by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
Before WW2 U-2s served as trainers, but following the German invasion it undertook a number of roles including light bombing, artillery spotting, air-ambulance and psychological warfare. The U-2 was equipped with wheels, skis or floats and could carry a wide range of guns, rockets and small bombs.
When Nikolai Polikarpov died in 1944, the U-2 was re-named Po-2 in his honour.
The KitGavia's model is moulded in grey plastic and includes parts to allow either a rocket-equipped or ambulance aircraft to be built. Additionally, both wheels and skis are included. The surface finish is very good, with precisely moulded rib-tapes and very crisp details. There is no flash evident and where mould-separation lines are visible it will only take a moment to clean them off. In my example there is a minor sink-mark on one of the undercarriage shock absorbers.
The wings are moulded as upper and lower halves, and the top wing features separate outer panels. Assembly should be quite straightforward, but it will probably be a good idea to build a simple jig to keep everything square and set the dihedral (the angle isn't shown in the instructions).
There is a small discrepency between the kit and the boxtop illustration; the small windows shown the ambulance pods aren't included in the kit parts.
DetailsThe cockpit is very nicely detailed and combines both etched brass and plastic components. The etched sheet provides alternatives to the plastic instrument panels, along with harnesses, throttles etc., plus a number of exterior details.
A sheet of acetate has the instrument faces and also provides the windscreens, which must be cut out and glued to etched-metal frames.
The engine is built up with separate cylinders and exhausts. Push rods are shown added from sprue.
Instructions & DecalsThe instructions are well drawn and show the position of everything very clearly. Colours are keyed to the diagrams, but no paint references are given - just generic names such as "ground green". Sadly, there isn't a rigging diagram, but reference to the other drawings and the box-top should be sufficient to figure things out.
Decals are provided for three aircraft. These are printed by Propagteam and are in perfect register. Two of the schemes are rather plain, but one is quite spectacular with large yellow arrows and stripes adorning the fuselage and wings.
ConclusionThis is an excellent kit of an important aircraft. Considering the number of options included and the neat etched-metal details, it represents good value for money.