Ar 196 was a reconnaissance floatplane that was used by Germany during World War II.
The Ar-196 had a single BMW 132K engine that was capable of propelling it at speeds of up to 310 kilometers per hour. The first production model of the series was the A-1, a ship-launched variant, only had 7.62mm machine guns mounted in its wings. However, this model was in reality more limited production with only twenty being produced. While the floats made for worse maneuverability and a slower maximum speed, the Ar 196 was still a highly adaptable platform and very successful in practice. The more produced A-2's armament consisted of two MG FF autocannons mounted in a forward firing position in the wings with a 7.92mm machine gun mounted in the rear gunner position and another 7.92mm machine gun in a forward firing position. Optional armament consisted of up two 50 kilogram bombs.
The Ar 196 had a total length of eleven meters with a total weight of 2,335 kilograms unloaded. Wingspan was twelve meters. Operational range was around 665 kilometers with a service ceiling of 7,000 meters. The Arado was admired for its performance in the field, being a reliable aircraft when patrolling the seas and being a well armed one that was even capable of eliminating enemy fighters that crossed its path.
The second variant of the series was the A-3 model with a strengthened propeller system. Next was the A-4, a model that was very similar to the A-3, except it had been converted to be launched from a catapult system as found on most German ships. The final variant in the series was the A-5 model with improved radio equipment and two 7.62mm machine guns mounted in the rear instead of just the one.
The Arado Ar 196 was initially developed in 1935 following a request by the Kriegsmarine for a new catapult launched floatplane that would replace the quickly aging Heinkel He 60 biplane. To meet the needs requested, the Heinkel He 114 was developed as a kind of stop-gap replacement, though eventually even this was proven to be insufficient for the task. The first prototype of Ar 196, designated V1 flew in May 1937. Results were excellent with most of the other competitors, still demonstrating biplanes, being outmatched.
The first production models reached frontline units in 1939. Being used by the German fleet. Steadily, the various variants were introduced and put into service at varying times with the last variant, the A-5 being introduced in 1943. The Ar 196 was used in most theaters that the German navy took part in, such as the Mediterranean and Eastern Front.
In total, around 540 examples had been produced during World War II.
On 5 May 1940 Lt Gunther Mehrens, flying an Ar 196A-3 of Ku.FlGr.706, spotted the damaged British submarine HMS Seal, which was attempting to lay mines in the Kattegat. Mehrens attacked the sub with cannon fire and bombs, forcing the crew to surrender, before landing next to the sub. He then collected Lieut-Cdr R. Lonsdale, HMS Seal's commanding officer, and flew him to Aalborg, while the sub was towed to Frederikshaven.
- Kay, Antony L and J R Smith. German Aircraft of the Second World War. Putnam Aeronautical Books. 2002. ISBN 0 85177 920 4 Page 28