Pavla 1/72 Polikarpov I-15




$26.98 ($24.47 from Squadron)


Five options


Scott Van Aken


Short run with vac canopy and resin parts


This is the aircraft that put N.N. Polikarpov on the road to fame and fortune that lasted for an entire decade until he fell out of favor in the early 1940s. This aircraft was a single-seat biplane fighter of composite  wood/metal construction with single bay staggered wings. The aircraft featured a gulled upper wing centerline and a thick, I-shaped outer wing strut; all of which helped to cut down on wind resistance. It was powered by a 715 hp Wright Cyclone engine of 1820 cubic inches.

Its first flight was in late 1933 and it was a delight to fly, with excellent maneuverability, well harmonized controls, good speed and a good rate of climb. The first 60 or so aircraft were powered by the Wright engines, but later versions used the M-22, a license built Bristol 'Jupiter' engine of lower power. Later batches switched to the M-25, which was the Wright engine license built in the Soviet Union, and the increased power was much appreciated by pilots.

The aircraft was used extensively by the Republican forces in the Spanish Civil War, where the 'Chatos' were used against German supplied He-51s and Bf-109B/C/Ds as well as Italian Fiat CR.32s. So well liked were the planes that the Spanish Republicans license built nearly 300 of the aircraft before the country fell to the Nationalists in 1939.


This kit is very much your standard Czech short run kit. It has a basic sprue that contains most of the airframe parts, with the detail stuff done in resin and the clear bits in vac plastic.  The plastic parts are well molded, though the surface texture is very rough, nearly like sandpaper, so you'll have to sand down these parts to remove the roughness. The engraved detail is quite nice and I noted no problems with glitches in the molding, though there was a tad bit of flash or overly thick mold seam material on a few bits. Once again, the dreaded separate prop blades and hub are present on this kit.

The resin parts are very good and comprise much of the interior and engine. The resin engine is superb with a realistic aft area and the proper exhaust pipes. This is good as you'll have to drill those babies out, for they can be easily seen from the rear. That 'thingie' in the lower left of the image is the rear accessory compartment and carb intake trunking. The cowling is also resin as is the front cover of the engine. Two vac canopies are provided and the plastic is both a bit thick (which is good from my viewpoint) and of rather poor clear plastic that is not all that clear. The only real option is for spatted or unspatted wheels.

Instructions on all Pavla kits are absolutely first rate. The construction steps are quite clear and offer all the color advice you need. Colors are offered in generic, Humbrol, Aga and (where appropriate) FS numbers. There is a full rigging diagram provided as well. Over half the instruction booklet is given to painting and decal placement. There are five different options. Three of them are from the Spanish Civil War and the planes are in AII Green uppers with AII Blue undersides. There are red fuselage and wing stripes. The tail stripes are provided as decals and I'd recommend painting the rudders white prior to application. A fourth option is a post war aircraft with the same Soviet colors used, but with modern Spanish roundels. The fifth is a Soviet aircraft in overall Aluminum paint with red gear legs and struts. This plane was used to perform aerobatics at various air shows in the Soviet Union and makes for a most colorful aircraft.


I can see where this will be a very popular kit amongst those 72nd scale modelers who are into the Spanish Civil War. There have been a lot of Czech kits released recently that have been applicable to this event and this just adds one of the more widely used aircraft to the mix. If you are comfortable with short run kits, then this is one that you really should look into getting.

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