Arado Ar 240C-2 Nightfighter by Revell-Germany

1/72 scale
Cost: $19.99
Decals: One version, circa 1943 Luftwaffe nightfighter
Comments: New tooling; engraved panel lines

History

The Ar240 was designed as a high altitude fighter and reconaissance platform but saw limited operational service.  Given that it came into being as a result of World War II, it had a relatively long development period, from 1938 to 1942, and spurred ingenious technological innovations such as remote-controlled defensive armament.  Despite its promise, particularly its impressive speed at higher altitudes, it was ultimately shelved in favor of the Messerschmitt Me410 — a decision that was partly political due to Willy Messerschmitt’s influence in the Nazi Party.

Development of the Ar240, intended as a multi-purpose high performance aircraft, began after a visit by RLM (Reich Aviation Ministry) Chief Engineer Gottfried Reidenbach to the Arado Aircraft Works in Brandenburg on October 30, 1938.  The new aircraft had to be able to penetrate British airspace at high speed in the destroyer role.  The Aviation Ministry’s order sought to fulfill the specification for a multi-seat fighter with superior performance.  The order gave the Arado firm legitimate hope that it could improve its image in the areas of aircraft design and performance;  at that time it produced mainly training aircraft and aircraft built under license.

Initially designated E625, Arado’s new design included a pressurized cabin and remotely controlled defensive armament.  Arado’s approach to wringing more speed out of the airframe centered on using the smallest possible surface area.  The design had a short wingspan and an extremely short, narrow fuselage.  In order to achieve an acceptable landing speed with the small wing area, the wings were constructed and patented as “Arado Travelling Flap” wings.  In addition to the ailerons, movable flaps mounted on the lower surface of the wing trailing edge could also be pushed to the rear and rotated downwards.  The tail plane could also be trimmed in flight.  The thick-walled bullet proof fuel tanks from the Conti Company required large self-supporting and removable coverings on the upper wing surfaces.  To achieve this, “u” profiles were pressed into an aluminum sheet at right angles to each other forming hollow squares.  The hollow of the squares was cut out. leaving a rigid “water sheet” framework.  This was then electrically point-welded onto the sheet cover.  The maiden flight of the Ar240V-1 (for Ar240 experimental version 1) took place on April 30, 1940.  The cabin in the V-1 and V-2 was located in line with the wing leading edge.  From the V-3 onwards, the cockpit was moved into the nose and glazed down to the bottom of the fuselage.

In mid-1941, the V-4 with its pressurized cabin was tested as a dive bomber.  In order to reduce misting and icing of the cockpit windows, the double-skinned Perspex canopy of the pressure cabin was internally heated.  The engineers and technicians entered new territory during the development of the remotely controlled rear weapons position.  In cooperation with the firms of Goerz and Askania, Arado developed the FA-13 hydraulic remote control unit, and an electromagnetic fire and reload unit.  The firm’s own weapons department also developed the gun mount for the MG 131 and the revolving magazines themselves.  A periscope sight allowed the remotely controlled system to be aimed and fired simultaneously via a joystick in the cabin.  After successful static testing, the weapon was declared combat ready in mid-1941 and designated as armament for the Me210 by the RLM.  Arado researched the use of the twin MG 81Z machine guns as a remote-controlled unit for the pre-production Ar240A.  For improved handling of control surfaces at high speeds, Arado developed an adjustable servo system for the rudder transmission.  The firm Patin delivered an airspeed indicator specially developed for this system.

After initial difficulties with flight stability and the center of gravity, Arado decided to lengthen the fuselage and increase the wingspan from 12.1 meters to 14.2 meters (39.6 feet to 46.5 feet), and finally to 16.6 meters (54.4 feet) on the Ar240C.  Flight stability and center of gravity already proved to be adequate during testing of the V-3, however with the incorporation of different engines and various equipment changes these problems re-appeared.  The first prototypes were tested with Daimler Benz DB 601 engines with a take-off power of 135 bhp.  Two aircraft were equipped with DB 605 engines.  From the end of 1941 on, only the last seven aircraft could be fitted with the originally projected DB 603A engines.  An improvement in engine performance above the best altitude performance came after the beginning of 1943 with the introduction of a GM-1 unit in the Ar240.

For a 30-minute flight, it was necessary to have 790 lbs. (or 360 kg) of oxygen-rich Nitro-Oxide stored in liquid form at minus 130 degrees Farenheit (minus 90 degrees Celsius) and atomized with air pressure in the mixing system of the DB 603A.  The total weight of the equipment amounted to around 1,102 lbs (500kg) and had the effect of increasing the emergency power by 300 bhp per engine above the best altitude performance.  Up to June 1942, a total of 15 aircraft were rolled out of the factory.  From 1942 to 1944 some prototypes proved themselves in action in high speed reconnaissance flights over Great Britain, the Mediterranean, and the Eastern Front.  During the period from May to September 1942, the last prototype aircraft built by Arado were the V-9, V-10 and V-11with an enlarged wingspan, and designated by the works as Ar240C or Ar440.  The V-10 received an FuG 202 radar unit and was modified so that the aircraft could be tested as a nightfighter at the Arado Works in Brandenburg between October and December 1943.  In order to improve its forward firepower, the V-10 also received a weapons pod with two MG151-19 cannon under the nose.  In January 1943, an Ar240C with two externally mounted 500 kg (1102 lb.) bombs achieved 356 mph (661 km/h) in a “fast bomber” trial, achieving a speed advantage of 25 mph (47 km/h) over the Me410.  Despite this, on February 16, 1943, Field Marshal Erhard Milch, RLM Chief of Aircraft Production, decided to withdraw the Ar240 in favor of the Me410.

Specifications

Length: 43 feet, 9 inches
Wingspan: 54 feet, 5 inches
Height: 13 feet
Wing area: 376 square feet
Empty Weight: 19,600 lbs.
Take-off Weight: 25, 434 lbs.
Payload: 5,843 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 4,553 lbs.
Maximum Speed (Low altitude): 288 mph, 296 mph on emergency power
Maximum Speed at Altitude 22,965 feet, or 7000 meters: 350 mph, 356 mph on emergency power
Time to Climb to 19,700 feet (6000 meters): 9.2 minutes
Range: 1,090 miles (2020 km)
Endurance: 3.4 hours
Service ceiling: 34, 440 feet (10,500 meters)
Armament: 2 x MG 151-20 machine guns, one in each wing root; and 2 x MG81Z movable machine guns

The Kit

Released in 2008, Revell-Germany’s kit of the Ar 240C is newly molded in gray, bears engraved panel lines, and consists of 82 injection molded parts.  The kit features a highly detailed cockpit with molded detail on the fuselage interior for the sidewalls, and on the interior of the nacelles for the wheel bays.  It features a one-piece canopy, a second clear plastic part for the Perspex nose, and FuG202 radar antennae.  There are two movable machine gun mounts, an option to have the landing gear raised or lowered, and decals for the V-10, the experimental nightfighter version tested at the Arada plant in Brandenburg-Neuendorf in late 1943.

Conclusion

A nicely detailed kit of a lesser known nightfighter than unfortunately never got into production.  Highly recommended.

References

  • Jane’s Fighting Aircraft of World War II, Random House Group Limited, London, 2001.
  • Revell-Germany kit instructions
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