Pen & Sword Books ~ Hitler’s Spyplane Over Normandy 1944 – The World’s First Jet


By Philippe Bauduin
Translated by Heather Williams
An Imprint of Pen & Sword Books Ltd.
Copyrite © Philippe Bauduin (Editions Heimdal) 2013, 2014
ISBN 978-1-47382-339-6

Philippe Bauduin, the author of Hitler’s Spyplane Over Normandy 1944 – The World’s First Jet, gives us a glimpse into the men and times around a successful making of the first jet powered reconnaissance flight of the Arado AR 234. The book covers the short lifespan that the Arado AR 234 spent in the German Luftwaffe along with its pilot Erich Sommer.



  • Prelude
  • Chapter 1 – Operation Lusty: Technology Worthy of James Bond
  • Chapter 2 – Arado: From the ‘ploughmen of the seas’ to the jet
  • Chapter 3 – Gotz and Sommer: Two Inseparable Airmen throughout the War
  • Chapter 4 – 12 September 1942: The First and Only High Altitude Flight in History
  • Chapter 5 – Arado Ar234: 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 the Way of an Epilogue
  • Acknowledgements
  • Annex

Philippe Bauduin was a veteran of the Second World War where he was a PIO (Photograph Interpretation Officer) in the French Air Force. His fascination with Photo Interpretation led him to the discovery of the pilot and some of the aerial footage that was taken over Normandy On August 2nd, 1944. With help from many people and the collapse of the Berlin wall gaining him access to the US National Archives and the pilot of the Arado AR 234 from that test reconnaissance flight.

The book delves into the history of the AR 234 from its origins with the Heinkel HE 178 to the American’s frantic desire to bring the technology of the Arado, as well as the Messerschmitt 262, back to the US to study the planes and discover what the Germans had developed. The book covers the American plan to bring Germany’s rocket and jet powered technology back to the US using Operation Lusty and Watson’s Whizzers, commanded by Col. H. Watson whereas two teams had free reign from General Eisenhower to scour the European countryside obtaining every bit of information and piece of equipment they could find that the Germans had used during the war.

The book also discusses mostly Erich Sommer’s life leading up to and including his time in the German Luftwaffe. One of the bigger parts of Sommer’s carrer in the military involved his lifelong friendship with Horst Gotz. Both pilots in the Luftwaffe they became good friends and served various missions throughout their careers until Erich’s capture by the Americans and Horst’s by the Russians. Much of their career spent in the German Luftwaffe is laid out in this book with great detail.


The book covers a great deal of information on the Arado AR 234 and both previous and subsequent aircraft and various people surrounding it from all sides of the war. Most of the details were obtained through the many discussions the author had with Erch and Horst prior to their deaths in the 21st century. The history of Erich Sommer and Horst Gotz is informative and poignant.

The book is filled with archival and rare pictures; some from the National Archives and some from Sommer’s himself. The Photographic Interpretation photos over Normandy are laid out nicely giving a different perspective of the battles going on down on the ground at the time. There is plenty of information of the Americans attempt at reverse-engineering the Arado and the photographic documentation of the securing and removal of the German technologies from Europe is very interesting. This is a very fitting tribute to a pilot and his plane. I would have to recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the origins of the Arado AR 234 and or a fan of WWII Axis aviation history in general.


Pen & Sword


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