- Published on Wednesday, 22 September 2010 11:19 Peter Buckingham
'ARADO Ar 234 BLITZ' by Marek J. Mirawski
Casemate Publishing UK Ltd
It doesn't seem to happen very often, but I think I have been very fortunate with regard to this book. A couple of weeks ago before I knew I was to receive it for review, I attended one of my regular Medway model club meetings where, as usual, a number of kits were being sold from various collections (stash!). I saw a 1/48 Hasegawa Arado Ar 234B-2 'Blitz Bomber' box which was almost bursting at the seams. The reason for bulge was that in addition to the plastic bags of kit sprues and instruction book, there were the following:
Aires resin engine set of two Junkers JUMO 004B-1 jet engines with mounts and cowlings
CMK resin flaps, wheels, parachute bay, fuel box and P/E accessories
Aires wheel set
Eduard P/E fuselage detailing set
The asking price for the lot was £20. Sold to the writer of this review! Then, to crown it all, out of the blue, Jim Hatch, your genial webmeister, who was completely unaware of my recent purchase, sends me this very nice book of the '234' by Marek. J. Mirawski. How cool was that!
So, down to business - what was the Arado Ar 234? The following is a potted history but suffice to say, Marek's subject is truly fascinating. Just as the Messerschmitt Me 262 was the World's first turbojet fighter, so the Arado Ar 234 Blitz (Lightning) was the first jet-powered bomber, although it was originally designed in response to RLM's requirement for a fast reconnaissance aircraft! It was also one of Hitler's so called 'Wonder Weapons'. The prototype emerged in early 1943 - a shoulder wing design with its engines slung beneath the wings and supported by a long slim fuselage, so narrow in fact that it couldn't accept a conventional retractable undercarriage! The aircraft's fourteen minute maiden flight was made possible by fitting a releasable take off 'trolley' with a landing performed on retractable skids. Who would be a test pilot?
Development progressed with various engine configurations and in March, 1944, the twin engined 'B' series prototype emerged fitted with a slightly wider fuselage to accommodate a narrow tracked and retractable tricycle undercarriage thereby negating the unacceptable ground handling problems. Although this was indeed a very narrow wheelbase, it certainly improved take off procedures.
In all, a total of 274 Ar 234's were built of which 30 were prototypes. Of particular interest is the development of the four engined Ar 234C (4 x BMW 003A engines) and just looking at the head on photograph (Page 35) in Marek's very well illustrated book, it clearly shows that this aircraft was technically advanced and so far ahead of its time.
The Arado Ar 234 Blitz book measures 21 x 29.5cms with impressive artwork on the front cover showing a rocket assisted take off and releasable take off trolley, while on the back cover are two very large full colour fuselage profiles. The front and back covers are glossy card. There are 64 pages of Marek's text supported by 109 mono photographs. At the rear of the book (and it does get better and better) there are 24 pages of technical drawings and illustrations making this book a scratch builders dream.
I said it gets better and better - and it does. The final eight pages are in full colour and show 16 full colour walk around photographs of a restored Ar 234 B-2 at the Smithsonian Museum in the States, plus 8 fuselage profiles in full cammo colour!
I haven't finished yet! There are three 'drop out' A3 sized buff coloured sheets folded to A4 of detailed line drawings which include full airframe coverage, typical weapon combinations of bombs, the Walter Rocket Assisted Take Off pods - in fact everything a modeller could wish for. Of particular interest are the very large scale drawings of the nose wheel suspension and retraction mechanism as used on the B2 and C3 variants together with front cabin construction detail. Excellent stuff.
This book certainly goes hand in glove with the Hasegawa 1/48 kit of this aircraft as the final 'goody' in this publishing bonanza is a paint mask for the Ar 234C. To those modellers who have purchased or are thinking about the 1/32 resin Radu Brinzan/MDC version - this book is also a must.
The author is to be congratulated for putting together a really fascinating and well researched story of the A234 from design to operation supported by some superb illustrations.
SO WHAT DO WE THINK?
I think my text says it all. The book is superb and should be a 'must have' for the aviation libraries of not only those purchasing the 1/48 Hasegawa kit or the aforementioned 1/32 Radu Brinzan/MDC kits, but for Luftwaffe World War II fans and aviation enthusiasts generally. Superb. It is available direct from Casemate Publishing at www.casematepublishing.co.uk and at £19.98 represents excellent value for money.
Our thanks to those nice people at Casemate Publishing for the review sample.