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099 1/72 Heller Polikarpov I-153 Chaika


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Time to throw kit number four into the ring, and it was proving a tough decision to make. Reason being, is that there are so many kits I actually want to build, and if I'm honest, I haven't had this much modelling mojo for years. So thanks to Heller and this wonderful GB, I'm actually enjoying building (and finishing) models once again. Key reasons for that I think is subject matter, brand and more importantly good old fashioned OOB modelling, hairy stick paint jobs and no internal pressure for the model to be the some sort of uber build in my mind's eye. It's enjoyable and relaxing once again.

 

The choices I really wanted to build next were either the Ar-96B, Ar-196A, Heinkel 112, BF-108, Bf-109B/C, Dewoitine D.510 and Potez 631. All kits that I built back in the day and have soft spots for, and that's without all the others I still want to build (the whole back catalogue basically). However, I had a scan through the GB build list and was struck by one omission that I know is a really good kit by Heller, and felt it needed some love here. So, here it is.....

 

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Catalogue number 099 in what I presume is an initial 1975 boxing with a really striking piece of art work on the box top. 

 

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Inside the box, the usual Heller fare presented in grey plastic, no mummified glue, but the decal sheet looks surprisingly usable. I can't stress enough what a lovely kit this is. Very crisply moulded, no flash at all, and the quick test fit of a few parts reveals an excellent fit. The surface detail is also excellent and very well done. Another kit from Heller at the top of their game in the mid 70s. Pick one up. You won't be disappointed. Got me thinking as I was thumbing through a few 70s and 80s copies of Scale Models and PAM last night. There were plenty of reviews of the usual new Airfix, Revell, Monogram and Matchbox kits within the pages, but what struck me was the lack of reviews of any Heller kits. Given the quality and subject matter they were putting out at that time, were they not on the radar of the UK modelling press at the time?

 

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Despite the kit decals looking ok, I have this aftermarket sheet that caught my eye, and I think it's going to have to be "White 5" off this Stalin's Falcons sheet. I like the red cowling and rudder, although the airframe is aluminium, and the thought of brush painting aluminium gives me the sweats. 

 

Looking forward to getting cracking on this one. Remember my best mate building this kit back in the 80s and wanting to pick one up myself, but he got way more pocket money than me and subsequently had all the Heller kits. Time to scratch that 35 year old itch.

 

Steve 

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Very nice, Steve, and good that you're adding to the expanding subject list with a new entry. Good luck with your build, I'm sure the result will be good and I'm happy that your mojo is restored with this GB 🙂 

 

About the brush painting aluminium: you could try some from the Vallejo Metal colour range, this stuff brushes very nicely. Flows well and covers equally well. 

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Oh good - I was hoping somebody would build one of these! The I-15 family were I suppose amongst the last generation of biplane fighters alongside the Fiat CR 32/42 and Gauntlet/Gladiator and their performance in Spain against the CR 32 and He 51 showed them to be reasonably fast, very rugged and highly manoeuverable, but their days were of course numbered once the I-16 and Bf-109 arrived. The I-15 was slightly improved into the I-15 bis and then became what must surely be the first operational biplane with a retractable undercarriage when the I-153 first flew in 1938 - in his "Warplanes" series Green says that it was the fastest biplane in the world, crediting it with 267mph, 1mph faster than the CR42.

 

 Incidentally, he also says that the fuselage of an I-153 was used in the Nikitin-Sevchenko IS-1 prototype where not only did the u/c retract but the lower wing "folded" up into a recess in the bottom of the upper wing! I was going to say that would make an interesting conversion project for somebody, but I gather A Model actually released a kit of both the IS-1 and the modified IS-2!

 

Anyway, I will watch this build with interest.

 

Cheers

 

Pete

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@JeroenS Thanks for the heads up on the Vallejo paint. I'll give that a try. I mostly have Humbrol paints in the stash, and I've always found that their 56 is very dark and matt, so happy to try an alternative.

 

@PeterB To be honest, I was surprised the I-153 didn't turn up sooner here, and that swung my decision to pick this kit. The bonus being that it is such a nice little model too. That whole Polikarpov family is very interesting, but one I admit to not knowing a huge amount about. I think a bit of light reading maybe required on my part. Do remember being very impressed with the I-15 that flew at Legends a few times. Surprisingly fast, and very maneuverable and accompanied by that lovely, agricultural sounding engine. 

 

Steve 

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Great choice Steve

I have a Smer rebox of this which if I remember rightly was in Finnish markings,  @vppelt68 will keep me straight on this.

Best of luck with this one, looks a cracker !

Cheers Pat 

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Indeed 21 I-153:s served in the Finnish AF during the WW2. They were war-booty aircraft, either directly from the Soviets or bought from the Germans. They were used mostly in maritime and second line reconnaissance role BUT they were often engaged in air combat too - they even succeeded in shooting down a Pe-2 and a P-39! Finnish losses, due to air combat and accidents, were quite heavy too, with 13 planes and almost as many pilots being lost.

Edit, I meant to say: They fared well  in combat against other early Soviet aircraft, but shooting down a Pe-2 or an Airacobra with an I-153 was something that required very special skills from the pilot!

V-P

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Another great choice. Without this GB I had never known that there were so many Heller kits out there. When they started appearing I had already switched to collecting 1/32.

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Thanks everyone! Manage to make a start on the Chaika today, although I don't know how as it's been manic here. As soon as I have something worth sharing, I'll get the first update posted. Wasted too long today trying to work out the rigging holes Heller provides, and then discovering that there's too many and most of them are in the wrong place! Also, reading the written instructions and trying to follow the assembly and rigging steps is headache inducing. All good fun then!

 

Steve

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