Polikarpov I-16 Type 24
1:48 Eduard - Weekend Edition
The I-16 was a Soviet fighter of revolutionary design. It was the worlds first low wing cantilever monoplane fighter with retractable landing gear to achieve operational status. The designer Nikolai Nikoleavich Polikarpov designed the aircraft optimised for speed with a short stubby fuselage similar to the Gee Bee racer. It was to feature cutting edge items such as a fully retractable landing gear and an enclosed cockpit.
Work began in June 1933 and full scale production began in November of the same year. The aircraft was designed around the Wright Cyclone SR-1820-F-3 nine cylinder engine. The construction was a mix of wooden monocoque and wings based around chrome-molybdenum steel alloy wing spar. Original armament was a par of 7.62mm machine guns mounted outboard of the main wheels.
The Type 24 aircraft featured Four machine guns, two in the original wing positions and two synchronised in the fuselage. Landing flaps replaced the original drooping ailerons, a tail wheel was also added. This variant was powered by a Shvetsov M-63 engine developing 900hp.
At the start of WWII Russian had 1635 I-16 variants. During the first 48 hours of Operation Barbarossa Luftwaffe attacks on I-16 bases reduced this to only 937 aircraft. The I-16 was surprisingly good in combat against the Bf 109E with Russian pilots using its superior horizontal manoeuvrability. However later versions of the 109 would prove to be much faster, and more heavily armed. One advantage in the Russian winter was the I-16 had an aircooled engine and were more reliable. In all over half of the produced aircraft were still in service when they were replaced in 1943.
I-16 would also serve overseas with China. Germany, Romania and Finland would operate captured examples. The Spanish Republican Air Force used I-16s supplied by Russia, and after the Civil war these would be used by Spanish State Air Force, amazingly only being retired in 1952.
The kit arrives on four sprues with one small clear sprue containing the front windscreen. The parts are all very well moulded with nice engraved detail. There is no evidence of flash anywhere on the parts.
Construction starts with the cockpit and the interior of the fuselage. Some of the engine exhausts are added at this time along with internal features. The fuselage is closed up and the cockpit is added from underneath. The cockpit is fairly Spartan much like the real thing. No seatbelts are supplied, and the instrument panel comes as a decal, though you could paint the plastic panel if you prefer. I suspect the seatbelts and an instrument panel came as PE parts in the normal boxing of this kit.
Once the cockpit and instrument panel are in the wings are constructed and added to the fuselage. Next job is to install the tailplanes, rudder and tail wheel. Once this is done construction moves to the front of the aircraft. The engine face is added along with the cowl. Additional exhausts are added, along with the machine gun blisters on top of the front fuselage.
The next step is to complete the landing gear, this is fairly complex with quite a few parts, many of which are probably replaced with PE in other boxings. Luckily the instructions show a couple of different views so you can get the positioning of all of these parts correct. Finally the gun sight, windscreen and prop added to finish off your model.
This being the weekend edition there is only one set of decals provided. These are for I-16 Type 24 Pilot Boris F Safonov, 72nd SAP Northern Fleet, 1941.
There is no doubt this will build up to make a good looking model. I for one am a fan of the bare bones approach from Eduard, and also of this stubby looking aircraft. With the weekend editions you get the same excellent Eduard plastic without all the resin and/or photo etched parts I dont like. Overall highly recommended for those who like their modelling life a bit more on the simple side.