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Arado Ar 232 Tausendfüßler

The Arado Ar 232 Tausendfüßler, also known as Tatzelwurm, was a cargo aircraft manufactured by Arado Flugzeugwerke in Germany.

It was developed in response to a request from the German Air Ministry (RLM) during the first half of World War II.

The purpose was to replace or supplement the outdated Junkers Ju 52/3m transport aircraft used by the Luftwaffe.

The Ar 232 incorporated many features that are now considered standard in modern cargo planes, such as a box-shaped fuselage suspended beneath a high wing, a rear loading ramp, a twin tail mounted high for easy access to the cargo hold, and features for operating from rough terrain.

Initially, it was planned to be powered by two BMW 801A/B radial engines, but due to limited capacity, a different configuration with four BMW Bramo 323 engines was chosen instead.

The initial twin-engine prototype took its inaugural flight in June 1941, while the first four-engine prototype took to the skies approximately one year later.

This aircraft showcased notable performance advantages over the Ju 52/3m, resulting in a limited number of pre-production orders.

As a result, around 20 aircraft were manufactured.

However, the envisioned large-scale production of the Ar 232 never materialised due to Germany’s surplus of transport aircraft already in production.

Consequently, Germany did not acquire a significant number of Ar 232s.

Nonetheless, a few aircraft were utilised for operational purposes, aiding wartime production efforts and serving on the front lines.

Arado’s design team continued to refine the aircraft, implementing measures to enhance efficiency and even exploring a larger variant with six engines, known as the Ar 632.

German officials once anticipated achieving mass production of the Ar 232 by October 1945, but the war concluded before this could be realised.

Following the conflict, the British captured two Ar 232s, which were subsequently operated between England and Germany for a period of time.

German officials had intended for the Ar 232 aircraft to be utilised in various scenarios, with specific mentions of North Africa and the Arctic.

In response to the deteriorating situation of the Wehrmacht’s 6th Army during the Battle of Stalingrad in late 1942, it was decided to deploy the first two prototypes of the Ar 232 to the Eastern Front.

Their purpose was to deliver critical supplies and airlift casualties.

Unfortunately, the first prototype and its entire crew were promptly lost when the pilot became disoriented.

However, the second prototype proved to be more successful.

It completed multiple missions in January 1943, often flying in and out of Stalingrad without any hindrance.

The crew of the second prototype sometimes chose to avoid airfields when they knew enemy forces were waiting in ambush.

Instead, they landed on rough terrain, a remarkable feat for an aircraft of its size during that time.

On July 17, 1943, an Ar 232 with twin engines flew from Brandenburg, Germany to Banak, Norway, which was the northernmost airport in Europe.

This flight, which carried automated weather apparatus, required the installation of auxiliary fuel tanks.

However, one month later, the aircraft experienced a single engine failure shortly after take-off and collided with the terrain, resulting in the loss of all onboard.

Apart from its conventional military logistics role, the Ar 232 found numerous other uses.

Arado frequently employed this aircraft type to transport high-priority aviation components.

It is believed that at least five Ar 232s were operated by Kampfgeschwader 200, a secretive special operations unit of the Luftwaffe.

This unit made multiple attempts to infiltrate covert agents behind Soviet lines using the Ar 232, including a mission as part of the top-secret Operation Zeppelin, which aimed to assassinate Joseph Stalin in late 1944.

From December 1944 onwards, a number of Ar 232 aircraft were assigned the task of delivering supplies to a presumed group of German military personnel operating covertly behind Soviet lines.

Despite these flights continuing for several months, this endeavour proved to be completely futile, as it was actually part of an NKVD deception operation known as Operation Scherhorn.

Towards the end of the conflict, British forces managed to capture two Ar 232 B-0s.

These aircraft underwent multiple test flights conducted by Eric “Winkle” Brown, who reportedly provided an outstanding evaluation of their performance.

Consequently, the Royal Air Force operated these planes for a period of time, utilising them for flights between England and Germany as late as 1946.


Ar 232 V1 & V2

Ar 232A prototypes and research aircraft, powered by two 1,193 kW (1,600 hp) BMW 801A/B engines.

Ar 232 V3 & V4

Ar 232B prototypes and research aircraft, powered by four BMW Bramo 323R-2 Fafnir engines.

Ar 232A

Pre-production aircraft used for operational trials, powered by two BMW 801 engines, only ten built.

Ar 232B

The first production aircraft was powered by four Bramo 323 Fafnir engines, only ten built as Ar 232B-0.

Ar 232C

A redesigned version uses wood for outer wing sections and control surfaces.





4,500 kg (9,921 lb) payload


23.52 m (77 ft 2 in)


33.5 m (109 ft 11 in)


5.69 m (18 ft 8 in)

Wing area

142.6 m2 (1,535 sq ft)

Empty weight

12,780 kg (28,175 lb)

Max take-off weight

21,150 kg (46,628 lb)


4 × BMW Bramo 323R-2 Fafnir, 9 cylinder air cooled radial piston engine,

890 kW (1,200 hp) each


3 bladed constant speed propellers


Maximum speed

308 km/h (191 mph, 166 kn) at 4,000 m (13,123 ft)

Cruise speed

290 km/h (180 mph, 160 kn) at 2,000 m (6,562 ft)


1,062 km (660 mi, 573 nmi)

Service ceiling

6,900 m (22,600 ft)

Take-off run

200 m (656 ft) minimum



1 × 13 mm (.51 in) MG 131 machine gun mounted in the nose.

1 × 20 mm MG 151/20 autocannon mounted in an Elektrische Drehlafette EDL 151 forward dorsal turret

1-2 × 13 mm (.51 in) MG 131 machine guns mounted in the rear position.

Up to

8 × 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 34 machine guns mounted inside windows when transporting infantry.


Arado Geschichte Eines Flugzeugwerks-Jorg Armin Kranzhoff.
Aircraft of the Luftwaffe 1935-1945, An Illustrated Guide-Jean-Denis GG LaPage.
The Official Monogram Painting Guide to German Aircraft, 1935-1945-Kenneth A Merrick & Thomas H Hitchcock.

Transporter Vol 1, Luftwaffe Transport Units, 1937-1943-Martin Pegg.

Transporter Vol 2, Luftwaffe Transport Units, 1937-1943-Martin Pegg.


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