There has been a number of 1/32nd scale aircraft released by ICM recently and figures have also started to appear from them in this popular scale. ICM has now matched their release of Soviet pilots with an I-16 type 24. The type 24 version was the first to have a tail wheel rather than a skid and also had a better engine. When the I-16 came into being during the early 1930’s it can truthfully be said it was the first in many ways, it had a metal skin and retractable undercarriage; these early aircraft were better than anything else in the air at that time and when taken to Spain outmatched the German aircraft of the day. It was the advent of the Bf 109 that took this advantage away from the I-16 and from that day on they lost most fights in the air.
The I-16 flew during the Spanish civil war on the Republican side, but this small aircraft was also flown in China against the Japanese and also managed some victories there until the Japanese worked out how to defeat it. The aircraft also flew during the early stages of World War 2 until more capable aircraft designs relegated the I-16 to the backup role away from the front line. Regardless of it being out classed by World War 2 this aircraft design was the end of the biplane and the birth of a whole new series of fighters.
This offering from ICM is packaged in their now standard high quality cardboard flip top tray and separate card lid. This packaging has held up to everything but the roughest treatment by postal services. Inside there are two re-sealable plastic bags containing a single grey sprue for the figures and another containing three sprues for the aircraft plus a clear sprue. There is an instruction booklet for the aircraft and a single sheet for the figures, the decals for the model are also packed inside the booklet. A look at the sprues indicates that the moulds are holding up very well and of the standard I expect from ICM.
Soviet Pilots (1939 – 1942)
The sprue is well laid out with the parts for each figure in a straight line on the sprue. An examination of the parts reveals no concerns as regards moulding quality. There is of course some moulding seams present, but nothing beyond any modellers’ ability to deal with. The parts are easily removed from the sprue and the gate between the parts and the sprue are easily tackled.
The figure set offers two pilots and a soldier with some documents. The pilots on offer from ICM provide one stood talking to the soldier and the other waving from the cockpit of an aircraft. The flight uniform of the pilots looks good from an accuracy stand point. The only negative I have been able to pick up on is the lock of the wool insulation around the top of the boots, but it is possible that on the standing figure this is hidden under the trouser legs. I would have liked the legs below the jacket of the standing figure to have been separate parts as it would have allowed for a more realistic undercut.
The parachute and harness detail provided is also accurate according to my reference and will go some way to hiding the major weakness in the aircraft model of the I-16 from ICM, the lack of seat harness detail. The gloved hands are well replicated and despite their bulky appearance due to the gloves all elements are present. The faces look acceptable other than the area above the eyes which seem a little off.
The soldier figure is also good as regards uniform detail. It features the details clearly present early on during the period of World War 2 such as the bulged thigh area. The high boots of this figure are well done, but their height seems excessive unless it is an officers uniform. The hands are well done as he points out details to the standing pilot possible a map or orders. The face is again good for the most part but again the area above the eyes looks off.
Assembly of the Figures
Removal of the figure parts was as I expected an easy task. The cleanup of the gates and seam lines was also a relatively easy task with a new No 11 blade. The pilots go together very well with no obvious areas of concern due to a very pleasing a precise mating of the parts. The standing pilot does have separate flaps for the helmet and these two pieces did require some effort to get aligned to my satisfaction. The soldier/officer has only one issue to overcome and that is the joint at the waist, I never really got this joint together to my satisfaction, but some work will I am sure make it good.
I-16 Type 24
Starting with the cockpit on this offering and while it is limited in detail for a 1/32nd scale model I feel there is enough detail present due to the very small amount that can be seen trough the cockpit opening. The one weakness that has been shouting out at me with every release of the I-16 is the lack of harness detail, a detail that is possibly the only one you really see. The instrument panel has been tackled in an interesting manner with a decal that should be placed on rear of a clear moulding and then inserted into a grey moulded part; the result is a dial that looks to have depth and a clear lens. In the belief that the seated pilot is going to be placed in the model I believe it will need to be added before closing up the fuselage. Another positive with this area of the model is that a lot of bulkheads are provided and so make getting the fuselage to go together correctly.
The fuselage of the model has been well tackled having a good level of detail moulded on the interior where the cockpit is situate and the ribs in the tail are clearly visible; I don’t know if the tail was a fabric skin for this detail to be so prominent. I do know from past experience that the internal bulkheads are the only thing holding the aircraft fuselage in place after its put together. The rudder is shown as workable and so not glued in place I would suggest it is cemented at the angle you prefer. You will notice that there is not a lot in the way of panel lines visible on the fuselage and that does seem to be correct looking at photographs of the real aircraft. Please not that when part 21 is added to the front of the fuselage the seams should be filled as only the machine gun mounts have a visible seam. The hatch at the rear of the fuselage on the right hand side is accurate for a type 24.
The wings and tail of the I-16 type 24 would seem to show a lot of ribbing through the covering looking at online reference; I am unsure if this is due to the images being of aircraft that are still around or an aspect of the aircraft in use. Looking for period photographs proved fruitless as regards showing that detail well, but my gut instinct tells me the leading edge should be smooth. The control surfaces on both the wings and tail are provided separately and so can be set at the angle the modeller prefers. The detail on the upper face of the wings near the root is another area that I was unable to verify how accurate the detail provided is.
This offering from ICM provides quite a nice representation of the radial engine with the exhausts being the only aspect you will see once the model is built. There are three panels that you could leave off the model to display the engine, but if you decide to take that route you will need to put a lot of effort into further dressing up the engine. With this in mind I did a little looking and thanks to this model having been originally released in 2017 there are a number of aftermarket companies offering upgrades for the modeller. Another aspect that I am happy to see included is the machine guns mounted above the engine.
The canopy for the I-16 only consists of the front screen; the I-16 was supplied with a fully enclosed cockpit but due to issues with it sticking pilots had it removed and so a front screen only is correct. The detail present in the canopy looks correct to me and is of a reasonable thickness.
The undercarriage is an area I get a little upset about due to the tail wheel being a single moulding rather than the wheel being a separate part from the leg. The main undercarriage was raised and lowered manually by the pilot using a winch inside the cockpit and that is why there is a hole in the middle of the wheel bay. A thin wire needs to be placed from the centre of the wheel through the hole in the wheel bay and this detail can be seen in the attached videos. I will say that I struggled with the undercarriage on one of the I-16 models in this scale and so take your time to get this right and avoid the struggles I had. The modeller will need to do some work on the undercarriage legs as the brake lines are missing and it is a little simplified in my opinion.
ICM has provided four finishing options with this model and I am impressed with the decals despite there being quite a lot of carrier film on some of them. The colour is good and so far as I can see there is no bleeding present. The aspect that pleases me the most is that when running a finger over the decals I cannot feel the decals on the carrier paper. The four finishing options are:
67th Fighter Regiment, South Front, Summer 1941
72nd Mixed Regiment of the Northern Fleet Aviation, Summer 1941
4th Guard Fighter Regiment, Leningrad Front, Summer 1942
254th Fighter Regiment, Leningrad Front, Summer 1943
While the models that have been provided here are available separately I feel this is a really nice combination offering from ICM and it is one of the good aspects of ICM that they make sure their products are always available at very appealing prices. The I-16 is a pleasing model once built and despite its small size it makes for an impressive model due to the large engine at the front of a small pane. The pilots make this a one stop diorama just requiring a base for display with some colourful finishing options covered. With this offered at €38 I feel this is a great buy.
Highs: There is a reasonable interior considering the limited view and one a pilot is in place it should look very good with one exception.Lows: The weakness here for me that stands out the most is the lack of harness detail, even with the pilot figure in place some scratch work will be required.Verdict: This is a nice combination from ICM that should make for a good display.
About Darren Baker (CMOT) FROM: ENGLAND - SOUTH WEST, UNITED KINGDOM
I have been building model kits since the early 70’s starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70’s, I have had lots of opportunitie...