Thursday, 19 September 2013

Admiral Hipper Arado Ar 196 lost during the Norwegian campaign

The first Arado Ar 196 to fall into Allied hands was Arado Ar 196 A-2 WNr. 0044 of 1./BfGr 196 belonging to the German cruiser Admiral Hipper. This Arado was 'captured' in Lyngstad by a Norwegian Marinens Flyvebaatfabrikk M.F.11 seaplane of the Trøndelag naval district on 8 April 1940, literally hours before the start of the Norwegian Campaign. After being towed to Kristiansund it was used against its former owners, flying with Norwegian markings. Crewed by pilot Oblt. Techam and observer Lt. Polzin the Arado had been launched from the Admiral Hipper after the German battle cruiser had been rammed by the British destroyer HMS Glow Worm. However as weather conditions closed in the Arado was unable to return to the ship and was forced to put down before running short of fuel. The German crew were taken into custody and their story - they had become lost after a flight from Berlin - was not believed by the Norwegians. The Arado was subsequently repainted in Norwegian markings and on 18 April was flown to the UK by a Royal Norwegian Navy Air Service pilot. The plane was shortly thereafter crashed by a British pilot while on transit to the Helensburgh naval air base for testing.

The ramming of the Admiral Hipper by the diminutive British destroyer, HMS Glow Worm, under the command of Captain Gerard Roope  resulted in the British ship breaking in half and sinking. (Captain Roope was awarded a posthumous VC for his bravery and, unusually, this was corroborated, commended and insisted upon by Kapitan zur See Hey, the captain of the Admiral Hipper ). Also unusually, the German ship remained in the area, throwing grappling nets over the side to pick up survivors of the Glow Worm. 

It was common practice to launch ship's aircraft when hostilities were threatened. However the Arado was unable to return to the ship due to worsening weather conditions that evening due to lack of sufficient fuel and was forced to 'land' on a fjord near to Lyngstad where it was commandeered by the Norwegians and the German crew captured.

Below, Canterbury (Kent, England) modeller Peter Buckingham finishing his Revell Arado in the Norwegian colours as applied to WNr. 0044 - Peter's request for information on the Arado's Norwegian 'finish' was published in a Norwegian newspaper...

Elsewhere the wreckage of one of the Prinz Eugen's Ar 196 floatplanes has been returned to Germany on long-term loan after 68 years in the US. There are plans to restore and display it at the German naval aviation museum "Aeronauticum" in Nordholz. The Prinz Eugen was the only German battle cruiser to survive WWII and went to the US as war reparations prior to being sunk during atom bomb testing in the Pacific in late 1946. According to German newspaper 'Die Welt' this particular Arado Ar 196 was built by Fokker in Amsterdam during 1944.