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  1. From 5 years ago, a long span plane that performed a long span flight. I owe the pleasure of having this one to Lars Opland, who very kindly agreed to pass it on from his personal stash. Those who know Lars are aware that he lives in Wasilla, Alaska, inside an igloo made of kit boxes. As said, my joy was immeasurable when I had the kit, finally, in my hands. This Russian-made jewel is kind of hard to get. Made by Ikar (Икар) and with the box lid illustrated by E. Alexeenko, it can depict both versions of the famous plane, the one piloted by Chkalov to Vancouver, Washington, or the one piloted by Gromov to San Jacinto, California. The plane itself was a real stylized beauty, and the model is a good rendition of it. The kit is rough. Flash, perhaps some chunkiness, but with some good surface detail and interesting parts’ count. The transparencies could be rescued, but perhaps using them to pop vacuformed replicas would be wiser. The decals got a tad smashed in the long haul from mother Russia. The instructions are...there. But you should gather some references. I did and had a very good time going through the history of the type development, the construction, modification and trials of the machines, and the record flights themselves. I chose to model the modified RD-1 that landed in San Jacinto, California, since I live in the general area. My maternal grandparents were originally from Russia and I ended up in California, so it is sort of commemorative build of the family history. A short clip of it landed at that location can be watched here: http://www.criticalpast.com/video/65675063618_Russian-Airmen_flying-6600-miles_over-North-Pole_crowd-watches It is the machine that has no blue nose (the blue nose is the one mostly modeled, by the way) and could appear a tad less showy, but perhaps some scratchbuilt details could bring some extra pizzazz. The kit box is apparently made of recycled material: recycled polar bear, recycled burlap, recycled politburo members. There were some broken parts...I found at the bottom of the plastic bag a quality control tag stamped “#1”, so, number 1....we know who you are, and we are watching you. Another kit with broken parts and to Siberia you go! . By the way, are you the same “number 1” as in Austin Powers’ Dr. Evil? As I was saying, lots of excitement and great potential. The kit: Now, the bad news. The kit parts are, as said before, rough. The wings and ailerons are, by far, the worst, and almost fall in the mission impossible category. Harbor no illusions, to fix them will imply very hard work making the labor of the Volga Haulers look like ladies on tutus on a paddle boat on a summer day at the lake. And then, the bad news: once the parts are sort of cleaned up, they won’t particularly feel inclined to match their opposite counterparts. More work ahead. Some bad news: references are not always perfect, look, when possible, at actual photos of the machine you are modeling. There is good will on part of the scholars and writers, but their product does not always match reality. Even more...bad news: the trailing edges are very thick, the “flat” parts (like the inner surfaces of the ailerons, are not flat. The flash present is not of the "gone with the wind" type, but instead requires positive action to be removed. It is strange, but it is as if the wing/aileron molds (which are bigger) were produced somewhere else, up to far lower standards. And -finally- some good news: once you are done with the wings and ailerons, Siberia will appear to you as a Cote D’Azur destination. AND the rest of the kit is rather good, although not quite “there”, as in "normal". Yes, Tamiyinsky and Hasegawaboff this one is not. But, my friend, you are a modeler, are you not? Get at it! There is another one of these made by Eastern Express. I haven’t seen one personally, though. For what I can tell from photos on the Net these are the same masters, but modified. The wings are broken down differently and the laid-down is different. Was that one refined at the time of re-issue? I’d like to know. Some halved parts of the IKAR kit are rendered as one in the Eastern Express kit, the interior is not there anymore, the prop blades are attached together, etc. Sort of simplified version seems to me, and again I wonder if they did something –in case they are more or less the same masters- to improve the horrid quality of the wings seen in the IKAR kit. A said above, the Plane depicted here is the one that flew from Moscow to San Jacinto, California (N205-1) and not the most commonly represent in model form that portrays (with its blue nose) the one that flew from Moscow to Vancouver, Washington (N205) a few months earlier. Not, by any means at all, an easy one, but the final product is indeed appealing. Many little improvements were made to the kit, the addition of an engine, new Venturis, vac transparencies, full interior, etc. The slender beauty, elegance and grace of the original is something to behold.
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