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.