by: Darren Baker
The I-16 was a series of aircraft developed by the Polikarpov Design Bureau in the early 1930’s. This aircraft design was one of the first monoplane fighter aircraft with retractable undercarriage used by the Soviet armed forces of the period and continued in service with the Soviets throughout the Second World War or the Great Patriotic War as the Russians call it, it was however withdrawn from front line service in late 1943. It needs to be said that from the very start of conflict with the Germans the I-16 was woefully out classed, but it did manage to achieve successes during service. I think one of the worst aspects of the aircraft is that the undercarriage was manually retracted by the pilot using a winch, can you imagine trying to control an aircraft on takeoff and at the same time one hand is occupied winching up the undercarriage! The cockpit was enclosed but due to the canopy having a habit of jamming most pilots had the canopy removed. In this review I look at the I-16 Type 28 in 1/32nd scale which is a nice scale for this small aircraft.
This model is supplied in the excellent robust cardboard box with flip top that is now common to ICM and that does a great job of protecting the model within. The sprues for the model are packed in a single re-sealable bag that can result in bowing and distortion, but this model only has three grey sprues and a clear sprue that is packaged separately. The decal sheet is inside the instruction booklet and so well protected. A visual inspection of the sprues reveals nice crisp moulding with a few flow lines present on the larger parts, but these do not appear to have caused any issues with the mouldings. Anyone looking at this will notice the similarities between this release and the 1/48th scale offering that ICM has previously released. But there are improvements here in terms of the distinctiveness of the detail and other subtle improvements such as the armament. The surface detail is better both in terms of presence and crispness. The one complaint I have at this point is the instruction booklet. The various stages in the booklet are not overly complicated in anyway, but I found myself reaching for reference material and further on in the instructions to be sure of the location and orientation of some parts. The decals seem to be very glossy and so will need a flat coat after application to dull them down.
Sections 1 to 4 - The Wings
Unusually for a model kit construction begins with the wings and right from the start I hit an issue with assembly. The locator pins at the rear of the wings on both sides do not fit well and I had to remove them in order to get a good fit, on the plus side once these four locators are removed fit is good and will not require any other remedial work. The flight controls on the wings are provided separately and again I found the fit problematic, even now I am not completely happy with the result I achieved. On the plus side the fit of the control surfaces to the wings is pleasing.
Sections 5 to 19 – The Cockpit
The cockpit is quite a nice area of the model with only one issue really jumping out at me. The interior detail is generally very good and the fit is good if sometimes difficult to position. The detail present all looks to be accurate if a little simplified in some areas, this being generally restricted to cable detail that could be applied by the modeller if desired, either way there is room for the modeller to make their own mark in this area of the model in a big way. My issue with this area of the model is that ICM has neglected to add the harness detail for the pilot and it is one aspect that really stands out on a model of this scale. The instrument panel has been tackled quite well by using a clear face part with a sold rear insert onto which you apply a decal. Another nice touch is that ICM has supplied painting instructions as you progress through the area, but I also strongly suggest that you seek out your own reference for this area of the model.
Sections 20 to 28 – Fuselage and Flight Surfaces
The tail control surfaces in this model have been supplied so that they can move and this is easily managed if it is an aspect you desire. The parts fit together well and so other than cleaning up of the sprue gate connection points this s is an easy aspect of the model. The fuselage is also a good fit but it wants to splay out from tail to nose, but if you take your time and work from tail to nose it is easily brought together with the ribs supplied in the model. The gun mounting plate fits very well and so a pleasing aspect. The doors on the fuselage did require some fettling in my example and after some sanding they fitted quite well. The wings are a fair fit in most areas but I did have a gap at the front of the right wing that will need to be filled
Sections 29 to 44 Radial Engine
There is one area of model kits that ICM seems to do especially well, and that area is of course the engine of a model. Here ICM has provided a very nice radial engine for the I-16 with painting instructions as you go along, but there is a number of areas that will need painting that have been overlooked in the instructions. The exhausts from the engine have square connection points to help with orientation, but placement would have been made easier if directions had been shown face on in the instructions. I found getting the two halves of the cylinder ring together was problematic and used four clamps to hold everything tightly together. The mounting points for the engine I drilled out with a 1.6mm drill, but did it in stages to avoid getting the holes off kilter. The rotating pin for attaching the propeller is unusually made up of three parts and while not difficult it is an odd approach. The propeller and nose cone go together well and looks good. Fitting the face of the model is a pain as no locators are provided, but if you turn the model upside down there are points that will help you get the placement right. The engine cowlings can be left free, but I feel a better fit is achieved by gluing the two side panels and leaving the top panel free for viewing. The two machine guns added at this stage are not the greatest I have seen, but they are acceptable as most of them is hidden. A little drilling to open the muzzle will improve them. I painted the engine with a mix of Model Master and Mr Metal Color, the Mr Metal Color is the best metallic finish I have ever seen when applied with a brush, Great stuff.
Sections 45 to 59 – The Undercarriage and Finishing
The undercarriage is an area of the model that is acceptable, but I cannot help thinking that it is on the bare side for a model of this scale. I have looked at images of the undercarriage of preserved aircraft and it looks to be accurate, but I still feel it is lacking in the area. The assembly of the wheels is not difficult but bringing it together is harder than it first appears when mounting. The lower portion of the doors are missing the brackets that should be present and the mechanism that folds them. The tail wheel is a single moulding which in this scale is disappointing. The glazing of the cockpit that is present is acceptable being of a reasonable thickness and clarity. The machine guns on the wings are an area that needs cleaning up and I hope replacement brass offerings become available.
This is a very nice model of the I-16, but at the same time it leaves a lot of scope for the modeller to improve it to an excellent model. As regards gripes I have one that is factual and the other is a personal feeling on the model. The factual issue is the lack of harness detail which on a model of this scale is a big miss. The issue that I perceive as a personal perception is the undercarriage; the tail wheel being a single moulding disappoints on a viewing aspect and the front wheel just seems to be lacking in detail for the scale. On the positive side of things we have a model that appears accurate as regards scale, the engine is a very nice detail that adds a nice eye catching aspect and the cockpit with the mentioned exception is very nice. There is of course a small amount of filler required, but other than some basic modelling skills everyone should be able to obtain a model that they feel happy with. One other plus is that this being from ICM it is a very affordable offering for a 1/32nd scale model.