A development of the Ar.95, the Ar 196 was designed to replace the Heinkel He 60 floatplane aboard the warships as a shipboard catapult-launched reconnaissance floatplane (with a secondary role as a coastal patrol platform). Arado submitted their design consisting of a two-seat monoplane with all-metal skin and after an evaluation period, the Arado design was selected with development beginning in 1937.
The first prototype flew in 1938. The development, which produced four prototypes, tested two arrangements of floats. One prototype was fitted with a centerline float and two outboard floats whilst the remaining three utilized the more traditional twin pontoon floats each situated under their respective wing.
Following a number of pre-production aircraft, production proper began with twenty Ar.196A-1, which were delivered from mid-1939. Production continued with A-2 to A-5 versions and a few modified single-float Ar.196B.
The Ar 196 was constructed as two production series separated by classification role. The "shipboard" Ar 196 series was designed for catapulting from German warships. This series was comprised of the A-1 and A-4 models. The "coastal" Ar 196 variant operations involved taking off and returning to their respective port areas. This production series comprised of the A-2 and A-3 models. An A-5 model was later offered that featured improved radio equipment and twin 7.92mm machine guns for the radio operator in the rear cockpit. Basic armament consisted of varying quantities of 20mm cannons and 7.92mm machine guns. The Ar 196 could field two 110lb bombs in the strike role.
Ar.196 seaplanes were operational with the German Navy in reconnaissance, patrol and anti-submarine roles throughout World War II and were for many years the standard catapult sea-plane of the Navy, up to four being carried on board some battleships. The aircraft was eventually deployed on German warships that included the Deutschland, the Admiral Scheer, the Admiral Hipper and the Leipzig. This floatplane was in use with Bulgaria and Romania.
About 435 were built.
Arado Ar 196A-3