RPM 1/72 Beriev Be.4/KOR-2
As the Beriev design team was developing the KOR-1 two seat float biplane for Soviet Navy shipboard operations, they also began designing on parallel the more advanced KOR-2 flying boat for the same requirement. The result was a small, high performance two or three place flying boat powered by a massive 1,000 hp. M-62 radial engine swinging a three bladed metal propeller. The structure was all-metal, with fabric covered control surfaces. The parasol wing was an inverted gull type to allow clearance for the prop over the fuselage. Fixed floats were mounted near the wingtips. A crew of two or three was carried, a pilot and a rear gunner. Armament consisted of two 7.62 mm. ShKAS machine guns, one fixed in a forward firing position, and the other operated by the gunner in the rear seat.
The aircraft first flew in October, 1940, at the Beriev factory at Taganrog, and series production began in 1941 under the designation Be-4. When the Germans invaded, the plant was packed up and moved two times, winding up in Krasnoyarsk, and a total of 47 BE-4ís was produced between 1943 and 1945.
The planes equipped the Soviet Black Sea Fleet from 1942 until 1945. They were used mainly for coastal reconnaissance, transport, and anti-submarine operations. They also operated as catapult seaplanes from the cruisers Kirov and Maxim Gorki.
There have apparently been several kits issued of this model. Burnsí Guide lists A-Model, Boleslav, CMK/CMR, Czechmasters, KPM, Omega, RPM, and Wings. Some of these are certainly vacuform or resin. This is the only one of these kits I have seen. For all I know, they may possibly all be the same kit.
The kit consists of two sprues of light colored styrene plastic and two clear plastic canopy parts in a sealed plastic bag. The molding seems rather crude, but it is not over-detailed, and is easy to smooth out to remove the flash. Panel lines are almost invisible, and control surface lines are just barely visible. At least they didnít overdo it.
The instructions are printed on one large 12Ē x 16Ē sheet of newsprint, the first sheet providing a history and instructions in Polish, along with profile views of the six aircraft for which decals are provided, while the second half of the sheet has a sprue diagram and six assembly drawings showing numbered parts. The backside is blank.
Assembly of the kit is quite simple, considering its complexity. The powerplant assembly consists of a one piece cowling, a nicely detailed radial engine which fits nicely inside the cowling, a prop with spinner attached, and a carburetor air intake which fits on top of the cowl. The fuselage has two main sections, two cockpit floors, four bulkheads, one of which is an instrument panel, two pilotís seats, and a gunnerís bench. Once the interior parts are assembled, and the fuselage halves are joined, the wing and other parts can be put in place. One thing the kit does not include is a three-view drawing of the airplane, and this would be very useful in the process. These are available on line, and I have included one here. The wing consists of a two-part center section, and two part outer wing panels. These assure the correct wing dihedral, so it is almost impossible to get this in the wrong position. The wingtip floats are cast in two halves, and the struts need to be glued to the floats after they are dried. There are parallel wing bracing struts to be attached after the wings are in position, but there are no tailplane struts or wires. In fact, the only wires I attached anywhere on the airplane were bracing wires in between the float struts, and also a wire low frequency radio antenna. These are not shown in the instructions, but on line drawings and photos show them. In addition, there is a small steering water-rudder at the rear of the main float included, and it is shown on the box art. There is no mention in the kit instructions of a wheeled beaching undercarriage, although an on-line photo shows this. This allows the rear steering rudder to stay clear of the ground. Photos show a small tailwheel and main beaching wheels on the hull just ahead of the center of gravity, and I attached these so that the airplane would sit in the proper position with the water rudder clearing the ground by about a foot. In addition, I added small bomb racks just outboard of the main wing struts, probably for depth charges for anti-submarine. These were probably attached to only some of the aircraft. I used wing racks from an old Airfix FW-190A kit, and they worked quite well.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
The instructions provide six different color schemes for the plane, and although they are only in Polish, it is easy to guess that they are combinations of dark green, pale blue, and some shade of brown. The box art shows a dark green over sky blue undersides. Some of the red stars had white outlines, while others did not. One option is to paint the aircraft entirely aluminum, and there is a photo of this plane on line. I opted for a standard green and blue scheme with a yellow ď04Ē on the rear fuselage. I think I guessed right.
This is a nice little model, and stands out in my collection of Russian aircraft. It is not Hasegawa/Airfix quality, but still make into a presentable model, although I donít think Iíll win any contests with it. However, it was fun, and a challenge, and isnít that what modeling is all about. Try one of these if you can find one. Recommended.
This aircraft has some interesting reference material. On line references using Google give the basic background, some photos, and good three view drawings (included here). However, the plane is not mentioned in Greenís little book on Flying Boats, published back in 1962. In fact, they have an article that claims to describe the Beriev BE-4, but it actually describes a TWIN engine flying boat, the Tchetverikov MDR-6, which was developed in 1938, and aside from the engines, bears a faint resemblance to the Be-4. The author designates the aircraft as BE-4, MDR-6, two entirely different aircraft. Just remember that the Be-4/KORó2 is a SINGLE engine aircraft, and that should clear things up. Iíd like to see a kit of the MDR-6, and there probably is one, but it is not the aircraft listed in Greenís book. Websites show it to be a much larger twin engine flying boat, codenamed Madge and Mole in the postwar NATO system. There are two kits of this aircraft listed in Burnsí book, one in 1/72 scale and one in 1/48. Since there is no photo of the aircraft in Greenís book, I wonder if the aircraft described in the book actually existed. Comments, anyone?
23 January 2020
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