Arado Ar 196

The Ar 196 was a shipboard reconnaissance aircraft built by the German firm Arado starting in 1936. The next year it was selected as the winner of a design contest, and became the standard aircraft of the Kriegsmarine throughout World War II. 

Arado Ar 196
Class Aircraft
Type Reconnaissance
Manufacturer Arado Flugzeugwerke
Production Period 1938 - 1945
Origin Germany
Country Name Origin Year
Germany 1937
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Bulgaria View
Finland View
Germany 1938 View
Norway View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Arado Flugzeugwerke 1938 1945 541 View
In 1933, the Kriegsmarine looked for a standardized shipboard reconnaissance aircraft. After a brief selection period, the Reichsluftfahrtministerium (German Air Ministry, RLM) decided on the Heinkel He 60 biplane. This was one of a line of developments of a basic biplane airframe that appeared as a number of floatplanes, trainers, and fighters. Deliveries started in a matter of months.

By 1935, it was found that the He 60's performance was lacking and the RLM asked Heinkel to design its replacement. The result was the He 114. The first prototype was powered by the Daimler-Benz DB 600 inline engine, but it was clear that supplies of this engine would be limited and the production versions turned to the BMW 132 radial engine instead.

The plane proved to have only slightly better performance than the He 60, and its sea-handling was poor. Rushed modifications resulted in a series of nine prototypes in an attempt to solve some of the problems, but they didn't help much. The Navy gave up, and the planes were eventually sold off to Romania, Spain and Sweden.

In October 1936, the RLM asked for a He 114 replacement. The only stipulations were that it would use the BMW 132, and they wanted prototypes in both twin-float and single-float configurations. Designs were received from Dornier, Gotha, Arado and Focke-Wulf. Heinkel declined to tender, contending that the He 114 could still be made to work.

With the exception of the Arado low-wing monoplane design, all were conventional biplanes. That gave the Arado better performance than any of the others and the RLM ordered four prototypes. The RLM was also rather conservative by nature, so they also ordered two of the Focke-Wulf Fw 62 design as a backup. It quickly became clear that the Arado would work effectively, and only four prototypes of the Fw 62 were built.

The Ar 196 prototypes were all delivered in summer 1937, V1 (which flew in May) and V2 with twin floats as A models, and V3 and V4 on a single float as B models. Both versions demonstrated excellent water handling and there seemed to be little to decide one over the other. Since there was a possibility of the smaller outrigger floats on the B models "digging in", the twin-float A model was ordered into production. A single additional prototype, V5, was produced in November 1938 to test final changes.

10 A-0s were delivered in November and December 1938, with a single 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 15 machine gun in the rear seat for defense. Five similarly equipped B-0s were also delivered to land-based squadrons. This was followed by 20 A-1 production models starting in June 1939, enough to equip the surface fleet.

Starting in November, production switched to the heavier land-based A-2 model. It added shackles for two 50 kg (110 lb) bombs, two 20 mm MG FF cannons in the wings, and a 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 17 machine gun in the cowling. The A-4 replaced it in December 1940, strengthening the airframe, adding another radio, and switching props to a VDM model. The apparently mis-numbered A-3, which had additional strengthening of the airframe, replaced the A-4. The final production version was the A-5 from 1943, which changed radios and cockpit instruments, and switched the rear gun to the much-improved MG 81Z. Overall, 541 Ar 196s (15 prototypes and 526 production models) were built before production ended in August 1944, about 100 of these from SNCA and Fokker plants.

The Ar 196C was a proposed aerodynamically-refined version. The Ar 196C project was cancelled in 1941.

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 196s just for 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.

Arado in Allied hands

The first Arado Ar 196 to fall into allied hands was an example belonging to the German cruiser Admiral Hipper, which was captured in Lyngstad, Eide, by a Norwegian Marinens Flyvebaatfabrikk M.F.11 seaplane of the Tr√łndelag naval district on 8 April 1940, at the dawn of the Norwegian Campaign. After being towed to Kristiansund by the torpedo boat HNoMS Sild, it was used against its former owners, flying with Norwegian markings. At 03:30 on 18 April, the Arado was evacuated to the UK by a Royal Norwegian Navy Air Service pilot. The plane was shortly thereafter crashed by a British pilot while on transit to the Helensburgh naval air base for testing. At the end of the war, at least one Arado Ar 196 was left at a Norwegian airfield and kept in use as a liaison aircraft by the Royal Norwegian Air Force for a year on the West coast.

Role Reconnaissance
Manufacturer Arado
Designer Walter Blume
First flight May 1937
Introduction November, 1938
Primary users Kriegsmarine
Bulgarian Air Force
Finnish Air Force
Romanian Air Force
Produced 1938-44
Number built 541


General characteristics

  • Crew: Two (pilot and observer)
  • Length: 11.7 m (38 ft 6 in)
  • Wingspan: 15.1 m (49 ft 6 in)
  • Height: 5 m (16 ft 5 in)
  • Wing area: 37.9 m (408 ft)
  • Empty weight: 2,980 kg (6,580 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 3,720 kg (8,200 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 x Bramo 323 9-cylinder radial engine, 620 kW (830 hp)

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 311 km/h (193 mph)
  • Range: 1,080 km (670 mi)
  • Service ceiling 7,010 m (23,000 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 300 m/s (980 ft/min)
  • Wing loading: 98.2 kg/m (20.1 lb/ft)
  • Power/mass: 167 W/kg (0.101 hp/lb)

Armament

  • Guns:
    • 1 x 7.92 mm (0.31 in) MG 15 machine gun
    • 1 x 7.92 mm (0.31 in) MG 17 machine gun
    • 2 x 20 mm MG FF cannons
  • Bombs: 2 x 50 kg (110 lb) bombs

End notes