Revell 1/32 Arado Ar-196A-3

KIT #: 04688-0389
PRICE: Yen 5,600 SRP - Yen 3,920 (30% off!) At HLJ
DECALS: Three Options
REVIEWER: Tom Cleaver



             Following Hitler’s decision to create the Wehrmacht, the Kriegsmarine set out a requirement for a shipboard reconnaissance floatplane that resulted in the Heinkel He-60 biplane.  Performance was lacking, and a 1935 request for submissions resulted in the He-114, powered by the DB 600 engine.  Since supplies of this powerplant were limited, the Kriegsmarine requested that Heinkel resubmit the airplane with a radial engine.  The performance of this version was not substantially better than the He-60.  At this point, the process was opened to other manufacturers.

             Designs were received from Dornier, Gotha, Arado and Focke‑Wulf.  With the exception of the submission from Arado, all were traditional open cockpit biplanes.  Arado’s monoplane Ar-196 was far superior to the competition, and four prototypes were ordered.  Two had single main floats with stabilizing floats below the wings, and two had twin floats.  The twin-float Ar-196A version was accepted, as being more stable on the open ocean.

             20 Ar-196A-1 versions were produced in the summer of 1939.  Production changed to the land-based Ar-196A-2 in November 1939.  This version featured increased armament of two 20mm cannon in the wings and underwing shackles for two 50-kg bombs, in addition to the 7.62mm machine gun in the forward fuselage and flexible 7.62mm weapon for the observer of the Ar-196A-1.  In December 1940, the Ar-196A-4 was introduced into production with a strengthened airframe, an additional radio, and a VDM prop. The “mis-numbered” Ar-196A-3 entered production in 1941, with additional airframe strengthening.  The Ar-196A-5 was the final production version, introduced in 1943.  Production ceased in 1944.

             The Ar-196A was popular with pilots for its maneuverability and sea-keeping, and was introduced to the coastal reconnaissance units as their main aircraft. 

             The Ar-196A initially equipped Bordfliegerstaffeln 1./196 and 5./196, with first airplane going aboard Admiral Graf Spee in August 1939 just before the pocket battleship left Kiel a week before the outbreak of war, to take up position in the South Atlantic as a raider.  The Arado was used for spotting targets of opportunity, but was damaged before the Battle of the River Plate. 

             In the spring of 1940, 1.Kustenfliegergruppe 706 was formed with Ar-196s and He-115s.  On May 5, 1940, two Ar-196A-2s of this unit captured the submarine HMS Seal, operating in the Kattegat.  In April 1941, four Ar-196A-4s of  Bordfliegerstaffel 1./196  went aboard the battleship Bismarck before her ill-fated mission into the north Atlantic.  Two were launched to drive away shadowing Catalina flying boats during the mission, but were unrecoverable in the wintry seas of the Denmark Strait.  Bordfliegerstaffel 5./196 was based on the Biscay coast operating out of Bordeaux in 1941-42, assigned to hunt RAF Whitley bombers of Coastal Command that patrolled the routes the U-boats used to enter and leave their bases.  The Ar-196s were so successful that Coastal Command was forced to replace the Whitleys with Beaufighters.  Ar-196s also operated be See Aufklarungsstaffeln in Norway and the Black Sea, as well as the Aegean Sea.  Ar-196s were also operated by the Romanian and Bulgarian Air Forces in the Black Sea region, the only use of the aircraft by foreign air forces.

             At least 3 Ar 196As survived the war.  One is now displayed in the Maritime Museum at Varna, Bulgaria; one is at  the Smithsonian Institution, and one was at Willow Grove Naval Station in Pennsylvania.


            This is the second Ar-196A kit in this scale (the first being the HPM all-resin/very-expensive kit released a year before this kit), and makes up into the “classic” Ar-196A-3.  The first Ar-196A (that I am aware of) was a 1/72 kit released by Airfix back in the late 1960s.  HiPM and MPM both released 1/48 kits of the airplane.  This kit leaves all others in the dust.  The surface detail is superb, and the kit provides a fully-detailed cockpit and an engine with accessories section.  The model can be assembled with wings folded or extended.  Decals are provided for three different aircraft.


            Much has been made of what a bargain this kit is, given that its sale price is around $40.  However, there is the old saying “you get what you pay for,” and in fact it is pretty obvious once you get into the project that it was very definitely “produced at a price.”  Fit is not as good as one might initially expect.  As with many kits that come with dropped flaps, wings that can be folded, and open engines, it turns out that the kit is best built in the “opened up” option, since the lack of good overall fit is much less obvious in that configuration.  Thus, if one opts to extend the wings or close up the cowling, things become “fiddly.”

             I built the model as sub-assemblies, starting with the wings and the pontoons, then working on the fuselage.  I pre-painted everything in the cockpit.  There are no instrument decals provided, so I used the AirScale 1/32 Luftwaffe Instruments decal sheet.  The kit does not provide seatbelts, rather molding some inaccurate belts into the pilot’s seat and the observer’s seat.  Since the model was not going to a show but rather out to the Planes of Fame Museum, I decided to live with the seatbelts and painted them after painting all the overall interior in Xtracrylix RLM02.  I painted other detail in the cockpit per the instructions (I really hate Revell “instructions” - they should be called “the guessing game,” since that is what you spend a lot of time doing). 

             There was some difficulty in installing the cockpit into the fuselage, mostly due to my inability to decipher the vague instructions.  Once I had figured out the hard way what had to be where, things went together easily.  It you start assembling the cockpit interior by including the large section of structure below the fuselage floor from the outset, things will come together much easier.

             Getting the cowling to close around the engine was “fiddly” in the extreme.  I test-fitted, glued, pulled loose and refitted all the interior structure twice and finally discovered that the easy way was to put the formers onto the engine before attaching anything else, then attaching the cowl panels, then attaching the rear part worked best.  Even then things did not go together all that smoothly, which became apparent when I painted the model.  Oh well, it’s going to sit behind glass at a minimum of 3 feet from the viewer, and no IPMS geek will ever get his mitts on it, so all is as well as it gets.  If you plan to show this model at a show, you will need to spend more time fitting things, and perhaps you will indeed want to display things opened up.

             The wings needed a bit of “urge” (i.e., pushing and shoving) to get them to attach properly in the open position.  Warning: do not attach any of the small parts like the aileron balances, the pitot tube, the steps on the float struts, or anything else like that until you are in the final assembly stage after you have painted the model and applied the decals.  These parts are delicate and easy to knock off (ask me how I found out!).

             I do not understand why Revell decided to make the canopy as they did.  This idiotic design is guaranteed to give you several opportunities to get glue on the clear areas.  All I can say is take your time and be very, very, very careful.  I assembled this closed up since there was no cockpit detail I was anxious to display, and it will keep the dust out over the years out at the museum.

             With the airframe assembled and the pontoons assembled, it was time to paint the thing.


             I followed the kit painting profiles.  I used Tamiya “Light Blue” which is RLM65 Hellblau for the lower surfaces.  For the upper surfaces, I created RLM73 using Tamiya “Dark Green” (RLM71) with some RAF Ocean Grey mixed in, while the RLM72 was created with Tamiya “Black Green” and RAF Ocean Grey.  The lower cowling panel was painted Tamiya “Flat Yellow” and the forward part of the prop spinner was painted Gunze “German Red.”  The prop and the rest of the spinner were painted Tamiya “Black Green.”

            I used the kit decals to do the Ar-196A-3 that was based aboard the Tirpitz, since the model will eventually be displayed on the HPM resin German Navy catapult. The kit decals went down without problem, and I used a SuperScale swastika decal to finish things off.


             I attached the floats.  There is a problem in doing this, because if you assemble the wing the fit the wing root it will have a degree or so too much dihedral, which means the outer float struts won’t easily attach in their designed location.  A bit of industrial-strength bending (just to the point of starting to crack the upper seam) brought the wings into proper dihedral and all was attached.  Again, if you do this with the wings folded, this will not be a problem. 

             I did very little weathering on this airplane, because the original probably wasn’t flown that often, being based aboard Tirpitz, the German battleship that never went anywhere.  Because it was aboard a battleship, where the Golden Rule (in any Navy) is “if it moves, salute it, and if it doesn’t move, paint it,” these would have been very well-maintained airplanes, since their crews had little else to do with them.


            If you like floatplanes, this is a wonderful kit.  It’s a whole lot cheaper than the resin 1/32 kit and a whole lot better than the other Ar-196 kits in the other scales.  If you go into the project knowing it wasn’t designed and produced by Tamiya and act accordingly, you’ll have a nice result.  It’s not a limited-run kit, but if you follow the rules for a limited-run kit (test fit three times before gluing once), you’ll do well.  You’ll have a much easier time if you do it opened up with the wings folded, but then you need to detail that accessories section if you don’t want it to scream “half-built model” at the world.  Recommended for those who like models that aren’t found in the middle of the beaten path.

 Review kit courtesy of HobbyLink Japan: order yours at

Tom Cleaver

August 2011

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