Accurate Miniatures 1/48 IL-2m3
The Ilyushin Il-2 Stormovik was a ground-attack
aircraft produced by the Soviet Union in large numbers
during the Second World War. It was never given an official
name, with “Stormovik” (or “Sturmovik”, or “Shturmovik”)
being the generic Russian word for “Ground Attack Aircraft”.
Known as the "Hunchback", the "Flying Tank" or the "Flying
Infantryman" to the soldiers and, simply, the "Ilyusha" to
its pilots, it played a crucial role on the Eastern Front,
but with very heavy losses. When factories fell behind on
deliveries, Joseph Stalin told the factory managers that the
Il-2s were "as essential to the Red Army as air and bread."
During the war, 36,183 units of the Il-2 were produced.
Combined with its Il-10 successor, the grand total clocked
at 42,330, making it the single most produced military
aircraft design in aviation history, as well as one of the
most produced piloted aircraft in general.
Accurate Miniatures presented their new tool Il-2m3 in 1997, the modeling
world was more or less thrilled, as at last a state of the art quarter scale
model kit of this iconic aircraft became available. A single seater and a
ski version followed, then, upon AM’s demise, the kits were reboxed (with
occasionally new parts), by Eduard, Italeri, Academy and Revell. My copy was
the original Il-2m3 first issue, found still wrapped in 2005 at an Athens
hobby shop and offered at a more or less sensible price.
It comes superbly packaged in a regularly sized but of generous height top
opening box, featuring a nice boxart of an Il-2 performing a strafing
attack. Upon unwrapping the high quality box, I was greeted with around 110
light gray styrene parts arranged in 7 sprues. Molding is very nice and
crisp with finely recessed panel lines and no apparent flash.
External surfaces feature good detail and seemingly correct shapes. The
fuselage halves do not include the front cowling section, which must be
assembled and attached separately, something that, combined with the
separate underwing central section, will increase the complexity of
construction, together with the possibility of gaps emerging.
Cockpit and rear gunner’s offices are sufficiently detailed. The instrument
panel features molded-on details with a decal containing the instrument
faces to be affixed onto. Seat belts are also provided as decals. Landing
gear is realistically represented with the bays nicely boxed and the main
wheels provided both as “weighted” or “unweighted”. The exhausts and prop
look great, as well.
Transparencies are equally well molded and crystal clear. Instructions come
per the “standard” Accurate Miniatures style, in the form of an attractive
12-page booklet that contains a brief history of the specific subtype, with
the construction spread in 9 clear steps. Each step, apart from its
pictorial representation, features a very expanded text that explains very
clearly and concisely what to do, with full color callouts provided. These
instructions will definitely need their time to be read and understood, but
they are clear, detailed and, per the AM tradition, must be systematically
followed, in order to avoid construction pitfalls.
camo scheme is provided, of a well documented plane belonging to the 566
ShAP (Battle Regiment), as it stood on the Leningrad Front during summer
1944. Decals are thin and perfectly printed by Microscale, looking usable
despite being almost 25 years old as of the writing of this preview.
Instructions want you to first assemble the cockpit and gunner’s office,
including attachment of various “stuff” onto the sidewalls, then, together
with the rear wheel, trap everything between the fuselage halves. The next
two steps deal with front cowling assembly, stabilizers assembly and
installation, a few interior parts attachment and finally assembly and
attachment of the lower central wing half.
Installation of cowling and wing halves is next (with the optionally
attached gun pods), following by the landing gear, the moving surfaces
actuating rods and the installation of either bombs or rockets. Assembly and
attachment of the prop and exhausts is the final step, ending a build of a
seemingly certain degree of complexity.
An area needing particular attention will be assembly of the main wing and
attachment to the fuselage. Tom Cleaver in his great build,
advises to attach the upper wing halves to the fuselage, then assemble the
fuselage, glue the lower center wing in place, then lower outer wings. This
way everything will fit nicely.
Tamiya and lately the Zvezda offerings, this is still (as of 2022) a very
good kit of the famous Stormovik. Detail is great all around, transparencies
are nice and this is also true for the decals (though more than one option
should be offered). Typically for AM, engineering of the kit is not totally
uncomplex (an area where Tamiya, traditionally, excels), meaning that some
extra attention will be needed during construction, with the comprehensive
AM instructions being of great help.
That said, the kit builds well, as can be witnessed from the great results
found in the MM archives. The specific (dual seater) kit has been reboxed by
Eduard in 2006 (with the usual extra goodies) and Italeri in 2007 featuring
nice decal options, with the single seater versions reboxed by Academy and
Revell so far. Per the Italeri tradition, chances are to see the dual seater
reboxed again in the near future.
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