Hasegawa 1/48 Ar-234B-2/N Nachtigall w/Naxos Radar
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The Ar-234 was the world's first production jet bomber. As with many of the Luftwaffe's best aircraft, it was not actually in service until it was too late to make any meaningful contribution to the war effort. Thanks to its high speed, it was a perfect reconnaissance aircraft, able to fly at altitudes and speeds that made it uncatchable. It was not, however, the best bombing platform as the pilot had to do it all, including flying the plane while looking through the bomb sight. It also didn't make the best night fighter, thanks to its speed. Thanks to not being used until the last few months of the war, there are no records of this aircraft having any success at all, and those few planes built and into service probably made very few sorties before the end.
Just when you thought that Hasegawa couldn't think of a way to provide another limited release for its superb Ar-234 series, we now have a second night fighter boxing. This one includes all the bits from the previous kit, but with the addition of the housing for the Naxos radar system. This is a small resin piece that fits atop the fuselage.
I'll reference you to Malcolm Collier's preview of the night fighter kit to see those additional sprues, and to Tom Cleaver's preview of the base kit to see all the rest of the bits. Yeah, so call me lazy (OK, you're lazy). I'm now wracked with guilt......
Suffice it to say that when Hasegawa's Ar-234 kit came out a few years back, people started selling off their Hobbycraft kits in droves. The full series, including the four engined version, has been done and you'll find these kits in ProModeler and Revell AG boxes as well. The kit has a fully detailed cockpit with raised detail on the consoles and instrument panel. Decals are provided as well and in my experience, careful application over the existing detail will result in a remarkable transformation.
As the night fighter version, the horribly cramped radar operator's position is included as well. The instructions call for 20 grams of weight behind the cockpit to keep this baby on its nose wheel. The kit also provides fuel tanks for under the engines and rocket assist pods to get it off the ground. To add even more value to the kit, it can also be built as a standard Ar-234B without the radar but with the belly gun pod. Hasegawa molds the rocket assist pod attachment holes in the wings so you have no real choice but to install them unless you want to fill the holes. You will also need to do a bit of scraping on the 'camera window' piece to remove a mold line for one of the options. Hasegawa's clear bits are superbly done with optional nose pieces. I like that they mold part of the fuselage in with the side windows as it makes seam filling easier.
Instructions are superbly done in Hasegawa's usual style. Gunze paint references, of course. Markings for three aircraft. One is the box art plane of Oblt. Kurt Bonow of Kommando Bonow in 1945. RLM 70 upper surface with RLM 76 undersides. Next is another of Bonow's planes from 1945. This time it is RLM 76 upper with RLM 75 mottling all over the upper surface. Underside is black. The final plane, and the one without the Naxos or the radar stuff, if Oblt. Erich Sommer's aircraft from Italy in March 1945. This one is in RLM 81/82 uppers in a splinter pattern with RLM 76 undersides. Allow me to be fussy and mention that the decals are the old style with off white whites that are a bit on the thick side and quite glossy. However, they are well printed and as long as you don't mind, they should work fine.
If you missed the night fighter limited boxing last time, you have another chance. It really is a fine kit and from all builds I've read, goes together quite well.
Thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa for the review sample. Get yours today at your local shop or have them order one for you.
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