Luftwaffe
Photographic Reconnaissance Aircraft
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Listed over the coming pages are the different types of aircraft used by the Luftwaffe for Photographic Reconnaissance. I may have missed some types or variants out, if you feel I should have included a particularly one, please let me know and I will add it in my next update.  I will list them in manufacturer order.



Arado 196, 234, 240, 440

Arado Ar 196 was a shipboard reconnaissance aircraft put in to production in 1936. The next year it was selected as the winner of a design contest and became the standard aircraft of the Kriegsmarine (German Navy). With the loss of the German surface fleet, the Ar 196s were added to coastal squadrons, and used to fly reconnaissance missions and hunt for submarines. They continued in service well  into late 1944.
This type of aircraft was not fitted with internal cameras systems, if there was a requirement for reconnaissance photographs to be taken, a hand-held HK13 or HK 19 would be used.



An early Ar 234 on take-off
Ar 234B Image
Ar 234B

Ar 234C

The Arado Ar 234 Blitz (Lightning) was the world's first operational jet powered bomber. However, it was  used almost entirely in the reconnaissance role. At first the Ar 234A series was designed without landing gear, it took-off my means of a large trolley which it would jettison, then on landing, skids would extend beneath the fuselage and under each engine.
The Ar 234A made its first flight in June 1943 and had an estimated  maximum speed of 485 mph, with an operating altitude of 32,000 ft and a range of 1,240 miles. The main A-series production was cancelled, even after the production had been stopped, seven prototypes flow, with V7 becoming the first jet aircraft to fly a reconnaissance mission.
Work started on the Ar 234B series and the first prototype was flown in March 1944, the first production version, the Ar 234B-0 followed in June of that year. Twenty B-0s were produced, next, the B-1 was a limited production of the reconnaissance variant. The B-2 quickly followed, this could be configured to fly either reconnaissance or on bombing missions. The recce version could be equipped with two Rb 50/30 or Rb 75/30 cameras (mounted in the rear fuselage), the aircraft could also carry two extra fuels tanks under each engine if required. It was reported that  reconnaissance missions over England and Europe in late 1944 were being flown by Ar 234Bs.
The prototype C-series of this aircraft first flow in late 1944, with the Ar 234C-1 being the reconnaissance version. However, the main production plant was destroyed in 1945 before being captured by the advancing Russian forces. The total number of reconnaissance versions delivered to the Luftwaffe was 210 Ar 234Bs and 14 Ar 234Cs.
In April 1945 the Luftwaffe list only 24 reconnaissance versions left in service.


The Arado Ar 240 was a twin-engine aircraft designed to be a fast heavy fighter that could also be used in the reconnaissance, dive-bombing and attack roles. The first prototype Ar 240V1 took to the air in May 1940, followed by the second prototype V2 in July of that year. In 1943 Ar 240V3 was used for reconnaissance trials and undertook a number of flights over England. Prototype versions V5 & V6  were designed as true reconnaissance variants, being renamed Ar 240A-0 and Ar 240A-1. On March 25, 1942 Ar 240A-0 was transferred to Aufkl�rungsgruppe Oberbefehlshaberder Luftwaffe. Generally there were a number of issues with the design which hampered further development of the aircraft. So by the end of 1942 production had been halted. However, there are reports that one aircraft was still flying reconnaissance missions over England in 1944.
based on the Ar 240 the later Ar 440 had a 90cm longer fuselage with a completely new cockpit and was completed in summer 1942, only to be cancelled in 1943. Only few planes went into experimental service within Luftwaffe, undertaking reconnaissance missions over Russia and southern England.




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Blohm und Voss 141

BV 141

Designed by Dr. Richard Vogt, the Blohm und Voss BV 141 was to be a  tactical reconnaissance aircraft. The unorthodox design featured an asymmetric layout, the engine mounted on the port-side tail-boom and the cockpit mounted to the starboard. The first prototype Ha 141 flow in early 1938, with a further two prototypes taking to the air later that year.
The later prototypes carried a space for a camera and four bomb racks for 110lb bombs. Later the aircraft went in to production as the BV 141A-0, with five examples being built. This design was up graded to the BV 141B-0 with the tail plane being re-designed to an asymmetric shape, this improved the rear gunners field of fire, however, this made the B-0 version inferior to the A-0 version to handle.

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Dornier 17, 215, 217

Dornier Do 17  due to the design of its thin fuselage it was given the nick-name the "Flying Pencil". First taking to the skies in late 1934, the Do 17 was  designed to be a commercial aircraft, mainly to be used as fast mail-plane. The first reconnaissance variant was the Do 17F-1, a number of these were sent to Spain as part of the L�gion Condor in the early part of 1937.
The Do 17P was the next version, (designed and built along side the Do 17M bomber variant) powered by two 865hp BMW 132N radial engines, which gave  this version great range. It was normally fitted with either a Rb 20/30 and Rb 50/30 camera setup or  a Rb 20/18 and Rb 50/18 could be fitted, depending on the type of reconnaissance mission planned. A number of  Do 17's were exported to Yugoslavia around 1939, and the reconnaissance variant was given the code Do 17Ka-3, the Kb being the bomber version.
The last listed reconnaissance Do 17 was the Z-3, There were 22 Do 17Z-3s produced in the  long range photo-reconnaissance role, with the capability of  carrying two Rb 20/30 cameras
. In the bottom image on the right you can just make out the square camera ports of this Do 17P.

Dornier Do.17P Reconnaissance aircraft
Do 17


Dornier Do 215B-4 Reconnaissance Aircraft

The Do 215 was a redesigned Do17Z, this came about to cover a proposed export of the aircraft.  Eighteen aircraft were ordered for the Swedish Airforce, however, this was stopped. The completed aircraft were transferred to the Luftwaffe and given the variant number Do 215B-0 & B-1, fitted with reconnaissance equipment, also they carrying a standard bomb load. The next reconnaissance variant was the B-4, an improved version  of the B-2 , it was equipped with    Rb 20/30 & Rb 50/30 cameras. The Do 215 left front-line service by the middle of 1942.
The image on the left is a D0 215B-4, the housing for the Rb 50/30 can be seen in front of the window for the Rb 20/30 under the nose.


There are some that say that the Do 217 was just an upgraded version of the Do 215, actually it was much larger and totally different design. The Do 217 V1, the first prototype, first flew mid 1938. The first version to enter service was Do 217A-0, this was the reconnaissance variant, only eight were produced and were delivered to Aufkl�rungsgruppe  Ob.d.L. in the spring of 1940. They were used to fly clandestine reconnaissance missions over Russia prior to the German invasion.
Also planned, was the Do 217P-0, this was to be a high-altitude reconnaissance-bomber, fitted with internal cameras and external bomb racks. Only three were produced for testing, they never entered operational service.

Dornier Do 217A Reconnaissance Variant

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