|KIT:||Eduard 1/48 Polikarpov I-16|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Royal Class set with three kits and many extras|
The Polikarpov I-16 was a design that was basically obsolete at the start of the Great Patriotic War, but it was available in large numbers and so bore much of the brunt of the fighting and losses during the initial stages of the conflict.
The I-16 was also the first low wing monoplane fighter with retractable landing gear to enter service with the air force of any nation and provided the Soviet Union with a real edge in terms of aviation fighter capabilities. At least for a few years as the pace of improvement during these times was quick.
Developed in the early 1930s, the I-16 first flew in late 1933. So successful were the state acceptance trials, that the aircraft was put into immediate production with deliveries commencing barely 6 months after first flight. The type 4 with the M-25 engine (a Wright Cyclone 9 cylinder radial), was the first really combat ready type and deliveries started in early 1934. This was followed in 1936 by the type 6 with an improved engine and the next year with the type 10, which had even more improvements.
The type 10 was the version sent to Spain in 1936 so that it could be evaluated against other aircraft. The Spanish Republicans liked the aircraft so much that a manufacturing license was obtained to build the aircraft locally and many were produced before the Nationalists under Franco and with help from Germany and Italy won the war in March of 1939. The type was also provided to the Chinese who used it against the Japanese.
Other versions followed including the type 17, an improved type 10 with 20mm cannon, type 18 and 24 which had an M-82 radial and carried improved armament, with the type 24 also carrying 20mm cannon. Total production of all types exceeded 7,000, a huge number for the time. 4,000 of these were used against the Germans during the early years of the war.
Today, several have been pulled out of bogs and swamps to be rebuilt and are flying in various places around the world.
Apparently, Eduard thought it would be cool to box three kits with all the 'stuff' they could think of and offer it as a 'limited edition'. This means limited to 1,000 boxings (mine is #768). It also means over 3,000 kits.
Well, I say over 3,000 kits as the nature of the beast is that in order to provide a lot of options, you need some extra parts.
Let me explain. When you open the very large box, you will find a lot of plastic. You have four sets of fuselages, four sets of lower wings and three sets of upper, and basically three sprues of the rest of the kit. I've shown a sprue image from Tom Cleaver's preview of this kit so you can see what one kit looks like.
The set includes three sets of Eduard color photo etch and four sets of clear windscreens. There are also three sets of resin wheels and a set of canopy/wheel masks for three aircraft.
Also added into the mix and just for this boxing is a complete copy of the IL-2 computer game (though no additional info in terms of how the game is played, but it is a simulation game from about 5 years back and still quite nice). There is also a 1/16 Soviet pilot figure that includes his own photo-etch fret. On top of that, there is a nicely done reproduction of the Guards badge. Now really, most of this last stuff is nice to have but not essential, though it does add to the value of the set.
You also get two large sheets with markings for 14 different aircraft. Basically, the brunt of the markings are for the Type 10 with a couple for the Type 17 and more for the type 24. The way the parts are, you can do two type 10s and two of the later versions, though personally, I'd rather be able to do them all as the earlier planes as those are the most interesting to me.
The instruction book is typical Eduard with nicely done diagrams and information on color. The 14 decal options each have their own full color four view page.
If you like the I-16 enough to build three of them in the same scale, then this is a kit you must have. You'd buy this stuff anyway, so might as well get them all at one time and take advantage of the goodies. Collectors will buy it because it is serialized and while 1,000 of something like this really isn't as few as you'd think (due to the high initial price), there will be people sucked in by that aspect of things. My excuse is that I really like I-16s and will eventually build them all (I can hear the collectors gasp in horror)
I just couldn't pass up the great price at North American Hobbies so bought this one even after I had told myself that I couldn't afford it.
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