by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
Sergey Kosachev was quick to spot a number of points which could be improved in ICM’s otherwise very neat kit of the Polikarpov I-153. Rather than tackle everything in one “mega set”, Sergey has released three individual upgrades.One beauty of ICM's Chaika is that it's so cheap, so it's no surprise to see the corrections add up to more than the cost of the kit itself. This means Sergey's decision to split the upgrades into three sets of varying complexity is a very neat idea, because it allows modellers to modify the kit according to their taste and ability. The result is undoubtedly going to be a major a improvement over the standard kt. Highly recommended for experienced modellers.
As we've come to expect with Vector sets, the casting is excellent, and the detail absolutely first class.
VDS48-101 I-153 Correction Set Part 1 - Cowl, Propeller and Exhaust Pipes
Starting up front, Vector's set tackles a number of problems with the kit parts. As supplied, the shuttered cowling plate is basically for an M-63 engine, but with some of the vents sealed. Sergey corrects this by opening them up and adding shutters where required, along with reshaping all the openings themselves for a more accurate appearance. What's nice is that the resin replacement is designed as a separate piece, allowing Sergey to also provide an M-62 shutter plate. Along with the alternative plates, the Vector parts include a new cowling itself, with a beautifully reworked air intake - and, because the shutter plates are separate, this also means you could do a little surgery to depict a machine that had an open cowl (Vector also market a resin M-62/63 (available separately)).
Another problem with ICM's kit is the spindly exhausts, so Sergey has replaced these with fuller versions that are ready hollowed-out. Larger pipes obviously require modified openings in the side cowls, so the set also includes new resin parts to save you any surgery.
Finally, there's a new 3-part propeller, which is a massive improvement over the kit item, with delicately moulded pitch weights and a Huck's starter boss. One blade had come adrift in transit, but was undamaged, and a neat touch is the shaped locating lugs that set the angle of the blades consistently.
VDS48-102 I-153 Correction Set Part 2 - Control Surfaces
The second set is pretty self explanatory from its title, offering separate ailerons, rudder and elevators (plus stabilisers). The excellent fabric effect matches the kit parts, and along with the control surfaces, there's a set of tiny hinges and control horns.
Attaching the ailerons will require some careful surgery, as you'll need to cut deeper on the underside of the wing than on top, so this is probably a modification best tackled by modellers with a bit of experience under their belt.
VDS48-103 I-153 Correction Set Part 3 - Wheel Wells & Cockpit
The most elaborate of the three upgrades features an entirely new centre section for the lower wing, with new wheel wells that are both more detailed than the kit originals and, crucially, corrected for their shape - and then tops it all off with a detailed set of cockpit parts.
The new wings/wheel wells section is the core to everything, and to use this you'll need to remove the wing panels from the full-span kit part and mount them on Vector's centre section. So, again, this is a modification that will require a degree of experience.
Inside, the resin set basically completely replaces ICM's cockpit (all that survive are the side frames); delicate new details including a flare pistol, throttle, levers and consoles, a beautiful new seat with a moulded-on harness, new controls and a completely reworked floor. Beneath that, there's a fuel tank and framework for the gear legs to attach to.
There a little surgery required on the kit undercarriage legs, and with that safely done, you can fit Sergey's much more detailed retraction arms. Using the kit legs makes sense, because they'll offer welcome solidity.
With the wheel wells reshaped, Sergey has provided replacement doors to match - and the resin parts are beautifully thin with excellent detail on their inner surfaces.
Vector's sets are available now from Neomega and Linden Hill respectively, priced as follows:
VDS48-101 - £14.00 / $16.00
VDS48-102 - £11.00 / $12.00
VDS48-103 - £18.00 / $20.00
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