|Kit:||Heller, 1/72; bought on eBay in 2007 for about $4. Model completed on 2022-05-10|
|Aircraft:||"AIR MIN 120" (W.Nr. unknown), No.435 DSRU, RAF, Schleswig, Germany, December 1945|
The Arado Ar 96 was the standard trainer of the Luftwaffe during WW2. Nearly 3,000 were produced before the end of the war, mostly by Avia and Letov in Czechoslovakia where production still continued after the war [1, 5]. The particular aircraft our model depicts was captured by British troops and used by the newly-formed No.435 Disarmament Servicing and Recovery Unit of the RAF in Germany after the war, as the squadron's hack [11, p.102].
This is the first completed model of our "Grand Arado project of 2022".
I built this model from the old Heller kit dating back to 1977. There are better kits available, but I happened to already have this one and saw no reason to not build it; to me part of the beauty of model building is to take an old kit and really make a nice model out of it by fixing whatever needs to be corrected. The kit is generally accurate, but requires a lot of work when it comes to details. It also has the peculiar "feature" that it depicts the fuselage as fabric covered; the real Arado Ar 96 had an all-metal airframe. Obviously all that detail needed to be sanded off.
As I pointed out in my blog post about this project, the kit review in  is not particularly informative; the reviewer clearly had very limited reference material available, and for some aspects he is simply wrong, but he does point out a few issues with the Heller kit.
I added some structure to the cockpit walls and the "roll-over frame" (between the two pilots) using thin styrene rods. I also added Eduard photo-etch seatbelts and a bulkhead/firewall in the front. I cut the original canopy in two places to remove the sliding part of the front cockpit, and used the Falcon vacuform piece for that instead. I also furnished the wheel wells with various details, and built the so-called "Bauchlandeschlitten", a structure that protects the aircraft in the event of a belly landing. It was very difficult to find details of this, luckily  has some original German diagrams. Finally, I cut the kit exhausts off, drilled holes in their place, and used 1.1 mm Evergreen rod (bent to shape) to make new exhausts.
This particular aircraft was missing landing gear doors, the directional loop antenna, and the regular radio antenna mast, so I left those out. The tail wheel is molded as part of one of the fuselage halves; I cut it off early on, and glued it back on once the rest of the aircraft was complete and painted.
The kit propeller hub was poorly cast and had slightly incorrect shape as well, so I made a new hub by turning it from suitably-sized Evergreen styrene tube. I used the kit part for the wind vanes. I drilled two holes on the side to make it easier to attach the kit propeller blades.
Initial cockpit structure.
The roll-over support is still missing detail.
Fuselage halves closed.
Note the bar added to the roll-over support.
Canopy cut off.
I cut a hole in the bulkhead, but did not actually put an Argus 10 in there.
Exhaust pipes: bending styrene rod is difficult, they crack easily. Successful technique is to bend the rod gently around a moderatly hot soldering iron.
Landing gear detail added.
The structure behind the landing gear is meant to protect the fuselage in the event of a belly landing.
Propeller hub made from Evergreen stock and a kit part.
Finished propeller, with blades from the kit.
According to , the aircraft was painted in the standard German camouflage pattern of RLM 70/71 topside, RLM 65 underside. There are at least three known photographs of this aircraft, but none of them are of very good quality, and I can see how the aircraft could easily be thought of as being painted with a single color. I have seen some models that take this interpretation. However, it makes more sense to assume that the aircraft wore the standard scheme when it changed owners, and that the photos simply have low contrast. Black and white photos do not always tell the whole story; see this blog post for a discussion. Note that  has some pictures and color profiles of captured aircraft in French use, and they all sport the standard 70/71 pattern, albeit very much worn.
The German insignia were painted over on this aircraft (before the application of RAF roundels). Here I simply made the guess that the British would have used whatever they had handy, so I used RAF Dark Green over the camouflage and Medium Sea Gray for undersides. It is hard to see from photos how the swastika on the rudder was overpainted, but  suggests it was done in the same manner as the other markings, so I went with that.
I painted the model with Mr.Color lacquers. After the initial application, the camouflage looked very bright and the contrast between the two colors was too high, so I applied a gentle "filter" of RLM 70 over the entire topside of the aircraft (paint diluted very thin, approx. 10:1, sprayed with a fairly low pressure). See the photos below.
The Mark I Arado book  comes with a very nice decal sheet; I took all the decals for this model from that sheet. I first sprayed the model with Alclad II Klear Kote Gloss, then applied the decals, sprayed the clear gloss again, and finished off with a coat of a mixture of Testors Dullcote and Glosscote. Note that one of the photos of this aircraft clearly shows that it had RAF type C1 roundels both on wings and on the fuselage.
Initial camouflage, still too bright and has too much contrast.
I used RAF Dark Green for the areas representing overpainted German insignia.
Contrast toned down by spraying an RLM 70 filter.
Mark I's wonderful decal sheet.
Decaling in progress.
Ready for final details and a semigloss clear coat.
For those of you building this from another kit,  has a build report of the 1/48th scale Special Hobby kit, and  has a review of the KP 1/72nd scale kit.
One of the few photos of this specific, individual aircraft (source unknown). This one is not useful at all for determining colors, obviously, but it clearly shows that the aircraft was missing main landing gear doors, and that it had the structure for belly landing protection.
One of the very few surviving Ar 96s, this one at Deutsches Technikmuseum in Berlin . Note the very low contrast between the two green colors of the camouflage.