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Bereznyak-Isayev Bi-1. 1:48


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Bereznyak-Isayev Bi-1

Mikro-Mir 1:48

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Flying a fighter aircraft during World War 2 was an extremely dangerous profession by anyone's standards. Flying an experimental, rocket-powered, Soviet-built, wooden and fabric constructed fighter aircraft was practically suicidal! The Bereznyak-Isayev BI-1 was the brainchild of Aleksandr Bereznyak and Aleksei Isayev. The idea was proposed in July of 1941, and by September of the same year the first unpowered glider flight was undertaken.

Because of the rapid German advance through Soviet territory, the factory building the BI-1 had to be relocated further to the east. This delay meant that the first powered flight didn't take place until May 15th 1942. On landing the undercarriage was damaged. The third Bereznyak-Isayev BI-1 prototype crashed on its seventh flight, sadly killing fighter ace Captain Grigory Bakhchivandzhi when it pitched down sharply during a high-speed run. Bakhchivandzhi was posthumously awarded Hero of the Soviet Union. During an investigation into the accident, the engineers concluded that the aircraft had become unstable at transonic speeds.

Bakhchivandzhi had been in two other accidents during the development of the BI. He was the pilot during the first flight which crash landed. And during a grounded engine test in 1942, the engine exploded. In the explosion, the engine head was catapulted into the back of the pilot's seat, knocking Bakhchivandzhi against the instrument panel and injuring him slightly. To protect the pilot in the future, a 5.5 mm steel plate was fixed to the back of the seat.

The sixth Bereznyak-Isayev BI prototype was fitted with wingtip ramjets in an effort to extend the rather pathetic 15 minutes of powered flight. They didn't help much and proved difficult to start.

Only seven Bereznyak-Isayev BI prototypes were completed, although 50 were scheduled to be built. Each one of the seven prototypes had its own issues, and the engineers were constantly having problems with both the liquid-fuelled rockets and the stability of the aircraft itself. Additionally the aircraft were corroded by the very fuel which was designed to power them! The red fuming nitric acid would eat away at the fuel tanks and the aircraft's fabric skin. Both BI-1 and BI-7 were scrapped due to excessive corrosion. In the end the Bereznyak-Isayev BI project was abandoned, and it became yet another dead-end experimental aircraft - with the emphasis on mental.

The model

Micro-Mir is probably best known for their super collection of 1:350 submarine releases. They are now branching out and releasing aircraft in most of the major scales. Being Micro-Mir they won’t just be producing the more common types of aircraft, and this release shows just that. The kit comes in an attractive top opening box with an artists impression of the aircraft in flight. Inside, the kit is contained in a poly bag with a sticky flap, with the decals, etched sheet and masks contained in a separate poly bag. The grey styrene is rather soft and due to the nature of the of the aircrafts build there aren’t too many details, but what panel lines etc there are, are nicely defined. The smaller parts on the sprues do have a small feather of flash around them which will need to be carefully removed; this is just the way of limited run kits. The two clear parts are well moulded and pretty clear, but could do with a dip in your favourite varnish.

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The kit is pretty basic, but then so was the real aircraft and the build starts with the assembly of the cockpit, which consists of the floor, rear bulkhead, instrument panel, with etched panel and an acetate sheet for the instruments. The pilots seat is fitted out with a full set of etched seatbelts before being fitted into place along with the joystick and rudder pedals. Before closing up the fuselage the throttle quadrant is attached to the port sidewall. With the fuselage closed up the headrest can be fitted, along with the nose mounted cannon barrels, windscreen and separate canopy. The horizontal tailplanes are then attached and fitted with the vertical endplates, while right aft, the rocket nozzle is attached.

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The wings are assembled next, and consist of a single piece lower section, wheel bay and two upper sections. The completed wing assembly is then attached to eh underside of the fuselage and fitted out with the main undercarriage. This is made up of single piece oleos, single piece wheels/tyres, plus the inner and outer undercarriage bay doors. Finally the tailwheel is attached to the ventral fin, thus completing the build.

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Decals

The small decals sheet is printed in house and contains just six Russian stars and two white number sixes. They look pretty well printed, in good register and appear quite thin, with little carrier film evident. To help with painting Micro-Mir has kindly included a small sheet of masks for the canopy and windscreen. The single colour scheme is a camouflage of black and green.

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Conclusion

This is certainly one of the most unusual aircraft I’ve had to review, and had little knowledge of its existence. With care and acknowledging its limited run credentials it will turn out into a nice little model, looking good in any collection. Highly recommended.

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Review sample courtesy of
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