The Arado Ar 396 was a training aircraft developed from the successful Arado Ar 96B, but using as little metal as possible in its construction. Despite its name the Ar 396 was developed in France, and none reached the Luftwaffe.
The Arado Ar 96 was a low-wing monoplane trainer, off all metal construction and built with light alloys. It was the standard advanced trainer in the Luftwaffe during the Second World War, and work began on an improved version, the Ar 296, which would have been powered by the Argus As 411 engine.
By 1944 Germany was running short of strategic materials such as light alloys, and so work moved onto the Arado Ar 396, a version of the Ar 296 re-engineered to use as little wood as possible. The new aircraft was designed by the Société Industrielle pour l'Aéronautique, or SIPA, in occupied France. Although work on the new aircraft proceeded at some speed, the Allied invasion moved quicker, and the new aircraft didn't make its maiden flight until 29 December 1944, after the SIPA works near Paris had been liberated.
The Ar 396 was a simplified version of the Ar 96, with hand operated flaps and a semi-retractable undercarriage. The instructor and pupil sat in tandem in the long glazed cockpit. Two versions were to have been produced - the Ar 396A-1 fighter trainer, with a single machine-gun, bomb racks and gun sight and the un-armed Ar 396A-2, designed for blind flying training.
SIPA built 200 Ar 396s after the war, as the S.10, S.11 and S.12. During the war the Letov factory in Czechoslovakia also began work on the Ar 396, but none reach the Luftwaffe before the end of the conflict. However there is evidence that the Ar 396V4 prototype reached the German test centre at Rechlin late in 1944, where it suffered problems with excessive carbon-monoxide in the crew compartment.
Engine: Argus As 411 MA inverted inline piston engine
Wing span: 36ft 1in
Length: 30ft 5 3/4in
Height: 8ft 0.5in
Empty Weight: 3,623lb
Maximum take-off Weight: 4,541lb
Max Speed: 220mph at 7,870ft
Cruising Speed: 170mph at sea level
Service Ceiling: 22,960ft
Range: 372 miles
Armament: One fixed forward firing 7.92mm MG 17
Bomb-load: Two 110lb/ 50kg bombs on under-wing racks