|KIT:||ICM 1/72 I-15|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The I-15 was a development of the earlier I-5, except that this one used a license made Wright 'Cyclone' radial engine of 710 HP. With the increased power and reliability of this engine, the I-15 was very much a world class fighter when it made its maiden flight in late 1933. Though it quickly passed state acceptance trials, problems with licensing the Cyclone meant that the first 400 or so planes were powered with the 480hp engine of the earlier I-5, making for little improvement, but at least getting the planes out to the units and men who were to fly and maintain them. These aircraft also had two hard-points under each wing which were able to carry a maximum of 44 lbs each.
This was surpassed by the I-15bis. The main visual differences being a separate, non-gull upper wing and a wide chord cowling with cooling shutters in the front (actually, I'd call those heating shutters as they allowed the engine to reach operating temperature during cold Russian winters). The new wing was to improve vision for, as neat as the gull wing was, it blocked the view from the cockpit. Since the power-plant of the I-15bis was the same as late I-15s, the aircraft suffered somewhat in comparison as, with any aircraft, the I-15bis had gained weight.
This did not stop the aircraft from being flown and used rather extensively in the Spanish Civil War and the type was even license built in Spain, with several surviving into the very early 1950s. It was also available in large numbers for the start of the Great Patriotic War; many I-15bis aircraft providing fodder for Luftwaffe bombs and fighters.
The single sprue is devoid of unwanted ejector pin marks, and I was unable to find any sink areas. The rather soft, white plastic does, however have some rather hefty seam lines, some of which you could say border on flash. Though easy to clean up, one has to be cautious due to the relatively soft plastic that is used. Removing some of the rather fine parts, such as the engine push rod assembly and the interior cockpit bracing will require care. In many ways, the construction of this will be similar to the I-15 previewed earlier.
The area of greatest concern to me will be assembling the engine cowling. This is made of four separate panels that will be glued to a single piece forward cowling ring. Getting all those aligned will take patience and lots of test fitting. The two small forward bulkhead sections into which the framework is inserted are labeled as left or right, a real helpful idea. The kit comes with four small bombs that you can use during assembly. Though the kit has markings for two ski equipped planes, the wheels are there as well in case you decide to use other markings.
Instructions are quite well done with dual Russian/English commentary. Color information is provided with Model Master and generic names. The construction sequences are well drawn and a rigging diagram is part of the package. Markings for two aircraft are provided. One is from the 13th Independent Squadron, Baltic Fleet from late 1940 in Green over Light Blue. the other is in White over Light Blue with Green upper surface skis. No unit is mentioned, though it is featured on the box art and on the painting guide on the back of the box. The decals are well printed with somewhat large clear carrier film. When I recently built the ICM Type XXIII U-boat, I found their decals were less than cooperative and had troubles with silvering. You may have to resort to dipping these in Future to get them to comply.
However you go about building this one, it will make for a very nice kit. It is a perfect choice for someone who wants to get into biplanes without a ton of rigging. It is also considerably less expensive than any other 1/72 I-15bis on the market. Should make into a very nice (perhaps even 'cute') model!
Thanks to and DLV Company for the review kit. You can find ICM kits at your favorite hobby shop.
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