Although the race for jet fighters usually gets most of the attention for late war aircraft designs, other types were developed too.
Join me for a brief look at the tail end of the global war and the first jet bomber to enter service.
Work on the Ar234 started about the same time as the Me262 fighter. The airframe design was simple and finished in 1941, long before the Jumo 004 engines were available. When completed the Ar234 had good flight characteristics and was capable of full aerobatics. Its biggest failing was the same as the Me262, reliance on a still underdeveloped jet engine technology. Really, only a desperate combatant could have considered the Jumo 004 engine ready for service use in 1944-45.
Over 200 Ar234 were built, including prototypes. The most numerous version, the Ar234B-1, was a photo recon type that could enter allied air space high and fast; and be gone before any response was possible (one of my sources claimed all B-1 aircraft started as B-2 and were converted. That seems contrary to normal Luftwaffe numbering standards, but I can’t argue it either way). The second most built type was the Ar234B-2 seen here, a bomber version. It had no internal bomb bay so ordnance was carried external on the belly of the plane.
A more powerful Ar234C was also built in small numbers (14?) that used four BMW 003 engines. This engine had most of the same development issues as the Jumo 004 and was slightly smaller, but had the big advantage of not being used in the Me262 program. This version was quite a bit faster and came in the same recon and bomber versions.
The airplane seen here participated in by far the highest profile operation of the Ar234. On March 7 1945, the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen Germany was captured by US forces. Over the next ten days the bridge was attacked continuously by Ar234 of KG76 trying stop the flow of allied forces into Germany. After ten days the bridge did collapse (it had also been mined and shelled by artillery), but several other structures had been built across the river by then (US Engineers worked very fast).
This is from the Hasegawa kit with Aeromaster decals. It was a complicated build, but the kit is well engineered and mostly goes together well. The only difficulty being around the cockpit. This is built from all clear parts, which means extra care must be used with plastic glues. Because of the weight and some fit issues I couldn’t really use white glue on those parts (I wanted a harder, stronger bond). This kit was co-developed with Revell and the “C” version of the type was released by them. I would expect similar quality from both brands, and that’s exactly what we see in the box (excellent kit, but not “drop fit” like Tamiya).