Clear Prop 1/48 I-16 type 5
KIT #: CP 4814
PRICE: 32.00 Euros
DECALS: Four options


The Polikarpov I-16 is one of the most unsung aircraft in history, created by designer Nikolai Nikolayevich Polikarpov, this classic airplane was a brilliant leap forward, particularly for a Soviet aviation industry that was still in its infancy. It was not only the first cantilever monoplane fighter with retractable landing gear to see squadron service in any country in the world, it also was one of the longest-lived fighters of the period, serving until as late as 1950, in Spain. Design work began in early 1933, with the first flight taking place on December 31 of that year. Although somewhat difficult to fly, the I-16's speed, high roll-rate, and rate of climb earned it production status. like most aircraft of the period, the I-16 was of mixed construction, with a fabric-covered metal wing and a plywood-covered fuselage of steel-tube construction. The Type 5 was the first variant to reach squadron service and was powered by an imported 710-horsepower Wright engine that provided a 272 miles per hour top speed in 1934, far faster than any other fighter in any other air force. Later, a massive 1,100-horsepower M-63 engine was installed, giving the I-16 a top speed of more than 326 mph -- and even trickier handling. The aircraft was produced from 1934 through 1939, and was then reinstated to production in 1941, with some 8,650 being built. The Type 5 had the largest production run of all the I-16 variants and served with the Soviet, Spanish Republican, and Chinese Nationalist air forces.


1/48 kits of the I-16 Type 5 were previously produced by Hobbycraft and Neomega. Neither kit is currently in production and both have accuracy issues. Fortunately, the Ukrainian company, Clear Prop, has issued a new tool 1/48 I-16 Type 5 kit. The kit has 134 plastic parts molded in gray and clear. Four of the parts are labeled “not for use”. Oddly, no mention is made of an extra seat and cowl front that differ from the ones shown on the instructions. The panel lines are recessed and the kit's representation of fabric covered surfaces are among the best that I have seen. The clear parts include windows for the vision ports in the landing gear bays, a windshield for open cockpit aircraft, a full canopy for closed cockpit aircraft, windows for the two sky lights directly under the windshield, and what I'm guessing is a gun sight. All of the control surfaces are molded separately. The instrument panel has raised detail and a decal for the gauge faces is also included. The cockpit is comprehensively detailed with all of the switches, controls, and boxes on the fuselage interior walls molded separately (the throttle quadrant is a three part assembly). Only the forward face of the engine cylinders is provided, but the crankcase, exhaust pipes, and pushrod tubes are separate pieces. The landing gear struts and doors are all separate pieces and the tires/wheels are molded in halves. The tires have raised lettering on the sidewalls. The wings are molded in upper and lower halves with a separate lower center section. It is impossible to know if any fit issues exist without building the kit, but an area that calls for caution is the cowl/forward fuselage assembly. The cowl top, bottom, and sides are separate pieces. The cowl top is molded integrally with a piece that forms the upper forward fuselage decking and the bottom of the cowl is part of the wing center section. I suspect that getting all the parts forming the cowl together and lined up with the rest of the fuselage may require a little extra patience and dexterity on the builder's part. The decals provide markings for four pre WWII Soviet aircraft all in dark green upper surfaces with light blue under surfaces.


Another nice kit from Clear Prop. The high parts count may deter builders looking for a quick project, but detail enthusiasts will be delighted. The decal options are a bit bland, but aftermarket decals are readily available. I'm pleased to see that Clear Prop continues to go off the beaten path with their subject choices. I 'll be waiting impatiently to see what they do next.

Rob Hart

February 2024

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