Heller 1/72 Arado Ar-196

KIT #: 241
DECALS: Two options
NOTES: Did it this way for fun and for the difference


Conceived in 1936 as a ship-based utility & spotter aircraft, the two-seater Arado Ar.196 became the standard floatplane to equip Major Fleet Units of the Kreigsmarine during WWII. Allied reports advised that it was fast and well-armed. With two wing-mounted 20mm cannons and a 7.9mm machinegun beside its single engine, the Ar.196 was better-armed than any other small floatplane. Additional armament included one or two machineguns for the backseater, and two 50KG/110lb bombs. Even after the demise of the Kreigsmarine’s large ships and the appearance of better RAF Coastal Command aircraft (like the Mosquito and the Beaufighter), the Ar.196 continued to serve as a coastal patrol aircraft in the Baltic and Mediterranean Sea.

Tintin is a comic strip character created by Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi (under the nom d’ plume of Herge). He is a young Belgian reporter who (with his friends & associates) gets involved in many adventures involving spys, organised criminals, explorers &/or revolutionaries in Belgium or foreign countries (or seas). Several different aircraft are depicted in his adventures. Some are generic or fanciful, but many are clearly recognisable, because Remi was big on research and a great artist. In his adventure to the Southern Ocean to find a gigantic meteorite ([Tintin and] The Shooting Star), Tintin beats a rival group to claim possession of the meteorite by parachuting onto it from his ship’s aircraft. Due to Herge’s faithful drawings, it was easy for me to identify that the ship’s aircraft was clearly an Ar.196.

As I enjoy the books, cartoons and movie/s of Tintin, and as I am a model builder, it was no great leap for me to decide to build Tintin’s Ar.196. The fact that we have a local modelling competition approaching (Sep 16), with a theme category of ‘Yellow’, served as additional incentive. Any modelling competition within reach should be supported by we modellers.


In 72-scale, Ar.196 kits are produced by Airfix (which I’ve built), Pavla and Revell. But this is the Heller/Encore kit. It’s raised, but petit, detail reveals its age. And there are many small parts (especially under the wings). The cockpit is basic with accurate-looking instrument panels. There are bomb racks moulded under the wings, but unfortunately, no bombs are provided. The parts show two omissions. There is no floor for the gunner, and there is a square hole in the pilot’s floor. The kit’s strength is the use of large(ish) plates on the tips of the struts to attach them to the wings, fuselage, and the upper sides of the floats.

As this is an old kit, I musta bought it a long time ago, or when I saw it cheap. The kit’s age is also revealed by the inclusion of swastikas on the decal sheet (for how long now have models been politically correct?) The Rumanian crosses are slightly out of register but that’s OK, because the decal-placement instructions show them positioned correctly, but equally out of register. The modeller must paint-on the Rumanian rudder stripes because they aren’t supplied as decals.

About six-months before the target competition, I excavated this kit from my stash (I knew it was there because my database said so) because I didn’t have a suitable model to suit the ‘Yellow’ theme. Naturally, I first refreshed my recollection of the plane’s details by reacquainting myself with the comic. It has an all-over yellow coat, with a light grey cowling and black underwing struts. It sports the letters FERS along the side of the rear fuselage in black (though in other frames of the comic, the letters are EFSR).


My plan was to paint the fuselage black, mask-off the letters (identical on both sides), then (under advice from another modeller) to undercoat the model with an experimental sable, and finally, a bright yellow top coat. Midway through the build, I would attached the struts to the floats (then rig them) and then to the plane. The clear bits and the cowling would be added last.

The build commenced when I painted the inside of the fuselage (and its bits) with Citadel Miniatures (CM) dawnstone (a medium grey) and all needed bits (including the IPs and the fuselage sides) with CM chaos black. One of the most fiddley and time-consuming aspects of the build was removing the mould-seams from the struts (before I could paint them black). As the paint dried, I hastily entombed two tubular fishing sinkers into the front half of each float, with lengths of sprue to keep them there (only moderately successful). I also worked at cutting/sanding-off the bomb racks, and filling the nose gun trough. The only detail I added while assembling the cockpit, were seatbelts replicated by strips of tape. You may question why I left-on the nose gun blister & the wing cannon blisters. The answer is that there is no logical reason to remove them as someone (who is intelligent & handsome, like me) would probably realise that they could store (survival? contraband?) stuff in there, and that the existing blisters would give them(/me) a bit more room.

The only real problem I encountered was the poor fit of the wings. The two upper halves fit great onto the single-piece lower wing, but that assembly wouldn’t fit well against both sides of the fuselage. Or, the two would fit beautifully against the fuselage, but were then askew from the lower piece. Rats! My method was to attach the lower piece under the fuselage, then the upper halves to the fuselage sides at the wing roots, and then to glue them together as best I could. Despite my best efforts, the wing edges still some trimming. If I had more motivation, I would have removed the solid chin-mounted radiator, and replaced it with a more realistic-looking one. (I did on the Airfix kit because it was poorly mounded).

While showing-off my in-progress Arado, another modeller commented that the decals for this aircraft were available in the Comic Designs series from Blue Rider (in England). Obviously, there are other modellers who are as nutty as I am. Being lazy (as well), I ordered two ‘Aircraft of Tintin’ sheets, and continued the build as I waited for them to arrive.


The cockpit well was stuffed with a bit of packing sponge before I squirted her with Tamiya XF.4 yellow-green, then XF.3 yellow. The airframe was complete, but the struts and floats were all separate items. With the yellow dry, I re-painted the struts CM chaos black. In truth, I had to redo the struts because I’d forgotten to spray all of the contact pads (and the horn balances) – Double Rats!! The engine bits & cowling were all brush-painted with CM colours.

The whole fuselage was brush-painted with Future before applying the decals. It is prudent to say a few words about the decals and the decal art. “The Shooting Star” comic book was published first in a Belgian version, then an English version. In the Belgian version, the expedition was conducted by the FERS (the Fonds Européen de Recherches Scientifiques) and the aircraft was painted in three shades of light grey. In the English version, (ya know that we Australians speak proper English, ‘ay. And the Brits and the Americans each have a heavily-accented form of it) the expedition was mounted by the EFSR (the European Foundation for Scientific Research) and the plane was depicted as I’ve built her. This explains why, in one of the comic’s panels, the letters are in the wrong order. These initials are emblazoned on the sides of the rear fuselage, and they are the aircraft’s only markings. The Blue Rider decal sheets (there are two identical sheets) allows the modeller can build either version (or both).

The comic shows that the rear half of the undersides of the floats are black, as are their front caps. Additionally, there is a small white (or silver?) highlight on the very-front tip of each float. These are not shown on the Blue Rider decal placement artwork, so it is a good thing that my children have the (English) comic book. I took the book reference as THE definitive reference.

The only kit decals I might have used were the first-aid kit indicators on the outside of the fuselage (on the Luftwaffe aircraft), but they would have had to go over the top of a bit of the lettering – so I didn’t.



The three clear bits were attached, and the framing done with strips of black tape. How come the Arado didn’t have one more clear piece to close-off the rear canopy? The engine was attached to the front firewall and the cowling was clamped around it. Unfortunately, Heller moulded the engine upside-down, so now the cowling is also upside-down – Triple Rats!!! For a touch of colour, I added dots of tinted Krystal Kleer to the wingtips to produce the formation lights. I dunno where they were really located on the real aircraft. There were only little bits to add now – the horn balances, antenna mast, pitot tube and 3-piece propeller. Add the antenna wire from a bit of black EZ-Line, and she was done. Nope – under the fuselage was a post that the ship’s catapult pushed-on to launch the aircraft. The comic and decal drawings don’t show it, so I lopped it off. Then the mast snapped in half, so I lopped off the rest and replaced it with a piece of steel that won’t hold paint – Rats, Rats and Double Rats!!!!



This is another build that I can cross-off my bucket list. I dunno how it’ll go in the competition, because that’s still a ways off. The kit itself is successful because it looks like an Ar.196. The Heller offering has both strength and weaknesses when compared to other kits, but I would still recommend it to other modellers (of all ages).



Just the kit instructions, the decal-placement artwork and the comic-book.

George Oh

13 September 2016

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