ICM 1/72 Polikarpov I-1/IL-400b
Say "test pilot" and most people, even those into aviation, will
probably conjure up a scene from "The Right Stuff". Chuck
glasses and pilot's jacket, asks for gum. His sidekick, just as
laconic, replies "Ah think ah got me a stick". Then Yeager
to set a world record in a rocket plane named after his hot
Later, they all stoically attend a funeral in the desert for the
latest pilot who bought the farm and mutter that the next
of test pilots - the Armstrongs and Grissoms - aren't true
rudder men", just "spam in can" and glorified chimpanzees.
Even allowing for cinematic license it's probably not so far
mark. Even these days, test pilots risk their lives at the
advanced new machines. The guy who tested the Swedish Gripen
it twice (and lived). That was Sweden in the 1990s. Imagine,
what it was like in the Soviet Union in the 1920s. Who'd be a
The rather handsome Mikhail Mikhaylovich Gromov probably
very thing on 23 June 1927. He was falling from the sky having
abandoned his Polikarpov I-1. That day he became the first
parachute from a plane, even though he probably didn't intend
when he took off.
His plane was the first monoplane fighter built in the USSR.
so far out at the cutting edge of what the Soviets could do when
arrived in 1923 that the plane crashed on its first flight. This
seems to represent the next design, known as Il-400b, which sent
plane's center of gravity further forward among other changes.
plane's biggest problem was its lack of stability - not the best
characteristic for a plane that was 60 years before they
computers that could keep an unstable plane aloft!
Despite his undeniable skill as a pilot, Gromov couldn't keep
in the air that day and chose an untested parachute as the best
get back to the airfield. 33 of these planes were made, though
saw regular service. Gromov went on to set a record flying from
to California over the North Pole in 1937. He lived until 1985
a Hero of the Soviet Union.
None of these planes seems to have survived.
This is an excellent little kit from ICM, the first I have built
that company but won't be the last. It's moulded very nicely
plastic and I didn't see any blemishes in places where they'd be
on the final model. It's a simple kit, not much to it, but it
with a little seat for the cockpit and a tiny windscreen. The
corrugated wing surface is good - I don't know if it is over the
or not because there aren't many photos of this plane around.
You need to scratch build two items. The little bumpers under
wings, and the little handles just forward of the tailplane. These steps could easily be left out, if you preferred. I
think their absence would diminish the look of the final model.
The plane fits together well and the instructions are quite
started by preparing the cockpit area. There is no specific
beyond the seat and stick, so I painted on a few lighter patches
represent instruments, and I painted the two squares on the
which I took to be the safe end of the machine guns.
There is a small part of the wing, inboard of the flaps, where
trailing edge curves in towards the fuselage. It is quite
in the photos. That part of the wing is a separate piece. Don't
to put it on before the outer wing segment, because the rest of
wing does actually fit there and it doesn't look weird that way,
though it is obviously wrong. I did this, but luckily was only
dry-fitting at the time!
The kit has a big central spar to help you attach the wing
Before joining the fuselage and wings together, I pondered how
scratch build the features under the wings (could be bumpers,
landing, or maybe handles for ground manouvering by crew) and on
rear fuselage (I assumed these were handles). I decided to drill
holes there, and use fuze wire to fashion the parts. This stuff
quite bendable, but seems to stay put once you have shaped it
want it. I then filled the hole around the wire with some putty
did my best to smooth it over. It looks ok for the underwing
not as great for the tail-end parts.
The rest of the plane goes together easily enough and before you
it, it is built.
Some of these were made from aluminium, and others from plywood.
really knows what colours they may have been painted? I went
Tamiya XF-16 aluminium, hand-brushed. The instructions call for
different shades of aluminium on different parts of the plane. I
another shade by mixing in some black. I photographed this model
sunlight, and I think you can't really see the effect (which is
actually pretty subtle and probably not pronounced enough).
to say it didn't take long to paint this model.
Others have built this with red wheels based on a photo on the
wikipedia page for this plane, or a similar photo. In that, the
are definitely darker. I decided against that on the basis that
picture seems to be the first prototype while the kit is meant
the later version. At the end of the day, it is just a guess.
these unusual and fairly ancient planes, it is hard to say with
precision what it should have looked like. Also, it seems that
planes of this type differed in their own way. I like it as is,
There are only two decals, one either side for the Russian
Caz Dalton, an MMer who reviewed this kit some years ago,
the writing means The Wings of the Commune of the World, across
top, and, across the bottom, "G. A. Z. No. 1 by the name
GAZ No 1 refers to State Aircraft Factory No. 1 and О.Д.В.Ф. is
acronym for The Society of the Friends of the Air Fleet.
This is a great kit and it's nice to have an unusual vintage
the shelf. The kit is easy to build and suitable for anyone at
The Russian wikipedia has a picture of a different configuration
this plane: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3b/Polikarpov_I-1.jpg
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