On the 5th of May 1945, the Prague uprising broke out. Rebels managed to size out the Čakovice airfield with one airworthy Arado Ar 396. In the late afternoon, the Arado was in the air with crudely painted Czechoslovak insignias. During the reconnaissance mission over Prague, leaflets were dropped. Crew consisted of Antonín Kraus and František Janča, the Avia factory tester pilots. After long occupation years, it was the first flight of a Czechoslovak air force plane over the country. Therefore the kit of Arado Ar 396 is a must-have for my Czechoslovak air force collection. Once RS Models released the kit with the camouflage of the Czech national uprising, I immediately got it.
Unfortunately, the pleasure was soon over. The kit is one of the examples when you look into the box and immediately discover 5 reasons why to be disappointed. It starts with an unclear instruction sheet with errors, including a camouflage scheme. A low-grade performance of the molds creators continues with imperfect work on plastic and finally ends with the wrong height of the letters in the decals sheet, unlike the scheme in instructions which is correct in that regard. I realized it during the decal application and was unable to take some measures. The list of imperfections and comments is below. The original plane is caught on some photos which I highly recommend following in order to avoid mistakes. Some photos you can find in this article.
List of imperfections and comments:
– Mistakes in the instructions (wrong configuration for Czechoslovak version) – I followed real photos instead.
– Lack of ventilation slot on the windshield – made from scratch.
– Bad fitting of the canopy.
– Lack of signal light on the stabilizer top – made from scratch.
– The tires are with tread pattern – In the Czechoslovak version, smooth tires were used, which I made by filling the original parts.
– The code letters are at least 25% bigger – not corrected.
– Wrong number of round markings for the tail section in the decal sheet – I used decals only for the rudder.
– Wrong shape of number 12 on the rudder.
– Bad register of white color in the decal sheet causing the small white edge around the blue color. I touched up the whole cockade to better simulate crude painting by hand.
Well, I am glad to have the Arado in the display cabinet and I can focus on other better kits in my stash. Despite my negative opinion on this kit, I think it is worth having it especially as there is no other choice in the 1/72 scale.