Military history

Hitler's Spyplane Over Normandy 1944: The World's First Jet

Hitler's Spyplane Over Normandy 1944: The World's First Jet

This is the story of the Arado 234, an aircraft that on one day in 1944, in the skies above Normandy, heralded the beginning of a new era in aviation: the jet era...For more than a century, the aviation industry has experienced continual change and upheaval. Many individuals have contributed to this field of developmental aviation over the course of time. One of these key players is Heinrich Lubbe, a man who marked the evolution of aerial transportation through his cultivation of technological excellence. From flying lessons given to him by his friend Roland Garros, to the creation of the Arado business, Lubbe made a significant impact and left a lasting legacy. His machines, the first jets in the world, were flown by exceptional pilots such as Horst Gotz and Erich Sommer, known as "des moustachus" (the moustachioed). In Hitler's Germany, the Arado jets were put to work in a variety of contexts. Perhaps most significantly, they were employed in the task of photo-reconnaissance during the Battle for Normandy, following the iconic landings of June 1944. In this role, they brought back extraordinary images from the invasion beaches, revealing with astounding detail the positions and plans of the allied forces. These images, previously unseen by the public, shed new light on the battle, whilst at the same time proving the Germans' indisputable superiority in the field of jet aviation. The fact that American troops hastened to transfer the Arado AR234 and Messerschmitt 262 to the USA to uncover all their secrets post-war says a lot about how they were viewed in the eyes of the enemy. In addition to many top-secret aerial images, this book is enriched with around twenty photographs from the personal archives of Erich Sommer, the Arado pilot, which have never before been published. The book is packed with both colour and black and white images and represents an impressive pictorial history of the world's first jet.


Chapter 1. Operation Lusty: Technology Worthy of James Bond

Chapter 2. Arado: From the ‘ploughmen of the seas’ to the Jet

Chapter 3. Götz and Sommer: Two Inseparable Airmen throughout the War

Chapter 4. 12 September 1942: The First and Only High Altitude Fight in History

Chapter 5. Arado Ar 234: From Reconnaissance to Bombardment

Chapter 6. Juvincourt: The largest Luftwaffe base in France

Chapter 7. 2 August 1944: The Very First Flight of a Jet Aeroplane

Chapter 8. In the Cockpit of the Arado: Flying over the Invasion Beaches at 800km/h

By Way of an Epilogue