|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The Petlyakov Pe-2 (Russian: Петляков Пе-2) was a Soviet light bomber used during World War II. It was regarded as one of the best ground attack aircraft of the war and it was extremely successful in the roles of heavy fighter, reconnaissance and night fighter. It was one of the most important aircraft of World War II, similar in many respects to the British de Havilland Mosquito. Pe-2s were manufactured in greater numbers (11,427 built) during the war than any other twin-engined combat aircraft except for the German Junkers Ju 88 and British Vickers Wellington. (Fourth in production numbers was the American Lockheed P-38 Lightning with 10,037 built.) The Pe-2 was fast, maneuverable and durable. Several Communist nations flew the type after the war, when it became known by the NATO reporting name Buck. Six captured Pe-2s were also transferred from the Germans to the Finnish Air Force during the German invasion to the Soviet Union, with the serial code PE- and the unofficial nickname Pekka-Eemeli.
The aircraft was widely used post war by Soviet 'client' states and many survive as museum examples.
As important an aircraft as was the Pe-2, it has been rather poorly represented by model kits. Aside from an MPM/Special Hobby/HiPM kit many years back, which I've always considered to be short run, this is, to my knowledge, the first time it has been kitted by a mainstream manufacturer in this scale. Zvezd continues to package their large kits with a flimsy mail box type outer wrapper covering a cardboard 'lunch box' type inner section that holds the kit bits. My inner box had pretty well delaminated for whatever reason, but still held the several bags of nicely molded parts.
In line with pretty much all of Zvezda's 1/48 scale kits, it can be built with all sorts of panels open and that includes one of the engines. The kit also offers an 'in flight' option where there are not a lot of panels open. Many of us who do not like having all the panels open will build this one with many of the 'in flight' options so we can have a relatively closed up airframe.
In addition to an exposed engine, the bomb bay can be displayed open to show a pair of bombs and a long range fuel tank. Holes in the lower wing will need to be opened for the dive brakes and a bomb rack. Those building the kit on the ground but with the engine covers closed will need to remember to switch between the build options so that things like wheel well detail and engine accessory section will be visible.
A reasonably well done cockpit and gunner's position are provided with quite a bit of internal detail. Separate control levers are provided for the pilot's side console. You also get pilot and gunner figures if you so wish to include those. To say that there is a lot of interior detail would be a bit of an understatement, but as is often the case, you won't see it all once the fuselage is closed without a strong flashlight.
Flight control surfaces are separate and this kit introduces an interesting bit of engineering for the wing where the outer leading edges are separate pieces. It will be interesting to see how that works out. The kit has separate exhaust stacks, which I wish they wouldn't do, but apparently there is some value in the minds of designers for things like this. I find them a bit of a pain. As expected, the prop has separate blades that fit onto a backing plate over which a spinner is attached. There are also bombs for the external racks and optional closed gear doors for those doing an in-flight display. The display stand will have to be obtained separately, similar to the way Airfix does it.
Instructions are well done with Humbrol paint references, this time providing an actual color name on the color chart. All the options are from 1944/45 and are painted in dark green/tan/'tank grey' over aircraft blue. The camouflage pattern is different in two of the three options. Two of the three options also have patriotic slogans painted on the airframe in white. The decal sheet is nicely done and provides instrument decals as well as a very few stencils. The white for the tail tips of one option are included as decals but I'd paint those.
It is nice to see a well done kit of this plane finally arrive on the scene. Though not the variety of markings options that we have come to expect from other aircraft types, I'm sure more will surface as the aftermarket decal folks get going on this one. Personally, I'd like to see some post war options show up. The plane was built in a bewildering number of variants so I'd bet we will see more boxings in the future.
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