Kit No. 4367
Decals: Two versions, both fictional: KG 100 and Geschwaderstab/KG 200
Comments: Engraved panel lines and flush riveting; highly detailed cockpit, bomb bay and wheel wells; includes full complement of bombs
In late 1943, Arado proposed a flying wing concept to the Luftwaffe with the goal of producing a high speed, long range jet bomber capable of attacking the United States. Arado’s proposal was in fact a response to a Request for Proposal issued by the RLM (German Air Ministry) even before the outbreak of war, for a long-range bomber capable of reaching the U.S. from bases inside Germany. In mid-December 1943, at the Arado facilities in Landeshut-Schlesien, work began on a flying wing project series under the direction of Dr. Ing. W. Laute.
Official frustration with the progress of Messerschmitt’s Me 264 “Amerika Bomber” in part led the RLM in early 1944 to meet with Arado representatives and ask them to compile design studies for its long range jet powered bomber. It must be noted that by this time, the tide of the war had already turned in favor of the Allies: on the Eastern Front, Germany was on the defensive after suffering irreplaceable losses at the battles of Stalingrad and Kursk; and in the West, the Anglo-American forces had re-taken Northern Africa, Sicily, and had invaded Italy. Finally, the Allied invasion of France was only months away.
The result of Arado’s efforts was a kinked delta wing aircraft with a number of revolutionary design features, including a pressurized cabin, remote-controlled gun turrets, swept wings and a tricycle landing gear arrangement – all of which would later become standard on post-war Western jet bombers.
Arado’s design engineers felt that that a flying wing with a laminar flow profile was best for an aircraft required to carry a bomb load of at least 4000 kg (8818 lbs) in an internal bomb bay, and having a range of 5000 km (3107 miles). The variations of this design eventually reached fifteen, and included strategic bombers, remote controlled weapons carriers and fighters.
The Arado Ar E.555-1 was constructed entirely of metal (steel and Duraluminum), and was basically a flying wing with a short, forward fuselage section where the pressurized cockpit was located. There were two large vertical fins and rudders that sat 6.2 meters (20′ 4″) from the centerline of the aircraft. The main landing gear consisted of two tandem, dual wheeled units that retracted inwards into the wing, and the front landing gear was a single, dual wheeled unit that retracted to the rear to lie beneath the cockpit. A droppable auxiliary landing gear could be used for overload conditions.
Power was to be provided by six BMW 003A turbojets, all located on the rear upper surface of the wing center section. Defensive armament consisted of two MK 103 30mm cannon in the wing roots near the cockpit, a remote controlled turret armed with two MG 151/20 20mm cannon located just behind the cockpit, and a second pair of MG 151/20 20mm cannon in a remote controlled tail turret, which was controlled via a periscope in a pressurized weapons station behind the cockpit area.
Unfortunately, although there was significant official interest in the project initially, the deteriorating war situation for Germany meant that the Arado E.555 would never make it from the drafting boards to the prototype stage. Despite its promising design, on December 28, 1944, Arado was ordered to cease all work on the E.555 series, as Hitler’s final attack in the West (the Battle of the Bulge) ground to a halt. As the new year of 1945 approached, there was no escaping the fact the E.555 was an offensive weapon at a time when Germany’s most urgent need was for more fighters to defend the collapsing Third Reich.
Revell-Germany’s Arado E.555 is injection molded in pale grey-green and consists of 97 parts, 9 of them clear plastic. The two largest parts are the upper and lower surfaces for the massive, kinked delta wing which give the E.555 its distinctive look. These parts bear engraved panel lines and flush rivet detail. The cockpit is a detailed affair consisting of ten parts, including a floor with extensive raised relief, similar raised relief for the instrumentation, detailed seats, rudder pedals and a control yoke for the pilot. As the landing gear is situated directly beneath the cockpit, the main strut for the nose gear is to be cemented into the cockpit floor. There is a need for nose weights to prevent tail-sitting, and the instructions recommend that these be placed in the forward wing root area, just behind and to either side of the cockpit. The nose itself is jammed full of cockpit and landing gear equipment, and there may be no room for anything else.
There are simple, three-part assemblies for the forward remote-controlled gun turret, the periscope to be used by the radioman/flight engineer/rear gunner, and the rear gun turret. The “six-pack” turbojet engines are quite detailed, with two parts for the upper and lower halves of the jet pack and separate, meticulously machined intake and exhaust parts for each individual jet engine. The assembly for the greenhouse nose enclosing the cockpit consists of four parts, including an overhead instrument panel reminiscent of the arrangement in the Heinkel He 111, and includes an option for an open hatch at the top of the greenhouse.
Revell-Germany provides a detailed paint guide for the cockpit and landing gear assemblies, but this guidance falls off for other parts of the kit, with the exception of the overall external paint scheme, for which schematics of two different camouflage schemes are provided. First is a speckled paint scheme using RLM 76 Lichtblau or Light Blue overall as a base color, with splotches of RLM 75 Grauviolett or Grey Violet – this is for the I/KG 100 aircraft. Second is a somewhat different scheme for the KG 200 aircraft using the same two colors, again with RLM 76 overall, with large, discrete patches of RLM 75 on the wings and fuselage, then a return to the speckled scheme for the vertical tails and the jet pack.
The landing gear bays are quite well detailed, as is the bomb bay, and there is an option to build the kit with all related doors open or closed. Should you build the kit with the bomb bay open, there are five detailed bombs provided. If you opt for landing gear down and bomb bay doors open, there is excellent raised relief detail on the interior of all doors.
This looks to be a straightforward build of an interesting Luft ’46 aircraft, with the main challenge being creating the best paint job possible.