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Arado 196 — best in class?

9 September 2013

Arado 196 — best in class?

Ar 196 Ar 196 — Smithsonian NASM archive photo

An Arado Ar 196 of the Kriegsmarine catapults off to another mission — Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum photo

Arado’s Ar 196 served primarily in the Kreigsmarine (German Navy) during World War II as a reconnaissance seaplane. Assigned to warships, such as the Admiral Hipper and the Prinz Eugen, the Ar 196 also operated from shore based units for patrolling duties as well as special insertion duties. Prototypes were built in both single pontoon and twin float versions with the final production selection being the twin float design since this type had better handling behavior on the water. Normally carrying a crew of two (pilot and observer/rear gunner) in tandem  it was lightly armed with a single 7.9mm caliber machine gun. Later land based versions were more heavily armed with a forward firing 7.9mm machine gun as well as a bomb mount on each wing, with some versions also having a pair of 20mm cannon. Several armed troops could be carried within the fuselage for insertion along coasts or on small lakes. The 9-cylinder 947 hp/706kW radial engine could power the Ar 196 for 670 miles/1080km and as quickly as 193 mph/311kph. The Ar 196 may have been the best in its class during Word War II and a pair accomplished the rare feat of receiving the only surrender of a Royal Navy warship, the mine laying submarine HMS Seal.

Ar 196 — San Diego Air & Space museum archive photo

The Arado Ar 196 in the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum’s Garber Facility awaiting restoration — San Diego Air & Space Museum archive photo from the Charles M. Daniels Collection

The two Ar 196 aircraft formerly assigned to the Prinz Eugen exist but are in storage facilities — one is in the National Air & Space Museum and the other is in the National Naval Aviation Museum. One other Ar 196 exists and, thankfully, it is on public exhibit at the Bulgarian Museum of Aviation and the Air Force in Plovdiv.

Ar 196 — San Diego Air & Space museum archive photo

The Arado Ar 196 in the Garber Facility of the National Air & Space Museum — San Diego Air & Space Museum archive photo from the Charles M. Daniels Collection

Note: reader and fellow blogger (an excellent traveler and travel writer) Deano of Deano Around the World has written this post regarding his visit to the Bulgarian Museum of Aviation and the Air Force — the post has many pleasing photos of the aircraft there, including the only Arado Ar 196 on display in the world. Thanks Deano!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. 9 September 2013 12:09

    I would love to see the two in storage some day. In 2010 I went to the Bulgarian Air Force Museum near Plovdiv. An excellent collection, but unfortunately mostly stored outdoors. You can see a photo of the Arado 196 in my following blog:

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