The following is the introduction printed on the front page of the instruction booklet;
The Arado 196 was the best float plane of the Second World War. Work first began in 1936 following an invitation to tender designs for a catapult launched reconnaissance aircraft which was to replace the Heinkel He 60. Along with Arado, Focke-Wulf also took part in the tender which eventually led to the Fw62. Arado received an order for four prototypes of which two had to be fitted with a ventral float. The first Arado Ar 196 prototype flew as early as the summer of 1937, while Focke-wulf were only able to launch Fw62 in October of that year. Even before the trials were concluded Arado received an order for a series of six Arado Ar 196A-0 models. The first 18 type Ar 196A-1 ‘Borderkunder’ (ship based reconnaissance aircraft) were delivered from June 1939 onwards. These aircraft went to the 1st and 5th seaborne wing 196 for the use on the pocket battleships ‘Admiral Graf Spee’ and ‘Deutschland’.
The first aircraft of a larger production run designated Ar 196A-2 were delivered in November 1939. These aircraft were now fitted with fixed mount offensive weapons in the form of one FF/MM 20mm calibre machine gun in the leading edge of each wing, as well as one 7.9mm calibre No 17 machine gun in the right hand side of the fuselage which fired synchronised through the propeller arc. These aircraft were also deployed in the reconnaissance role from coastal aerodromes as well as from naval vessels. Delivery of the in essence principal model of the Ar 196, the A-3 commenced in 1941. Amongst other features this model also had a three blade variable pitch propeller and a spinner. The original, really basic radio equipment in the Ar 196 series was replaced by the more extensive unit which was also suitable for intensive unit which was also suitable for intensified deployment from coastal bases over land. Whilst the fixed forward armament of the A-2 was retained the observers No15 or No17 machine gun was replaced with the considerably more powerful 81Z machine gun. Two SC50 – 50kg (110ib) bombs could also be carried.
Most aircraft of the Ar-196A-3 series went to the Coastal Air Wings (KuFlgr. 406, 506, 706 and 906) as well as to various Marine Reconnaissance Wings (SaGr 125, 126, 127, 128, 130 and 131) whilst only a few aircraft found their way into the flights on the larger warships. One of these aircraft, the TH LH of the 1st seaborne flying wing 196, which was stationed on board the ‘Tirpitz’ can be built from this kit. In the summer of 1943 it received individual markings for the 100th catapult take off of an Ar 196 from the ‘Tirpitz’. The crew consisted of Unteroffizer (Corporal) Meissner (as Pilot) and Lieutenant W Rosenbaum (as Observer). The Luftwaffe always provided the pilot, the observer came from the Navy. Additionally the Ar 196 found increasingly more use in the Maritime Emergency Rescue Role. The Ar 196 area of operations extended from the island of Crete over the Black Sea right up to the far North. Its military role was similarly wide reaching, its attack missions were also flown against submarines as well as reconnaissance missions in coastal areas and the associated attacks on smaller surface vessels. Additionally there were also courier flights and security tasks. The Arado 196 also flew as an escort screen for the Junkers Ju52 Transporters during their flights from the European Landmass to the North African Coast. Today, the total number of Arado Ar 196’s built is not accurately ascertainable, it is however assumed that up to October 1944 a total of 435 aircraft were built.
Inside the usual end opening box from RoG
(Revell of Germany
) you will find;
- An instruction booklet
- A safety sheet
- 13 light blue/green sprues
- 1 clear sprue
- 1 decal sheet
This model from RoG
was released I believe in 2010 and so has a few years under its belt; despite the age this kit shows, I believe RoG
at their very best. The parts are all cleanly moulded and free of flash (except for a small area of the radial engine) or any other faults that can be found on injection moulded plastic kits as far as I can see. The placement of the model parts on the sprue appears to have been well thought out, with access to the parts and their removal looking to be an easy task. The instruction booklet covers construction of the model in 58 stages and uses black and white line drawings to guide you through construction. The stages are fairly clear and easy to follow as they are not overly busy; however in some cases the lines showing the placement of parts can be questionable. The packaging of the kit parts is fairly good with the sprues packaged in several plastic bags which have kept all of the parts in my example in perfect condition. I would like to see RoG
switch to a tray with a lid with these large models in order to make the keeping of the sub-assemblies safe and in the same place easier.
The cockpit is an area where I feel that RoG
has done a stunning job of scale replication. RoG
has replicated the internal frame work of the aircraft with some controls and cabling; I find this aspect particularly pleasing as I believe most would have added a replication to the inside faces of the fuselage. My reference material does not contain many diagrams, but it does show a schematic of the internal aircraft frame and the kit looks to have a very accurate rendition of it; well done RoG
. The instrument panel is another area covered in my reference, and again RoG
has done a good job of replicating the detail, they have even got the mounted controls in that area in the correct position for an idle aircraft; it should be noted that if you intend to back date this model to an earlier Mk the instrument panel will need altering. My only concern about the instrument panel is that painting it will be a task as it is raised and no decals are provided for it.
The seats of the aircraft have raised detail on them replicating the seat harnesses and while these are a little on the heavy side in terms of thickness they should be of an acceptable standard for most. The radios included in the product look good but I am unable to comment on the accuracy of this area, that said it will add some very good detail to the fairly roomy cockpit. The forward firing MG has some very good external detail, however the rear looks a little plain and the tip of the barrel will need to be drilled to improve its appearance. The observers machine gun also has some nice detail, but again will need to be drilled; the only thing I wish RoG
had not done is the decision to compromise detail on the machine gun to allow it to be movable. While on the subject of the machine guns, RoG
has provided a nicely detailed ammunition rack for the observer’s station.
The fuselage of the model is made up of three main parts, which are the two halves of the fuselage split top and bottom and there is also a panel that makes up the area below the cockpit. The detail on the fuselage is good, with some very nicely replicated shallow panel lines. I believe the fuselage is partially a canvas material along its length and there does appear to be a very subtle texture on the canvas portion, however I will not be sure of this until paint is added to clarify this belief.
This is an area where RoG
deserves a very well done due to RoG
providing the wings with the option of depicting the wings folded for storage or in place ready for flight. This is the first model of an aircraft that I have come across that offers the ability to accurately depict both wing configurations of the aircraft straight from the box and has me considering a second model so that I can depict both facets. The panel lines are again very nicely reproduced with a good well defined shallow panel lines. The control surfaces of the wings and the tail for that matter are not workable; RoG
do however provide the ability to show the control surfaces in any chosen position. The wings surfaces also feel as if they have the same fabric texture of the fuselage which is an area on which I am unclear if that is correct or not.
The floats on this model are yet again a very nice feature, with the fuel filler caps in the top of each float being well replicated. Each float does require the addition of a 30g weight to the front of them; however if you are opting to use the display base supplied with the kit and are intending to glue the model to it, the weight will not be needed. The rudder on each float also has the option of being displayed retracted or deployed. The support structure between the floats and the aircraft can from previous experience be difficult to get right; either the floats splay out or don’t sit quite right. RoG
looks to me to have designed the support legs and their connection points specifically to avoid this issue buy making the front and rear supports as single mouldings and it is my belief that this will avoid the issue I mentioned. One area that does cause me some concern is the rigging on the float support legs due to I believe it being difficult to keep taught without causing movement in the structures. I use to tackle this area on biplanes using fishing line pushed through pre drilled holes and secured with superglue, to tighten the lines up I would light a match, blow it out and then run it along the line, this caused the line to shrink in length until the desired tightness was achieved.
The radial engine is well replicated from the ignition harness, the cylinder heads, and propeller reduction gearbox through to the exhaust manifolds. There is a very small amount of flash on an area of the cylinder head assembly which will be easy to clean up and with careful painting the completed engine should I believe look very good. I am especially impressed with the ignition harness which is very well replicated, but this part will require a lot of care during removal from the sprue to prevent damaging it. It is also worth mentioning that you need to correctly orientate the engine due to the fuselage machine gun port. The engine covers can all be displayed open or closed, and it is worth considering having them open due to the good detail on the engine. The propeller in the kit has two options which are a fixed pitch prop or a variable pitch prop; I believe that most Arado Ar 196A-3’s would have had a variable pitch prop but you will need to check your reference to be sure.
The canopy of this kit is one area where RoG
has provided something a little different. All the canopies I have come across before have been moulded in complete sections, this model however provides flat portions that must be assembled. I was always a little concerned when attaching the canopy to a model in case glue got where it was not wanted or fogging occurred; this model due to all of the joints is at an even greater risk of a problem/accident occurring, there are also joining tabs on the parts which may be visible after construction. On the plus side the approach RoG
has taken does mean the clear portions are very thin and free of any distortions such as a magnifying effect.
Decals and Finishing Options
The decals in the product look good with perhaps a little concern about excess carrier film on some, this will be easily overcome with some careful trimming before wetting but it could have been removed at source before going in the box. There are two finishing options supplied in the kit which are;
- Arado Ar 196A-3 of III/KG 100 at Kalamaki, Crete; January 1943
- Arado Ar 196A-3 of Bordfliegergruppe 196 on board the German Battleship ‘Tirpitz’; Summer 1943
I believe that this is the best aircraft model I have seen judging purely from the parts and options, that I have seen from RoG
to date. The detail is by and large very good and has some very eye catching features to it. As with all models there are areas of concern which may or may not be an issue during construction, but only time will tell. The display options available straight from the box hold great appeal for me and do have me considering a second purchase of this model. It is my consideration that this model is the best I have come across taking into consideration detail, features, and cost, and unless someone can show me a model that can compete with what this model offers for £15.00 my opinion will not change.
Arado Ar 196A-3 inbox review
Eyes of the Kreigsmarine - AR 196, a photo feature by Bill Cross
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