Arado Ar 196

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Arado Ar 196
Missing image

First FlightMay, 1937
Entered ServiceNovember, 1938
Length11.7 m38ft 6in
Wingspan15.1 m49ft 6in
Height5 m16ft 5in
Wing Area37.9 m²408 ft²
Empty2,980 kg6,580 lb
Loaded3,720 kg8,200 lb
Maximum takeoff kg lb
EngineBramo 323
Power620 kW830 hp
Maximum speed311 km/h @ 3,960 m193 mph @ 13,000 ft
Combat range1,080 km670 miles
Ferry range km miles
Service ceiling7,010 m23,000 ft
Rate of climb300 m/min980 ft/min
Wing loading98.2 kg/m²20.1 lb/ft²
Power/mass167 W/kg0.101 hp/lb
GunsMG 15 + MG 17 machine guns + 2 × MG FF cannon
Bombs2 × 50 kg bombs

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



In 1933 the German Navy looked for a standardized shipboard reconnaissance aircraft. After a brief selection period the RLM decided on the Heinkel He 60 biplane. This was one of a line of developments of a basic biplane frame that appeared as a number of floatplanes, trainers, and even the He 51 fighter. Deliveries started in a matter of months.

By 1935 it was clear that the performance of the He 60 was lacking, and the RLM asked Heinkel to design its replacement. The result was the He 114. Depending on how you looked at it you could call it a radical sesquiplane, or a parasol monoplane with stubby supports where a lower wing would have been. The first prototype was powered by the Daimler-Benz DB 600, but it was clear even then 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 it replaced, and its sea-handling was atrocious. 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 engine, and they wanted prototypes in both twin-float and single-float configurations. Designs were received from Dornier, Gotha, Arado and Focke-Wulf. Heinkel sat it out, thinking that the 114 could still be made to work.

With the exception of the Arado design, they were all 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 Fw 62 design as a backup. It quickly became clear that the Arado would work fine, and the Fw 62 was built only as the V-1 and V-2 prototypes.


The Ar 196 prototypes were all delivered in summer of 1937, V-1 (which flew in May) and V-2 with twin-floats as A models, and V-3 and V-4 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, V-5, was produced in November 1938 to test final changes.

Early models

Ten A-0's were delivered in November and December 1938, with a single MG 15 in the rear seat for defense. Five similarly-equipped B-0's were also delivered to land-based squadrons. This was followed by twenty A-1 production models starting in June 1939, enough to equip the surface fleet.

Later models

Starting in November production switched to the heavier 'land based' A-2 model. It added shackles for two 50kg bombs, two 20mm MG-FF cannons in the wings, and a 7.92mm MG 17 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 replaced the A-4, with additional strengthening of the airframe. The final production version was the A-5 from 1943, which changed radios, cockpit instruments, and switched the rear gun to the much-improved MG 81Z. 541 Ar 196's of all versions (526 production models) were built before production ended in August 1944, about 100 of these from SNCA and Fokker plants.

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-1's 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.

Related content
Related Development
Similar Aircraft
Designation Series

DFS 193 - DFS 194 - Ar 195 - Ar 196 - Ar 197 - Ar 198 - Ar 199

Related Lists

List of military aircraft of Germany

Lists of Aircraft | Aircraft manufacturers | Aircraft engines | Aircraft engine manufacturers

Airports | Airlines | Air forces | Aircraft weapons | Missiles | Timeline of aviation

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