I have to be honest and say that this aircraft passed me by and I knew nothing about it until this review sample landed at my door. The Polikarpov U-2 started life in the late 1920’s as a training aircraft for the Soviet Air Force and according to my reference search became the aircraft Soviet pilots learnt in. With the outbreak of War and the German invasion of Russia the Polikarpov U-2 was armed and became the nightmare of the Germans as this aircraft would bomb them at night. Now you may be thinking this would be slow and easy to shoot down, but this aircraft would move through the skies at a speed that was the stall speed for German fighters and it was flown at a height that meant German pilots had no time to recover.
An interesting aspect to this aircraft I came across is a unit called or more accurately nicknamed the ‘Night Witches’. This unit was part of the 46th Night Bomber Air Regiment and the crews were all female. During World War 2 or Great Patriotic War 23 of these pilots were awarded the title of ‘Hero of the Soviet Union’. An interesting item I found for those modellers who want to make their model more unique is that these aircraft had pods mounted on the lower wing that wounded troops would be placed in for evacuation behind the lines.
This offering of the Polikarpov U-2 is packaged with seven figures. It is supplied in the now usual flip top cardboard box and a separate card lid with the offerings artwork on it. Inside of this there are two re-sealable plastic bags containing the figures in one and the other the aircraft parts. Inside the bag with the aircraft parts is a further small bag containing the clear parts for the aircraft. An examination of the parts has left me with a very positive opinion from the off as I cannot see anything of concern for the modeller beyond some minor flash in the odd part.
This offering of the Polikarpov U-2 is a re-release of the model 48252 as that information is on the instruction booklet. The model unusually starts with the assembly of the fuselage. There is a nice level of raised detail on the fuselage halves that will satisfy most modellers, but for those that want more it gives them a starting point for adding further detail as they see fit. The thought going through my head was ‘where are the seats?’ but these are added later as part of the lower wing. The instrument panels are supplied as decals by ICM and that again will satisfy most modellers. There are a few items that need to be added to the fuselage sides that I am unable to identify.
The lower wing is next on the to do list and this as with the upper wing is supplied as single moulded pieces and so no concerns about getting alignment right or filling any gaps. I am disappointed that the control surfaces on both the wings and tail with the exception of the rudder are all moulded as a part of them and I would have liked to see these pieces added separately to allow articulation to be shown. The seats and control column are added to the lower wing before it is attached to the fuselage. The seats each consist of 6 parts and so are nicely detail, but there is no harness detail present which is a shame in my books. The tail assembly is again a single piece and as said only the rudder is position able. Going back to the lower wing ICM points out that eight recesses need to be drilled for the adding of the bomb racks later in the build. I would have liked to see some marks on the wing as a guide however ICM has supplied a drawing with all relevant detail to enable successful placement of the recesses and even remembered to mention that an 8mm drill is needed ( Other companies take note). The upper wing of the model should not cause any issues and has nice detail present. ICM does deserve praise for taking the time to supply plans for rigging the aircraft as it can be difficult to find the details you are after.
The five cylinder engine supplied for this model has been well done in my opinion and is of course an aspect that ICM does well in most cases. The cooling vents in the piston housings looks good and ICM has done a fair job of the ignition harness and exhausts. With ICM not usually supplying photo etch in its releases the ignition harness is an area where the modeller may wish to do some work to create a part with a greater level of finesse than is present on the kit part. It needs to be remembered that the engine is fully exposed and so any improvements will show up well. The wooden propeller looks right to me and again should meet your needs.
The under carriage of the model is very basic and should not create an issue for anyone. The tail of the aircraft has a skid rather than a wheel and so also not an issue. The bomb racks and bombs have been nicely tackled by ICM having a really nice level of detail from the box.
ICM has supplied four finishing options for this model and these are:
U-2VS of the 213th NBAD, Summer 1943
Po-2VS of the 23rd GvNBAP, Spring 1945
Po-2VS of the 46th Tamansky GvNBAP, Spring 1945
Po-2VS of the 2nd Polish NBAP (Krakow), Lublin area, Summer 1944
The seven figures supplied in this set are in my words stunning and by far the best detailed of any figures I have seen in this scale. While looking for reference I came across a review Rowan did of these figures and so I have supplied a link to that review as I cannot add anything to what Rowan has already said.
Soviet Air Force Pilots and Ground Personnel 1943-1945 by Rowan Baylis
Armour modellers often get a complete diorama in a box only requiring a setting to be added the modeller; This offering from ICM is the first time I am aware of the same being true for the aircraft modeller and so I will congratulate ICM on impressing me for that alone. The aircraft in this offering features a nice model of the Polikarpov U-2 and biplanes nearly always look interesting due to the rigging needed to complete the model. The star for me are the figures in the box which are stunning for 1/48th scale offerings in my opinion.