Arado Ar 96 B-1 – The Standard Advanced Trainer Aircraft of the Luftwaffe

Arado Ar 96 B-1
Arado Ar 96 B-1 trainer aircraft on display at the Deutsches Technikmuseum in Berlin, Germany – photo 2016

The Arado Ar 96 is a low-wing all-metal two-seated monoplane designed and manufactured by the Arado Flugzeugwerke, in response to a tender of the German Reich Air Ministry for a modern trainer aircraft. The sleek and versatile aircraft played a crucial role in training German pilots for combat operations across various fronts. Starting from its first delivery in late 1939 the Arado Ar 96 was the Luftwaffe’s standard advanced trainer throughout the Second World War.

With a total of roughly 3,400 operational planes produced, the Ar 96 is also one of the most manufactured German aircraft .

Arado Ar 96 B-1
Arado Ar 96 B-1 aircraft seen from the front at the Deutsches Technikmuseum in Berlin, Germany – photo 2016


Arado Ar 96 B-1 aircraft
Arado Ar 96 B-1 aircraft side cut away – photo 2016

One of the defining characteristics of the Ar 96 was its innovative design, which combined a robust airframe with advanced features for enhanced stability and maneuverability. The aircraft featured a low-wing monoplane configuration with a streamlined fuselage and a distinctive inverted gull wing design. This unique wing layout not only provided excellent visibility for the pilot but also improved lift characteristics, allowing for smoother takeoffs and landings.

Arado Ar 96 and Argus As 410a engine detail
Detail of the Arado Ar 96 Argus As 410a engine – photo 2016

Powered by a range of engines including the Argus As 10 and the more powerful Argus As 410, the Ar 96 exhibited impressive performance capabilities that made it an ideal platform for training aspiring pilots. With a top speed exceeding 300 km/h and a service ceiling of over 6,000 meters, the Ar 96 offered a perfect balance of speed, agility, and altitude performance, enabling trainee pilots to hone their skills effectively.

Arado Ar 96
Arado Ar 96 B-1 aircraft propeller nose – photo 2016

Ar 96 B-1 version

The Arado Ar 96 is on display at the Deutsches Technikmuseum in Berlin. This aircraft is a B-1 version, which was an unarmed trainer version built between July 1940 and April 1944. It is the most built version with a total of 1,381 aircraft constructed.

Arado Ar 96 B-1 cutaway view
Arado Ar 96 B-1 aircraft cutaway view at the Deutsches Technikmuseum in Berlin – photo 2016

This aircraft is reconstructed from multiple Ar 96 plane wrecks. Various parts like the fuel-tanks, engine, rudder, hood, seats and steering-controls come from an Arado Ar 96 B-1, manufactured in 1943, that was captured in Sweden in the summer of 1944 and demolished in 1954. The wings were reconstructed from a Czechoslovak C.2B, a post-war licensed version of the Ar 96B built between 1945 and 1950. To complete the build, the remaining parts were borrowed from an Ar 96 B-1 from Norway.

Arado Ar 96 B-1 pilot seat
Arado Ar 96 B-1 aircraft cutaway view of pilot and trainee seats – photo 2016


Arado Ar 96 B 1945
Two Arado Ar 96 B in flight – picture courtesy US Air Force Archive

In addition to its role as a primary trainer aircraft for advanced, night and instrument-flying training, the Arado Ar 96 also served in various secondary roles, including reconnaissance, liaison, and light attack across different theaters of operation.

Arado Ar 96 A Summer 1940
Arado Ar 96 A, ‘RQ+xx’, training aircraft of an unknown pilot school (FFS) for fighter and destroyer pilots, summer 1940. – photo courtesy Wikipedia

Despite its commendable performance and widespread use, the Arado Ar 96 faced certain challenges and limitations during its operational lifespan. The aircraft’s relatively lightweight construction made it vulnerable to damage from enemy fire, especially during combat missions where it lacked adequate armor protection. Additionally, as the war progressed and technological advancements led to the development of more advanced trainer aircraft, the Ar 96 gradually became obsolete compared to its contemporaries.

Battle of Berlin

After an already daring action landing her Fieseler Fi 156 “Storch” under heavy fire on an improvised airstrip in the Tiergarten area near the Brandenburg Gate during the Battle of Berlin to reach Adolf Hitler in the Führerbunker, German Aviatrix Hanna Reitsch flew an Arado Ar 96 trainer out of Berlin again on the evening of 28 April 1945 together with the then newly appointed Head of the Luftwaffe Robert Ritter von Greim.


The manufacturing of the Ar 96 continued for some years after the war in Czechoslovakia and France.

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