Something fast and obscure for today.

Meet an Arado Ar-234, or as things now stand the 234 as it’s the only survivor of 200 odd that were built. Note the sticky-up thingy above the cockpit, which is a periscope for rear vision. The Ar-234 was the first jet bomber and had the useful attribute of being too fast to be intercepted in flight by prop driven planes. Indeed it couldn’t even be detected by the technology of the time - at the very end of WW2 one was flown over the UK, the last Luftwaffe plane to do this.


During its short life the 234 went through several variations, beginning with a pair of horribly unreliable Junkers engines and an exotic jettisonable undercarriage (to reduce weight at takeoff) like this:

Subsequently it progressed to conventional wheels. and later four BMW turbojets which did wonders for performance. The disposable undercarriage arrangement meant that the unlucky pilot had to land on a skid with no brakes whatever, an experience likened to landing on soap, and then abandon his plane on some random part of the airfield until somebody could get a trolley out to it.


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