Arado Ar 234 "Blitz" in Holland

Rear view of Ar 234 at Eelde___ Frontal view of Ar 234 at Eelde

Pictures of the Arado Ar 234 that made an emergency landing at Eelde airport on the 3rd of October 1945

© Henk Blouw

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In the book "Wings of the Luftwaffe", written by the famous English test pilot Eric Brown, the story is told of the ferry-flights of several captured Arado Ar 234 B-2 jet bombers from Sola airfield (Stavanger) in Norway to the United Kingdom. The Aradoís were first flown to Schleswig in Germany and from there flown to Farnborough with a possible stop at Melsbroek in Belgium, if the weather dictated this. As there were not enough qualified Allied pilots available for these flights Captain Brown had recruited a German Hauptmann, who had served as a maintenance test pilot at Sola, to help fly the Ar 234's on these ferry-flights. One of these ferry flights ended not as it was planned.

In the late afternoon of the 3rd October 1945 two Ar 234ís were ready for the ferry flight in formation from Schleswig to Melsbroek. After the take-off for a one-hour flight both aircraft ran into sea fog over the Zuiderzee (IJsselmeer) in the Netherlands and the two aircraft became separated. Captain Brown searched for the other Ar 234 but was not able to find it and calculated that owing to the fuel-situation returning to Schleswig was impossible. Even after shutting down one engine to improve the range it was doubtful if Schleswig could be reached. Captain Brown decided to cut one engine and try to reach Nordholz airfield near Cuxhaven. This solution brought another problem because flying on one engine reduced the cruise speed so much that dusk would fall before Nordholz could be reached. Nordholz was badly damaged and no landing lights were operational. A British naval unit spotted the lone Ar 234 and lighted two searchlights and pointed them in de direction of Nordholz. At Nordholz the USAAF unit stationed there was informed by the British Naval unit about the situation and used the headlights of some jeeps to lighten the landing strip. After re-lighting the dead engine Captain Brown was able to pull of a textbook landing on a sparsely lighted airfield.

The question is what happened to the German Hauptmann?

Not until the next day Captain Brown was informed that the German pilot had made an emergency landing at an airfield called Eelde in the northern part of the Netherlands. After travelling to Eelde and releasing the German pilot from his captors it transpired that the German pilot had made an astonishing landing on a small and badly cratered airfield and that it was impossible to fly the aircraft out of the airfield. According to Captain Brown he presumed the Ar 234 was left to the Dutch authorities.

I was very intrigued by this statement because I could not understand what a war-stricken country, like Holland was in 1945, could possibly do with an operational example of one of the most modern German jet aircraft. I wondered if this Ar 234 was indeed handed over or remained in Allied hands.

I decided to verify this statement and do some research.

First of all I located a small Dutch booklet about the history of the small airfield Eelde where the Ar 234 landed. In this book called "Důůrvliegen Koetsier!" (Carry on Driver!) by Harm R. Reinders (published by Omniboek) a report of the emergency landing is given by the meteorologist of this airfield. On page 57 this meteorologist tells how the pilot succeeded in landing between the bomb-craters at 18:30 hours. Everybody was very surprised when it was discovered that the pilot turned out to be a German Hauptmann named MIERSCH. Later it was discovered that it was impossible to fly the Ar 234 out of Eelde airport and it was decided to dismantle the aircraft and further transportation took place by truck.

In their (magnificent) book "Jet Planes of the Third Reich (published by Monogram in 1982), J. Richard Smith and Eddie J. Creek mention the same incident on page 364. According to their information the plane was crash-landed at Eelde airport by the Luftwaffe engineer test pilot Hauptmann MIERSCH. The plane was an ex-KG 76 Arado Ar 234 with the werknummer 140596.

The same story is told by J. Richard Smith and Eddie J. Creek in "Arado 234 Blitz" (published by Monogram in 1992) on the pages 224/225. They also mention that the Arado wasnít able to start form Eelde airport and was therefore handed over to the Dutch authorities.

In his book "War Prizes" published by Midland Counties Publications in 1994, Phil Butler tells on page 55 that the Arado wasnít able to start from Eelde Airport and was therefore handed over to No. 417 Repair & Salvage Unit. Strangely enough no Air Ministry Number was allocated to this aircraft. Most of the axis aircraft captured by the British were identified by an "Air Min" number. This specific aircraft belonged to II/KG76 and was handed over to the RAF on May 10th, 1945 at Stavanger in Norway.

In the book "The Captive Luftwaffe" by Kenneth S. West (published by Putnam in 1978) on page 15 it is mentioned that an Arado Ar 234 with werknummer 140596 was present during 1945 at the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) in Farnborough.

From all this information I come to the conclusion that:

On October 3rd 1945 Hauptmann MIERSCH made a very successful emergency landing in failing light at the very small and badly damaged Eelde airport in an Arado Ar 234 with the werknummer 140596. It was established that it was not possible for the Ar 234 to leave the same way as it had come so it was decided to dismantle the aircraft and transport it by truck. It eventually ended up at the RAE in Farnborough. From then on it has disappeared and was probably scrapped. The aircraft was never handed over to the Dutch authorities and remained in the hands of the RAF.

On May 31, 1999 I received the following additional information from Frithjof Johan Ruud regarding the history of the Arado Ar 234 werknummer 140596:

Frithjof Johan Ruud is a member of the historical group of Aviation Museum Sola at Stavanger in Norway and has done considerable research during the last years regarding the 10 Arado Ar 234 aircraft which were left at Sola in 1945.
Regarding werknummer 140596 he has the following data:

140596 was one of 6 Arado Ar 234 aircraft that where flown from Leck to Sola on May 5, 1945.
The engines were changed either at Sola before 24 September 1945 or at Schleswig between 24 September 1945 and 3 October 1945.

Additonal note: 140596 saw probably action with II/KG76 during the battle for the bridge of Remagen.

On June 14, 1999 I received the following additional information from Frithjof Johan Ruud regarding the identity of the Arado Ar 234 werknummer 140596 and its pilot Hauptmann Miersch:

Arado Ar 234 140596 was present with 9./KG76 as F1 + HT at the end of March 1945. This means it is very likely that 140596 never was issued to II/KG76 and thus carried F1+HT all the time after factory delivery. It is still possible that it took part in attacks on the Remagen bridge as a part of 9./KG76 during the first part of March 1945.

Hauptmann Miersch belonged to 1.(F)/5 at Sola as pilot. After the war he worked in Britain with Eric Brown for 2 years.

On June 17, 1999 I received the following additional information from Frithjof Johan Ruud regarding the probable service career of the Arado Ar 234 werknummer 140596:

I do not have the delivery date of Wnr. 140596, but it probably was delivered in the middle of February 1945.
6./KG 76 became operational at the beginning of March 1945 and it is not likely that Wnr. 140596 would first have been issued to 6./KG 76 in the period middle February 1945 to late March 1945 and was then transferred to 9./KG 76 late March 1945.
My conclusion is that Wnr. 140596 was issued to 9./KG 76 during the last part of February 1945 and stayed there until it ended up at Sola in May 1945.
If you study closely the photo of Wnr.140596 taken at Eelde, you will see that the engines carry pylons on their undersides. Further, the engines are not painted with any "winter camouflage" as the rest of the airframe. When arriving at Sola, the engines were painted with "winter camouflage" as the rest of the airframe, and the engines did not carry any pylons on their undersides. My conclusion is that the engines were changed at Sola or Schleswig. The winter camouflage is the same kind of camouflage which can been seen on its "sister ship" F1+MT Wnr. 140173 which crash landed at Segelsdorf and which was brought to Britain for studies. The camouflage was also present on F1+HS Wnr. 140311 which was brought to the USA and Wnr. 140356 which was brought to Britain.

If you have any suggestions or comments, please contact me at: huib (dot) ottens (at) bookwing (dot) nl