This is the seventh and latest in the Aiframe Album series from Valiant Wings Publishing. The book is softback with 106 glossy pages of A4/letter size and retails for £15.95 – approx $24.20 USD at todays exchange rate.
The contents of the book are:
- Technical Description
- Evolution – Prototype , Production and Projected Variants
- Camouflage and Markings
Going through each section:
Interestingly the book starts on page 3, which is the first page inside the book, so I’m not sure where pages 1 and 2 are. Maybe they’re the 2 sides of the cover? There are 3 pages before the introduction, numbered 3 to 5, that cover the contents of the book, the copyright information page and a glossary. The glossary gives handy translations of some German terms and abbreviations.
This section covers pages 6 to 19. it covers the history of the Ar 196 starting with a little bit of history about how Arado came into being, all the way through to the last Ar 196s being used in foreign service after the war. The prototypes are covered along with the single float prototypes, the operational history from 1939 onward and finally examples used or captured by foreign countries both during and after the war. This section contains about 33 period photographs. For just 13 pages there’s quite a lot of details and background here, more than enough for anyone whose main purpose in buying this book was for model building.
This section covers pages 20 to 61, and is the largest section of the book at 41 pages. For a model builder this is the meat of the book and covers the details of the aircraft in great detail. This section is broken down into 7 parts:
- Wings & Control Linkage
- Engines, Cowling & Propeller
This section contains many period images that look like they were taken from aircraft repair manuals. For most of the German text there are English translations. There are some colour photos of aircraft in storage and also black and white period photographs. There’s not much text in this section, and what text there is are descriptions of images and photographs. The various images give you a wealth of information and more than enough to fine detail pretty much any part of the aircraft.
Evolution – Prototype , Production and Projected Variants
This section covers pages 62 to 67. These pages give 3/4 view line drawings of the various models of the Ar 196 from the first prototype V1 to the drawing board only Ar 196C. There are 13 different types shown along with a few part views. The thing I always like about these parts of this series is that they clearly show and identify the differences between the different models of the aircraft.
Camouflage & Markings
This section goes from page 68 to page 83. This section starts with the prototypes and goes on to cover the type in German service with period black and white and a couple of colour photographs. Service in the Bulgarian and Norwegian military is also covered. There are 8 pages of colour profiles from a variety of nationalities, including one as seen in an episode of TinTin!
This section contains 4 in detail builds over pages 84 to 102. The models covered are:
- Heller 1/72 Ar 196A converted to the V4
- Sword 1/72 Ar 196A-3
- Italeri 1/48 Ar 196A
- Revell 1/32 Ar 196B
As expected the builds are to the highest standards and contain good images and text descriptions. I particularly likes the ‘verdict’ conclusion to each build where the builder gives their thoughts and opinions on each model and the build. In 1/72 the Sword kit is the one to go for, but since it’s a short run kit, you will have to know what you’re doing. The Italeri and Revell kits are good, but could be better.
As usual, at the end of the book are 4 pages listing all the models, aftermarket items and books currently known to have been produced.
This book emphasises the technical description of the aircraft with more than twice as many pages on this topic than any other. If you’re a model builder looking for references or information about your upcoming Ar 196 build then this book will probably be all you need. The only real competition to this book is the Kagero #45 book and from what I gather this book has better English text and descriptions.
I’d recommend this book to everyone, both modellers and historians. For modellers it is an excellent one stop reference book and for historians it contains a lot of information, but you might need to look at other sources for further historical details.