History[edit | edit source]
This Ar 234 was one of nine surrendered to British forces near Stavanger, Norway, and is today the sole surviving example of an Arado Ar 234. The aircraft had been on strength with 9./KG 76 (Ninth Squadron/bomber Wing 76) during the final weeks of the war, having served earlier with the unit's eighth squadron. The british forces allocated the code USA 50 to the aircraft and it and three other Ar 234s were collected by the famous "Watson's Whizzers" group of the USAAF (United States Army Air Forces) for shipment to the United States. They allocated the Watson Whizzers code 505 to this aircraft. After flying from Sola to Cherbourg, France on June 24, 1945, the four Ar 234s joined thirty-four other advanced German aircraft aboard the British aircraft carrier HMS Reaper for shipment to the United States. The Reaper departed from Cherbourg on July 20, arriving at Newark, New Jersey eight days later. US Army Air Forces personnel reassembled and flew two Ar 234s, including 140312, to Freeman Field, Indiana, for testing and evaluation, the other two Ar 234's went to the US Navy. The USAAF assigned the foreign equipment number FE-1010 to this Ar 234 for inventory and tracking purposes.
After receiving new engines and replacement radio and oxygen equipment, FE-1010 was flown to Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio, in July 1946 and transferred to the Accelerated Service Test Maintenance Section (ASTMS) of the Flight Test Division. After flight-testing was completed on October 16, 1946, the aircraft remained at Wright field until 1947, when it was moved to Orchard Place Airport, Park Ridge, Illinois. On May 1, 1949, the USAF (United States Air Force after 1947) transferred the Ar 234 and other aircraft at Park Ridge to the Smithsonian Institution. During the early 1950s, the airplanes were finally moved to a new Smithsonian storage facility at Suitland, Maryland to await restoration.
Restoration of the NASM Ar 234 began during 1984 and was completed in February 1989. Because all of the original German paint was stripped off the airframe before the aircraft's transfer to the Smithsonian, restoration specialists applied markings of a typical aircraft of 8./KG 76, the first bomber unit to fly the Blitz. The museum displayed the aircraft during 1993 in the main museum building downtown as part of an exhibit titled "Wonder Weapon? The Arado Ar 234." It is now shown at the museum's new Udvar-Hazy-Center near Dulles, the new home of the NASM's restoration workshops.