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  1. A very old build, from 2006, 13 years ago. You should always have a scratchbuilder friend, since it seems to be fate that whatever we convert or scratch it's eventually released as a kit. This TB-3 model has recently been re-released in the guise it took me a lot of work to create many years ago. I have no idea up to which point there is a mold commonality, it seems to be quite a lot, but not having the new kit I can't really tell. Good for them, more civil models! Old review and build text starts: Oh boy. What a massive modeling project. As many of you, I saw this beast advertised time ago. As some reviewers were getting hold of the model and started to comment about their impressions, it was obvious that this was not an easy one. The sheer number of parts, the minute size of some of those components and the complexity of the building system -closer to a flying model than to a plastic static model- just makes for a long-breath, attention-demanding, non-forgiving enterprise. ICM is now well known among most modelers. They usually have an excellent surface treatment, detail-oriented engineering and, apparently, very tiny injection equipment. This could be the reason for the excessive count of parts, especially in the wing area of this particular model. What can be seen here is a almost unbelievable level of craftsmanship in the making of the master molds, unfortunately coupled with some production problems. Among the many glitches encountered were the variable thickness of the supposedly matting edges -making difficult the use of plastic card tabs to help alignment-, the insufficient and less than perfect notches and locating devices in building the wing structure, and the interlocking system of parts plagued with minor inaccuracies that unfortunately translated later into major misalignments, very, very difficult to solve. I have seen on the Internet some awesome TB-3 models, product without doubt of unimaginable dedication and skill. Being myself a much modestly gifted modeler of more peaceful orientation, I decided to go on with a demilitarized, ski-equipped version with enclosed cockpit of which I just had a side view from the Internet. I confess that some educated guessing was done here and there, coupled with some extrapolation of data from other variants of this plane. The level of detail I found in this kit was beyond my expectations. I was delighted with every bit. Some little flash was present and some parts were very delicate and difficult to remove from the sprues without braking them. The propellers have -even with very tiny rivets- the metal guard on their leading edges. The engines are well detailed as are the cowlings, but the spinner doesn't fit at all on the propeller, so you will have to work on both to achieve a decent fit, and the same goes for some parts of the engine compartment assembly. Many sink holes were found, and, as some of them are on parts were the corrugated surface is represented, they are difficult to correct. The engines, being solid casts, had also magnificent samples of sink holes too. As I was making progress in the first stages of building the model. I experienced a sense of satisfaction, being able to tackle most of the challenges, until I arrived to the point were you have to deal with the wings. Oh dear. The above-mentioned interlocking airplane-like system of ribs and spars looks good but doesn't perform that well. The skin of the wing is composed of many (too many, I may say) panels, The thickness of the spar-rib (airfoil) combo seems to be too much, and the skin plates fall short in some places. The four parts that make for the central area of the leading edge don't match with their counterparts. Neither do the parts that make for the fixed part of the trailing edges. Since all of these parts have micro-corrugated detail, you can not just simply fill, sand, of scratch with a blade, without leaving a mess that would be very difficult to deal with afterwards. So, a careful adjustment of the parts is mandatory and that will take a loooot of time. I must say that the only sector of the plane were I felt really frustrated was the wing. Fuselage, tail unit, interior details, although demanding and requiring adjustments, were a very pleasant building experience. In some images you can also see the covers for the machine gun positions in the fuselage and under the wings. To fill these holes and to create the new enclosed canopy I used plastic and aluminum corrugated sheets from a model train store. A new glazed cover was made for the "bow" of the fuselage also. I used both, acrylic and enamel paints, and some oils for the weathering/washes/stains on a Future layer. That I am aware of, there are two photo-etched detail sets for this kit, from Extratech and Eduard, but I decided to go on without them, realizing that surely I had enough to worry about with the kit itself. Wing aside, this project wasn't as terrible as I thought, but it is definitely not for the ones that are not willing to do some serious modeling-. I hope that ICM gets in the future a huge machine to produce really large parts, and keep doing these wonderful kits with a more reasonable break-down of the parts, and, if possible, consistent thickness. Anyway, the TB-3 surely looks the part if you are into the subject, with its pterodactyl-like stance and all the unmistakable flavor of the 30's .
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