Airfix 1/72 Arado Ar-196A-3

KIT #: 2019
PRICE: $8.99
DECALS: Two Options
REVIEWER: Greg Ewald
NOTES: Simple kit

HISTORY

Considered to be one of the most successful floatplane designs of the mid 1940’s, the Arado 196 was used by the German war machine on just about every theater of war (well, where there was water). The radial engine design beat out the competitors on every level, though it did have some issues with engine starting after being shipboard for too long.

The design was capable of carrying small bombs or charges, and had a rear gunner to try to fend off any Allied fighters zooming in. That would take some guts, as well as a lot of luck.

As far as the “lurk and look” mission it was designed for, the 196 was impeccable. Good wing loading and the ability to hover like a kestrel meant that the Arado was probably the cause of demise for many an Allied shipping convoy merchant, or a submarine that was unlucky enough to surface under its eyes.

This is a post war “what if” build…as far as I know, none of the 196’s made it to South America. 

 Brazil, 1947,  Six days out of Tapaua :

    The steady chirping of the poison dart frogs kept  Lorne’s teeth on edge, the constant “neek,neek,neek”  was enough to drive him insane, especially after two weeks of travel by river to meet this outpost in the middle of nowhere, South America.  He swatted at the cloud of mosquitoes that formed a halo around his blond hair with indifference, what was another bite or two, to add to the welts that crossed his fair skin ?  A sudden squeal rang through the forest canopy as some animal or the other became prey for yet another. The frogs were blessedly silent for a minute, and his eyes started to close…”neek.”  Then, “neek-neek”.    Now the whole damned chorus chimed in again, and the Doctor forced his weary eyes open to take in the dark water passing so slowly beneath the long boat,  the same green scenery with scattered patches of blue sky above that had been the rule since they had left the last village.

   Reaching behind him, he pulled out a bottle of the local beer and popped off the top with his Swiss knife. Warm.  He grimaced as he remembered the wonderful chilled pilsners he had consumed in the commissary of the Tirpitzufer, and wondered what had brought him around the world to this place, under the “guidance” of the American university.  Dr. Lorne Rottburg  snorted, and took another heavy sip of the foam, and remembered exactly why…he would have been hanging on the end of a Russian gibbet had not the scientific team from the United States managed to get him out of Berlin, and onto a cargo vessel headed for the new world.  He had to travel by boat, as his fear of heights precluded any possibility of aeronautical transport, the brave doctor’s knees would shake on even a short ladder.

   The others on the team from Miskatonic had flown in by air, aboard a refurbished Catalina, and were probably even now studying the artifacts, and relaxing in air conditioned  nissen huts, and drinking godamned cold beer. Perhaps next time, he would take a pill, maybe that would be enough.

    “Doktor,” came the voice of Je’sus, the guide, “the camp, she is there.” Pointing around the bend, Lorne could make out the bright silver tops of the arced metal, already beginning to gain the patina of steady humidity and stagnant air. The Catalina floated peacefully in the shallow lagoon, starkly white and clean in this miasma of rottenness. But what was that next to it, moored to the dock? 

    “Lieber Gott!” The words were expressed harshly, and his once sleep tired eyes sharpened quickly to take in the shape of a German floatplane, newly painted, but showing signs of age.  He knew  of no expeditions to this place from his homeland, and even so, this aircraft was not capable of making that long of a voyage. It had to have been brought here. But why? 

THE KIT

This is another typical Airfix offering, requiring the amounts of putty and patience needed to make the model look decent.  The neat thing is, the floats are wonderful, and really make this plane stick out from the other small scale kits available to the builder.

The styrene is of a good grade, easy to sand, easy to fill (thank the heavens above) and is molded very, very, very cleanly. I found absolutely zero sinkholes throughout the whole build!

You will have to use a mix of C/A and slow setting glue for this one, some bits have to be fitted into place and left to dry, others will need a quick fit.

It scales out very closely to the schematics available, and certainly has that bottom heavy droop common to the 196, without any weight in the nose. If you do want to weight it down, the massive cowling has plenty of room for lead.  A really neat aftermarket item would be a lead engine, but I couldn’t find any. Hmmm…? 

CONSTRUCTION

The one page, fold out instructions are typical for a small scale kit of this caliber, starting off with the cockpits.  They were too simplistic for me, so I added in some new seat detail made with sheet styrene and a little bit of masking tape.

I did not install the rear gunner’s seat until the fuselage was already assembled, trying to align everything at once would have been a logistical nightmare. The floats go together easily, and fit well, though the carriage for them does not at all. A lot of test fitting and sanding is required to get the supports into the fuselage bottom correctly, as well as a hefty dose of PSR.

This is a typical Airfix kit, and does need to have the seams and leading edges of the wings filled in lightly, and sanded down to eliminate any lines. Unusually, the surface detail is actually quite well done, and in scale, quite believable, so use a high grit paper.

Even more amazing, the clear parts are well formed, and not too thick. Heck, they even fit into the area where they belong!  I know, don’t panic.

The control surfaces are separate from the wings and tail, so you can place them how you want, and yes,  I did place them down for a reason (cut control cables).  The rudder was manually separated via the intervention of a razor saw. Yes, I did cut myself too.

One of the best features is the brilliant engineering of the floats, they are separated at the waterline! I painted the whole craft , then glued on the aluminium bottom half of the floats with CA, using laundry clasps to hold them tight. My wife will probably complain when she has metal finish on her undies. 

DIORAMA

 The dio came from a story I was working on, based upon a H.P. Lovecraft universe.  In this case, a wayward university came across a rotting plane in the jungles of South America, and refitted it to visit the highlands. Don’t worry, everybody dies. Horribly.

I made the base out of cement, and after it was cured, I stuck on the gravel mixture by using a light coat of white glue.

The freshwater stingray was made out of Sculpey clay, painted and glued in place underneath the “jungle hut”, which had a scratchbuilt  dock attached to it.  The hut itself is another Airfix offering which lends itself to dioramas, I made some miniature furniture for the inside, and printed out maps of the jungle and some motivational posters for the walls.

The water was a disaster that turned out well: I used a hot setting resin like a fool, one pour tinted green and brown about 1/4th thick over the base and my stingray and left to set up for a day.   The plane was put into position, and the second pour was laid on…but I mixed the stuff too hot, and began to panic as I watched the paint begin to melt off of the floats. Time for a stiff drink and thinking about having to rebuild the entire d’ thing…but after two hours, holy cow ! It came out wonderfully ! Just the breeze from outside (you do not pour this stuff inside) made for some cool water ripples, and the plane did not sink into oblivion, I guess it is just one of those mistakes that work out.

Like garlic chicken stir fry. 

COLORS & MARKINGS

The plane was painted in standard camouflage, then over washed with white. Yeah, it is time consuming, but it gives you the best reveal. I used dry transfers for the civilian markings to denote a Miskatonic Study Airplane, as described in the story.  I find myself using dry transfers more and more often (thanks Tank!) , not having to bother with setting solutions and wrinkles is addictive. Chuckle.

CONCLUSIONS

 Conclusion:  You know, for under ten bucks, this is a really stellar kit. It is one of the finest float planes ever to be built, and deserves to be seen more often at shows and on work benches. The Airfix offering is a fast build OOB, you could go crazy and superdetail it too.  Heck of a fun build in my opinion, and heavily recommended.  

REFEENCES

http://www.militaryfactory.com/aircraft/detail.asp?aircraft_id=320 

http://www.german-navy.de/kriegsmarine/aviation/shipbased/ar196/index.html

Greg Ewald

 September 2008

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