Design and development.
The Arado Ar 196 was the most popular shipboard floatplane used on board heavy warships and auxiliary cruisers of the Kriegsmarine during the World War II. The machine, nicknamed “Mädchen für alles” (Maid-of-all-work) by the Kriegsmarine crews, was also used by the land based naval air force.
There, it flew close reconnaissance missions and submarine hunts. It was sometimes used as an interceptor against enemy long distance reconnaissance planes.
In the initial period of its existence the German navy, reborn in the 1935, used the Heinkel He 60 reconnaissance biplanes on board its heavy units. Already in the summer of 1935 the Technical Office of the State Ministry of Aviation (Technisches Amt RLM) ordered a new type of all metal, sesquiplane, floatplane in the Heinkel factory as a replacement for the obsolete He 60. However, the new design designated Heinkel He 114 fell short of expectations and in the summer of the following year Technisches Amt RML prepared guidelines for a completely new shipboard machine that could also be used by the land-based naval air force units. The two-man plane was to be powered by the air-cooled, nine-cylinder radial BMW 132 K engine with the 960 PS (PferdeStarke) take-off power.
In the autumn of 1936 the Arado and the Focke-Wulf companies presented their designs. Focke-Wulf’s chief designer Kurt Tank proposed a biplane designated Fw 62, whereas Walter Blume of the Arado put his faith in a modern low-wing monoplane. The Technical Office of the State Ministry of Aviation representatives chose the Arado design, ordering four prototypes, but just in case two Focke-Wulf Fw 62 prototypes were also ordered as a backup design.
The Arado Flugzeugwerke G.m.b.H. (Arado Ltd.), based on Flugzeugbau Friedrichshafen G.m.b.H., a company existing since 1917 in Warenmünde, was established in 1925. Engineer Walter Rethel, who had worked in Kondor Flugzeugbau until 1917 and later moved to Fokker company in the Netherlands, became the company’s first chief designer. The first planes produced by the Arado were the SC and CS II trainers. The subsequent designs were the S III trainer in 1928, W 2 seaplane trainer, SD 1 single-seat fighter and V 1 four-seat executive aircraft. The latter was used by the Deutsche Luft Hansa, as a mail plane and flew many long-distance flights until the Neuruppin crash on December 19, 1929.
The next Arado designs were the SD II and SD III biplane fighters in 1929, SSD I fighter seaplane and V 2 and L 2 light sporting planes, which were the creation of the company’s second designer, engineer Hoffman. The NSDAP seizure of power brought about a rapid development of the company. Arado received government’s order for Ar 64 and Ar 65 fighters and Ar 66 trainer. Engineer Walter Blume became company’s chief designer. Soon after receiving government’s subsidy the company came under control of the Reich Aviation Ministry. Since September 6, 1934 the Arado company took over the former Brandenburg-Neuendorf machine factory, which already on December 1, 1934 began the airplane production. Apart from their own designs the Arado company also produced machines under Heinkel, Messerschmitt, Junkers and Focke-Wulf licence.
Before the outbreak of World War II the Arado factories produced 75 Heinkel He 51 fighter biplanes, 140 Heinkel He 59 seaplanes, 100 Heinkel He 60 seaplanes and approximately 300 Heinkel He 111 bombers, all of those under Heinkel’s licence. Since 1938 the Warenmünde factory was involved in the production programme of the Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter. In the second half of the 1930s Arado was also building planes of the company’s own design, such as Ar 68 biplane fighter, and their design studio prepared new prototypes for competitions organized by the Reich Aviation Ministry. Unfortunately, their designs were loosing in confrontation with the Focke-Wulf machines. In a competition for a basic trainer Focke-Wulf Fw 44 Stieglitz won, with Arado Ar 69 being second. Likewise, Ar 76 light fighter and advanced trainer had to acknowledge the superiority of Focke-Wulf Fw 56 Stösser and Ar 77 twin-engine, multi-purpose plane lost to Focke-Wulf Fw 85 Weihe.
On May 25, 1937 the first Arado Ar 196 V1 (WNr. 2589, D-IEHK) was test-flown, and so was the second prototype Arado Ar 196 V2 (WNr. 2590, D-IHQI) on June 18, 1937. Both prototypes had two floats, as opposed to Ar 196 V3 (WNr. 2591, D-ILRE) and Ar 196 V4 (WNr. 2592, D-OVMB) prototypes, which both had a large central float and two smaller outrigger floats mounted under the wings. All prototypes were powered by a BMW 132 D, 880 PS (PS=KM) take-off power, radial engine with a twin blade, adjustable pitch, metal propeller. The Ar 196 V1 differed from the remaining prototypes in the size and shape of the rudder, the outline of the elevator as well as the length and placement of the exhaust pipes. Ar 196 V1 had both exhaust pipes on the lower left side of the engine, while other prototypes had one on each side. The V3 and V4 prototypes differed from each other in shape and size of the outrigger floats and in placement of their struts. The fourth prototype was the first to be armed in a way the serial production planes were meant to be armed, with two 20 mm Rheinmetall-Borsig MG FF cannons with 60 rounds per gun, mounted in the wings; one synchronized 7.92 mm MG 17 machine gun with 500 rounds in the front right side of the fuselage, one 7.92 mm MG 15 machine gun in the back of the cockpit on a flexible mount and two 50 kg S.C. 50 bombs on ETC 50/VIII bomb racks mounted under the wings.
The first test-flight demonstrated the need for corrections. The Ar 196 V1 and V2 had their rudder shape changed and its horn balance removed. The shape of the floats’ rudders was also modified.
In August 1937 the Aerodynamische Versuchsanstalt (Aerodynamic Experimental Station) in Göttingen conducted hydrodynamic characteristics tests of both types of floats. Simultaneously, the Erprobungsstelle (Testing Centre) in Travemünde tested all four prototypes. They confirmed, that the aerodynamic drag of both types was similar. The central float provided better stability during landing at rough sea conditions, as it transferred vibrations straight to fuselage, while twin floats transferred them to wings. On the other hand, smaller wing-tip floats would dig into bigger waves during take-off run, thus making it longer and more difficult. The large twin-floats arrangement, which as a result of the tests was lengthened by 800 mm, provided sufficient take-off and landing stability and at the same time facilitated high speed water manoeuvres.
At the end of 1937 the Ar 196 V1 prototype was modified with intentions to beat the floatplane speed record. The plane received a BMW 132 K, 960 PS engine with a three blade, adjustable pitch metal propeller and the tail section of the canopy was closed. The Reich Aviation Ministry objected, as it wanted to keep the development of a new floatplane a secret, so the attempt was never made.
To avoid delays in serial production the Technical Office of the State Ministry of Aviation ordered yet another, fifth prototype, Ar 196 V5 (WNr. 0090, D-IPDB) with a centreline float, for further tests. It was powered by BMW 132 K, 960 PS engine and a VDM three blade, adjustable pitch metal propeller. This prototype was completed in autumn of 1938.
Signing of the contract for Ar 196 V5, was also accompanied by an order for 10 Arado Ar 196 A-0 planes with twin floats and serial numbers WNr. 0091 to 0100. The first Ar 196 A-0 serial production plane was completed on November 17, 1938 and the final one in January of the following year. These machines were powered by BMW 132 K, 960 PS radial engine with a VDM three blade metal propeller. They were armed with a single 7.92 mm MG 15 machine gun with 525 rounds on a flexible mount in the back of the cockpit and two 50 kg bombs on underwing racks.
The forward section of the oval-shaped fuselage, based on a metal frame, was covered with duraluminium, while the remainder was covered with fabric. Metal structure of the wings was covered with duraluminium, only the moveable parts were covered with fabric. Floats divided into seven watertight compartments had a metal frame covered with aluminium. Each one was 7.25 m long at the capacity of 2750 litres. The planes were not equipped with catapult attachment points.
In spring of 1937, after the series of tests with both the single centreline float and twin float prototypes, the Reich Aviation Ministry selected the twin floats version for serial production and ordered twenty Ar 196 A-1 planes. Their armament was identical to that of the Ar 196 A-0 version, but they were fully equipped for the ship catapult launching. These planes were to replace the run-down Heinkel He 60 aircraft stationed on board the Kriegsmarine’s heavy units.
Another version was the Arado Ar 196 A-2, built mainly for the land-based units of the coastal air force (Küstenfligerstaffeln). The offensive armament of these planes was strengthened with addition of wing-mounted two 20 mm MG FF cannons and 7.92 MG 17 machine guns in the fuselage. The total weight of Ar 196 A-2 increased in comparison to A-1 version from 2955 kg to 3175 kg. By October 1940, 94 planes of this version were produced (some sources claim that the total number was 98).
The Ar 196 A-4 was a modified version of Ar 196 A-2. Its production began in the end of 1940, as a replacement for Ar 196 A-1 on board heavy units of the Kriegsmarine. The difference between the A-2 and A-4 version, was the addition of two fuel tanks in the rear sections of both floats, one in each, and propeller spinner. The Arado factory in Warenmünde produced 24 planes of the A-4 version.
The Arado Ar 196 A-3 was the most popular version, of which 297 planes were built (274 in Warenmünde and 23 under licence by the S.N.C.A factory in St. Nazaire, France). These planes were armed similarly to A-2 version, there was a slight difference in the modified equipment, they had propeller spinner and FuG 16 Z radio station instead of FuG VII.
The final model in the serial production was the Ar 196 A-5 powered by the BMW 132 W engine and equipped with FuG 16, FuG 25 and later FuG 141 radio stations. To provide better defence of the tail hemisphere, a single MG 15 machine gun on a flexible mount was replaced by twin 7.92 mm MG 81 machine gun with 2000 rounds.
A total of ninety one Ar 196 A-5 planes were built (22 in Warenmünde and 69 under licence by the Fokker factory in Amsterdam, The Netherlands).
In spring of 1941 ten experimental Ar 196 B-0 planes, with single centreline float, were also built (6 according to some sources). They were also tested in frontline conditions in Bordfliegerstaffel 1./196.
In 1941 the Arado factory designed a new version Ar 196 C, which was to be equipped with a more powerful engine and stronger armament composed of two 20 mm Mauser MG 151/20 cannons, two 7.92 mm MG 17 machine guns and a twin 7.92 mm MG 81 machine gun used by the radio operator. Also, they were to be equipped with new, larger floats. These were being designed by the Institut für Seeflugwesen (Institute for Marine Aviation) in Hamburg.
The production of Arado 196 stopped in August 1944, with approximately 551 planes built (536 of the A model, 10 of the B model and 5 prototypes).
Only three Ar 196 A survived to this day, the first in the Naval Museum in Varna, Bulgaria, the second in the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and the third in the Willow Grove Naval Station in Pennsylvania.
The Arado Ar 196 A was a single engine, two-seater with twin floats fixed to wings and fuselage, equipped for a ship catapult launching.
The oval–shaped fuselage was constructed on a welded frame made of steel tubing with trapezium cross sections. The forward section, up to the cockpit, the upper part up to the rear cockpit and the tail section near the control surfaces were covered with duraluminium sheets riveted or bolted. The middle and tail sections were covered with fabric. The engine cradle was secured at four points to frames no. 1 and no. 2. The construction was strengthened where the catapult hooks were attached. The lower section of the frames no. 2 and no. 8 housed the hook eyes of the float struts.
The cockpit was divided into pilot position with the metal pilot’s seat adapted for the seat-type parachute and the observer position with the seat mounted on rails between the frames no. 7 and no. 13. It could be set in three positions and a special strap acted as a backrest. Three-part canopy was slided backwards and the spotter’s position was open at the rear. The 7.92 mm MG 15 was asymmetrically placed on the right side on a flexible mount. Pilot’s instrument panel was attached to the frame no. 3. A box with the naval equipment (anchors, ropes) was located in the forward section of the cockpit’s floor. Batteries were at the opposite end. Two steps were located on each sides of the cockpit, with an additional box containing a first aid kit and a locker with 30 flares for the signal pistol. In the rear, behind the radio operator position, in the upper section of the fuselage were two cases containing hand flare grenades.
Two duraluminium, all-metal, floats had 27 frames each. Capacity of a single float was 2750 litres. The frames no. 10 and no. 19 had joints that enabled their installation under fuselage and wing struts. The steel W-shaped struts were reinforced with steel anchor cables. Three steps that facilitated boarding the plane were located on the forward strut. The rudders were located in the rear part of the floats. There was a possibility of attaching special gear to floats that enabled take-off and landing on water. There were seven watertight compartments inside each of the floats. A 300 litre fuel tank was located between frames no. 10 and no. 15, behind it, between the frames no. 15 and no. 17. was the fog generator and a container with canned food and a flare pistol with a supply of red, white and green flares used in case of ditching.
The all-metal wings in low-wing monoplane configuration, that could be back-folded had a 6° dihedral. They had a trapezium outline with rounded tips and were of twin spar construction with 32 frame ribs. The wings were attached to the fuselage in two points, the forward one was equipped with a special lock that allowed for a quick release in order to facilitate the folding. They were covered with duraluminium, metal slotted ailerons were fabric covered and operated by pushers. They had the Flettner balance tabs. Flaps, covered with metal sheets on the lower and fabric on the upper surfaces, were hydraulically operated within the range of 45°. The A-2 variant had an additional 20 mm MG FF cannon with drum magazine installed between the fourth and fifth rib in each wing.
Control surfaces were of metal construction, covered with duraluminium, while the ailerons were covered with fabric. Both rudder and elevator were equipped with trimming tabs. The elevator fixed at 0° had a span of 4.80 m. It operated within the range of 30° up and 25° down. The 2.25 m tall (from the fuselage centreline) rudder was attached to the frames no. 21 and no. 23. To counter balance the torque effect of the propeller, it was fixed at 1°44’ to the left. The tilt was 30° to each side.
The plane was powered by BMW 132 K nine-cylinder radial engine with the 960 PS take-off power at 2350 rpm. The maximum power output for two minutes at altitude of 450 m and the same rpm was up to 970 PS. At 2100 rpm and altitude of 1500 m, at the cruising speed, the power output was 690 PS. Engine cubic capacity was 23 312 m3. The VDM 9-11259 A-1 metal propeller had a diameter of 3.10 metres and was attached to engine’s shaft with eight screws. The pitch controller’s switch was located on the control column.
The engine had an exhaust manifold and two exhaust pipes, located symmetrically on both sides of the cowling. To start it up in cold a mixture of aviation petrol and ether was used. It was stored in a 0.5 litre tank near the APB 6 injection pump installed in the fuselage under the instrument panel. The engine cradle was made of welded steel pipes.
The NACA cowling had a streamlined cylinder head covers, the cooling air stream was controlled by flaps located in the rear part of the fairing. It was divided into three parts, open to the side and closed with latches. The B4, 87 octane, leaded petrol was stored in 600 litre fuel tanks located in the floats. The DBU-Ep 1 A fuel pumps were also mounted there. The 30 litre metal oil tank (filled with 27.5 litres of oil) was located on the fire-wall, behind the engine.
Flaps were operated by hydraulic system composed of the Leistritz 19 S-24 engine pump, compensation tank located on the left side of the cockpit and an auxiliary hand pump in the radio operator’s compartment. Both flaps were operated by the same servo-motor.
The earth-return wiring system had a 24 V voltage rating. It was powered by the Varta lead battery with 20Ah capacity located in a case on the right side of the pilot’s seat and a 1200 W Bosch generator. The circuits had automatic cut-outs located on the console on the right side of the pilot’s position in the cockpit.
The gun armament consisted of a single, fixed, synchronized 7.92 mm Rheinmetall-Borsig MG 17 machine gun mounted in the fuselage with 1000 rounds, two 20 mm Rheinmetall-Borsig (Oerlikon) MG FF/B cannons in the wings with 65 rounds per cannon and a single, 7.92 mm Rheinmetall-Borsig MG 15 machine gun with 525 rounds on a flexible mount in the rear of the cockpit. The A-5 variant had a twin 7.92 mm Mauser MG 81 Z machine gun with 2000 rounds on flexible mount.
The bomb load was mounted on two ETC 50/VIII (See) underwing racks. The maximum bomb weight was 50 kg per rack.
The Arado Ar 196 prototypes were painted with L40/52, a slightly lighter shade of the RLM 63 Hellgrau (light-grey) on all surfaces. The civilian registration numbers were painted black (RLM 22 Schwarz).
The serial production Arado Ar 196 planes were painted according to the instructions concerning seaplanes camouflage schemes worked out by the Erprobungstelle Travemünde and an official RLM document LC 2 Nr. 2890 39 (VI) geh. AZ 70 k, dated May 24, 1939. Upper surfaces and sides were covered with a RLM 72 Grün and RLM 73 Grün splinter camouflage scheme with uniform RLM 65 Hellblau on the underside. The splinter scheme was to be applied with the use of templates, stick tape or painter’s string. The folding points of the colour patches were to be marked with chalk or suitable camouflage colour dots. Some slight exceptions to the scheme, no more than 5 cm in width, were allowed. The colour demarcation lines could be vague; it was allowed for the colours to overlap up to 5 cm in width. Demarcation lines between RLM 72 and RLM 73 on the upper surfaces and RLM 65 on the underside were to run in such places, as to make the light-blue colour invisible to an observer looking down or at the 35° angle to the horizon. The float tips, up to the frame no. 1, were painted RLM 23 Rot.
The serial production planes received four letter radio codes (Überführungskennzeichen) before delivery to their respective air force units. It was painted white on the sides of the fuselage and black on the underside of the wings, two letters on each wing. The planes that served in the Luftwaffe’s auxiliary units had a four letter Stammkennzeichen code painted black. The Arado Ar 196 planes serving in front units had full codes on fuselage with only a plane’s individual code letter on the underside of the wings. National markings were painted on the sides of the fuselage, both sides of the wings (Balkenkreuze) and rudder (Hakenkreuze). The unit emblems were often painted on the sides of the fuselage, behind the cowling.
The painting scheme was supplemented by tactical markings in form of quick identification stripes on the fuselage, often complemented by the painted wing tips and underside of the cowling. White and yellow paint were used for quick identification.
The Arado Ar 196 planes, apart from Germany, were also used by other countries. Bulgaria bought nine (or twelve*) Arado Ar 196 A-3 in 1943. They were used by the 161 Jato unit under command of Captain Kolarov, stationed in Varna and Burgas. The Ar 196 planes were used by the Bulgarian Air Force until 1947. One machine survived to this day and is being exhibited in the Bulgarian Museum of Aviation in Plovdiv.
Luftwaffe’s two Ar 196 were interned in Sweden during the war. The first, Arado Ar 196 A-3, WNr. 1006 of the Erg. Aufkl.Gr. (See), was flying from Copenhagen to Bornholm on February 11, 1943, when it lost its way due to the compass malfunction and entered Swedish air space near the Hano. Upon being fired by a Swedish Navy patrol craft it had to ditch. The crew, Uffz. Ludwig Hammer and Lt. Helmut Abramowski were interned at first, but after three days they were released and handed over to the Germans. The plane remained in Sweden, where it was first tested by the F2 Squadron based in Hägenäs, and then sold to the Kontinentagentur AB company. It was flown with the civilian registration SE-AOU. After the war, in May 1945, the plane was flown to Norway and served in the 8801 RAF Wing, and already in June 1945 in Norwegian 330 Coastal Air Force Squadron in Stavanger Sola.
After being stricken from Norwegian Air Force it was privately owned. The plane had a complete overhaul and was sold to Sweden. Between January 15 and August 19 it flew over 180 hours in the Ahrenbergsflyg AB company.
The Arado Ar 196 A-5 DF+QS, being tested with special float gear that enabled take-off and landing on the water surface, landed on Swedish territorial waters on March 8, 1944. The crew, Maj. Hans Fischer and Oblt. Friedrich Echternach were interned and the plane was returned to Germany on April 28, 1944.
In summer of 1943, Finland borrowed the Arado Ar 196 A-2, WNr. 00151, GA+DO from the German Luftwaffe. In September 1944 the machine was incorporated in the Detachment Malinen, stationed in Kontiolahti and used for special purposes (transporting agents and supplies behind the front lines). At the beginning of 1944 the plane was returned to Germany.
In the summer of 1939 first serial production planes arrived at the Bordfliegerstaffel 1./196 in Wilhelmshaven and 5./196 in Kiel-Holtenau. The pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee was the first to receive two Ar 196 A-1 planes. Their designation codes were L2+X40 and L2+X41 respectively. These planes took an active part in the battleship’s commerce raiding sortie in the South Atlantic and Indian Ocean from September to December 1939. On September 11, 1939 one of the patrolling Arados spotted the British heavy cruiser HMS Cumberland searching the area. Immediately, the plane returned to his ship. After splashing down and being hoisted on board, the cruiser Admiral Graf Spee started the engines and steamed on the opposite heading to avoid the danger. On September 1939 the Ar 196 detected and fired upon the British freighter s/s Clement (5051 BRT) on the way from Pernambuco. The ship was then sank by the battleship. A month later, on October 22, 1939 one of the floatplanes spotted the British ship s/s Trevanion (5291 BRT), which was soon sank by the battleship’s boarding party. On November 9, 1939 stormy waves damaged the floatplane’s engine, which was repaired only on December 1, 1939. On December 2, 1939 due to the mechanical failure the plane was forced to splash down in the ocean. After a few-hours search, it was located and hoisted on board the battleship. On December 13, 1939 the Arado Ar 196 planes embarked on board the battleship were destroyed during the battle of the River Plate. […]
Recommended - Aircraft