Pro-Modeler 1/48 Arado Ar 234C-3/4
Kit #5979 MSRP $31.98
Images and text Copyright © 2006 by Matt Swan
During the final years of World War Two a sleek straight winged jet aircraft emerged from the Arado factories as a prototype for a Schnellbomber. The initial aircraft were designated 234 and utilized the Junker Jumo 004 turbojet engine that was already being deployed on the Messerschmitt 262 jet fighter. In an effort to save weight these first aircraft did away with landing gear in favor of a jettisonable launching dolly and an extendable skid for landing. Various issues with this system saw the next aircraft including a more conventional tricycle landing gear and it went into production as the 234B.
While intended as a bomber the 234B was more often used in a reconnaissance role and was found to be so fast that it was nearly impossible for Allied aircraft to intercept. Unfortunately demand for the Jumo engine was so great for the Me-262 production that alternative power systems needed to be developed. During the developmental stage BMW 003 engines had been experimented with and Arado fell back on these for the next generation of the 234. The BMW engine was smaller and lighter than the Junkers engine but did not generate as much thrust so they were paired in groups of two under each wing. With four engines firing the overall thrust was improved compared to the Junkers powered craft, this was especially helpful during the take-off run.
The 234C was produced in very limited quantities (about 2 dozen aircraft) and in two variants, the C-3 was a fast bomber version and the C-4 was a reconnaissance version. Both versions featured a slightly humped canopy to afford a slightly better aft view for the pilot and both carried two forward firing 20mm cannons. The C-3 included a pair of two 20mm rearward firing cannons in a stinger format while the C-4 had a pair of cameras installed in the aft fuselage. The is little doubt that this was the fastest aircraft put into service during the war, so fast that pilots reported control flutter at high speed which is now understood as an effect seen as and aircraft approaches the sound barrier. Only about nineteen C-3s were manufactured and maybe three or four C-4s came off the assembly line before the war ended. Today only one 234 exists and that is a B-2 model in the possession of the Smithsonian Museum. That airframe was totally restored and in 2005 was placed on display at the Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington D.C.
The kit comes in a mid-sized box with nice artwork. Parts are packaged in two large poly bags with each bag containing a selection of gray sprues and a single sprue of clear parts. I think I would have liked to see the clear parts packaged separately even though none of my pieces show any shipping damage. As is to be expected with contemporary Revell-Monogram kits these parts are all well done with no visible flash, no short injections or sink marks. Overall quality is very good. Exterior pieces display fine, crisp engraved panel lines while interior areas show a very good level of detail. Options are included to build either the -3 or the -4 with two different fuselage panels, internal camera pieces and stinger tail guns. The clear parts show very good clarity with raised frame lines. The canopy is molded in the closed position which makes things difficult for the modeler should you wish to build this with the hatches open.
The kits overall engineering is very well thought out resulting in a good parts fit with little putty needed. The most difficult assembly will be the RATO packs but if you have an extra set of arms grafted on this should present no problems. Comparing this kit dimensionally to the information known about the 234B-2 it compares fairly well in general outline and wingspan. Taking an inventory of the box we have twelve clear parts on two sprues and 172 light gray high pressure injection molded pieces on nine sprues for a total of 184 pieces in the box.
You may click on the small images above to view larger pictures
Decals and Instructions
Kit instructions come as an A4 pamphlet of eight pages. The first page covers the basic history of this type along with some basic modeling safety tips and a basic color chart. Paint colors are listed by color name and with a few RLM numbers. Following this are eight exploded view assembly steps that include plenty of painting tips. The last three pages cover exterior painting instructions and decal placement for two aircraft. You can follow this link for a detailed look at the kit instructions Ö Arado Ar 234C-3/4.
The decals sheet provided with the model is not very extensive, it does cover two aircraft and includes some instrument decals if you donít want to paint the details on the dash boards. You can click on the image to the right to view a full sized scan of the decal sheet. Exterior markings are fairly basic with the national markings, Swastikas and aircraft numbers but are lacking for service stencils and warning markings. The decals do seem to be properly thin with good color density and good print registry. Previous experience with Revell-Monogram decals indicates they respond well to standard setting solutions.
While a few Ar 234C-3s did see service it is debatable as to whether any C-4s ever were operational. This kit is very well done with well engineered parts and overall quality that we would expect from this manufacture. Fit is good, instructions are clear and to the point, decals are basic with some instrument markings. I think this is a necessary kit to have should you be the modeler who cares to maintain a comprehensive Luftwaffe collection, at least as a representation of the last 234 model or even into the Luft í46 range as the 234C-4 model. I give this kit a good recommendation.