Revell 1/32 Ar-196A-3

KIT #: 04688
PRICE: $38.95 SRP
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Tom Cleaver
NOTES:  

HISTORY

             After two botched attempts (the He-60 and He-114) at creating a shipboard reconnaissance seaplane for the Kriegsmarine, the Reichluftfartministerium (RLM) put out a request for proposals in 1936 to Dornier, Arado, Gotha and Focke-Wulf, with the only stipulation being that the aircraft selected must be powered by the BMW 132 radial engine. Aradoís monoplane design was clearly superior to the other proposals which were all biplanes, and four prototypes were ordered, which were delivered in 1937.  After testing both the twin float and single center float configuration, production was centered on a twin-float seaplane. Ten Ar-196A-0s were delivered in November-December 1938, with 20 Ar-196A-1s starting in the summer of 1939, enough to equip the fleet.  One of the first of these aircraft went aboard the Panzerschiffe ďAdmiral Graf SpeeĒ in time to accompany the ship when it left on its raider mission that August.  This would be the first Ar-196A to see combat, and the first lost when Graf Spee was scuttled in Montevideo that December.

            In November 1939, production moved on to the heavier land‑based Ar-196A‑2, which added shackles for two 50 kg bombs, and increased armament to two 20 mm MG FF cannons in the wings, and a 7.92 mm MG 17 machine gun in the cowling. Production turned to the Ar-196A‑4 in December 1940, with a strengthened airframe, and a second radio, changing props to a VDM model. The mis‑numbered A‑3 replaced the A‑4, again with additional strengthening of the airframe. The final production version was the A‑5, which changed radios and cockpit instruments, with a much‑improved MG 81Z in the rear cockpit. 541 Ar 196s were built before production ended in August 1944.

            The Ar-196 was loved by its pilots, since it handled well both in the air and on the water. Following the loss of the German surface fleet, the aircraft were transferred to coastal squadrons, and flew reconnaissance missions and submarine hunts into late 1944. Two notable operations were the capture of HMS Seal, and the repeated interception of RAF Whitley bombers. Although the Ar-196A was no match for a fighter, it stood head and shoulders above its Allied counterparts, and is generally considered the best shipboard seaplane ever flown.

            The Finnish Air Force used the Ar-196 to transport and supply special forces patrols behind enemy lines, the aircraft landing on small lakes in remote areas, carrying 3-4 fully‑ equipped soldiers in the fuselage.

THE KIT

            This is the first injection-molded kit of the Ar-196A in 1/32 scale, and one of only three mainstream kits produced, the others being a now-elderly 1/72 kit from Airfix and a fairly recent 1/48 kit from Italerei.  Additionally, both MPM and HiPM produced 1/48 limited-run kits of the airplane.  This Revell Germany kit is easily the best in any scale.

            The kit is beautifully detailed, with a fully-complete interior including a full fuselage frame, a detailed BMW 132 engine and a full powerplant accessories compartment.  The cockpit and engine are so well detailed they are stand-alone models themselves.

            The kit offers the option of assembly with wings folded or spread, and offers nearly foolproof assembly and attachment for the floats and struts, which have always been problematic on other kits.

            Surface detail is outstanding, with the most realistic creation of fabric-covered surfaces I have seen in any model. (Editor's note: I've shown about half of the sprues that come with the kit. It really is a lot of plastic for your $40)

            Decals are provided for an Ar-196A-3 aboard the battleship Tirpitz in 1942-43, and another attached to a coastal unit in the Aegean, also circa 1943. (Editor's note: I'm sure Revell has you mixing external paint colors. Maritime aircraft were RLM 72/73/65)

CONCLUSIONS

            This is truly one of the best 1/32 kits I have seen from any manufacturer.  The quality of design, the quality and detail of the moldings, is simply superb.  Even if you donít like Luftwaffe subjects, seaplanes or 1/32 scale models, this kit is a must-have just because it is such a great kit.  Did I mention itís only $38.95, without any discounts?  It would be fine at twice the price, given the quality of whatís in the box, but when that quality is added to this low price, this kit is easily The Deal Of The Century.

Review kit courtesy of my wallet.

Tom Cleaver

January 2011

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