Amodel 1/72 Polikarpov I-180E-3

KIT #: 7283
PRICE: $12.46 several years back.
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Brian Baker
NOTES: Short run kit, but worth getting


The Polikarpov I-180E-3 was a progressive development of the I-16 fighter series.  In 1938, Polikarpov began to design a successor to the I-16, powered by an M-88 radial engine. It followed the general lines of its predecessor, but was cleaner aerodynamically and more powerful.  The first two prototypes crashed early in the test program, and therefore, in the spirit of the times,  the NKVD arrested the design team, who continued their work from prison.  In July, 1940, the I-180E-3 prototype appeared, powered by an M-88P engine. It was successful enough that 13 were eventually built for evaluation, although only 10 had full military equipment. With the availability of the better performing MiG and Lavochkin fighters, the I-180 faded away.  There is no record of any of them being used in combat.


The kit consists of 36 parts molded in soft white styrene, with two canopies in clear plastic.  There is some flash, but not much.  The kit is typical of Eastern European epoxy molded kits.  There is a surprising amount of detail, including cockpit sidewalls and a relatively complete interior.  The wing is made up of 3 panels, with the lower piece extending wingtip to wingtip, which automatically assumes the correct dihedral angle when attached to the fuselage.  Landing gear can be assembled in “up” or “down” position, and gun barrels can be removed easily for modeling the unarmed prototypes.


 The kit includes a standard 8 ˝ by 11 inch folded sheet, which includes four pages. The first sheet shows a drawing of the plane, and provides the type’s history in English and Russian. Page 2 includes painting information and a sprue diagram.  Page 3 presents four exploded diagrams showing the assembly steps.  Page four give three different color schemes, although only one requires decals. For its size, the sheet provides a lot of information.   The decal sheet consists of only four silver colored stars, of which only two are needed.


  The tail unit slides into the rear fuselage in a rather unusual manner, but the kit is well designed and I experienced no problems during assembly.   A little filler is required, but this is to be expected in this type of kit.


Finishing this model is very easy, as you only have a couple of choices on this one.  Color choices are overall silver or red.  On one of the silver versions, the cowling and spinner are black, while the other  example is red overall.


 This kit was simple and fun to build, and provided respite from some of the more complicated kits I have built recently.  It’s not up to Tamigawa standard, but it certainly is as good as Airfix or Frog.  It is a  solid, better-than-average looking model that looks good sitting next to the various Russian types I have in my display cabinet.  I would doubt that any other firm would ever produce a kit of this aircraft, so this is one to get if you like nice but obscure airplanes.

Brian Baker

June 2010

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