by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
Azur-FRROM’s most ambitious kit to date certainly hasn’t had an easy gestation period, having been subject to a number of pitfalls that some feared might delay the project indefinitely, but the wait is over and the first 1:32 injected kit of the enigmatic IAR 81 is finally here - and it’s a beauty!
Azur-FRROM’s IAR arrives in a very attractive and solid conventional box, with the main sprues, clear parts and accessories bagged separately. The kit comprises:
204 x grey styrene parts (1 spare)
6 x clear styrene parts
5 x resin parts
27 x etched brass parts
Decals for 5 x colour schemes
The styrene parts are produced by MPM Production using their advanced limited run technology. So, while the moulding is generally very crisp (light years ahead of what one would have expected in a “limited run” kit only a few years ago), don’t expect mainstream precision throughout. In fact, there are two clear moulding styles evident, with the larger parts having a more traditional MPM look and feel, and the engine and smaller details rivalling the crispest output of the “majors”.
The airframe surface comprises delicately engraved panel lines and embossed fasteners, and neatly raised external strengtheners and a few panels. I’ve been fortunate enough to examine two kits, and they both sport a minor fill-in one wing root, but that will only take a careful run over with a scalpel or modelling chisel to remove. Elsewhere, there are a couple of faint lumps and bumps to level out. Otherwise, it’s just a case of polishing the surfaces with a nail buffer to remove a faintly “gritty” feel in places.
There’s little flash evident, and ejector pins look to have been kept well out of sight, but some will need trimming off before construction. I noticed a couple of minor sink marks, but nothing to worry overly about. Parts are generally well laid out on the sprues, with nice small attachment points. The only exceptions are two very delicate parts left unsupported where sprue F is cut free from its feed - they are almost asking to get broken, and indeed one arrived damaged in my kit.
I might reduce the fabric effect on the control surfaces a little - while it’s nothing like the “pressed metal” look that some of the mainstream manufacturers inflict upon us, it’s still a tad heavy for my taste, and photos in Radu Brinzan’s definitive modellers’ guide to the IAR 80/81 show the originals were drum-tight.
Test FitDry fitting the major components is encouraging. While there are no locating pins, the fuselage and wings line up very positively, and the fit at the wing root is excellent. The stabilisers have substantial tabs and fit firmly after the locating slots have been eased a bit. All the control surfaces and the landing flaps are separate.
A few details Construction begins, as you’d expect, with the cockpit. This is very nicely detailed with around 40 parts that include a choice of styles of control column. Etched seat harnesses and foot straps are provided. The instrument panel is styrene and crisply moulded, with pin-sharp decals provided for the recessed faces. A beautifully detailed resin gunsight is completed by separate lenses and etched levers. The interior fuselage walls feature neatly moulded structural details, so the office should look excellent straight from the box.
The engine is almost a kit in its own right, comprising over 60 parts. The cylinders have finely moulded cooling fins, and the resin exhausts are hollowed out. All the pushrods are separate. There’s no rear accessories pack - but it would be hidden anyway - so, all the engine really needs is ignition wires and a couple of items of plumbing added to look quite superb. The propeller has individual blades which have raised lugs to ensure they sit at the correct angle.
The undercarriage is sturdy and well detailed. The mainwheel doors are thin. The mainwheels are unweighted and show some good detail on the hubs.
A bomb rack is provided, although this was often removed in service. No bomb is included, but the IAR 81C proved something of a failure in its intended dive-bombing role, so this is hardly a loss.
The canopy is crystal clear with well defined framing. A rear-view mirror and hand grip are provided as etched parts, while a hole must be drilled through the windscreen for the IAR’s distinctive radio aerial mount. Other clear parts include reflectors for the gunsight and wingtip navigation lamps.
Instructions & decalsThe instructions are printed on colour as an A-5 booklet on glossy paper. The illustrations are very clearly drawn, broken down into 24 stages, and the overall sequence is very logical.
Azur-FRROM have released a small addendum to the instructions regarding the engine/cowling assembly (Step 18, page 18): "Dry fit the parts A3 and A5 around the engine and only then glue them together with part A4. Assembled cowling sits tightly around the engine and cannot be removed."
Gunze Sangyo colour matches are given throughout.
Decals are provided for the following aircraft:
Scheme A: I.A.R.81-C No. 320, flown by Lt.Av. Mircea Dumitrescu, Escadrila 61 Vânátoare, Grupul 6 Vânátoare, Popeşti-Leordeni, June 1944.
Scheme B: I.A.R.81-C No. 323, flown by Lt.Av. Dumitru Baciu, Escadrila 61 Vânátoare, Grupul 6 Vânátoare, Popeşti-Leordeni, January 1944.
Scheme C: I.A.R.81-C No. 369, flown by Lt.Av. Nicolae Limburg, Escadrila 62 Vânátoare, Grupul 6 Vânátoare, Popeşti-Leordeni, June 1944.
Scheme D: I.A.R.81-C No. 448, Escadrila 67 Vânátoare, Grupul 2 Vânátoare, Miskolc, April 1945.
Scheme E: I.A.R.81-C No. 446, flown by Lt.Av. Gheorghe Grecu, Escadrila 67 Vânátoare, Grupul 2 Vânátoare, Gerăeşti-Bacău, July 1944.
The decals are beautifully printed by Aviprint. The items are thin and glossy with perfect register on the sample sheet. Separate centres are provided for both the roundels and King Michael Crosses to ensure total precision.
ConclusionFor me, it’s been more than worth the long wait for Azur-FRROM’s excellent largescale IAR 81C. It’s a subject many of us would hardly have dared dream of ever seeing in this scale - especially in this quality. If you have a little experience with limited run kits and have a penchant for lesser-known WW2 fighters, this should be a hugely satisfying build. Highly recommended for modellers with a little experience working with limited run kits.
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