Scale: 1/48

Manufacturer: Accurate Miniatures

Price: MSRP: $28.95

Media: injection-molded plastic

Decals: one well-publicized aircraft seen on the Leningrad front.

Accuracy: They aren't called Accurate Miniatures for nothing.

Overall A-

Date of Review:  October 26 1997

Reviewed By: Thomas McKelvey Cleaver (THE AERONUT)

Until recently, the only model one could do of the airplane that meant as much to the people of the Soviet Union during the Second World War as the Spitfire did to the British and the Zero to the Japanese was a completely-inaccurate and very primitive 1/72 Airfix kit. Thus, I was really interested when Accurate Miniatures announced they would do Shturmoviks last year, and was particularly happy that the first "Ilyusha" released would be the definitive "IL-2 Modified (Type 3)." When I walked in my local hobby shop last week and Tony gave me the first one to arrive to "build for the shop," I took it home and got right to work.

Opening the box, it's Accurate Miniatures, all right: clean, crisp moldings, the clear parts and decals not only separately bagged but separated from the other bag by a cardboard shelf.  I took out the instructions and read them, having learned the hard way that - with an Accurate Miniatures kit - it is essential to read the instructions and follow them point for point to avoid difficulties down the line. It looked straightforward, and a lot easier than the SBD.

It was easy to do the interior painting and assemble the sub-assemblies in one night because the airplane is the essence of simplicity internally. My only addition to the kit was a photo-etch brass seat belt and shoulder straps for the pilot. One thing to watch out for is that the canvas strap that is the gunner's seat should be curled a little bit more before putting it in the rear cockpit, since it has to squeeze into position and is thin enough to break easily. (I learned this the hard way.) The instrument panel is designed for easier painting to leave the instrument faces clear, and the decal for the instrument decal goes on well, creating a very realistic panel.

The next day I began the assembly of the sub-assemblies, and discovered that following the instructions was not as painless as expected. The cockpit assembly, glued the night before to the lower center wing section as instructed, fits tightly: get everything in position and don't be afraid to give a little push - it will click into position. Still following instructions, glue the engine cowling subassembly to the main fuselage. Now the wings...

At this point, if you have glued the upper and lower outer wings together per the instructions, you will experience major difficulty with the tight fit. No matter how hard I tried, I could not get the left wing to fit into position without leaving a 1/32" gap in the attachment area of the wing fillet. The right wing was also hard to get into position, but it did go without the gap. Putty and a file solved the problem, but it shouldn't be required.

My solution is: before the fuselage halves are glued together, set in the upper wing to its mating position and glue it there. Let it dry overnight with the rest of the subassemblies. Then snap in the cockpit and mate the lower center wing section to the inner upper wings and glue them together. Attach the cowling and fit it onto the section of upper wing that touches it. This will aid alignment of the cowling to the fuselage. Finally, attach the lower outer wing sections. It will fit like a dream (I tried this with a kit a friend bought).

The canopy glass is thin and clear, and fits well if you slide back the pilot's canopy. There is so much armor and so little glass that if you don't open it, no one will be able to see that great instrument panel.

I ended up not doing the kit decals, but only because I managed to spill a drop of Easy Lift Off on one of the "For Leningrad" markings, which melted it. Fortunately I have a lot of World War II Red Air Force decals in the decal box, and a couple of sources of photos, so my "Ilyusha" is a 6th Guards Regiment bird on the Polish Front, summer 1944.

A note when weathering this model: "Ilyusha" was ridden hard and hung up wet thoughout its career, so mud splatters on the lower wing and footwalk weathering is going to do nothing but make it look real. However, IL-2m3's up until the summer of 1944 had wooden rear fuselages, tail surfaces and outer wings, with the only metal part of the airplane being the armored forward fuselage and cowling, and the center section of the wing. In summer 1944, the outer wings were made of aluminum, but the rear fuselage and tail surfaces were wood throughout its production of 40,000 airframes. So...don't put aluminum nicks on wooden surfaces.

The only reason I give this model an A- instead of an A+ is the difficulty of assembling the wings. But then, if some part of the assembly didn't drive you nuts (the tunnel gun and radioman's seat in the TBF, the rudder pedal foot guides in the SBD, the floor in the Allison P-51s) it wouldn't be an Accurate Miniatures kit, would it?

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