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HiPM 1/48 scale Arado Ar 196A

HiPM Arado Ar 196A
Kit: No. 48-002
Scale: 1/48
Manufacturer: HiPM (HaPM Ltd.), Jerevanska 3, Prague 10, 100 00, Czech Republic. Distributed by Condor Models, 3408 Harvey, Berwyn, IL 60402.
Price: $37.99
Comments: Injection molded, 184 parts (66 photoetched, 2 film), decals.

MPM Arado Ar 196A
Kit: No. 48025
Scale: 1/48
Manufacturer: MPM, imported by Eduard, 800 Proctor Ave., Ogdensburg, NY 13669
Price: $33.99
Comments: Injection molded, 99 parts (38 resin, 1 vacuum formed), decals.
HiPM Arado

HiPM's Arado is a mix of injection-molded plastic parts and photoetched-metal details. Some of the recessed panel lines in the plastic are soft or incomplete - starting and stopping along their runs. A few of my sample's parts were not completely molded.
Because the parts breakdown is complicated, study the instructions carefully before you begin building. Options include opened and closed canopy, single or twin rearward-firing machine guns, and the ability to pose the wings folded. A Propagteam decal sheet with markings for three different aircraft is included. A bonus is a wheeled beaching rig on which you can park the finished model.

The 20-page instructions break assembly into digestible bits, but the inset diagrams of the finished detail arrangements are too small to be much help. The small illustration of the wire bracing between the floats was worthless.

Much of the fine detail in the cockpit is photoetched, and some of these parts need to be bent or folded. The main instrument panel and the rear-seater's radio are photo films that need to be trimmed and attached to the back of photoetched panels. They look great when finished.

Many of the small and thin plastic parts have ragged mold-separation lines, and I spent many hours with a knife, file, and sanding stick cleaning them. The complex rendition of the tubular internal fuselage structure was particularly difficult to clean up. My sample's cockpit floor was molded off-center so I replaced it with sheet styrene.

Once I got the cockpit tub finished I found it wouldn't fit between the fuselage halves. I ground away the inside of the halves and shaved the tubular "walls" of the tub to get it to fit inside.

A few parts in the instructions aren't numbered and a few other illustrations show a cryptic file - but what should I file? The illustration for folding the wings is almost enough to show you how to do it, but you'll have to fabricate the steadying supports from rod or wire.

Six struts attach the floats to the fuselage, but the mating surfaces needed to be refined. The trailing edge of the cowl is acceptably thin, and the photoetched pushrods lend an air of delicacy to the engine.

After hours of parts cleanup, the fit was good. I had trouble cleaning the fore-and-aft split cowl where the seam runs through the rocker-arm bumps.

The canopy is well molded but a coat of Future acrylic floor polish helps smooth out the surfaces. Several photoetched handles must be carefully added to the transparencies after painting.

The illustration of the rearward-firing machine guns has the photoetched gunsights reversed; the ring should be closest to the gunner. Two grab handles shown in the inset drawing of the windscreen are not included in the kit. The clear pilot's gunsight was poorly molded.

I liked the little beaching dolly, but again there was a lot of cleanup needed on the parts. Folding the photoetched dolly wheel chocks was difficult.

The only color recommendations in the instructions are the exterior camouflage pattern included in the trio of four-view drawings that show the locations of the decals. I painted the interior RLM 66 gray with black panels and boxes.

After painting the camouflage with Floquil and AeroMaster enamels, I applied the decals. These are thin and stick as soon as they touch the surface. My attempt to move a decal became a game of tug-of-war, and the decal broke under the strain. A mild setting solution shriveled my decals, so wait until they are dry before applying the solution.

The finished model looks like the floatplanes in photos found in Arado Ar 196 - Germany's Multi-Purpose Seaplane by Hans-Peter Dabrwoski and Volker Koos. The wing measures about right, but the overall length is a couple of scale feet too long.

I spent 65 hours on my Arado - about three times my usual effort. Because of the massive cleanup required, the myriad tiny metal parts, and the sometimes confusing instructions, I can recommend this kit only to experienced modelers. However, after all my work, the model will find a nice spot in my World War II German collection.

Al Jones
MPM Arado Ar 196A

MPM's kit features 60 plastic parts with recessed detail of average quality. Nearly all of the interior details are made from cast-resin parts. The one-part vacuum-formed canopy will have to be carefully cut out and opened - no spare is provided, so you get only one shot. No photoetched parts came with this kit. There are no optional parts, and you won't be able to fold the wings without considerable scratchbuilding at the fold joints.

MPM's nine-step instructions are good exploded views with part numbers and paint indicators. Two three-view drawings show the overall camouflage patterns and decal locations.

The first step is the buildup of the interior. The small resin parts must be carefully sawed from their pour stubs and attached with super glue. Dry-fit everything as you go along. My sample's interior wouldn't fit between the fuselage halves, so I had to cut down the outer edges of the bulkheads, radio, and the cockpit floor.

The engine cowl is a nightmare because it is divided into front and rear halves right through the middle of all of the rocker-arm bulges. The trailing edge of the cowl is too thick for the scale. You also must install the engine before gluing the cowl halves together, so you will either have to paint the engine after the cowl or mask it off. I found the pushrods too thick for the scale and I had to enlarge the openings for the exhaust stacks.

There is no clearly defined way to attach the cowl to the engine. The propeller blades are separate, and you'll have to carefully align the angle and pitch as the blades are not keyed to the spinner.

When it came time to glue the wings to the fuselage, I discovered the airfoil shape of the wing and the stub on the fuselage weren't the same. The mating surfaces here were wavy and had to be sanded flat. Spend time adjusting the fit with styrene-strip shims and sandpaper.

The 10-part strut assembly between the aircraft and the floats has no pins or holes so it's tricky to keep it all aligned properly. After I got a couple of struts lined up, one or two on the other side would slip out of alignment. Use slow-setting glue here as you align them, then reinforce the joints with small drops of super glue when you get everything straight.

The thin canopy is adequately clear, but its flexibility made it difficult to mask and paint. Since most of the framing is straight, you may consider cutting strips of pre-painted decal film for the frames.

The instructions include good color notes and painting/decaling diagrams for the two airframes included on the decal sheet. I used Testor Model Master II enamels for the typical wartime splinter scheme.

My sample's Propagteam decals were well printed but translucent. They stick too well, so have them aligned before you slide them off the paper. I had difficulty removing excess adhesive, too, but they did snuggle down into every recess.

According to published dimensions, the span of MPM's kit is right on the money, but the length with floats is two scale feet too long. The overall look is not affected by this discrepancy, but the thick trailing edges and small parts produce a clunky appearance. My main references were Arado Ar 196, Schiffer Military History Vol. 29, and William Green's Warplanes of the Third Reich.

I spent 63 hours on my Arado, much more than usual due to the poor fit and awkward construction. You should have plenty of experience with plastic kits before building this one.

Ralph Waszak
Neither HiPM's nor MPM's kit is a beginner's project. Assembly and fit problems will try even an experienced modeler's patience.

HiPM's kit has more and better detail, but it is more difficult to build - with twice the number of parts of MPM's Arado. The awkward splitting of the cowls and the too-large interiors are interesting coincidences.

If you can handle poorly fitting parts and are not concerned with fine detail, MPM's Arado may be your choice. If fine detail is important, and you don't mind struggling with parts fit and tiny photoetched bits, you may want to choose HiPM's floatplane.


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