Arado E 555-1
Arado Ar. E. 555/1 Overview
The Ar.E.555/1 long range bomber concept was part of a design study conducted by Dr. Ing. W. Laute and an Arado design group at the Arado Werks at Landeshut/Schesien. The E.555 study was looking at the advantages of a jet powered planar flying wing. It would combine the wing and body of the airframe together with laminar flow characteristics to provide high cruise speed and long range. As many as 10 (some sources say 11) different variations were studied. These were limited to study only. The RLM decreed on December 28, 1944, all heavy bomber activities be ended. The strain on the aircraft industry to supply enough defensive fighters to stop the around-the-clock bombing of German war assets was given the highest priority. Thus the E.555 series of designs remained as studies only.
Arado Ar. E. 555/1 Historical Details
As early as 1897, German military thinkers were looking at the United States as a possible adversary. Naval Lt. Eberhard von Mantry looked into the possibilities of a seaborne invasion of New York. In 1903 a study was conducted by the Kreigsmarine’s Chief of Staff to capture the Panama Canal and disrupt US Navy activities. By 1904 the US Navy was beginning a build-up to counter problems arising in Central and South America. This put an end to the Kreigsmarine’s plans. Again in 1917, as US forces became involved in the fight in France, German High Command began to look into aerial attacks on the US using airships and long range aircraft. Airships of the day could fly the required distances, but the weather conditions that would be encountered would have made the missions very dangerous. There were no bomber aircraft capable of the range required.
When the First World War ended, German military aviation was outlawed. Almost immediately, however, plans were put into place to keep military aviation activities continuing out of general view. The 1920’s saw German aviation restricted to some small civil airlines and sport glider activities.
The 1930’s saw the rise of the Nazi party and a complete change of national attitude and the planning of rearming the German military.
The newly reconstituted Luftwaffe began building new aircraft of all types. The leaders of this new air force, for the most part veterans of World War I, saw the Luftwaffe as the air artillery to help the Wehrmacht to apply it’s newly developed ‘Blitzkrieg” tactics. Tactical attack aircraft did not require long range and large bomb load capabilities.
However, there were some in this new organization who saw the coming need for a strategic capability. This new Luftwaffe’s Chief of Staff, Generalleutnant Walter Weaver was one who saw the importance of a strategic capability of the Luftwaffe. The “Ural Bomber” program was developing when GenLt. Weaver was killed in a crash in 1936.
His successor, GenLt. Albert Kesselring believed that the primary need of the Luftwaffe was dive bombers and medium twin-engine tactical bombers. The feeling amongst the German military was that the coming war would be a series of short intense engagements and it would not last very long. Germany’s enemies would be defeated before a need to carry the battle long distances would be necessary.
Nevertheless, a Bomber "A" program was instituted, which resulted in the development of the Me 264, He 177 and the Ta 400 long range bomber studies. The Me 264 “Amerika Bomber” and the He 177 Grief were both constructed. The Ta 400 remained a design study. These aircraft suffered from engine and system problems and were never effective bombers.
The German aircraft industry was not capable of building many highly sophisticated bomber aircraft requiring advanced assembly techniques. Demands for primarily single seat day fighters dominated the production capacities of the aircraft industry. Pressurized crew cabins, engines with turbo and super charging, reliable jet engines, remote optical and radar controlled defensive gun positions were some of the challenges facing them. The capacity to build these complex aircraft quickly to meet the changing war situation did not exist.
The Bomber “B” program was instituted to develop successors to the Ju88, Do17/215, and the He111. Many design studies were submitted. The most promising were the Do317, an improved Do217, the Ar.E.340, the Fw191 and the Ju288. The Ar.E.340 remained a design study because of its unusual twin boom layout. The Do317 did not offer enough improvement over the Do217 to merit production. Both the Fw191 and the Ju288 were not able to reach their full potential because of the failure and cancellation of the Jumo222 engine program. Failure of the German conventional and jet engine industries to deliver the next generation of engines to “B” bomber airframes meant they were doomed to failure.
For example, the Ju288 flew with BMW801G, C, TJ and the Jumo222A/B and the DB606A/B and also the DB610 A/B. Much time and materials were spent mating the different engine configurations to the airframe. The engines themselves suffered production problems and most never produced the power they were designed to.
Starting in 1942, the Luftwaffe, the RLM and even Goring and Hitler seemed to vacillate between the need to develop strategic “Wonder” weapons and the need to produce vast amounts of defensive conventional weaponry. In a Sept.17th meeting with Goring, a plan which became known as “3 x 1000 “was put forth. It called for a design capable of carrying 1000kg of bombs at 1000km/h with a useful range of 1000 km. In the end, the pressure brought to bear on all aspects of the German armament industries by Allied strategic forces prevented most of the “Wonder” designs from becoming reality.
Late in 1943, the development think tank of Arado’s Landeshut/Silesia works under the leadership of Dr. Ing. W. Laute began to study the feasibility of a flying wing bomber. Using a laminar flow planar wing shape and jet engine power, they hoped to develop a bomber design capable of high altitude, high speed and long range. They studied 10 (some sources say 11, 14 or15.) variations of the basic design. In mid 1944 the RLM issued a specification to Arado to develop one of those design studies into a bomber capable of crossing the ocean. They picked the E.555/1 to develop. The E.555/1 explored the concept of a planar wing planform with the fuselage blending into the wing to increase its efficiency. The goal of the study was to design a bomber for transatlantic operations. Due to problems with all the various first generation jet and turbojet engines with reliability and production quality, the engines were mounted on a plinth between the twin tails and at the trailing edge of the fuselage. This configuration eliminated intake and exhaust ducting problems. The exhaust was also clear of the airframe structure. If engine changes or the configurations of engines changed, there is no need to modify the airframe itself.
The crew for this version consisted of a pilot and bombardier/navigator in a pressurized glass cockpit with an engineer/gunner position in the fuselage proper. The gunner had control of both the forward and tail remotely controlled gun turrets His position was to be equipped with both radar and optical controls. He would also monitor and adjust critical aircraft systems and help the pilot maintain optimum balance for changing conditions during very long, high altitude missions to be flown in the very cold stratosphere. The pilot has control of two fuselage mounted forward firing cannons and the bombardier/navigator could also control the forward turret to defend against frontal attack. The design called for the bomb load to be carried completely internally. The range penalty of external bomb and fuel tank racks excluded their use. Because the engines were totally external to the airframe, the E.555 could have a substantial bomb bay. It could be more flexible with bomb loads and the possibilities of extra fuel tanks for super long-range missions. The possibilities of mounting cameras for photo/recon missions would also be considerable. It would have also been capable of carrying an atomic weapon, had one been available.
On December 28, 1944, the RLM bowed to the pressure on the aircraft industries for delivering defensive fighters and announced that all bomber and reconnaissance aircraft production cease to concentrate on fighter aircraft. The Ar.E.555 design studies remained studies and the war ended. The Luftwaffe failed to see the importance of strategic air power and was defeated in part by the Allied use of it. The quality of replacement pilots suffered in part by lack of fuel for training sorties. End of war inspections of factories revealed concealed parks filled with new aircraft with empty fuel tanks. The ability of the Allied forces to use the entire United Kingdom as a gigantic aircraft carrier and put pressure on German industrial infrastructure both night and day helped to shorten the war in Europe.
Picture this in your mind for a moment: If the war had gone a different way, you might have seen E.555s going in one direction and B-36s in the other, over the Atlantic. The B-36 was the ultimate model of the propeller-driven intercontinental strategic bomber. The USAAC leaders saw the importance of strategic airpower and began investing early in the 1930’s. With the XB-15 and XB-19 they studied the harsh realities of the problems involved. The B-17 and B-24 programs were in place as the war began. The B-29 and B-32 programs were moving into position later in the war. The B-35 and the B-36 were to be the next and last prop programs. They would have been truly intercontinental bombers.
By Bruce Van Auken
Type: Long-range bomber Arado acre E.555-1
Drive: 6 jet engines BMW 003
Wingspan: 21.2 m
Length: 18.4 m
Height: 6.4 m
Wing area: 125 m ²
Maximum speed: 915 km/h
Maximum air route: 4,800 km
Takeoff weight: 24,000 kilograms
Bomb load: 4000 kilograms
Crew 3: Pilot, radar observer and navigator on catapult seats in a pressurized cabin.
Armament: two cannons M 103 - 30mm in the wing roots
two machine guns magnesium 151 - 20mm behind the cockpit
two machine guns magnesium 151 20mm in the tail dome