KP 1/72 IL-10

KIT #:
PRICE: ~$5-15.00
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Ryan Grosswiler
NOTES: Don't ever take our hobby too seriously

HISTORY

    As the little-known coda to the famous Il-2 'Shturmovik' story, the Il-10 provides us with an object lesson of the importance of listening to those using your common-but-imperfect product and then staying a step ahead by proactively providing something better.

    Contrary to what has been written elsewhere, the Il-10 was not developed from its more famous older sibling, but from a stillborn armored fighter project. While the Il-2 was the backbone of the Soviet close air support force for the bulk of WWII, its crews were not all that thrilled with it. Ilyushin listened carefully to their criticisms, and when the prototype Il-1 armored interceptor turned out to be a developmental dead end, the design bureau made the proverbial lemonade out of lemons and dropped a rear gunner into it to create the ideal successor Shturmovik. The Tweedledee/Tweedledum Kokkinaki brothers took the prototype through its required state tests in the spring of 1944, which it passed without issue.

    The resulting aircraft had reached the troops by the late fall. Accounts vary widely as to when it actually went into action, but it was certainly in full service in time for the the final Soviet drive to Berlin. Bill Gunston laconically writes, "from start reliability and effectiveness far greater than Il-2." The Il-10 brought the same firepower to bear as the Il-2, but in a much cleaner, faster, and more compact package, and its fighter roots became evident when its crews began to score some kills in aerial combat during the last month or so of the war.

    Production was shifted to the newly-communist Czechoslovakia in the late 1940s as part of the COMECON industry-sharing program. The Czechs made some changes, namely a switch to a four-cannon armament, and the design was ultimately stretched by six feet in length and span with the tips of all flying surfaces squared off to become the -10M. Some of the Soviet-built aircraft were supplied to the North Korean Air Force, where they made their most conspicuous appearance to the West as spearheading the invasion of the South: that famous June 1950 photo of the C-54 nose-down and in flames at Kimpo is an image of their likely handiwork.

    It faded from the scene fairly rapidly after that, as air forces everywhere for a decade or two forgot the value of dedicated close air support aircraft. Some of the Soviet-built examples are still out there as hulks in rural China.

THE KIT

    My sample consisted of 48 parts molded in a soft, almost rubbery silver plastic on two sprues, though it's usually molded in grey or white. One clear but frosty canopy. Most other issues also include a clear stand. As of this writing, there's no other 1/72 kit of this plane whatsoever, only a 1/48 MPM-group short-run. Standard 1960s fare here: raised panel lines, indifferent detail, mostly accurate outline according to published drawings.

CONSTRUCTION

    Actually assembly is totally conventional. Out on another overseas deployment, however, I set out to do the standard Old Kit Makeover with re-scribed panel lines and better detail. The silver plastic  allowed me to sand everything smooth while retaining a 'ghost' image of the lines for handy reference when I scribed them back in later. The main areas of interest in the accurization process were: 1) fattening up the seriously undernourished landing gear fairings at the wing leading edge with epoxy putty; 2) replacing the too-small prop and too-curvy spinner with Il-2 parts stolen from a Dako-Plast kit; 3) replacing the entire main landing gear with some bits from the spares box and Il-2 main wheels; 4) dealing with a thoughtlessly engineered wing-fuselage joint with more putty and sanding, drilling out/reshaping the wing root cooling intakes in the same operation; 5) backdating the armament (and its associated wing access panels) to the Soviet machine gun and cannon package appropriate to a VVS aircraft.

    Detail finished with two resin FAB-100 bombs on the KP kit racks plus RS-132 rockets and UBS gun pinched from that same hapless Il-2 kit (not to worry, though. It's going to star airborne in an action-packed diorama overflying two Panther tanks!). Note that rocket racks were not fitted to initial Soviet production of this aircraft, and, like the Il-2, cockpit detail is almost invisible up front and blank in back. Seats with belts alone will suffice for internal detail; remember that the rear gunner sat on a canvas sling.

    The main problem is the clear part that's about 15% too short in length and a windscreen that's too steep. This makes the canopy appear too tall and prominent, which it isn't. The usual sharp-eyed Tore Martin of Falcon models missed this when he molded his replacement canopy as part of Set# 24. I used the Falcon canopy as it is more clear and simply hoped the problem wouldn't be that noticeable when I added the rear gun after painting.

COLORS & MARKINGS

    Soviet olive green over Light Blue, all enamels conjured from my usual mix of Testor's and leftover Xtracolor paints; can't get the latter here in the USA anymore. A bit of masking, hand-painting, and spares-box decals yielded me Lt. Ivan Ustanov's commemorative aircraft with its striking white bolt-arrows as photographed in July 1945. Some enamel washes and silver dry-brushing achieved the desired patina, followed by lightly airbrushed exhaust stains.

CONCLUSIONS

    I'm sorta on the fence with this one: I started out intending to have fun with Total Old Kit Makeover but ended getting myself into a classic AMS misadventure. For all the work I put into this model I really should have done something about that canopy; its problems did not conceal with finishing which vexed me slightly. But then I took a Perspective Pill: "Really? You're getting yourself all bent up over a canopy that's slightly the wrong shape?" I laughed at myself and stuck the new model in my lineup. Much of this was a by-product of being stuck for most a year in Timbuktustan with little other diversion.

    Mind you, the editor of this site built his example completely stock and I think he got way more bang for his buck. As mentioned this kit's the currently only medium of getting the Leaner Meaner Ultimate Shturmovik in 1/72. If you want to spiff it up a bit, restrict yourself to replacing the wheels and gunner's weapon while fixing the wheel fairings and root intakes. You'll be happier with it.

REFERENCES

    Koran and Ovcacik. Il-2 Type 3 and IL-10/Avia B-33 in detail. Wings and Wheels Publications, 1997

    Gunston, Bill. The Osprey Encyclopedia of Russian Aircraft.  Osprey Publishing, 1995

    Taylor, John. Combat Aircraft of the World.  G.P. Putnam, 1969

    The Internet

Ryan Grosswiler

20 February 2017

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