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  1. 1:32 Polikarpov I-153 ‘Chaika’ ICM Catalogue # 32010 Available from Hannants for £35.99 The Polikarpov I-153 Chaika (Russian Чайка, "Seagull") was a late 1930s Soviet biplane fighter. Developed as an advanced version of the I-15 with a retractable undercarriage, the I-153 fought in the Soviet-Japanese combats in Mongolia and was one of the Soviets' major fighter types in the early years of the Second World War. The aircraft was of mixed metal and wood construction, with the fuselage structure being based on chromium-molybdenum steel with duralumin skinning on the forward fuselage, and fabric covering on the fuselage aft of the front of the cockpit. The aircraft's wings were made of fabric covered wood, while the tail surfaces were of fabric covered duralumin. The aircraft was fitted with a tailwheel undercarriage, with the mainwheels retracting rearwards, rotating through 90 degrees to lie flat in the wing roots, being actuated by cables operated by a pilot-driven handwheel. The solid rubber tailwheel did not retract but moved in conjunction with the rudder. The I-153 first saw combat in 1939 during the Soviet-Japanese Battle of Khalkin Gol in Mongolia. The Japanese Army Air Forces' Type 97 Fighter (Nakajima Ki-27) Nate proved a formidable opponent for the I-15bis and I-16 but was more evenly matched with the I-153, which retained agility inherent to biplanes while featuring improved performance. While the overall I-153 performance was satisfactory, some significant problems were revealed. Most troublesome was the absence of a firewall between the fuel tank mounted in front of the cockpit and the pilot. Combined with strong draft coming in through the wheel wells, fuel tank fires invariably resulted in rapid engulfment of the cockpit and severe burns to the pilot. In addition, the M-62 engine suffered from a service life of only 60–80 hours due to failures of the two-speed supercharger. The Polikarpov I-153 Chaika never flew with any Spanish Air Force units during or after the Spanish Civil War. Two earlier variants of this aircraft, the I-15 and the I-15bis, did fly with the Republican Air Force during the conflict and, later, captured examples of both types were used by the Fuerzas Aéreas till the early 1950s. Three I-153s are still flying. Extract courtesy of Wikipedia The kit Well, we weren’t expecting this in 1/32! ICM are rapidly becoming well known for their excellent choice of kit subject, coupled with some rather nice engineering and kit production standards. Some will hark to the old days when kit fit may have been less than stellar, but it’s time for those to move on a little. ICM, as with many of their peers, now use CAD to assist them in design. I’ve partially constructed their 1:48 He 111 and mostly built their Ju 88C-6 kit with nothing to report on in terms of some of the mud I recently saw flung at them on one forum. Anyway, I digress. This release is packaged into ICM’s now familiar single-piece corrugated box that is extremely robust, and has a glossy product box top lid depicting a low-flying Chaika with all guns ablaze. Lifting the lid reveals a large, clear and resealable sleeve containing THREE large sprues of light grey styrene. Also in there is a single sprue of clear plastic, packed into another protective sleeve. In the bottom of the box lies the instruction manual and within this, a single decal sheet is tucked. Sprue A We’re straight into the action with this sprue, containing the fuselage halves and three-part lower wings, amongst other components. Looking at the fuselage first, the external textures are nicely refined with a very realistic fabric and stringer representation of the rear fuselage, along with details such as the spring-loaded footstep cover plate, plus delicate panel lining at the forward half, including fastener and louvre detail. The latter aren’t moulded as open slots, but they are so fine that a simple wash will be all that’s needed here. To facilitate the upper wing fixture, the upper forward fuselage is an open area that will accept the full-span wing section. Note that the rudder is also moulded separately, therefore can be posed dynamically. Some cockpit sidewall detail is moulded within the fuselage, such as rib and stringer details, and this will of course be supplemented by the tubular cockpit tub. ICM has moulded the lower wing also as a full span unit, and all parts of this are to be found on this sprue. External wing surfaces are also resplendent in the same realistic and subtle fabric and rub textures as seen on the fuselage, with munition mounting hardpoints also present. The fuselage centre section is moulded with the openings for the main gear wells and retract channels. When it comes to the upper wing panels, recesses are moulded within the strut hardpoints, and should provide good, clean and positive strut placement. Those struts on the I-153 are broad, single units, and are delicately moulded on this sprue. Rigging points are also moulded, but I think these are best being drilled out before you reach that stage. Note that the main gear well ceilings are moulded onto the inboard edge of the upper wing panels. Also on this sprue are the cockpit floor, two-blade propeller, two-part wheels with integral hubs, a superbly defined instrument panel with empty gauges for affixing the instrument decals, multipart engine cowl panels, and landing gear doors with nicely detailed interiors. I note that some minor clean-up of seams will be required on some parts, but nothing at all onerous. Sprue B The second sprue holds the last of the major airframe parts, such as the three-part upper wing. As with the lower wing, the main panel is moulded full-span, sans ailerons. As well as the subtle rib and fabric detail, and external wing stiffening strip. A separate full-span elevator is provided, and the construction of this and the stabilisers is quite traditional, with a tab to fit to the fuselage. Ailerons are moulded as one-part items, with a nice, thin trailing edge. As with the previous I-16 kit, the Shvetsov M-62 radial engine is very nicely moulded as front and rear halves. Cooling fin detail is nicely defined, but of course, that seam runs right through it. If it’s anything like the I-16 kit, you’ll barely able to see the joint when assembled. Also remember that the engine is buried deep in the cowl, and unless you have a panel or so removed, you’ll hardly see anything in there. The forward cowl and engine firewall are also moulded here, as is the pilot seat. Sprue C This really is the detail parts sprue, with components here for the tubular cockpit tub (seat brackets, two-part control stick, pistol, consoles and oxygen tank etc) There are a variety of underwing munitions choices, and this is where you’ll find them. The engineering of the bombs is so that the fins remain thin, and the seams minimal. Also note in the exhaust parts in this photo. You will need to hollow out the ends though. A number of other engine parts are moulded here, but you will need to be super careful in cutting them from the sprue in some cases. Almost surgical precision will be needed. The munitions rails are also nice and sharp and have positive wing attachment points. Some of the finer parts will still require a little paring of the seam lines, with the edge of a fresh scalpel, but the details are sharp. Just a little lead wire added to these cockpit frames, will be all that you really need, unless you want to go the further mile and utilise Eduard’s new sets for this specific kit. I must admit that they do actually look very good. Undercarriage struts are also nicely depicted and sharp in detail. The angled plunger axle will ensure a nice snug fit to the wheels. Sprue D A very small, clear sprue holds just 6 parts. The main one of course being the windscreen. Other parts here include the wingtip and rudder lights, plus the windows in each of the main gear bays. Clarity of the parts is excellent, and no mould flaws are to be seen. Decals The decals for this model are a very simple but well-presented affair. A single sheet contains the markings for three machines, with these being no more than a variety of red stars, some with borders and circles, and the various numbers. No stencils are provided, but a single instrument decal is. I’m not actually too keen on that and would look at using something from an aftermarket sheet. At the very least, you would need to punch the dials out. Printing is very good, being nice and thin, plus with minimal carrier film. Colour is also solid and registration is perfect. The four schemes are: I-153, 70thIAP (Fighter Regiment), Khalhin-Gol, August 1939 I-153, 72ndSAP (Mixed Regiment) of Nord Fleet Air Force, Vaenga, 1941 I-153, 15thIAP (Fighter Regiment), Lithuania, June 1941 I-153, flown by Major P.I. Biskup, 71stIAP (Fighter Regiment) of Baltic Fleet Air Force, Lavansaari, Summer 1942 Instructions ICM’s instructions style is unfussy and clear to follow. This A4-size manual has construction broken down into 55 stages with shaded line drawings and good reference to painting. Paint codes are given for Model Master paints, as well as the colour name so you can check your stash of other manufacturer’s colours. A very small amount of rigging is needed, but this is so simple that it really shouldn’t be a concern for those who would normally shy away from a biplane. The last pages of the manual are taken over with the colour schemes, which are all reasonably different, and there should be something there to suit most modellers. Conclusion Whilst our hobby had been waiting for a new-tool I-16, perhaps we didn’t know that we were equally waiting for the I-153 too! If you are into Soviet WW2 aviation, and even if you aren’t, I think this is one of those releases that you’d seriously enjoy building and would look equally as good in your completed collection. Even though this is a biplane, this is no flimsy model. Both the upper and lower wings are secured firmly to the fuse, and the two struts are broad not particularly fragile. Rigging is also a cinch, with about 6 lines in total. Detail is also particularly good in terms of surface renderings and internal representation. At around £35, this should be one to consider. Build something a little different! My sincere thanks to ICM for the review sample seen here. To purchase, click the link at the top of the article.
  2. James H

    1/32 I-16 Type 24

    1/32 I-16 Type 24 ICM Catalogue # 32001 Available from Hannants for £27.99 The Polikarpov I-16 was a Soviet fighter aircraft of revolutionary design; it was the world's first low-wing cantilever monoplane fighter with retractable landing gear, to attain operational status and as such has been described as having "introduced a new vogue in fighter design. The I-16 was introduced in the mid-1930s and formed the backbone of the Soviet Air Force at the beginning of World War II. The diminutive fighter, nicknamed "Ishak" (Donkey) or "Ishachok" (Burro) by Soviet pilots, figured prominently in the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Battle of Khalkhin Gol, and the Spanish Civil War, where it was called the Rata (Rat) by the Nationalists or Mosca (Fly) by the Republicans. Full-scale work on the TsKB-12 prototype began in June 1933, and the aircraft was accepted into production on 22 November 1933, a month before it took to the air. The TsKB-12 was of mixed construction, using a wooden monocoque fuselage and wings employing a KhMA chrome-molybdenum steel alloy wing spar, duralumin ribs and D1 aluminium alloy skinning on the centre and leading edges, with the remaining portions of the wings fabric covered. Another modern feature were the ailerons which ran along almost the entire trailing edge of the wing and also operated as flaps. The cockpit was covered by a 16” wide canopy which featured an Aldis-type tubular gun sight which could slide back and forth on runners fitted with rubber bungee cords. The main landing gear was fully retractable by means of a hand crank. The armament consisted of a pair of 7.62×54mmR (0.30 in) ShKAS machine guns in the wings, mounted on the outboard side of the main gear and 900 rounds of ammunition. Service trials of the new fighter, designated I-16, began on 22 March 1934. The M-22 prototype reached 223 mph. The manually retracted landing gear was prone to jamming and required considerable strength from the pilot. Most of the test flights were performed with the gear extended. On 1 May 1934, the M-22 prototype participated in the flyover of Red Square. Engine improvements etc. pushed the types top speed to 326 mph for the Type 24, that we see in this article. Initial service experience revealed that the ShKAS machine guns had a tendency to jam. This was the result of the guns being installed in the wings upside-down to facilitate the fit. The problem was addressed in later modifications. The I-16 was a difficult fighter to fly. The pilots had poor visibility, the canopy tended to become fouled with engine oil, and the moving portion was prone to slamming shut during hard manoeuvres, which caused many pilots to fix it in the open position. The front section of the fuselage, with the engine, was too close to the centre of gravity, and the pilot's cockpit too far to the rear. The Polikarpov had insufficient longitudinal stability and it was impossible to fly the aircraft "hands off". Production lasted from between 1934 to 1942, and totalled over 8600 machines. The kit I’m quite a fan of ICM’s approach to boxing their products, and here we see their first foray into 1/32 with the I-16 Type 24. As per the current crop of samples that we have been sent for review, this kit is packaged into a very sturdy corrugated cardboard box that opens via a tab, and the box itself has a product lid which sits over the top of this. The artwork here shows a single I-16 in level flight with a cloud base background. On the lid sides, two out of the FOUR supplied schemes, are shown in profile format. Inside the box, a single, large cellophane sleeve contains the THREE medium-grey styrene sprues that make up this diminutive little fighter aircraft, plus a single clear sprue that is further protected by another sleeve. There are no PE or resin parts in this release, and this package is completed with a 12-page A4 instruction manual and one decal sheet that is placed within. I saw a Rata a few years ago at Duxford, close up and personal, and then had the pleasure of seeing the little tin can fly afterwards. This was always going to be a subject that would appeal to me, so to see a modern tooling of this important type was always going to excite me somewhat. Sprue A You really do get an idea of just how squat the I-16 was when you take a look at the fuselage halves on this sprue. Even more so if you then contrast those dimensions against the wing itself. Note how ICM has tooled this kit, with those fuselage parts standing very high on this sprue. The run of the sprue itself protects the relatively vulnerable wing root protrusion whilst not actually being connected. Due to the nature of the I-16’s wooden construction, there isn’t much in the way of detail on the fuselage halves, except for the tail fin and fairings for this and the stabiliser. The fin has a rather nice representation of the fabric and rib structures, with this perhaps being a tad heavy in places, but nonetheless very nice in its depiction. Some rivet and fastener detail exists around the fairing, and the rear starboard fuselage has raised access panel detail. The rudder and forward engine cowls are moulded as separate parts. Internally, fuselage detail is straightforward and simple, but sharply executed. This consists of formers and longeron strips, and you will have to eliminate a single ejector pin mark in these areas, but that’s not too bad. To quote an oft-used and maligned phrase….simple modelling skills. Also moulded here are the stabilisers, ailerons, elevators and rudders. In traditional construction style, these are supplied as upper and lower parts, with the elevator itself being full-span. Rib and fabric details of course extend onto these parts, and to me at least, these look perfectly acceptable. All control surfaces are designed to be moveable too. Within the engine cowl are two plates that go to make part of the cooling shutter mechanism, and this is designed to be left free of glue so that it may be positioned. Other parts on this sprue include the upper gun cowl, both cockpit entry doors, and also the main wheels. These are supplied as halves, but they aren’t weighted. Sprue B ICM has sensibly designed this model to have a full span lower wing, and this is packed with details, from the basic rib and fabric structures, to the various plates that are moulded in situ, representing the panels that cover the ShVAK cannon locations and the undercarriage bay etc. The main gear wells are simply that….wells, but look very reasonable when you reference this to photos of the actual thing. Note that there is a circular hole in each well, coinciding with the central wheel hub. This was there for a reason. That gear was cranked upwards by hand, and this is where the cable would pass through to the wheel hub. However, ICM make no reference to this, and to the cable you would need to add for this to look accurate. Take note! As was noted earlier, the ailerons are separate parts here and can be posed however you wish. The upper wing panels exhibit the same degree of detail as the lower span part, with good plate detail over the cannon areas, looking suitably agricultural, as befitted the I-16. The rest of the undercarriage parts are found here, and these do look a little fragile, but are simply and authentically detailed. This also applies to the undercarriage doors, but I do wonder if there are some small bracing details missing from the rear of the upper semi-circular plate, as my references tend to show these. I could be wrong, and they may or may not pertain to the Type 24. Check your references. Other parts on this sprue include the cowl plates with their open scoop details, the main front engine cowl with cooling apertures, lower cowl to wing fairing, and the squat spinner and separate propeller with hub details. Sprue C For a 1/32 model, this kit sure doesn’t have masses of parts, but it has that detail exactly where it counts. Here we see parts that are for both the engine and cockpit. The Soviet Ash-62 engine that powered the Type 24, actually had its roots in the Wright R-1820 Cyclone. That engine in particular had been built under licence in Russia, and the Rata’s engine was a development of that powerplant. ICM has produced quite a nice representation of this engine, comprising of about 18 parts, including the separate exhaust stubs and engine mount. Cylinder cooling fin detail is fine, and about the only thing I think this wold benefit from would be some ignition wiring and the missing ignition distribution ring….that’s if you plan to maybe pose a cowl section off the model, so you can see at least some of this engine. Apart from the two cowl-mounted ShKAS machine guns (which look incredibly good), pretty much everything else on this sprue is to do with the cockpit, which really is superbly detailed. In here you will find detailed forward and rear bulkheads, cockpit floor, pilot seat with cushion, compressed gas tanks, rudder bar and control stick, plus the various pieces of equipment that were bolted to the inner sidewalls. About the only thing that will be required here is some lead wire etc. to plumb these items in. Reference photos tend to show cables that were clipped to the various internal structures. Other parts seen here are the engine firewall and oil tank, propeller counterweights, tail cone, static air chamber, pitot, and the channels for the machine guns. Sprue D Only eight parts are moulded on this clear sprue. These are for the windscreen, instrument panel, gunsight and various lamps. Windscreen framing is subtle but should be easy enough to mask, and the instrument panel is quite simple, as befits this machine. A decal is supplied for the instrument panel, but I suggest punching out the individual dials and adding them separately. Decals Just one medium-sized sheet is included here, with markings for FOUR aircraft. These are suitably thin, printed with solid and authentic colour, and with minimal carrier film. Everything looks to be perfect register too. I’m particularly pleased that one machine is emblazoned in Cyrillic graffiti too. That would be my build of choice! The schemes included in this release are: I-16 Type 24, 67th Fighter Regiment, South Front, Summer 1941 I-16 Type 24, 72d Mixed Regiment of the Northern Fleet Aviation, Summer 1941 I-16 Type 24, 4th Guard Fighter Regiment of the Baltic Fleet Aviation, Winter – Spring 1942 I-16 Type 24, 254th Fighter Regiment, Leningrad Front, Summer 1943 Instructions The Rata’s construction is broken down into 59 sequences of assembly, which are all clearly drawn and very easy to follow. There are paint references given for Revell and Tamiya colours, and these are very clearly annotated throughout the 12-page instruction manual. The last two pages are taken over with the scheme profiles and decal placement guides for each machine. Conclusion It really is good to see a modern tooling of this stubby little aircraft, and with the beautiful details what ICM has furnished the kit with. They really do seem to have captured the agricultural look of the machine, but with the finesse of both the cockpit and the engine areas. This doesn’t look a difficult kit to build, but I do suggest you look towards when Eduard’s sets can offer, especially with regard to things such as the missing seatbelts. In all, a great little kit, and not too expensive either. Certainly a good number of hours of modelling to be had with this release. Highly recommended My sincere thanks to ICM for the review kit seen here. To purchase directly, click THIS link.
  3. Hi guys, Even though rigging the Dh9a is a lot of fun I started thinking of my next project. This will be the Special Hobby I-16. But without paint. Showing the materials it was made off. Wood, linen, aluminium and putty. I'm using: • Fab Resin wheels • Renaissance model resin cockpit • Vector resin engine and cowling (full engine set) This is what I found online so far: If anyone has any info.... please share! What i still need to get is the Renaissance models ailerons and rudder set. And some Uschi wood grain decals ofcourse! Cheers, Jeroen