KIT:

Hasegawa 1/48 Ar-234B-2N

KIT #

JT 85

PRICE:

3400 at Hobby Link Japan

DECALS:

See Review

REVIEWER:

Tom Cleaver

NOTES:

 

 

HISTORY

 

     Following the success of the Arado Ar-234B-2, designed to be used in the photo recon/bombing role, Arado submitted a plan to develop a night fighter version of the aircraft, the Ar-234B-2/N with a radar operator in the rear compartment normally used by the cameras, and a podcarying two 20mm cannon on the bomb rack.

      Named "Natchtigall" (Nightingale), the Ar-234B-2/N prototype, serial 140145, was completed in December 1944.  According to Jorg Czypionka, one of the few surviving pilots of the jet nightfighter unit, Kommando Welter, nightfighter ace Kurt Welter flew the "Nachtigall" during December while he was researching the possibility of using a jet in the night interception role, but  found the Ar-234 deficient due to the problem of reflected light from the ground in the curved windscreen panels disturbing the pilot's night vision.  Welter went on to use the Me-262 day fighter with great success in the "Wilde Sau" style of non-ground-controlled night interception. 140145 was later used during January and February 1945 by Hauptmann Josef Bisping for attempted night interceptions. The second prototype, serial 140146, was painted in a "traditional" night fighter camouflage of RLM76 with blotches of RLM75 on the upper surfaces with semi-gloss black lower surfaces, and participated in field evaluation missions during February 1945.

      There are no records of any Ar-234B-2/N ever scoring a victory against an Allied aircraft, and there are no firm records as to how many Ar-234B-2s were even converted to this configuration.

 

THE KIT

     The kit is exactly the same as the previously-released Hasegawa Ar-234B-2, with additional sprue trees providing the "antler" radar array and the parts for the radar operator's cockpit, as well as the gun pod.  Markings are included for the first two conversions, the only Ar-234B-2/Ns for which any documentation proves their existence.

 

CONSTRUCTION

     Other than the addition of the radar operator's cockpit and the attachment of the radar antennas, construction of the kit is exactly the same as that for the previous release. I am including here the important highlights from that project. 

      This is a well-designed kit, but we are - after all - talking here about Hasegawa, and this always means there is at least on tricky item to get right, or the construction becomes a tedious process of overcoming a design mistake.

      There are two areas that make construction of this model tricky: the assembly of the clear nose to the fuselage, and the attachment of the wings to the fuselage. However, if you follow my instructions here, you will experience no difficulty and have a fun time with this model.

      The first area of difficulty is cockpit attachment. It is imperative to get the rear cockpit bulkhead properly fitted and glued in place, in order to insure an easy assembly of the nose.  It turns out that this bulkhead is just a bit large.  If you assemble it without modifying it, there is every change it will pop out of position; since this is not obvious, you can miss it, and the result will be that the fuselage is not wide enough to fit to the cockpit, and you will have a ridge that will take a lot of putty to cover over on the left side of the model.

      It turns out this bulkhead is just a bit too wide to fit the fuselage.  Test fit, and sand it down on the sides until it fits in position easily without splitting the center fuselage seam.  It should stick out a bit from the fuselage, to provide fit guidance for the clear parts of the canopy.  Let this completely set up before you proceed to attach the cockpit and the canopy, and all will be well. 

     The second area of difficulty is wing attachment.  The solution to the problem is simplicity itself:  cut off the locating pins on the wing parts, and manually align the parts during assembly of the wing sub-assembly.  If you do this, the wing will slot into position on the fuselage with no problem whatsoever. 

     Those areas aside, there is no other "surprise" in the assembly of the model.

 Use and Assembly of the Cutting Edge Aftermarket Parts:

      The flaps are easy to use and require only that you cut out the flaps on the kit wing parts, and thin down the area immediately ahead of the flap in the upper wing part.  I found I had to sand the inner flaps so that, when positioned, they did not rub against the fuselage.

      The resin cockpit parts greatly improve that very-visible area of the model, though one could easily get away with only replacing the seat. The parts all fit correctly and there is no difficulty experienced in mating them with the kit parts.

 

CAMOUFLAGE & MARKINGS

 Painting:

      I decided to do the second prototype, since the scheme was different from that of the standard Ar-234 bomber. The major difference in painting this model as opposed to the earlier one is that you will paint the camouflage over the attachment stiffeners of the canopy from the outside.

      I first painted the lower surface with "Tamiya Semi-gloss Black," then continued on to "pre-shade" the upper surfaces of the model.  I then masked off the lower surfaces and painted the upper surface with Gunze-Sangyo "RLM76 Lichtblau" with Gunze-Sangyo "RLM75 Grauviolett" blotches.  The model was unmasked and a coat of Future was applied.

 Decals:

      I used the kit decals with no problem.  A coat of Micro-Sol over the decals once they were in position, followed by slicing the decals along the various panel lines once they were mostly set, resulted in a "painted on" look.  I then washed the model to get rid of dried decal setting solution, and gave the model another coat of Future.

 

FINAL CONSTRUCTION

     Personally, the underwing RATO units are a pain in the patootie to attach, and to me they ruin the lines of this sleek-looking airplane, so I left them off of this model.  I gave the upper surfaces a coat of Dullcote before unmasking the canopies, then I attached the landing gear and the radar antenna array, and the model was complete. 

 

CONCLUSIONS

     For Luftwaffe fanatics who have to have every version of anything flown by Germany during the war, this is a good-looking model that will enhance your collection of German jets.  It's almost more of a "Luft '46" model than anything else, since it had no "operational career" during the war, and likely wouldn't exist were it not for Hasegawa's policy of making every version possible from any set of kit molds.

March 2003

Thanks to HobbyLink Japan for providing the review copy.

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