AMP 1/72 Moskalev SAM-23 battle plane
KIT #: 7202
PRICE: $16.45 from www.scale-model-kits.com  
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: New Tool Kit

HISTORY

The Internet is pretty well mum on information regarding this plane. I did find the Moskalev was a relatively proficient designer who really didn't have any major production success with his aircraft. This particular design is apparently a low powered attack aircraft where the trailing wheel was some sort of terrain following mechanism that possibly was connected to the flight control surfaces. It may also have been designed to carry a bomb for very low level insertion, but that seems rather implausible. This trailing wheel served as a tail wheel when the plane was on the ground.

Whatever the purpose the aircraft was a pre-war design that was not put into service. In fact, I'm not sure if it actually flew as I've not been able to find a photo of the plane so any information would be appreciated.

THE KIT

The small zip bag contains two grey sprues, a clear canopy and decals. Molding on the sprues is actually quite good with a teeny amount of flash on three braces, no sink areas and nicely done engraved panel lines. The cockpit accommodations include a seat, control stick, rudder pedals and a floor. There is also an instrument panel with nicely detailed instruments and a rear bulkhead. The engine cylinders are separate and fit into depressions on the rear of the stub fuselage.

Probably the only tricky parts will be the alignment of the three rods that make up the forward skid attachment point and the alignment of the single central fin/rudder. Both this latter part and the area for the main gear lets have their placement engraved so that you can easily find it. The kit comes with a small sheet that is basically insignia. The aircraft itself is dark green over light blue. AMT reference numbers are provided. The instructions are wholly in Russian but thanks to the well drawn construction steps, that is not a barrier to completing the kit.  

CONSTRUCTION

The first thing I did was to remove the major parts of the kit and clean up the attachment points. These invade the actual parts so need to be carefully sanded smooth. Next the engine cowling was cemented as were the upper and lower wings. The fit is fair, though the trailing edges of the wings are rather thick. The cockpit rear bulkhead was cemented in place along with the floor. To this was attached the rudder pedals and the control stick. This latter item is far too tall so once the seat is glued in, that will be plucked out and trimmed.

Meanwhile, I attended to the tail section. Now this is a boom type airplane and booms are notorious for being difficult to work with. First I made the attachment holes in the wing larger with a motor tool. I did the same to the sockets on the ends of the booms for the tail plane. Test fitting the booms to the wing showed that the booms were undersize by about 20% or so. This will require some sanding on the root join once everything is cemented and dry. However, that is later and to get a good fit, I decided to glue the horizontal stab and booms together first. This was done. I also glued the motor pod to the upper wing. It was set aside to dry.

Back at the cockpit, I trimmed the control stick to where it wasn't so tall, painted the interior grey and did some detail work before cementing the fuselage halves together. The seam was filled with super glue and then sanded smooth. Thinking that it might be easier to clean up the boom join, I glued the booms to the wing assembly first.

The fuselage halves had the small landing gear legs attached and I also glued on the long tail wheel skid. This has a hole in the lower fuselage where it is attached. Thanks to the soft plastic, it was quickly broken off and more sturdily glued. I also glued on and masked the canopy. As I thought, little can be seen through it so I don't feel bad about not installing the instrument panel. The boom/wing join was ground down using a motor tool and gaps were filled with Tamiya filler. It took a bit to get this cleaned up and looking fairly good but was worth it. I now had the two major sections and those were joined after sanding a bit on the wing root section of the fuselage as that turned out to be a bit wide.

Next were the braces for the lower section. These are quite thin so care is needed in removing them and cleaning them up. The upper piece has a flat section and that was glued in first. Then the flat piece was sanded down flush with the sides of the forward pivot point. The two side pieces were then cleaned up and while one succeeded in being attached, the other disappeared when picked up in the tweezers. Some work with stretched sprue was done for the rod and the flat circular piece on the end and that was eventually glued on. It is always something, isn't it?
COLORS & MARKINGS

 

At this time, painting seemed like a good idea. The aircraft is AMT-7 light blue on the underside and AMT-4 green upper. The underside was first done and when dried, masked and the upper side was sprayed. I have to say that the ColourCoats paint I used went on quite well. I then started attaching more bits, such as the fin/rudder piece. This required the attachment hole in the upper portion of the horizontal stab to be enlarged.

Once that was done, I resprayed the upper surface. Then I got ready to attach the lower portion of the fin. This had to be sanded more flat on the attachment area. The section was glued and as I moved the fin section towards the underside of the tail plane to attach it, an invisible hand reached out of the seventh (or was it the eighth) dimension and snatched the part away. Oaths and incantations were insufficient to cause the part to reappear so I had little choice but to resort to plastic card to make another.

A bit more painting to fix things and the masking was removed from the body. There were some seepages, but fortunately, the ColouCoats paint brushes beautifully and one really cannot see any hue change. Since the paint is semi gloss anyway, I decided to attach the decals. AMP provides six stars and states that they go on the upper and lower wings and the fin. Well, most Soviet combat planes didn't have upper wing stars, but I put them on anyway. The decals are quite matte and seemed to be non-plussed by setting solution. In other words, it neither helped nor hindered.
CONSTRUCTION CONTINUES

With all that dry, I had a few more things to attach. I first drilled out the wheels so they'd fit on the axles and then they and the tail wheel were painted. The wheels were glued on while I prepared the five separate engine cylinders. Test fitting showed them to be too large so once again, I headed for the drill bits to open up the attachment holes. For most of this drilling stuff I used bits larger than the #60 you get with the standard drill twist set. Highly recommend getting a set that goes from #59 to #1 as you'll find them invaluable time and time again.

With the cylinders  and wheels installed, the last thing to handle was the prop. This was (poorly) painted and the spinner attached. Then the inevitable touch up painting was done and the whole deal given a coat of matte clear. For a final bit, I thinned some Citadel black paint and dabbed this on the engine cylinders.
CONCLUSIONS

Not an easy build, despite the small number of parts. But then, it is really what one expects from short run kits and this one was no exception. There is an excellent chance that this aircraft never existed beyond the dreams of the designer, but it is interesting none-the-less and adds some spark to anyone's 'whiffer' collection.

April 2011

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