by: Darren Baker [ ]
IntroductionThe Polikarpov I-16 was the first aircraft of its design in terms of layout, and this aircraft coming from a country that was considered a follower rather than a leader at the time. This aircraft started life in Soviet Russia in the early 1930’s and was for the most part ignored or overlooked by the rest of the Western World. Scroll onto the Spanish Civil War in 1936 when German H 51’s and Italian CR-32’s came up against this small fighter and were forced to sit up and take note of this Russian fighter.
As with all aircraft the Polikarpov I-16 was given a name and on this occasion it started life as ‘Yastrebok’ (Young Eagle), but as time went on the names became less desirable, eventually being labelled ‘Ishak’ (Little Donkey). In some ways the name ‘Ishak’ was appropriate as the fighter was no longer a match for the aircraft being fielded by the Germans as War in the East ground on during World War Two, the Polikarpov I-16 taking on the duties of area defence at the rear or jobs that no one else wanted to do.
This offering from ICM is the type 24 and looking through the information I have to hand the type 24 was the most produced variant of the Polikarpov I-16 fighter and close to being the last variant produced. Looking through the limited information I have the variants mostly consist of more powerful engines and variations in firepower, I also found some information on a hydraulic system being fitted at one stage for the flaps and undercarriage. Lastly there was also a ski mounted version, some of which were captured and used by the Finnish forces. Going by the previous actions of ICM I don’t think this will be the last Polikarpov I-16 they offer us.
ContentsAs is now usual for ICM the packaging for this offering is very robust and should cope easily with all reasonable handling very well. Inside of the box is a single re-sealable plastic bag containing the sprues. The contents break down as follows:
2 grey sprues
1 clear sprue
A decal sheet
An instruction booklet
ReviewThe moulding quality of this offering from ICM is excellent in my opinion, the model being free of the usual moulding issues that can creep in such as flash. The moulding here are clean and precise so far as I can see. The fuselage is a wooden structure with pictures of surviving aircraft showing a very smooth finish. The tail and outer portion of the wings were a metal skin over a metal frame with the flight controls being wood covered with fabric.
The cockpit is quite good overall having a fair level of detail. The only upset for me in this area is the lack of any harness detail. The engine is mostly hidden on this aircraft, but that has not stopped ICM from providing a very nice rotary engine and separate ignition harness, a limited view can be seen through the openings in the front of the engine cowling.
The BuildThe first two stages of this model cover the construction of the wings, this is a little unusual in my experience but the minimal number of gates between the sprue and part makes removal and clean up easy. The fit in my experience is good as can be seen from the photographs. The flight controls are again easily removed and cleaned up, despite being nearly as long as the wing the fit is again good and being separate parts provides the modeller with options as regards position. I like the recessed panel lines and the texture of the mouldings.
The next 11 stages cover the cockpit and finishes with the mating of the fuselage. A possible issue that jumps out at me is the colour of the cockpit, the instructions tell you it should be light grey, bit my searches suggest a light blue and so I used Russian Flanker blue from Model Master. The only other complaint I can make is that there is nothing in the way of harness detail present, this is both a blessing and a pain as if moulded on modellers will complain about having to remove the detail, but a photo etch set from Eduard is going to cost in the region of £20.
So with that out of the way assembly is otherwise reasonably easy due to positive connection points with the exception of the two pressurised bottles behind and below the seat. The three bulkhead frames do a very good job of keeping the fuselage correctly in alignment as you cement the two halves together. The armoured plate that the back of the seat is moulded to appears to be well shaped, but the definition where the seat back starts could be better. To a large extent this does not really matter as the view of the cockpit area is poor due to the small opening.
When closing the fuselage up I did note that the tail wanted to splay, but it does close up easily. The tail rudder is a moveable part and it retains this ability with ease. Looking at the moulded detail on the fuselage and rudder left me happy with what ICM has provided.
A top section of the fuselage is next and the fit is very good, a touch of Tamiya extra thin and the joint sucks the glue in and secures the part very well. The cockpit doors then follow and these are sided so pay attention to the number of the parts. The fit is good but the parts can fall into the cockpit until secured. It is not mentioned but these could be secured in the open position if wished. Polikarpov I-16 was designed to be an enclosed cockpit, but this model does not have an enclosed cockpit! The lack of a cockpit canopy is accurate as there was an issue with the canopy sticking and so pilots had them removed from the aircraft for obvious reasons. A small amount of filler carefully placed should result in easy to clean and good seam joints.
Adding the wings to the fuselage is next on the to do list. Before going anywhere near attaching the wings thread a wire of your chosen diameter through the holes in the wheel bays, the wheels on the Polikarpov I-16 were retracted manually requiring 25 turns of a hand crank to retract them and they were lowered again under their own weight. It is this reason that I placed the wire even though the wing even though it is not mentioned in the instructions. When the wing assembly is offered up to the fuselage I was surprised at the quite large gap present where wing and fuselage meet, this was cured by attaching some Tamiya tape to a wing tip and then tensioning the tape over the top of the fuselage to the other wing tip. Some of you may be aware that wings of the Polikarpov I-16 are very slightly dihedral from wing root to wing tip and the tape achieves this result and closes up the gap to an acceptable degree.
The horizontal tail surfaces are unusual in that they are cemented together away from the model itself. The control surfaces are connected together as a single moulding, and this remains workable after being attached to the fins and finally the model itself. Attaching this assembly to the model is fairly easy, but keeping it held in place while the cement cures is a must.
The engine is the next area to be tackled and ICM has done themselves proud with the representation of the rotary engine. The mounting frame for the engine is well represented and other than needing a lot of care when removing the parts from the sprue assembly is straight forward. The vanes of the piston housings are very nice and a pleasing representation. The ignition harness is will represented despite no photo etch being supplied with the model. The weak area of this assembly is the placement of the exhaust pipes, these will take some playing with and possibly some work after being set. There is a diamond pattern lug for location, but I found these impossible to secure in place. The other aspect I like about the engine is that painting is covered in a step by step format and so easily followed. The engine cowlings fit reasonably well but will require some fettling to get the perfect fit.
The undercarriage is next on the list and it is very finely replicated in this offering from ICM. Removal of the undercarriage legs from the sprue requires extreme care, I used good quality side cutters for one side and then spent several minutes straightening the legs out. The other side I used a new scalpel blade and the result was far more pleasing and easy to deal with. Once assembled attachment to the model itself is very well illustrated by ICM and that makes life easier than it would otherwise be. I removed the heavy grade wire that I used to show where it was needed and will be switching to a much finer grade for the finished model.
I have not added the canopy to the model as more painting is required before that stage, but this is as far as the build for this review is going.
ConclusionI have a couple of the Eduard offerings of the Polikarpov I-16 and I looked at them and this offering from ICM; Eduard wins in respect of cockpit detail due to the included photo etched parts, but when it comes down to the model I feel ICM has the upper hand. I wish that ICM had included the information on the wire for raising and lowering the undercarriage, but then again a little research should be a part of the model building process.
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