Home  |  What's New  |  Features  |  Gallery  |  Reviews  |  Reference  |  Forum  |  Search

Arado Ar 234B-2

by Brett Green

 

Arado Ar 234B-2
W.Nr. 140173, 9./KG 76, Hptm. Josef Regler

 


Hasegawa's 1/48 scale Arado Ar 234B-2 is available online from Squadron.com

 

Introduction

 

The all-new Hasegawa 1/48 scale Arado Ar 234B-2 Blitz is an impressive model. The Nachtigall night fighter version and the Ar 234C, four-engined bomber have also been announced for release later this year.

Hasegawa 1/48 Arado Ar 234

Strengths

  • accurate
  • well detailed
  • excellent surface textures
  • plentiful options (cameras, pods, bombs, droptanks)
  • vast improvement over Hobbycraft kit
Weaknesses
  • large step and seam on clear nosecap
  • forward bulkhead requires trimming
  • imperfect fit of clear rear fuselage inserts
  • trimming and sanding required for good fit at wing-fuselage and wing-nacelles

The kit comprises 147 parts in grey styrene and 12 parts in clear. Clear parts include the top rear deck and the lower rear fuselage. These clear inserts permit alternate versions (the night fighter and the reconnaissance version) to be built from a set of sprues common to the standard bomber.

The kit breakdown has been designed to guarantee the correct anhedral of the wing. The top of the full-span wing also extends halfway down the rear fuselage to establish a secure bond, and to simplify the cleanup of any untidy joins

Cameras are supplied as options, but no markings for reconnaissance aircraft are offered in this kit. However, I think we can feel confident that Hasegawa will eventually release an alternate boxing with recon markings. Other options include a 1,000 KG "Hermann" bomb, two 300 litre drop tanks and two Walter Ri202 rocket assisted take-off bottles.

The quality of the plastic parts is excellent with no serious moulding flaws. Detail is also very good straight from the box.

I was initially concerned about the prominent step between the top of the engine nacelle and the leading edge of the wings, but I quickly found many reference photos displaying this characteristic.

 

 

 

Construction

 

Cockpit Assembly

The cockpit is a crucial area of this model because the large clear nose will reveal all the detail inside.

Fortunately, Hasegawa has done a nice job with this aspect of the kit and many modellers will be perfectly happy with he cockpit straight from the box. However, the limitations of injection moulding technology, and some missing components means that there is room for improvement and addition.

Cutting Edge has released a cockpit update set for the Hasegawa 1/48 scale Arado Ar 234. This resin set acknowledges that most of the cockpit is very good already, and therefore concentrates only on the areas that need improvement.

20 parts in grey resin are supplied on three casting blocks. The parts can be easily removed with a sharp knife, but I found that my side cutters were helpful in nibbling away the block from underneath the replacement seat.

First, the kit parts were prepared. The basic kit cockpit tub is retained, but the raised detail on the side consoles must be removed. I scraped the higher features off with a sharp hobby knife, then sanded off the remainder with a coarse sanding stick.

The clear nose part (Hasegawa part no. P1) has a slight step and moulding seam running from top to bottom along the centreline. I started by scraping the seam line with the blade of a hobby knife until the step was eliminated. Next, I sanded the now-cloudy band down the centre of the nose with progressively finer grit sanding sticks. When the visible scratches were hidden, I applied a generous coat of Gunze Mr Polishing Compound (although toothpaste does a good job too), waited for it to dry, then polished the compound off the clear plastic. After a final buffing with a sanding stick, the seam line was officially gone!

The clear kit parts were further prepared with a thorough soaking bath in Future floor polish. This vaccinated the canopy from fogging when the resin parts were glued to the plastic. It also bestowed a sparkling shine to the canopy.

Holes were drilled for instruments as required, and these parts were then thinned down by gently rubbing them against a medium grit sanding stick. I prefer to drill my instrument holes first to avoid possible later damage to the thinned resin part.

 

 

One small hole was drilled in the back of each instrument housing with a pin vise. Fusewire of two different gauges was inserted in the holes. The instrument panel mount (a kit part) was glued to the back of the instrument panel then the fusewire was bent to shape with electrical pliers. The long wire was cut off at a length and height that would meet with the widthways canopy frame that wraps around the nose.

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

The kit-supplied armrests were glued to the resin seat. I eventually repositioned the port-side armrest in the "up" position, as it looks like it would have otherwise interfered with access to the throttles and levers on the side console. The tiny levers were added to the throttle an fuel control quadrants with the aid of tweezers. Spare parts are supplied in the event that any of your levers take the long, one-way trip to the carpet.

The kit bombsight, control column, rudder supports and pedals plus some extra detail including rudder foot straps and plumbing to the rudder assembly was added to the plastic cockpit tub. The resin parts were test-fitted with no problems, but not glued in place just yet.


 

Cockpit Painting

The entire nose of the kit is moulded in clear plastic. This helps avoid gluey fingerprints and alignment problems between clear windows and grey plastic parts in this area. At this stage I had to decide whether to paint the canopy frames on the inside or the outside of the clear plastic parts.

The canopy frames were located on the inside of the plexiglass canopy on the real aircraft. They were secured using large rivets that were quite visible on the outside of the canopy. However, the clear plastic of the kit is much thicker than the scale thickness of the plexiglass, so the interior framing effect might not look quite right. Furthermore, the nose cone section includes moulded locating pins that would be very obvious on the outside of the clear plastic if the frames were painted from the inside.

I therefore decided to paint the frames gloss black on the outside of the canopy. My theory was that the gloss might create the impression that the framing was pressed against the inside of thin plexiglass.

Having made this decision, I started to paint the interior of the cockpit sidewalls and the cockpit components. The canopy was masked with Tamiya masking tape, inside and out. Sub-assemblies including the seat, side consoles and instrument panel, were then temporarily secured to a piece of cardboard. All these parts were sprayed flat black.

 

 

A coat of dark grey was then sprayed from a single angle. This left a "shadow" of black paint visible from certain angles.

Before going any further, I painted the seat backrest brown and the harness straps off-white. A wash of thinned black oil paint was then applied to the cockpit tub, the side consoles, both sides of the instrument panel and the seat.

After waiting a few hours, the excess oil wash was swabbed off, and a coat of Polly Scale acrylic Flat was sprayed overall. Coloured details such as lever knobs, instrument surrounds and harness buckles were picked out with a fine brush.

The acetate instruments were wedged between the panels, glued into place and the seat was secured in the cockpit tub.


 

Cockpit Final Assembly

The painted cockpit sidewall details were added to the kit canopy frames. Extreme caution must be used to avoid visible glue smears on the clear plastic parts when gluing the regulator and flare pistol. I also added a short length of fuse wire painted black to represent an oxygen hose attached to the regulator.

The cockpit tub was glued to one sidewall before both canopy side sections were glued together. I did not add glue to the thin join at the top of the nose halves. This was an insurance policy in case I needed to alter the width of the nose when attaching it to the main fuselage section.

The clear nose cap was attached at this time, but the top clear section was not. I could not bring myself to hide all that lovely cockpit detail just yet!

 


 

Fuselage

Although I was not planning to install cameras in my model, I still added the rear fuselage bulkhead (part B2) for reinforcement.

The instructions suggest the installation of the main landing gear prior to the joining of the main fuselage halves. It would be very tricky to install the landing gear legs once the fuselage halves were joined, even though the suggested assembly sequence does complicate painting later. However, I advise that the main gear doors (parts B14 and B15) should be left off until the model has been painted. I painted the main gear bay and landing gear legs RLM 02 and glued them in place.

The fuselage halves were joined without incident. However, the fit of the clear inserts on the top and the bottom of the fuselage was less than perfect, with steps between the clear parts and the grey plastic fuselage.

At this stage a large lead sinker was glued into the front of the main fuselage section (click thumbnail at right to view larger image). This acted as a noseweight to keep the model sitting on its nosewheel..

 


 

Wings, Flaps and Nacelles

Cutting Edge has also released a set of separate flaps for Hasegawa's Ar 234. I decided that these would add some character to my model, so I prepared the kit parts.

The four resin parts are cast in Cutting Edge's customary grey resin, and are separated into left (port) and right (starboad) casting blocks with inner and outer flaps supplied. Casting quality is first rate, and the parts are very easily removed from their casting block. A little care will be required to avoid slicing off the small hinge lugs when cleaning up the outer flaps.

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Preparing the kit wings for the resin flaps is not too difficult. I used a scriber and a sharp hobby knife to remove the inner and outer flaps from the top and bottom sections of the wings. I then proceeded to thin down the plastic where the flaps will be glued to the top wing. A hobby knife was scraped along this area until the edge was very thin.

The kit wing parts were joined, and the resulting gaps on either side of each flap bay were filled with Milliput White Epoxy Putty and sanded smooth.

 

 

The resin flaps were not glued to the wings yet.

The engine nacelles were assembled. The fit of these parts to the leading edge of the wing was not great. I spent a few minutes sanding and trimming the nacelles before gluing the sub-assemblies to the lower wings.

The fit of the wing to the fuselage was also initially disappointing. The top fuselage join was particularly bad, displaying a noticeable step. I trimmed and sanded the forward wing roots, which reduced the height of the top fuselage join and mostly eliminated the step.

 

 

It is essential to note that the forward bulkhead (part A18) is slightly too big for its space in the forward fuselage. If this piece is glued in place without modification, the nose section will not fit properly. I trimmed the edges and bottom of this forward bulkhead, test-fitting against the nose and fuselage parts until the fit was perfect. The part was then glued into place.

The horizontal tail surfaces were added now.

Mr Surfacer was brushed into a few of the small gaps and steps before being sanded and polished. No further filler was required.
 


 

Finishing Touches

The only slightly tricky aspect of the remaining assembly is the mounting structure for the rocket-assist pods. The angles have to be perfectly aligned in order for the mounts to fit into the slots in the lower wings. It is important to check the fit of the mounts against the slots while the glue is still pliable.

 

 

The remainder of the kit was finished according to the instructions with the following exceptions:

  • pitot tube was replaced with light filament

  • lower wing antenna replaced with light filament

  • drag chute cable replaced with fusewire after plastic part broke on the sprue

  • resin Cutting Edge flaps added

  • holes pre-drilled for antenna wires

  • top clear canopy section not glued in place. The fit was quite good without glue, so I have left it loose to permit a better view of cockpit detail.

 

 

Painting and Decals

 

Bomber Colours  - Old or New?

The official painting orders for Luftwaffe bombers in late 1944 specified the use of the new colours 81, 82 and 76.

However, it is well known that large stocks of the older bomber colours, 70, 71 and 65, still existed and were widely used on various German planes. It is very probable that the Arado Ar 234 wore a hybrid combination of these colours. In most photos the contrast between the upper surface colours is very low and the overall effect is usually quite dark.

In my opinion, a significant number of Ar 234s probably wore one or both of the older green bomber colours.

However, for this project I thought the combination of 81 Brown Violet and 82 Bright Green just looked too good to pass up!


 

Masking

The first task before painting was masking the canopy. I used the new Black Magic masking set (stock number CEBM48524) which includes masks for the camera windows and night fighter windows too, if required. This masking set fitted the kit parts perfectly and saved a lot of time and effort.

I did reduce the tackiness of the masks by pressing them against my forehead before sticking them on the canopy parts. Those of you with less acreage of forehead might consider using the palm of your hand.

As discussed earlier, I used gloss black to suggest the frames behind plexiglass. If I were to build this model again, I would spray the framing before assembling the cockpit and dip the painted clear canopy parts in Future.

The masks worked perfectly - no paint bleeding under the edges, and no damage to the Futured clear parts on removal.

With the canopy frames painted, it was time to mask the entire canopy area and undercarriage so that the camouflage could be painted.

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:


 

Painting

I wanted to paint a model with a soft overspray of RLM 76 Light Blue. I also wanted the big 1,000 KG "Hermann" bomb and the Walter bottles installed. This meant an operational machine and instantly reduced my options. Cutting Edge's new decal sheet CED48201 included markings for W.nr. 140173, F1+MT. This machine fitted all of my requirements.

The panel lines of the Arado were "pre-shaded" with black paint before a coat of Polly Scale RLM 76 Light Blue was applied to the lower surfaces.

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Panel lines have been "pre-shaded" with black paint

The first coat of RLM 82 Bright Green is underway

Following the Green coat, Black Magic masks are applied

...and oversprayed with RLM 81 Brown Violet

The camouflage masks are removed to reveal the final pattern


RLM 82 Bright Green was sprayed on the upper surfaces and allowed to dry for a few hours before the Black Magic camouflage masks were applied. Once again, these masks cut down on the time required to mask the camouflage pattern, and was more accurate than I might have managed with home-made masks or freehand spraying.

The camouflage on these Arados had quite a sharp demarcation line, so I sprayed up close to the masks with RLM 81 Brown Violet. I thought the colour looked a little pale. I therefore concocted a slightly darker mix, removed the masks and overpainted the original colour.

The RLM 76 Light Blue was sprayed freehand using the Testor Aztek airbrush. The side overspray patterns were painted with the benefit of reference photos, but the top fuselage pattern is based on my assumptions alone.

 

 

Details such as the wheels, rocket-assist bottles and the episcope were painted prior to the application of decals.


 

Decals and Completion

I sprayed the fuselage sides and upper wings with Polly Scale Gloss before adding the decals.

The Cutting Edge markings were completely trouble free. The size of each decal looked accurate, and they instantly sucked down into panel lines with the application of MicroSet.

After a few hours, a light acrylic wash was run into the panel lines with a fine brush.

The front undercarriage, main wheels, main gear doors and rocket pods were glued in place before a final coat of Polly Scale Flat.

 

 

The circular radio direction finder for the top of the fuselage is a clear part with scribed detail to represent the fine array. I could not decide how to paint this part, so I test-fitted it straight from the sprue. Much to my surprise it looked terrific unpainted, so I secured it with a spot of watchmakers' glue.

The very last task was to add smoke-coloured invisible mending thread to the pre-drilled aerial wire holes. Super Glue was used to fix the nylon thread.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Hasegawa's 1/48 scale Arado Ar 234B-2 is typical of recent their offerings - generally accurate, well detailed and excellent surface features.

It is also typical due to the presence of a few irritating fit problems - especially the wing and the forward fuselage bulkhead. These problems are not especially difficult to overcome if the modeller is aware of them, but I still find them irksome.

On balance though, this is by far the best Arado Ar 234 available in 1/48 scale, and quite possibly in any scale.

I am very pleased with the way my Blitz bomber has turned out.

 

 

Additional Images

 

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:


Model, Images and Article Copyright 2002 by Brett Green
Page Created 23 October 2002
Last updated 04 June 2007

Back to HyperScale Main Page

Back to Features Page