By Caz Dalton
Just as Messerschmitt's Me 262 was the world's first turbojet powered fighter, so the Arado Ar 234 Blitz (Lightning) was the first jet-powered bomber, despite the fact that it was originally designed in response to a requirement for a fast reconnaissance aircraft. After many teething problems with testing that had begun in 1943, the first operational use of the Ar 234B-2 was in the reconnaissance role in July 1943. The bomber role of the Ar 234B-2 first took place in December of 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge counter-offensive. It continued operations until spring 1945, culminating in attacks on the Allied-held bridge over the Rhine River at Remagen.
My model represents the BMW-powered Ar 234, which were designated the C-series. The Ar 234C-1 was a bomber/reconnaissance version, while the Ar 234C-3 was a bomber/ground attack version. Total production of the dash one and dash three models was 14. The model represents an Ar 234C-4, which was a project for a high-speed reconnaissance aircraft capable of defending itself against opposing fighters. For this defense it carried two MG 151/20 cannon mounted in the forward fuselage under the cockpit. Only eight dash four planes were built and all were only used in projects, with none documented to have been used in operations. The code and color scheme of my model is strictly speculative, as I could find no photographic reference as to its actual appearance. I expect that this would fall in that Luftwaffe 46 category that is so popular in Europe at the present time. The code A1 BS is just that, A-1 bullhockey. I have no idea what the actual C-4s were coded and even though DML gave many codes for either a C-3 or C-4, they only displayed the C-3 version on the instruction sheet. The plaque's title "AUFKLÄRUNGSFLUGZEUG" simply translates into "Reconnaissance Aircraft".
Additions, modifications, etc.
Other than adding an old Monogram Luftwaffe Pilot and seat belts for his harnesses, with belts cut from True Details photoetched sheet, absolutely none. I had to sand away the bottom of the seat so that the canopy would fit properly with the figure in place, sand a little detail off of the bomb sight (the black box between the pilot's legs), and cut a little off on the bottom of the control stick due to the previous sanding of the seat. The cannon ports were drilled out and I had to do a little fancy fitting of the front landing gear since the doors have two openings and one can see inside of them.
The front landing gear bay was painted RLM 02 Green-Gray, whereas the cockpit was painted RLM 66 Black Gray. The fuselage interior in the camera bay area was painted flat black. Cockpit boxes and controls were picked out in flat black. I painted the gauges in the kit's instrument panel white before adding instruments from Reheat Models 1/72 scale instrument decal. Various control and data placards also came from Reheat Models decals. The cameras were painted flat black.
The engines are rather pseudo affairs, but with careful painting a decent result can be achieved. I first painted the intakes RLM 02 and next hand painted the turbine blades Polly-Scale Graphite. After the graphite dried, I applied an ink wash to the intake around and between the blades. Once dried, I shot a clear flat coat over the intakes to seal the wash so that I could hand paint the starter motor housings Polly-Scale Brass. The rear exhaust nozzles were painted Gunze Burnt Iron and also received a black wash as well as a little powdered black pastel in the final assembly. Index card was cut and rolled to insert into the intakes and exhausts for exterior painting.
Painting and decaling
After masking the clear areas and giving them a coat of RLM 66, I primed the model in RLM 76 Light Gray, which was generally the under surface color for Luftwaffe aircraft during the latter stages of World War II. The instructions would have one paint the under surface RLM 65, but this color was not used much after 1943. After sanding imperfections and repriming in RLM 76, I masked the under surfaces of the wings, fuselage, and engines.
I used the colors called for in the instructions on the upper surfaces, but I would have to disagree with the olive drab color called for. I expect this should have been RLM 81 Brown Violet. Nonetheless, I first painted the upper surfaces with Polly-Scale Olive Drab. After this had dried, I applied masks cut from photocopies enlarged to scale to the olive drab and shot the remainder Polly-Scale Dark Green. When dried, I removed the camouflage masking and masked around the rear areas of the engine, which were shot in burnt iron. I also did the entire canopy framing with Bare-metal Black Chrome foil. Once applied and cut, the entire model was given a coat of clear gloss.
Decals from the kit were used with exception of the swastikas, which were cut from an old Hasegawa Messerschmitt sheet. They settled down well and were reasonably opaque. Once the decals had dried, I gave the model a good wash and another coat of clear gloss. I inked in all control surface and access recesses with watered down India ink. Lastly I applied a little black powdered pastel to the jet exhausts and gave the model a coat of clear flat. Masking was removed from the clear areas and these were buffed out with Meguire's Mirror Glaze and given a coat of FUTURE. Wing navigation light were done with tine drops of Kristal Klear and painted clear red and clear green once the glue had set up.
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