Encore/Heller 1/72 Ar-196

KIT #: 1011
PRICE: 5 Euros
DECALS: Three Options
REVIEWER: Carmel J. Attard


The Arado 196 was designed primarily to replace the Heinkel He-60 biplane floatplane, then currently in service on all Germany’s capital ships. This was also one of the few seaplanes to see service in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Its primary duties consisted of reconnaissance and shadowing of surface vessels. Whereas in most respects the Ar-196 were relegated to sea patrols from shore bases, about 50 Arado-196s served with Baltic Air Forces in the Adriatic and Black Sea.

 There were models A, B, C originally built by Arado Flagzeugwerke GmbH and over 500 were built. First flight took place in May 1938, and service delivery August 1st 1939. Arado 196A-3were powered by 9 cylinder radial BMW 132K engine of 960hp. Arado 196A-0 was a pre production batch of 10 aircraft, fitted with bomb racks and rear machine guns only. Arado 196A-1, a batch of 20 built in 1939for operations from major warships. These included Admiral Graf Spee, Sharnhorst, Admiral Scheer, Prinz Eugen and Admiral Hipper. Arado 196A-2 was a coastal patrol version. Arado 192A-2 and A-3 had twin MG FF 20mm cannons in outer wings, one MG17 7.92mm in top decking, one 7.92MG 15 on pivot mount aimed by observer. Arado 196 attained a speed of 193mph at 13,120 ft and a cruising speed of 158mph. Service ceiling 22,960 ft and a range of 670 miles at 158 mph. The Arado 196 was known for its rugged construction…see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vnhze7UiGbU .

 The plane was loved by its pilots, who found it handled well both in the air and on the water. With the loss of the German surface fleet the A-1s were added to coastal squadrons, and continued to fly reconnaissance missions and submarine hunts into late 1944. Two notable operations were the capture of  HMS Seal and the repeated interception of RAF Armstrong Whitworth Whitley bombers. Although it was no match for a fighter, it was considerably better than its allied counterparts, and generally considered the best of its class. Owing to its good handling on water, the Finnish Air Force utilized Ar 196 solely on transporting and supplying special forces patrols behind enemy lines, landing on small lakes in remote areas. Several fully equipped soldiers were carried in the fuselage.

Despite the fact that Bulgaria did not declare war on the Soviet Union, the only European Axis country not to do so, Soviet "shtuka" attack submarines, as well as torpedo boats frequently assaulted Axis ships, layed mines and bombed Bulgarian ports. In early 1943 the Tsardom of Bulgaria purchased 12 Ar-196A-3 floatplanes to replace its aging Letov S-328s, He-42s and He-60s, used to escort Bulgarian and Axis convoys in the Black Sea. These ex-German Arado-196s were completely overhauled by German factories in late 1942. The planes, bearing white numbers, were assigned to 161-во водосамолетно ято (161st Coastal Yato-floatplane squadron) at the Chaika waterway. Their task was mainly to hunt for submarines. The planes were in active wartime duty until autumn 1944, and served in the Bulgarian Air Force until the late 40's. The |Arado-196m Akula was among the best float-equipped reconnaissance fleet, being right at the forefront of Vazdushni Voiski in the early 40s. The Werknummern of the 12 aircraft are:
0219, 0244, 0245, 0247, 0252, 0253, 0255, 0256, 0257, 0258, 0261, 0262 . The preserved aircraft at Varna is WNr.0219.


The Arado 196 kit is a Heller mold although boxed in the Encore packing. There is an improvement in decal sheet over the Heller original release. The kit is molded in soft white acetate but has raised panel lines being one of Heller early releases going back to mid 70s. It is accurate in shape though there is presence of ejector pin marks on some parts, along with very little flash. The cockpit office has a seat; control stick, rudder pedals and instrument panel with raised dials, while another seat fitted at the back for the observer operates a twin mount machine gun. Instructions are in English and colors are listed in RLM numbers where appropriate. There are markings for three aircraft: a Romanian AF, Bulgarian AF and a Luftwaffe machine. These are all in RLM72 dark green upper and light blue grey RLM65 undersides with yellow RLM 04, axis recognition areas. 


The kit was a straight forward built with fit of parts good and with little effort and with adequate reference material one could even make the wings folded. Engine detail is as expected good quality having a good amount of parts to enable a complete engine and cowling sub assembly in no time. Floats with struts fitted were another sub assembly while the fuselage with all the interior details was treated as another assembly having all the interior parts pre painted. In the end all the items were joined together and the true shape of the Arado 196 was complete and the only extra items added were the aerial which was made out of bent wire, while the strut rigging around the floats were made out of invisible thread. A couple of crew figures from my spares box were added to the cockpit.


Paintwork was as described earlier using Model Master brand enamel paint. Decals were of good quality and the white floor of the Bulgarian insignia was opaque. Decals were applied with ease.


Building the kit was fun and this was considered as a fast build. I have plans to add another Bulgarian Ar-196 with a difference in the markings as it carried 3 different types of national insignia signifying the period when the type served in Bulgaria. If one missed the Heller kit then the Encore is highly recommended. It was now time to picture the Arado flying on one of the bays around.

Carmel J. Attard

April 2012

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