Tamiya 1/100 Il-28 Beagle

KIT #: PA 1015
PRICE: HK $22.00 at UML
DECALS: Five options
REVIEWER:  Richard F


The Ilyushin Il-28 "Beagle" is a well-known aircraft - the first Soviet jet bomber to reach large scale production and operation with many countries around the world.  It could fly at 900 km/h (486 knots) and carry 6,000lb of bombs internally.  You can read more about the Beagle itself in the preview here on MM: http://www.modelingmadness.com/scotts/korean/il28preview.htm

I've always thought Finland's air force had a fascinating mix of aircraft.  Today it flies F-18s but in the 60s, 70s and 80s it had an eclectic mix of equipment - Drakens and MiG-21s for fighters, Hughes 500s, Alouettes and various Mils for helicopters. In the late 1990s, Finland's fighter strength was over 60 F-18s, more than 40 J-35 Drakens and 26 MiG-21s. What a cool combination!

Amongst the 23 countries that used the Beagle, from Afghanistan to Yemen and the USSR to Indonesia, little Finland owned four or five Beagles alongside its quirky collection of jets. Here's what the blurb for Jyrki Laukkanen's book "Iljushin Il-28 in Finnish Air Force" has to say:

"The Ilyushin Il-28 was used by the Finnish Air Force for target towing, photo-mapping and sea surveillance in 1960-1981. Although the Il-28 was in 1960 already over ten years old type, it was very suitable for these missions during its serving years in Finland thanks to its qualities and equipment and served reliably all those years."

The book's in Finnish and pricey, so I haven't read beyond the online description.


Tamiya does - and did - a whole series of 1/100 kits. This was a 2004 re-release.  It's the fifth I have built and you can still buy them.  On my last trip to UML they had an A-4, Buccaneer, F-104, F-105 and a Draken, though these are HK$65. They've sold out now of the marked-down HK$22 range which included an F-4, G-91, Lightning F-6 and MiG 19, all of which I have built, and a Mirage, which I haven't.

In the box, you get a silvery grey set of sprues, reasonably clear windows, engraved panel lines, and very basic detailing. There is a nose wheel bay, a seat for the cockpit, no detail at all in the nose cabin, and the main wheel area is representative only. The wheel struts are moulded onto the engine nacelle, and there is no actual main wheel bay. You simply install the doors either side of the wheel struts, or, like me, find a stand and build it in flight (there's no pilot though).

The moulding itself is adequate but obviously it is not as good as the most recent Tamiya kits.  These 1/100 kits first came out many years ago.


It doesn't take long to put this Beagle together. I started with the wings and the engines - there's a part to represent the very prominent cone-shaped device inside the engine intake. There's nothing at the other end, but I painted the engine nacelle black inside and in this scale that's enough. Unless you shine a light down the exhaust, of course.

The nacelle doesn't fit easily onto the wing. The top wing surface and the rear of the nacelle need a lot of filling and sanding to get a smooth finish.

I switched to the fuselage, putting weight in the nose because I was still planning to build my Beagle wheels-down. There is plenty of room for weight, despite the clear nose. There is no detail at all in the nose compartment, and only a basic seat for the cockpit. I was comfortable with this, given how small the plane is. If you had the inclination, and some references, you could do more. Bear in mind, though, that even close up on the real thing, it is difficult to see much inside the Beagle. I had a very close look at the Harbin H-5 (Chinese licensed copy) at the Beijing Aeroplane Museum a month ago and most of that cabin detail seems to be back in the fuselage rather than forward where the windows are. Apart from that, there are curtains across several of the clear panels.

Sadly, I didn't remember to bring my jumbo calipers or a tape measure so I cannot tell if the Tamiya mould is phatally phlawed. And no, that museum doesn't have an Emil.

I put the fuselage together and installed the wings.  These don't fit so well either, so it's more putty and sanding. 

At about this point, I put this model away for quite a while and when I pulled it back out again, one of the main wheel struts had disappeared. I cut the other one off, and installed all the wheel bay doors in the closed position. The kit comes with a bomb bay, with four bombs inside. It doesn't stand close inspection, but for a basic kit like this, it's fine. I put in the bomb bay, and carved out a little hole for the stand, which I borrowed from a Hasegawa 1/200 airliner kit.  There's no stand in the Beagle kit itself. As I mentioned, the Finnish air force had the Il-28R version, which had its cameras in the bomb bay instead of bombs. To be really accurate, my little model shouldn't be carrying bombs.

From here I went to paint the model. After that, all I had to do was add on the clear parts and the bomb bay doors.

The stereotypical Beagle is a bare metal Soviet machine. Probably next most common is the green over pale blue used by some of the Eastern bloc air forces, and by the Chinese. If you google around a bit you can find desert schemes (Egyptian, for example). This kit comes with decals for four bare metal schemes and a green/blue scheme.  The silver ones are Soviet, Indonesian, Finnish and Polish, and the green one is Chinese.

My version of this kit was copyrighted 2004 and had lovely decals. I had already used the Soviet stars for my ill-fated Trumpeter Colt floatplane, and I have a Trumpeter 1/72 Beagle/Harbin H-5 which I will probably do in the Chinese green. After a closer look at the instructions, I saw that the Finnish version had bright red engine nacelles and cool pale blue and white roundels.

I gave the whole jet a few coats of Tamiya acrylic XF-16 flat aluminium, and used a Tamiya acrylic flat red for the nacelles.  The radome underneath the nose was painted a medium green.

Later I found one good colour photo of a Finnish Il-28. It had the red, almost orange, nacelles and also the same red-orange colour on the outer wings and tip-tanks. That was a reassuring find. Sadly the book it is on the cover of is in Finnish, as was the Amazon-style website I found it on.

This Beagle is easy enough to build. It takes some patience with the fit, especially the wing-to-fuselage join and the area where the rear part of the engine nacelle blends into the top of the wing. But it's a quick build, looks cool, doesn't take up much space, and if you can still find it at a knock-down price like HK$22, you can't really go wrong.

Review kit courtesy of my dislike of coins and efforts to cut my coffee intake by spending small change on models instead.

http://www.bookplus.fi/product.php?isbn=9789525026795 (photo of a FInnish Beagle)

Richard F

June 2009

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