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Ich sehe was, was du nicht siehst…

While the Japanese might be more known for their submarine-born aircraft, they were not the only ones to have toyed with the idea. The Arado 231 “U-bootsauge” was an early ’41 attempt to make a submersible-deployed observation aircraft. The sub would surface, the crew would roll it out of a tube, assemble it up, and launch it. If need be, the sub could submerge, the aircraft could do its recce, and then the ship resurface to recover it. That was the plan, anyways.

It was designed to fit into a 6/7 foot compact tube aboard a sub, and it could be erected in six minutes and dismantled in ten. Sounds fast, but when being on the surface was a matter of life or death, you could understand how U-boot commanders loathed this idea. The Arado project did not go father than the prototype stage, though a few different examples of the V1 and V2 series were made.

Two V2s were used in the field. They were embarked upon the German auxiliary cruiser Stier. They were flown a few times but did not see any actual use in action. On 27 September 1942 the Stier engaged the Liberty ship SS Stephen Hopkins in the Southern Atlantic. While the Stier succeeded in sinking her foe, the vessel had suffered fatal damage in the action and sunk a while later, though with most of her crew surviving. Both aircraft went down with the Stier, though I believe not many people mourned their loss.

This is the MPM 1/48 V1. A few modifications are required to bring it up to snuff, like bits on the struts and some tail plane bracing. The major inaccuracy is a small cockpit opening and windscreen, but these are trivial fixes. This is actually the second time I have ever built this model. The first time was in my youth, and I wanted to display it on a water base. We had tried to use Woodland Scenics meltable water pellets, pouring the hot material around the aircraft that had been placed on a base, but it cooled into a gloopy and unconvincing looking mess. The enthusiastic father decided to remelt the base with a heat gun (kind of like a hair dryer). Obviously we didn’t think this through. As we applied the heat gun, the model melted too, right before our eyes. Kind of comical, looking back on it.

The model was a write-off, obviously, but didn’t bother me too much. I liked the model enough to try it again, and this time no base was attempted. While I enjoyed it, hopefully this is the last time.

“The following inscription was observed on a wall at the fortress of Verdun:
Austin White – Chicago, Ill – 1918
Austin White – Chicago, Ill – 1945
This is the last time I want to write my name here.”

Thanks for looking.

8 additional images. Click to enlarge.

11 responses to Ich sehe was, was du nicht siehst…

  1. Beautiful build of a quite sleek looking floatplane. Good luck trying to get it ready for flight in six minutes on the deck of a sub on your average windy day at sea.

  2. Great looking build of an uncommon subject Kyle. Can’t imagine putting that thing together under pressure.

  3. Not commonly seen, which makes it interesting. Excellent work and a great result.

  4. A very rare subject of a beautiful (to my eyes) plane, an excellent result out of a seemingly difficult kit.
    What’s not to like?
    Congratulations, Kyle!

  5. Unusual but beautiful build aircraft, Kyle.
    I was not aware of this Arado project, thanks for sharing.

  6. Two thumbs up Kyle, I like it.

  7. I remember you handling the meltdown much better than I thought you would.
    To all those looking, heat guns melt small plastic struts VERY fast. I swear I thought I had time….
    “As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly…”

  8. Very cool. Did the u- boots not deploy Kites or captive balloons ?
    Great work.

  9. Great build! I love unusual subjects and this is one of those! Came out very nice.

  10. Great job on a far from state-of-the-art kit. On the earlier attempt- Tell your Dad he should have been sent to the Russian front!

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