Sunday, 8th November 2015, was nice weather, and René asked Charlotte if she would like to fly that afternoon. We decided to fly to Rheine. Although not far from Lelystad, we had not been there before, and there is some interesting aviation history attached to Rheine.
A few weeks before, René and Veleda had made a trip to Dresden, with a stop at Falkenberg, Lönnewitz airport on the way up. At Falkenberg, Lönnewitz airport we met someone at the field, who told us about the Arado Ar 234 that had been produced at Alt Lönnewitz, and about the WWII hangars that were still there. After we returned from the trip, René started to read about the Ar 234, and found out that the Ar 234 made its first flight at Rheine airfield.
We flew to Rheine, Eschendorf airfield, located east of the city. West of the city lies former Rheine airfield, presently known as Rheine-Bentlage military base. North-east of the city lies the former Rheine-Hopsten military airport, which also has been a NATO airforce base after the war. Both Rheine Flugplatz and Rheine-Hopsten aerodromes existed during the war.
The first flight of the Ar 234 took place at Rheine airfield. Several websites mention different dates for the first flight, but the more authoritative books consulted put 30th July 1943 as the date of the first flight. From December 1944, a unit equipped with Ar 234s was also based at Hopsten.
Arado Ar 234
Arado Ar 234 V19
The Arado Ar 234 was the world's first operational jet-powered bomber, built by the German Arado company in the closing stages of World War II. Produced in limited numbers, it was used almost entirely in the reconnaissance role, but in its few uses as a bomber it proved to be nearly impossible to intercept. The Ar 234s that reached Luftwaffe units provided excellent service.
Arado Ar 234 V1
Development of the Ar 234 began in 1940. The German Aviation Ministry ordered Arado to design and build a reconnaissance aircraft propelled by the turbojet engines then under development by BMW and Junkers. To reduce weight and free space for larger fuselage fuel tanks, the initial prototype series dispensed with a conventional landing gear in favor of retractable skids mounted beneath the fuselage and nacelles.
Only one Luftwaffe unit, KG 76, was equipped with Ar 234 bombers. The unit flew its first operations during December 1944 in support of the Ardennes Offensive. The deteriorating war situation, coupled with shortages of fuel and spare parts, prevented KG 76 from flying more than a handful of sorties from late March to the end of the war. The unit conducted its last missions against Soviet forces encircling Berlin during the final days of April. During the first week of May the unit's few surviving aircraft were either dispersed to airfields still in German hands or destroyed to prevent their capture.
Arado Ar 234 B-2
Only one Ar 234 survives today. The aircraft is an Ar 234 B-2 bomber (WNr. 140 312), and was one of nine Ar 234s surrendered to British forces at Sola Airfield near Stavanger, Norway. The aircraft is displayed next to the last surviving Dornier Do 335 at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum near Dulles International Airport (trip report).
From Lelystad to Rheine, Eschendorf
Charlotte and René before departure
Charlotte at the controls
Charlotte at Rheine-Eschendorf aerodrome
From Rheine, Eschendorf to Lelystad
Take-off runway 11 Rheine-Eschendorf
Passing former AFB Rheine-Hopsten
Final runway 23 Lelystad