The Arado E.381 project was symbolic of the desperate situation faced by the Third Reich in 1944. Ever-increasing numbers of Allied aircraft pounded Germany both day and night, each raid reducing the ability to continue the war. The Luftwaffe was on the defensive and was powerless to protect the Reich. The Arado E.381 was designed to be easy to produce and operate. The pilot lay prone in the aircraft, which was to be carried aloft by a conventional bomber to be released near an Allied bomber stream. The E.381 was powered by a Walther HWK 109-509 liquid rocket engine and carried a single 30 mm cannon, the pilot was intended to make two firing passes before gliding clear and landing the aircraft on its belly skid.