Hasegawa 1/72 I-16 Type 18
|PRICE:||1200 yen SRP in 1995|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The Polikarpov I-16 was a design that was basically obsolete at the start of the Great Patriotic War, but it was available in large numbers and so bore much of the brunt of the fighting and losses during the initial stages of the conflict.
The I-16 was also the first low wing monoplane fighter with retractable landing gear to enter service with the air force of any nation and provided the Soviet Union with a real edge in terms of aviation fighter capabilities. At least for a few years as the pace of improvement during these times was quick.
Developed in the early 1930s, the I-16 first flew in late 1933. So successful were the state acceptance trials, that the aircraft was put into immediate production with deliveries commencing barely 6 months after first flight. The type 4 with the M-25 engine (a Wright Cyclone 9 cylinder radial), was the first really combat ready type and deliveries started in early 1934. This was followed in 1936 by the type 6 with an improved engine and the next year with the type 10, which had even more improvements.
The type 10 was the version sent to Spain in 1936 so that it could be evaluated against other aircraft. The Spanish Republicans liked the aircraft so much that a manufacturing license was obtained to build the aircraft locally and many were produced before the Nationalists under Franco and with help from Germany and Italy won the war in March of 1939. The type was also provided to the Chinese who used it against the Japanese.
Other versions followed including the type 17, an improved type 10 with 20mm cannon, type 18 and 24 which had an M-82 radial and carried improved armament, with the type 24 also carrying 20mm cannon. Total production of all types exceeded 7,000, a huge number for the time. 4,000 of these were used against the Germans during the early years of the war.
Today, several have been pulled out of bogs and swamps to be rebuilt and are flying in various places around the world.
Hasegawa's I-16 was not the first done in this scale. I believe that goes to Revell's offering from the 60s. By 1995, when this was released, a newer tooling was very much needed. So Hasegawa provided this one, which is the type 18, which means it is too new for the Spanish Civil War.
Unlike their really early 1970's and early 80's 1/72 kits, there is some sidewall detail and the seat isn't so generic. Rudder pedals are molded to the cockpit floor and yhou are provided with a propeer control stick. A decal is used for the instrument panel. Due to the small cockpit opening, not much can be seen in there anyway.
This is trapped between fuselage halves along with a firewall and engine. Wings are a single lower half and separate upper sections. This fits to the lower fuselage and the tailplanes are installed. Landing gear is quite nicely done and you are provided with a section of wire to bend to use for the gear retraction mechanism. This piece of wire needs to be cut to 20mm lengths and the end bent prior to installation. There are two different tail gear pieces. One is a skid and the other has a wheel, depending on the markings option you use. For the engine cover you can model it with the vents open or closed and a part is provided for the latter. Two prop options are also provided. One has the spinner and the other does not. Blades are separate.
Instructions have the usual Gunze paint references. Both decal options are in dark green over pale light blue with a red fin tip. No unit information is provided, but one is the box art plane with a patriotic slogan on it. Decals are nicely printed but will be a bit thick and will need hot water to soak them free. I would bet there are aftermarket for those who want something different.
Looks like a nice kit and should be a fairly standard build. There have been newer kits since then, most noticeably by ICM, but this one is still fairly easy to find and will result in a nice model.
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