Aviation of World War II
Among the small companies whose experience in the design and manufacture of aircraft became the basis of the aircraft industry of the "Third Reich", "Arado Flugzeugwerke GmbH" occupied not the last place. It became one of the main manufacturers in the field, with nearly the largest production workforce, although only a small number of aircraft were of its own design.
The history of the creation of Arado dates back to 1917, to the founding of Werft Warnemünde des Flugzeugbau Friedrichshafen, a subsidiary of Flugzeugbau Friedrichshafen GmbH. All work at Werft Warnemünde ceased in 1918, but in 1921 the factory was purchased by the industrialist Hugo Stinnes, who planned to start designing and building aircraft as soon as the opportunity presented itself. Initially, the work of the factory was limited to the production of small boats, yachts and accessories, but in 1924 Stinnes hired a very talented designer, Walter Rethel, who worked on the Condor Flygzeugwerk during the First World War, and after it ended with Fokker in Holland. At the same time, Stinnes founded a subsidiary in Yugoslavia, Ikarus GmbH, with a plant in Novi Sad near Belgrade for the assembly of aircraft. By 1925, when Werft Warnemünde became Arado Handelsgesellschaft, headed by the chief designer Rethel, the newly created design bureau was already working and in the same year launched the first aircraft of its own design - the S-I training biplane. In 1926, two-seat biplanes for advanced flight training SC-I and SC-II were produced. In 1928, an improved version of the S-III initial training aircraft appeared. This year was very productive for the company in Warnemünde: the W-2 float trainer, the SD-1 single-seat fighter and the V-1 four-seat monoplane made their first flights at the same time. The latter was tested at Lufthansa as a mail plane and made several successful long-haul flights until it crashed off Nyuruppin on December 19, 1929.
The success of the designers from Warnemünde became even more noticeable in 1929, when the SD-II and SD-III single-seat fighters, the SSD-I float fighter and two V-2 light sports monoplanes designed by Rethel and Hoffmann's L-1 were released. "Arado" was noted in aviation circles as a good developer of new machines, but not a manufacturer - none of these aircraft was put into mass production. "Arado handelsgerelshaft" still "specialized" in the production of non-aviation products. Only 100 people were employed in production, but the winds of political change were blowing stronger in Germany. Having received secret support from the Aviation Headquarters of the Ministry of Defense, "Arado", which then had only 4 hectares of territory, including 1.5 hectares of production space, began to develop rapidly.
The policy of the ministry was to bring the aviation industry to the world level, and in the early 30s, two new Ar.64 fighters appeared on the stocks in Warnemünde and, together with a training biplane Ar.66. Then, within a short time, three events occurred that had a noticeable impact on the fate of the company: Hugo Stinnes died; the chief designer of the company was Walter Blum, who replaced Rethel, who had left in Bayerische Flugtsoygwerke; Hitler came to power in Germany. The capital invested in the company was relatively small, which required large financial injections from the government. As a result, the company, renamed on March 4, 1933 as Arado Flugzeugwerke GmbH, came under the control of the Air Ministry.
Arado-65e was ordered for production at Warnemünde and became the first fighter of the still "underground" Luftwaffe. At the same time, the training Ar.66, designed by Blum, was put into production. To this end, the company purchased the former steelworks in Brandenburg-Nuendorf on September 6, 1934 to set up a subsidiary, on which work began in December 1934. The impressive thing about the company's unexpected takeoff was that the first aircraft rolled off the new Arado assembly line just four months later, in April 1935. In addition to producing machines of its own design, Arado soon began to acquire licenses from other companies, and since 1935, Arado's assembly lines were mainly occupied by Heinkel, Messerschmitt, Junkers and Focke-Wulf aircraft. At the same time, most of the aircraft developed by Arado itself were produced under license by other companies. Following 75 He.51s, 140 He.59s and 100 He.60s followed, then work began on 300 He.111 bombers, until at the beginning of 1938 the Warnemünde plant was included in the Bf.109 production program.
Before participating in this program, Arado produced a significant number of biplane fighters. Although the Arado design bureau worked fruitfully, there was no particular success in bringing the machines to the series. The training biplane Ar.69 took second place after the Fw.44 "Steiglitz", the light fighter and advanced training aircraft Ar.76 gave way to the Fw.56 "Shtesser" and was produced only in a small series, and the twin-engine training Ar.77 could not compete with Fw.58 "Weihe". True, there was success with the two-seater tourist Ar.79, on which the FAI registered several records in its class, but the float was produced only in a small series - designed according to the requirements of the fleet, it was already outdated at the stage of an experimental aircraft. Fortune again smiled at Blum and his design bureau in 1938, when the Ar.96 was chosen as the main aircraft for advanced flight training. Almost immediately followed by an order for a series of float Ar.196.
With the outbreak of World War II, the plants in Warnemünde and Brandenburg-Neuendorff were supplemented by production in Babelsberg near Berlin, which became the core of a whole complex that included auxiliary production in Jaeger, Rathenow, Wittenberg, Tutov, Anklam and Neubranderburg. But apart from the serial production of the Ar.196, not a single original development was put into production at Arado until the middle of 1944, when the Ar.234 began to be assembled at the plant in Brandenburg-Nuendorf. Almost all of Arado's activities were reduced to assembly and work on aircraft from other companies and the production of unified units. Of the many thousands of aircraft produced by this concern, only a small part were its own developments, but some of them left a noticeable mark on the history of aviation, including Ar.234 - the first turbojet bomber in the world.
Significant is the fact that in August 1951, the state tests of the Ar.196 seaplane with the ASh-62IR engine installed on it were completed at Institute No. 15 of the USSR Navy. Ar.196 "updated" in this way, according to some reports, served in the fleet aviation until 1953.