MPM 1/48 Ar-231 v1






One aircraft


Scott Van Aken


Short run with resin bits and vac canopy


Prior to the start of WWII, it was felt that it would be an advantage to have a scouting aircraft that was capable of being carried aboard a submarine. This would effectively extend the visible range of the sub and allow for greater information regarding finding and eventually sinking enemy shipping.  To the goal, a specification was presented to Arado in 1940 to build such a plane.

The requirement was that it be able to be stowed inside a 2 meter container. As such, it had to be simple in design and easily assembled for flight and stowage. Six prototypes were completed in 1941. The aircraft appearing rather odd with its kink in the wing to enhance stowage and the shortened tail fin. Since speed wasn't really a requirement, a 160 HP Hirth six cylinder inverted inline air-cooled engine was installed.

It was obvious from the beginning that this was a design that wasn't going to work well. It was difficult to handle both on the water and in the air. It was also realized that the U-boat would have to stay stationary during the recovery period, rendering it vulnerable to enemy attack. As a result, the program was cancelled in 1941, later to be replaced by the much more useful Focke-Achgelis Fa-330 towable helicopter.

However, the story of the Ar-231 does not end there. One was actually used by the auxiliary cruiser (often called 'Q-ships'), Stier and perhaps a few other similar ships during WWII. The main difference in the aircraft was the addition of small plates on the end of shortened tailplanes (undoubtedly to improve  stability). From the photos I have seen of these planes, other than the prototype,  only wing insignia was carried with the fuselage and fin being bare of any markings. I'd be interested in hearing from anyone with additional info on operational use of this interesting little floatplane.




In the continuing quest for things Luftwaffe to put into kit form, MPM has decided on the Ar-231 for its attentions. I'm sure that there will be many folks who will buy this one and use it for loft insulation as I really don't expect to see many of these on the contest tables. You know, it is just a personal observation, but I see darn few of these limited run kits on the contest circuit. Much of what is there are the shake and bake kits, not really interesting stuff like this one.

Anyway, there are three sprues; one for fuselage and floats, one for wings and tail planes and the other for strut bits. In fact, you'll find a lot of strut bits as this plane was lousy with struts. You have to remember that this was a 'some assembly required' aircraft, so the crews were expected to put the big pieces together to make a plane. Just looking at the box art shows all the joins and clamps that this thing had. Not exactly aerodynamic, but sufficient. The sprue attachment points are fairly large for a modern short run kit, so great care needs to be taken removing the struts as MPM plastic is prone to snapping fairly easily. I'd recommend a fine razor saw for most  part removal on this one.

The resin bits are pretty well limited to the interior and to the false engine front and spinner. I highly recommend putting weight in the front of the pontoons to prevent tail sitting. The decal sheet is for two aircraft which differ only by the last digit of the radio call sign. Both are overall RLM 02. I've never seen a photo of KK+BQ so have no idea if there was such an aircraft.



Here is a great example of the weird and wonderful of short run kits. Where else will you find such an oddity? If you like these prototype aircraft as I know I do, then this is one to add to you list of kits to get.

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