Arado Ar E. 381 (Kleinstjager) History

The proposal for the Ar E. 381 rocket fighter was submitted to the Luftwaffe for consideration in 1944. The Arado Ar E. 381 showed promise as a number of companies (including Arado, Heinkel, and Henschel) competed for the role of the so-called "parasite fighter"a cheap, small and fast rocket-powered interceptor.

At this point in World War II (1939-1945), the Allied bombing campaign was taking its toll on Germany's wartime infrastructure and a solution was desperately needed.

Ar E. 381 has undergone three major technical revisions, including the I, II and finally III variants. Through its development, the hull design was enlarged and streamlined to a more acceptable shape. Ultimately, the Ar E. 381 III will be the closest mass-production variant to the Arado Ar 234C-3 "Blitzkrieg" jet bomber. The Parasite fighter itself will be armed with 6 x RZ65 or 73 spin-stabilized missiles and 1 x 30mm MK 108 cannon.

Power for the airframe will be provided by limited-life Walter HWK 109-509B series rocket engines.

Perhaps the most interesting design element of the Ar E. 381 III is that the pilot is constrained to the nose when prone, which allows the aircraft to have a slim aerodynamic profile and eliminate the need for a traditional cockpit. In the Germans' parasitic fighter concept, the Ar E. 381 III would be attached to the bottom of the Ar 234 bomber until the desired altitude (about 3,281 feet or 1,000 meters) was reached to release the fighter. From there, the Ar E. 381 III will dive and reach speeds of up to 810 km/h. During the second attack run, the rocket booster will be detonated.

Once the fuel ran out, the fighter had to glide home and land without power - the landing gear consisted of a skid that ran along the bottom of the fuselage (a cone parachute was also deployed to delay the landing run).

The Ar E. 381III could theoretically fly over the bomber formation no more than twice before running out of fuel, at which point the aircraft would still be very vulnerable to enemy reactions.

Ar E. 381 is simple to build, so all facilities (such as heating) are provided by the transport ship until leaving the mother ship. This type of engineering makes the Ar E. 381 work lightweight and easy to mass produce.

The aircraft is also designed to be broken down into several major components, including the wing assembly, fuselage and tail, for easy storage, transport and assembly.

Overall, few models and airframes have been built for further testing, with an unmanned aerial tow version reportedly underway, but ultimately the Ar E. 381 remains an unfinished concept at best. In the end, the FAA decided not to pursue the idea of ??parasitic aircraft.

About four wooden frames were realized through the Arado program.

The effectiveness of the E. 381 as a Parasite fighter is questionable - in the postwar years there were also many attempts at the jet propulsion type, but also no concept of mass was provided. The process is beneficial in theory, but in practice the arrangement has proven to be a complex proposition, offering a little more than what conventional fighter jets already offer.

Arado Ar E. 381 (Kleinstjager) Specification

Basic

Year:
1944
Status:
Cancel
Staff:
1

Production

[0 units]:
Arado Flugzeugwerke - Germany

Roles

- Fighter

- Intercept

- X-Plane / Development

Dimensions

Length:

18.70 ft (5.7 m)

Width:

5.05m

Height:

1.51m

Weight

MTOW:

1,500 kg

(difference: +3,307 pt)

Performance

1 x Walter HWK 109-509B rocket motor.

Performance

Maximum Speed:

556 mph (895 km/h; 483 knots)

Service Limit:

3,281 ft (1,000 m; 0.62 mi)

Armor

Suggestions:

1 x 30mm MK 108 Autocannon

6 x RZ65 or RZ73 rotationally stabilized rockets.

Changes

Ar E. 381 I - First draft of the prototype model

Ar E. 381 II - Redesigned prototype model

Ar E. 381 III - Redesigned and improved prototype model

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