Trumpeter 1/72 H-5 (IL-28) 'Beagle'

KIT #: 01603/4
PRICE: About $10.00
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Gordon Zammit
NOTES: H-5/Il-28 are same kit, with a replaceable turret. Decals home printed.

HISTORY

 The Il-28 was developed just after WW2, and the airframe still carries the design principles followed at that time. However, it was the first successful Soviet jet bomber and was to remain in service long after many of its successors. Powered by 2 RD-45 jet engines, unlicensed copies of the RR Nene turbojet, the Il-28 was able to exceed the 500mph (800km/h) requirement that it was designed for even though it had perfectly straight wings. The tail and fin surfaces were however swept, and this gave a distinctive shape to the aircraft.

Romania was one of the ex-Warsaw pact countries to keep the Il-28/H-5 in active service into the new millennium. This may be another testament of the reliability of the Rolls Royce Nene turbojet (and its copies!). In 2001, the Romanian AF painted one of its remaining H-5 in a spectacular scheme of blue and grey, and planned to send it to the famous UK air show of RIAT. Unfortunately, it was written off 2 days before it was to leave for the UK, after a heavy landing in bad weather at its base in Borcea-Fetesti. The aircraft broke in two but the crew of 3 walked off safely from the crash. There are several online photos of the aircraft after the accident (but only a few before) and this helped me in this project a lot.

THE KIT

 This is obviously not the first kit in 1/72nd scale of the Beagle. I remember in my earlier days of model making the Airfix kit which I think was the first one available in the west of this aircraft. As with all USSR aircraft in those days, it was shrouded in secrecy, and reference to such aircraft was scarce to say the least. The few photos running around could be seen in all publications, and all available photos were in black and white, and usually grainy and with few details. Afterwards there came the Italeri/Bilek kits, which were a vast improvement over the Airfix offering, but still lacked in most ways, even when compared to kits of the day. The Trumpeter kits were a few of the first that the then new manufacturer began to produce. They were also said to be unlicensed copies of the Italeri kits, but I doubt if this is true: more later on.

CONSTRUCTION

 As usual the procedure starts at the cockpit. This is not very refined, but if modeling the kit with a closed canopy, it is enough for this scale. I added some seat belts and painted the inside of the canopy according to the book ďIljuszyn il-28 BeagleĒ which is in Polish but has some English captions as well. The seat sat too low in the tub and I added some plastic card beneath to raise it up. The interior colours for the Il-28 are grey with green trim fabric according to the Polish book, and I followed the coloured drawings, but also managed to find some online reference photos which confirmed this as well. I added some details in the bomb-aimerís compartment which would be quite visible through the glazed nose. Trumpeter issues this kit as both the Harbin H-5 and Il-28. They are the same kit with different decals, and the fuselage halves are moulded to represent the Chinese version, the H-5. The produce a Russian Il-28, you have to remove the rear parts of the fuselage halves which represent the turret fitted to the H-5, and replace this part with the extra parts supplied. Since I was making the Romanian H-5, I did not need to replace the turret so I glued the nose wheel bay, found some space for the nose weight (which is not readily available) and cemented the two halves together. Fit of the parts so far was good, but the parts are somewhat crude and the panel lines though recessed, lack the finesse of recent Trumpeter offerings (It also reflected in the price, as this is less than half what recent Trumpeter kits of the same size cost). I closed the bomb bay for this as it wouldnít have carried bombs to an airshow. Some sources even quote it as being an H-5R recce plane, but from the available photos, there seems to be no photo equipment carried underneath, or it may have been removed for the airshow colour scheme.

The engine nacelles came next. The undercarriage bays have to by folded into boxes after cutting from the sprue, and then cemented to one of the halves. You have to cement the engine fronts and jetpipes to the same halves before closing them to form the complete engine bay. I painted the inner exhausts but decided to smooth out the intake fronts after construction before painting the front end as these are a prominent feature of the aircraft and need to be finished accordingly. There are intakes on the sides of the nacelles, which are moulded solid. I drilled these out to make them look more realistic. Next came the main wings. I dry fitted these after cleaning them up, and fit was very good. However, the aerofoil section of the wings is totally wrong. If left as they come, you would end up with something more like an elliptical section than an aerofoil section. So some sanding was carried out, and rescribing of the lost detail especially on the top parts of the wing is needed as the sanding will eliminate most of the details. After some session it looked satisfactory enough and the wings were glued together. The nacelles were also glued in place, and here came the first major mistake in this kit. The enginesí upper edge is in line with the lower surface of the wing, where as in the real thing it is in line with the upper surface of the wings. There is a step in the Trumpeter representation, and it is obvious even if you donít see the real thing that itís not how it should be. The engines however seem to be quite well otherwise, even in the angle at which they are fixed, so some filler on the upper side solved this problem quite easily. I used Tamiya epoxy filler and left it to cure for 2 days before sanding it and rescribing the panel lines onto it again. After these looked good enough, I glued them to the fuselage. Fit was not very good, needing a strip of plastic sheet on top. Also filling and sanding was required, mostly on the lower sides. Next came the horizontal tail surfaces, and these went on without any trouble and fit was very good here. After I had the basic airframe completed I noticed that the port wing was not a smooth taper when view from the front. So I cracked it open again with a hobby knife and sanded it some more to get the correct section up to the wing tip.

Now it was up to the transparencies, and here is the real problem of building this kit! I had prepared to start masking the nose glazing when I noticed that on this part of the transparency, Trumpeter had moulded the frames recessed compared to the clear windows, but I reasoned that I would leave them as they are, as they would not be apparent when painted. So I started the masking process and to aid me I printed a close up photo I found online of the nose section. Then I realized that then was another major mistake. The frames on the Trumpeter nose continued as a straight line along the whole nose part, while on the real aircraft they do not. As a result there were two small windows half the size of the others in line with them, and they looked ridiculous. Here I thought about the Italeri kit I had in the stash, and decided to see if this kitís nose transparency would fit onto the half built Trumpeter I now had on the bench. I was also curious about the framing on the Italeri (Bilek) kit. Till now, I was expecting to see a copy of what I had in front of me, due to believing that Trumpeter was a copy of the Bilek kit as I had read several times previously. But to my surprise, the Bilek glazing is different. The framing is not moulded very crisply, but it stands raised of the window panels, AND the framing is correctly represented. It is also somewhat larger in diameter, and wonít fit on the Trumpeter kit without enlarging the front part of the fuselage, as obviously the transparent part cannot be sanded to fit. So after a few days considering very few options, (e.g. leaving it in the half built pile!), I decided to try making one myself. I had done a few simpler canopies before but not as complicated as this one. I searched online for the best options, and found that PETG plastic is the best option for thermoforming. I ordered a few sheets of 0.5mm and 1mm, as those were the ones willing to ship these to me in Malta, and after a few more days, these turned up with the post. Meanwhile I decided to try to cut the glazing to keep the correct part and just make the second row of windows, but I soon realized that It was difficult if not impossible to retain the curvature this way. So I took the glazing of another Trumpeter kit I have in the stash, and started to make a former from it. I decided that if I made a smooth surface and just mask the windows and airbrush over whatís left as the frame would be convincing at this scale. I filled the canopy with milliput on the inside and outside as well and started sanding to obtain a smooth finish. After completing this, I was off trying to form the replacement nose glazing (now I required 2 as I also destroyed the other unbuilt kitís) and after around six or seven attempts, I still did not have one whole nose as the plastic tore just as I was to pull it all the way along all the nose. Several more attempts later I finally managed to get a full nose, but it wouldnít come off the former. I started cutting with a new blade on the hobby knife, and when I cut it exactly along the edge of the former canopy, it jut popped out. Test fitting on the assembled kit was rewarding as it was very close in shape and size as well, but the plastic was so thin, that it was just too flexible. I made several more attempts, but decide to go on and try this one as all broke again. I attached it with pieces of tape and then added small drops of super glue. I had tested super glue on the material and found that there is no effect on it. So I glued as much as I could with superglue, removed the tape and added more superglue and white glue to fill all the gaps. I then masked all the windows one by one following the photos of real aircraft, and concluded that they needed to be a bit shorter than the whole length of the part as I made it. This aided me in filling and sanding the nose to the rest of the airframe. After I was satisfied with the front part, I turned on the transparencies on the rear turret. It looked good enough so I used the one provided with the kit, masked it and attached it with white glue. There is nothing inside and I left at like that as nothing will be seen through the small windows. I did the same with the main canopy, and continued adding the various antennas and small parts. I filled in the entrance hatch for the bomb aimer and rescribed it as it was too far forward. After some more retouching and some finer sanding and filling it was ready for the painting.

COLORS & MARKINGS

As this was a one off aircraft, finding the true colours proved impossible. I therefore decide to match the available photos that are present on the internet. The lighter grey seemed to match Humbrol 147, while for the middle blue Humbrol 48 was a good match and Revell 56 for the dark blue. Obviously, I am not stating that these are 100% correct, but the final result seems good enough for me. With such colour schemes we may never get a chance to find a good reference, so itís either guessing, or skipping it and go to something else. I airbrushed the three colours freehand in a couple of days. After some touch ups, it was ready from the main colours. I than masked the lower radome and mixed a dark green from Humbrol 88 and black, as  I did not find any matching colour ready. The turret was sprayed in satin white, and the trim tabs masked and sprayed in red. The trim tab on the starboard aileron had been rescribed as it was not present on the kit.

This was a first for me for printing decals onto laser printer film, and I must say that itís much easier than the inkjet printer, since there is no need to coat the printed decals with any varnish as laser printers do not use water based ink. The printing quality though is not as good, although it might be the performance of the printers themselves and not the paper. I printed the roundels, numbers, and the polar bear onto the clear film. For the roundels I cut a 12mm (half inch) mask onto masking film and used it to spray white for the backing of the roundels. As for the polar bear motif, I darkened the graphic on the computer software and printed it on the white sheet, not on the decal side but on the backing paper side. I cut it along the outline and used the plain white for the backing of the polar bear on the aircraft. After dry, I placed the coloured decal which was printed on the transparent. I have used this method for the inkjet printed decals to avoid cutting the edge of the printed decal, but I think that is not necessary with laser printing, so I might have just printed it on the white sheet and used it at one go. There isnít any stenciling apparent on the real aircraft so I only applied the printed decals and a few marking near the canopy. Next the Beagle was given a light coat of Klear again, a slight wash and some subtle weathering. The real aircraft didnít have much time to weather after its paint job, so no heavy weathering here. After a day, I applied some final flat varnish to the whole model and removed the masking from the transparencies. Final steps were adding the wheels, antennas and turret, and navigation lights, and an aerial from fishing line.

CONCLUSIONS

 Although not an easy build, it was still an enjoyable one. The nose was obviously the greatest hurdle with this kit, but there were other corrections which show that this was one of Trumpeterís earlier products, like the thick wings and incorrect nose window configuration, but I still doubt if the other option from Italeri/Bilek is better than this. Sometime I will find out, as I need to make both a USSR and Nigerian aircraft with the 2 remaining kits.

REFERENCES

 www.airliners.net

www.jetphotos.net

Iljuszyn il-28 Beagle, Serie Pod Lupa, ACE publications.

Gordon Zammit

December 2012

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