanes. In 1914, a runway was built near the naval yards, and aeronautical activity began lasting through the Great War. Arado Flugzeugwerke was originally established as the Werfte Warnemnde der Flugzeugbaus Friedrichshafen as a subsidiary of Flugzeugbau Friedrichshafen GmbH. Lying on the banks of Lake Constance, protected against everything save air attack, Friedrichshafen was the home and birthplace of the Zeppelin airship. The Friedrichshafen Aeroplane Company was a branch of the Zeppelin Airship Company. The Friedrichshafen Aircraft Works (Flugzeugbau Friedrichshafen, Gesellschaft m.b.H.) had long specialized in the construction of seaplanes equipped with one and two engines. The Zeppelin amphibian, built by Flugzeugbau Friedrichshafen, attained considerable success in the German Lakes competition.

The Entente Powers continued to increase and strengthen their aerial forces which, with the addition of the avions the Americans furnished, insured the retention of that superiority in the air which had been wrested from the Germans. However, the Germans, in the hope of regaining it, abandoned altogether the building of Zeppelins, and converted Friedrichshafen into a great aeroplane factory.

By 1917 Friedrichshafen was manufacturing a twin-engined bombing airplane. This new German bomber possesses substantially the same features as that produced by the Gotha Wagon Works, and might, in fact, be termed a small Gotha. On the other hand, the Friedrichshafen bomber has a great resemblance to the twin-engined seaplane of the same concern, the chief difference consisting in the sweepback of the wings, which is a reversion to earlier German practice. The Friedrichshafen bomber has an upper span of 20.30 m. and a lower span of 18.85 m., giving an overhang of only 0.72 m. at the wing tips. The wings are slightly tapering in width from the body toward the tips, the chord measuring, respectively, 2.30 m. and 1.80 m. The interplane gap is 1.95 near the body and increases slightly at the tips. The surface area of the wings is 70 sq. m. The overall length of the machine is 11 m.; the overall height, measured from the ground to the upper edge of the rudder, is 4.10 m.

Aircraft work ceased in 1918, In 1921, the factory was purchased by Heinrich Lbbe, and in 1924 re-commenced aircraft construction for export, opening a subsidiary, Ikarus, in Yugoslavia. Heinrich Lbbe (12 January, 1884-14 March, 1940) was a German engineer working for Dutch aircraft designer Anthony Fokker during the First World War, invented the interrupter gear which enabled a machine gun to fire through the propeller blades. Luebbe in Germany developed a system of synchronization in which the machine gun could be made to fire through the arc of the turning propeller only when the blades were not in the way. Luebbe, a watchmaker and armament expert, became Fokker's collaborator in this project. Luebbe, remembered that back in 1913, a German engineer named Franz Schneider, had received a patent for a gun- synchronizing mechanism. In 1915, Anthony Fokker, working with two of his assistants- Heinrich Luebbe and Fritz Heber- fitted a Parabellum machine gun onto a Fokker M5K which successfully fired through the propeller arc. The outcome was a mechanical synchronising gear, the main credit for which is probably due not to Fokker but to his collaborator Heinrich Luebbe.

Arado Handelsgesellschaft mbH was established 1925. Arado (meaning plow in Spanish), was the name chosen for the rebirth of the company in 1925, to keep the philosophy of the naval yards; "the plower of the seas", and also to designate their seaplanes.

The "Ar S.I." built in 1926 by the Arado Conpany at Warnemunde, Germmy, was a wireless biplane of pleasing shape. The slender fuselage and staggered wings, with their peculiar bracing, gave it a character of its own. The khaki paint on fuselaze and fabric and the special varnish on the wings made an agreeable impression.: On closer examination, observers quickly reached the conclusion that it was not simply a beautifully finished exhibition piece, but that every detail was scientifically worked out.

The Arado SC 1 of 1927 was a staggered overhung biplane. It was built specifically as a training aircraft. Due to its great strength and maneuverability it was, however, well adapted to stunt flying. It had excellent flight characteristics. It could easily and safely perform stunts of every description. In every position the airplane lay firmly in the air, there being no danger of an involuntary slip or spin. Even stalled flight hardly disturbed its equilibrium.

The name Arado Flugzeugwerke was adopted 04 March 1933. The Nazis had taken power, and wanted a fast new fighter plane. The ensuing rivalry pitted BFW against the competing firms of Arado, Focke-Wulf, and Heinkel. Messerschmitt crafted his design by working with the most powerful engine then available and building the lightest and most compact airframe possible around it. In flight tests the Messerschmitt outperformed the planes of its rivals.

In 1936, Lbbe refused to join the Nazi Party. His enterprise was nationalized, and he was ousted. He died in 1940 at fifty-six years of age, ruined, and without witnessing the development, and the work of his associates to whom he had passed on his personal knowledge, and discipline for excellence.

Between 1934 and 1939 the Arado Flugzeugwerke developed a number of designs which were to form the equipment of many Luftwaffe units. The designs were not left in the "drawing-board" stage, but were actually constructed, tested and flown. Yet, with one exception, none of them came into a wider employment with the German Air Force. In quality of design and performance these prototypes were found to be up to Luftwaffe specifications and, in fact, sometimes better than other types which since became standard equipment. But all efforts of the Arado Company to bring their aircraft into service with the Luftwaffe failed, and only a few machines were made use of.

A number of reasons were responsible for this, but among them the most important was the difficulty of bringing these types into series production. Other German aircraft manufacturers were reluctant to cooperate, and refused to build the types instead of their own designs. Arguments were put forward that the mass production of the Arado types by other works would be too expensive and require different tools, etc. Finally, a compromise appeared to have been reached; the powerful Junkers and Messerschmitt concerns and the influential Fieseler Company gained the upper hand, and a quiet distribution of "spheres of interest" was arranged.

This "freezing" of designs was, in fact, mainly due to the rivalry of the leading aircraft designers. Messerschmitt, the protege of Rudolf Hess, and a favorite of the Nazi Party which financed him between 1933 and '35. was given the construction of fighters. Heinkel, whose close contact with the High Command dated back to the last war, was to share with Junkers the orders for bombers, Henschel, the first dive-bomber, and so on. The Arado, whose "pull" was not strong enough, was left with a very limited field of activity. Yet many of the ideas and features of these Arado aircraft have been made use of by the Luftwaffe and by incorporated in other types developed by the German aircraft industry.

The Arado Ar 80 resembled the little Blohm and Voss Ha 137 dive-bomber, having a cranked low monoplane wing. The fuselage was long and slim and the wing of high aspect ratio. Following standard Arado practice, the vertical surfaces of the tail were placed forward of the horizontal surfaces. Of the single-strut type, the undercarriage was fixed and the engine was a Junkers Jumo 210. The majority of the fuselage was fabric covered.

An outlandish predecessor of the Ar 95 was the Ar 81 with a Junkers Jumo 210 engine. The two most remarkable features of this machine was the very small diameter of the rear portion of the fuselage, and the twin fins and rudders placed at each end of the tail-plane which was raised above the tail end of the fuselage on a small streamlined structure and braced on each-side by two struts. The machine could be used for observation and dive-bombing, but was too slow for employment as a two-seater fighter. Incidentally, a prototype of the Ar 95 was fitted with a Junkers Jumo 210, though production machines as described in our article have the B.M.W. 132 Dc radial. Compared with the Heinkel types 118, 170K and 270, the Ar 81 was of crude design.

The Ar 196 seaplane and Ar 232 transport being fairly familiar, the type Ar 234B is the most interesting. This aircraft, the fastest bomber in the world, had a maximum speed of 546 m.p.h. at 20,000ft., coupled with good inherent aerodynamic stability, was shown to be an unusually efficient aircraft.

Another Arado machine is the type Ar 240, a low-wing twin-engine aircraft intended for high altitude reconnaissance or as a heavy fighter. Early sub-types had DB601 engines, later sub-types DB 603s or 605s. It saw very limited operational service.

Following the successful application of jet power to fighter/pursuit planes during World War II, steps were taken to use jet engines in bomber aircraft. Germany beat the U.S. to the punch. The Arado Ar.234B-2 Blitz, the world's first operational jet bomber, first flew on 15 June 1943. In 1944, Captain Diether Lukesch test flew and helped develop the Arado Ar 234, the world's first jet bomber and reconnaissance aircraft. In that same year, he made history's first jet bomber attacks, in an attempt to stop the Allies' advance in Western Europe. On Christmas Eve Day 1944, Captain Diether Lukesch led the first bombing missions of the world's first jet bomber, the Arado Ar 234, against Allied targets at Liege, Belgium.

The nationalized Company was totally liquidated in 1945. It is worth noting that its competitors; Junkers, Messerschmitt, BMW, Heinkel, etc. are all today in the Airbus consortium.

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