|MODEL DESIGN CONSTRUCTION|
by: Andy Brazier [ ]
Model Design Construction released their first full kit in 2006 with the 1/32nd Hawker Typhoon Mk.IB, this was followed by a 1/32 scale Ki-61-I "Hien" (Tony) Fighter. This model was designed and mastered by Radu Brinzan for Model Design Construction. With the partnership with Radu continuing they have released their third kit the 1/32nd twin-engined Arado Ar 234 B jet aircraft.
The German Arado 234 was the very first purpose-built reconnaissance jet aircraft. While the Ar-234 had very little influence on the outcome of World War II, being much too late and too few in number, it had influence on later aircraft designs.
The Ar-234B could be configured either as a bomber or reconnaissance aircraft. Maximum bomb load was about 1.5 tonnes (3,300 pounds), carried externally. A typical bomb load was a single 500 kilogram (1,100 pound) bomb under the fuselage centreline and under each engine nacelle, but a single 1,000 kilogram (2,000 pound) bomb or 1,400 kilogram (3,080 pound) bomb could be carried on the centreline. When used as a reconnaissance aircraft, the Ar-234B carried a 300 litre (79 US gallon) drop tank under each engine in place of the bombs.
The jet engines consisted of a pair of Junkers Jumo 004B turbojets slung underneath the wings. Maximum speed without bombs or drop tanks was 740 KPH (460 MPH) at 6,100 meters (20,000 feet), but the speed dropped to as low as 660 KPH (410 MPH) with external loads.
Tricycle landing gear was fitted, with single wheels on all assemblies, and low-pressure tires for rough-field operation. The nose gear retracted backwards, while the main gear retracted inward and forward into the sides of the fuselage.
Since the Ar-234 landed at high speed, it had a drag chute as standard equipment; it was one of the first aircraft to do so. The rounded nose of the aircraft was covered with Plexiglas, giving the pilot an excellent view to the front, but no view to the back except through a periscope. The periscope also served as a sight for dive-bombing attacks. Although an ejection seat had been fitted to some of the prototypes, the Ar-234B did not have such a nicety. The pilot got into and out of the aircraft through a transparent hatch on top of the cockpit. Getting out of the Ar-234 in an emergency was not a easy undertaking.
In principle, the Ar-234B had a pair of fixed rearward-firing 20 millimetre MG-151/20 cannon for protecting its tail, with the pilot sighting the guns through the periscope. Not only did the pilot have to be his own bombardier, he was his own tail gunner as well. However, in practice the guns were not always fitted and were never an important feature of the aircraft. Armour plate was attached to the rear wall of the cockpit to give the pilot a little protection.
Upon opening the very sturdy lidded box you will find about 120 resin pieces, 11 clear and coloured resin parts and a large envelope. The envelope contains the instructions, painting and decaling guides, 5 decal sheets, 8 photo-etched sheets, and various lengths of plain and coloured wire and plastic.
Packaging for this kit is exceptional, with each major component (fuselage and wings) wrapped in bubble wrap. The smaller parts are in seal able bags which are snugly fitted in-between the major parts. Each bag contains relevant parts for the engine, cockpit, undercarriage and control surfaces. The clear parts are bagged and also wrapped in bubble wrap for added protection.
The quality of the resin parts are superb, with little or no flash present on the pieces. Casting blocks have been removed so very little cleanup is needed. A few of the smaller pieces have some pouring plugs that will need removing but this should only take minutes at the most.
The fuselage has some extremely well done recessed panel lines and rivet detail. The fuselage is broken down into 6 parts with the cockpit and tail sections as separate sub assemblies. Internal detail for the main fuselage has seen a number of the bulkheads and plumbing for the main wheel wells moulded in. The addition of some of the P.E parts for the wheel wells will make this look very detailed. The fuselage looks to be easily joined as locating pins with the matching recesses are along the length of each half. Clamping the parts should see very little clean up needed.
The tail section has separate rudder and elevators with P.E control linkages so positioning them off centre is possible.
Now we come to the Pièce de résistance of the kit, the cockpit. The Arado 234 is near enough the perfect aircraft to show off the detail in the cockpit thanks to its glazed nose section, and wow what detail MDC has put in. Just about everything that was in the real cockpit has been incorporated into this kit. Numerous resin and P.E parts are used in the construction of the office, with separate decals for each instrument dial. The canopy frames are separate parts so masking the glazed parts should be a breeze. The level of detail is astounding and should look truly stunning when complete.
The wings are moulded in one piece and show no signs of warping. The addition of two brass rods for each wing for fortifying the wing root join should stop any movement and make construction easy. Fine recessed panel lines adorn the wings along with some nice recessed rivets. The ailerons are separate and positional.
The jet engines are split into two halves each, with the exhaust sections fitting onto the intakes. Both the engines have P.E fan blades and having seen these built up in the flesh do look gorgeous.
White metal undercarriage legs are the only option for this kit as it weighs so much, and are well cast. With a little clean-up they will look great. The legs have more P.E adorning it along with a nice set of resin wheels. I feel this is the one area where the kit is let down as the wheels are un-weighted, sanding them should alleviate the problem a little but adding some filler for the “bulge” should be considered.
The P.E undercarriage doors need to be bent into the shape of the fuselage and a helpful explanation of the process is shown in pictures and text in the instructions.
External stores for this kit come in the shape of bombs, cameras, drop tanks and RATO packs. Depending on which variant you want to model, depicts on the ordnance carried. The cameras are installed internally and on a normal load out would be matched with the drop tanks. Each of the external stores are beautifully moulded, with the bombs and RATO packs having P.E parts.
The clear parts are blemish free. The top of the main canopy can be modelled with the access hatch open to see into the office. They glazed portions should fit cosily over the canopy frames, and will eventually be adorned with "riveted" decal frames.
A set of tinted parts for the navigation lights are included in the kit.
The instructions are printed on 4 sheets of A5 size paper and contain photos of the model in various stages of construction. The first page is a part inventory guide and a section on working with resin and P.E parts.
The build sequence is in a logical order but care must be taken in fitting parts as unlike your normal plastic-injected model the parts are not numbered and careful examination of the photo for the correct location of the part is needed.
Each of the parts bags are filled with the parts you will need for a particular section, so you only have to open one bag at a time.
Painting and Decaling
The painting and decaling guide are shown for four aircraft, which are as follows -
1- Ar234 B-2 W.Nr. Unknown, (possibly 140113), F1 AA of KG 76, flown by Geschwander Kommodore of Kg76 Obslt. Robert Kowalewski. Captured at Achmer by the British.
2- Ar234 B-2 W.Nr. 140342 F1 AS of 8./KG 76, flown by Ofw. Friedrich Bruchlos in an unsuccessful attack on he Remagen on March 9th, 1945. This aircraft was shot down by American AAA.
3- Ar234 B-2 W.Nr. 140156, F1 CS of Third Gruppe of Kg76, Burg, pilot unknown.
4- Ar234 B-2 W.Nr. 140173, F1 MT of 9./KG76, possibly flown by Hptm. Josef Regler.
This was the first jet aircraft captured by the Allies on February 22nd, 1945.
All the aircraft are painted in either RLM 65 or RLM 76 undersides with the uppers in either RLM 70/71 or RLM 82/83. You will need to check your references for the aircraft you wish to model.
The decals come on 5 sheets and are broken down into one sheet of national markings and stencils, one sheet of unit markings, one sheet with the riveted frames for the canopy and 2 sheets for the instrument dials and data tags. The quality of the decals is excellent with little carrier film around the edges.