Arado Ar. E. 555/1 Overview

       The Ar.E.555/1 long range bomber concept was part of a design study conducted by Dr. Ing. W. Laute and an Arado design group at the Arado Werks at Landeshut/Schesien. The E.555 study was looking at the advantages of a jet powered planar flying wing. It would combine the wing and body of the airframe together with laminar flow characteristics to provide high cruise speed and long range. As many as 10 (some sources say 11) different variations were studied. These were limited to study only. The RLM decreed on December 28, 1944, all heavy bomber activities be ended. The strain on the aircraft industry to supply enough defensive fighters to stop the around-the-clock bombing of German war assets was given the highest priority. Thus the E.555 series of designs remained as studies only.

Arado Ar. E. 555/1 Historical Details

       As early as 1897, German military thinkers were looking at the United States as a possible adversary. Naval Lt. Eberhard von Mantry looked into the possibilities of a seaborne invasion of New York. In 1903 a study was conducted by the Kreigsmarine’s Chief of Staff to capture the Panama Canal and disrupt US Navy activities. By 1904 the US Navy was beginning a build-up to counter problems arising in Central and South America. This put an end to the Kreigsmarine’s plans. Again in 1917, as US forces became involved in the fight in France, German High Command began to look into aerial attacks on the US using airships and long range aircraft. Airships of the day could fly the required distances, but the weather conditions that would be encountered would have made the missions very dangerous. There were no bomber aircraft capable of the range required.

       When the First World War ended, German military aviation was outlawed. Almost immediately, however, plans were put into place to keep military aviation activities continuing out of general view. The 1920’s saw German aviation restricted to some small civil airlines and sport glider activities.

       The 1930’s saw the rise of the Nazi party and a complete change of national attitude and the planning of rearming the German military.

       The newly reconstituted Luftwaffe began building new aircraft of all types. The leaders of this new air force, for the most part veterans of World War I, saw the Luftwaffe as the air artillery to help the Wehrmacht to apply it’s newly developed ‘Blitzkrieg” tactics. Tactical attack aircraft did not require long range and large bomb load capabilities.

       However, there were some in this new organization who saw the coming need for a strategic capability. This new Luftwaffe’s Chief of Staff, Generalleutnant Walter Weaver was one who saw the importance of a strategic capability of the Luftwaffe. The “Ural Bomber” program was developing when GenLt. Weaver was killed in a crash in 1936.

       His successor, GenLt. Albert Kesselring believed that the primary need of the Luftwaffe was dive bombers and medium twin-engine tactical bombers. The feeling amongst the German military was that the coming war would be a series of short intense engagements and it would not last very long. Germany’s enemies would be defeated before a need to carry the battle long distances would be necessary.

       Nevertheless, a Bomber "A" program was instituted, which resulted in the development of the Me 264, He 177 and the Ta 400 long range bomber studies. The Me 264 “Amerika Bomber” and the He 177 Grief were both constructed. The Ta 400 remained a design study. These aircraft suffered from engine and system problems and were never effective bombers.

       The German aircraft industry was not capable of building many highly sophisticated bomber aircraft requiring advanced assembly techniques. Demands for primarily single seat day fighters dominated the production capacities of the aircraft industry. Pressurized crew cabins, engines with turbo and super charging, reliable jet engines, remote optical and radar controlled defensive gun positions were some of the challenges facing them. The capacity to build these complex aircraft quickly to meet the changing war situation did not exist.

       The Bomber “B” program was instituted to develop successors to the Ju88, Do17/215, and the He111. Many design studies were submitted. The most promising were the Do317, an improved Do217, the Ar.E.340, the Fw191 and the Ju288. The Ar.E.340 remained a design study because of its unusual twin boom layout. The Do317 did not offer enough improvement over the Do217 to merit production. Both the Fw191 and the Ju288 were not able to reach their full potential because of the failure and cancellation of the Jumo222 engine program. Failure of the German conventional and jet engine industries to deliver the next generation of engines to “B” bomber airframes meant they were doomed to failure.

       For example, the Ju288 flew with BMW801G, C, TJ and the Jumo222A/B and the DB606A/B and also the DB610 A/B. Much time and materials were spent mating the different engine configurations to the airframe. The engines themselves suffered production problems and most never produced the power they were designed to.

       Starting in 1942, the Luftwaffe, the RLM and even Goring and Hitler seemed to vacillate between the need to develop strategic “Wonder” weapons and the need to produce vast amounts of defensive conventional weaponry. In a Sept.17th meeting with Goring, a plan which became known as “3 x 1000 “was put forth. It called for a design capable of carrying 1000kg of bombs at 1000km/h with a useful range of 1000 km. In the end, the pressure brought to bear on all aspects of the German armament industries by Allied strategic forces prevented most of the “Wonder” designs from becoming reality.

       Late in 1943, the development think tank of Arado’s Landeshut/Silesia works under the leadership of Dr. Ing. W. Laute began to study the feasibility of a flying wing bomber. Using a laminar flow planar wing shape and jet engine power, they hoped to develop a bomber design capable of high altitude, high speed and long range. They studied 10 (some sources say 11, 14 or15.) variations of the basic design. In mid 1944 the RLM issued a specification to Arado to develop one of those design studies into a bomber capable of crossing the ocean. They picked the E.555/1 to develop. The E.555/1 explored the concept of a planar wing planform with the fuselage blending into the wing to increase its efficiency. The goal of the study was to design a bomber for transatlantic operations. Due to problems with all the various first generation jet and turbojet engines with reliability and production quality, the engines were mounted on a plinth between the twin tails and at the trailing edge of the fuselage. This configuration eliminated intake and exhaust ducting problems. The exhaust was also clear of the airframe structure. If engine changes or the configurations of engines changed, there is no need to modify the airframe itself.

       The crew for this version consisted of a pilot and bombardier/navigator in a pressurized glass cockpit with an engineer/gunner position in the fuselage proper. The gunner had control of both the forward and tail remotely controlled gun turrets His position was to be equipped with both radar and optical controls. He would also monitor and adjust critical aircraft systems and help the pilot maintain optimum balance for changing conditions during very long, high altitude missions to be flown in the very cold stratosphere. The pilot has control of two fuselage mounted forward firing cannons and the bombardier/navigator could also control the forward turret to defend against frontal attack. The design called for the bomb load to be carried completely internally. The range penalty of external bomb and fuel tank racks excluded their use. Because the engines were totally external to the airframe, the E.555 could have a substantial bomb bay. It could be more flexible with bomb loads and the possibilities of extra fuel tanks for super long-range missions. The possibilities of mounting cameras for photo/recon missions would also be considerable. It would have also been capable of carrying an atomic weapon, had one been available.

       On December 28, 1944, the RLM bowed to the pressure on the aircraft industries for delivering defensive fighters and announced that all bomber and reconnaissance aircraft production cease to concentrate on fighter aircraft. The Ar.E.555 design studies remained studies and the war ended. The Luftwaffe failed to see the importance of strategic air power and was defeated in part by the Allied use of it. The quality of replacement pilots suffered in part by lack of fuel for training sorties. End of war inspections of factories revealed concealed parks filled with new aircraft with empty fuel tanks. The ability of the Allied forces to use the entire United Kingdom as a gigantic aircraft carrier and put pressure on German industrial infrastructure both night and day helped to shorten the war in Europe.


       Picture this in your mind for a moment: If the war had gone a different way, you might have seen E.555s going in one direction and B-36s in the other, over the Atlantic. The B-36 was the ultimate model of the propeller-driven intercontinental strategic bomber. The USAAC leaders saw the importance of strategic airpower and began investing early in the 1930’s. With the XB-15 and XB-19 they studied the harsh realities of the problems involved. The B-17 and B-24 programs were in place as the war began. The B-29 and B-32 programs were moving into position later in the war. The B-35 and the B-36 were to be the next and last prop programs. They would have been truly intercontinental bombers.

Revell/AG Arado Ar.E.555/1, Kit No.04367.
Kit review by Bruce Van Auken.

       It is difficult to tell how accurate the model is because there were no airframes built. The whole series of E.555 variants were part of a design study of planar planforms for long distance bomber shapes. Several sources show slightly different engine pod configurations than that represented by this kit.

       The kit itself consists of 98 parts on 3 gray trees and 1 clear. The decal sheet covers 2 different aircraft. The instruction booklet checks in at 16 pages. The box artwork is classic Luftwaffe ’46 with E.555/1’s flying over NYC.

       I planned to build this kit straight out of box, but I did end up adding several things to give it a better look. I pretty much followed the recommended construction steps in the instruction booklet. For the most part the kit built up smoothly, with a minimum of putty or sanding. The landing gear assemblies are fairly petite and care must be taken to align all of the parts for maximum strength. Be very careful of the retraction jacks, they break very easily. I added small flat spots to the tires to give the impression of weight. I also added brake lines to the main wheel assemblies. I installed retraction arms onto the nosewheel doors to make them more realistic. I added a few extra instrument panels and 2 late-war style oxygen regulators in the cockpit area. I replaced the kit rudder pedals with etched pedals. I also scratched up some aerials. Gun barrels are drilled out.

       The trouble spots were BIG trouble spots. The horizontal tail fins were slightly thinner in cross section than the plinths they slide on to. It was a most difficult section to blend into the fuselage without destroying the surface detail. The contours of the glass sections for the cockpit were off whether or not you lined up the clear sections (parts #29&33) to each other or to the fuselage. It took much massaging of this area to get it smooth enough to look like a machine designed to cruise long distances at 860 KM/H.

Arado E555 Top Arado E555 Top Arado E555 Turret Arado E555 Nose Interior Arado E555 Nose
Colors and Markings:

       I did not follow the paint and marking instructions in the kit booklet. Arado followed standard Luftwaffe painting guidelines during the whole of WW II, so I choose to use the Luftwaffe standard day bomber style of painting using the late-war revised colors. I used RLM66 for the interior, wheel wells, bomb bay, inner gear and bomb bay doors. I painted the cockpit framework RLM66 and then RLM76 and then Futured the whole glass section to help protect it when I had to sand and file to get rid of the seams to the fuselage.RLM76 was sprayed on the undersurfaces and the horizontal tail surfaces, RLM81 and RLM83 splinter pattern on the upper surfaces. The outer tail surfaces were sprayed with RLM74 to get that unique mottled effect The Balkenkreuze and Hakenkreuze markings were sprayed on with stencils. I used trace paper to construct the stencils. The engine pod is RLM71 as a factory applied finish. .The Stabstaffel markings are green. I used a mixture of kit decals and my decal stash for extra fuel triangles, unit codes and KG 2 insignia. Engine pod decals were treated with Solvaset, all the rest were treated with Micro Sol/Set.


       Because this aircraft study never got as far as production or service use, how you decide to finish an E.555/1 is based on three different philosophies. [A] You can go with the kit markings. [B] You can do whatever you want (Check the Bib. page for websites of other examples of E.555/1’s.) [C] You can look at historical references and try to project what you think standard practices might be. I didn’t care for the kit markings. The kit markings for KG 100 are on the box art and also on the cover of one of the reference books. I also looked at some websites to see how other modelers finished their E.555/1’s.Many of them used variations of the kit markings. So being a stickler for historical accuracy, I looked at listings of orders of battle for the Luftwaffe and picked a bomber unit that would be likely to receive E.555’s for operations in this alternate timeline. I chose Kampfgeschwader 2 ‘Holzhammer’ or KG 2. Their unit badge is a knight’s shield with a gauntlet wielding a small sledgehammer. I found some color side views of various KG 2 Do217’s and noticed that for some operations it was KG 2 practice to subdue the standard fuselage markings to make them less conspicuous. They would move them to the tail with small lettering. So I decided to use that style.

       To finish this kit I used the additional items. Testors Model Master paints: #2079/RLM 66 (Schwarzgrau), #2086/RLM76 (Lichtblau), #2089/RLM80 (Olivgrun), #2090/RLM81 (Braunviolett), #2092/RLM83 (Lichtgrun) and Humbrol# HG-4 RLM74(Dunklegrau) for camouflage. The wing crosses and swastikas are Testors #1749 Flat Black and #1768 Flat White. Humbrol #HG-2 RLM71 (Dunklegrun) was used on the engine pod. The Stabstaffel markings are Humbrol #HU-2. From my decal stash, I used Eagle Strike 72053, Microscale 72-16, 72-157, 72-160, and Superscale 48-748.For the cockpit extras, I used the Hawkeye Designs Set # 119 and an Eduard Zoom FW190D set. I Futured the entire airframe. The decals were then applied. I Futured once more and then sprayed Testors Dullcoat on specific areas to simulate operational use.


       Here at HAD HQ we have a diorama base which was started by the SEPAF group back in the 1980’s. It was never finished. I reclaimed it to display both the E.555/1 and my old friend FW190D-9 ‘Black 2,’which is as old as the base. The E.555/1 will be on a taxiway and the FW will be off to the side, sitting on grass.


       I would recommend this kit to any experienced builder. Other than the glass and fins, this kit is up to the standards of Revell AG’s recent releases. If you dig Luftwaffe ’46, this kit will make an excellent addition. Hey Revell, now what we need is the pusher-prop flying wing from “Raiders”!

Photographic Note

       A side project has developed from the HAD Photographic Unit. We have been using our own sky photos and attempting to photograph the E.555/1 using natural light to build composite photos of the aircraft ”in action”. Since we are now too old and the kits are too expensive to blow up anymore, we shoot them with a camera.


       Luftwaffe Over Amerika Author: Manfred Griel Pub: Barnes & Noble ISBN-13: 978-0-7607-8697-0

       Secret Aircraft Designs of the Third Reich Author: David Myhra Pub: Schiffer ISBN: 0-7643-0564-6

       Luftwaffe Secret Projects Strategic Bombers 1935-1945 Authors: Dieter Herwig, Heinz-Rode Pub: Midland ISBN: 1 85780 092 3

       Revell AG Kit #: 04367-0389 Instruction Booklet

       Junkers Ju 188 Black Cross Volume 1 Author: Helmut Erfurth Pub: Midland ISBN: 1 85780 172 5

       Junkers JU 288/388/488 Black Cross Volume 2 Author: Karl-Heinz Regnat ISBN: 1 85780 173 3

       Arado Ar E.555 series by Dan Johnson Model by Bryan “Tuck” Tucker Model by Ingemar Caisander Model by Kozel Strnad Model by Drew Nix Model by Mike Dougherty

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