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Polikarpov I-185 Build Article

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As soon as I received the review copy of Art Model’s Polikarpov I-185 courtesy of Scale-Model-Kits.com, I knew it would head towards the top of the build pile. The compact, muscular lines of the aircraft really appealed to me and I’m quite a fan of limited run kits. There are some real gems being produced at the moment, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe. As far as I know Art Model are a relatively new outfit, but they have already released some nice kits, including a Yak 36 and Yak 141. The I-185 is their most recent release. For an in-the-box review of the kit, see here.

Art Model’s Polikarpov I-185 is a nice and simple affair, being comprised of just 35 parts including a one-piece resin engine. The kit is nicely moulded, and has delicate, recessed surface detail. As you would expect, construction begins with the cockpit. This is relatively straightforward, with only the major structures being provided by way of details. The side consoles have to be fixed to the cockpit floor first. They have small sink marks on either side, but these are easy to fill and won’t be particularly visible once the model is complete in any case. Once these are in place, the instrument panel can be fitted. Both the instrument panel and the side consoles are devoid of raised detail. Decals are provided instead and happily these are excellent. The seat is moulded in two pieces and care will be needed with this part as the join between the seat pan and the back is quite small and delicate. Once the seat is fitted, all that remains to do is fit the control column and two gas bottles that provide the sidewall detail. It would be a relatively simple matter to add some extra detail to the cockpit (and it may be a good idea as the canopy is quite large) but I wanted this to be a strictly out of the box build.


In common with most kits of low-wing monoplanes, the lower wing is moulded in one piece to which the upper wing halves must be fixed. There is a raised flaw on the inside surface of one of the upper wing halves, but this is easy to remove. This is a good time to tape everything together for a test fit (a good idea with any kit, but particularly so with limited run kits). I found there was a slight gap in the join between the upper wings and the fuselage, cause by the span of the lower wing being a little too wide. I reduced the gap by sanding down the tips of the lower wing a little to make the span shorter. I then glued the fuselage halves together, followed by the one-piece tail plane. This part fits well and requires only the slightest dab of filler.


Next, I glued the wings to the fuselage. I ran a long piece of tape from wingtip to wingtip across the top of the fuselage in order to bring the angle of the wings up a little and close the gap between the wing/fuselage join. A little attention with filler and a sanding stick were required around the front and back of the wing/fuselage join, but nothing troublesome. The next step for me was to remove the remaining parts from the sprues in order to clean them up.


The engine itself is beautifully cast. I sprayed it with Alclad Black Primer and then drybrushed it with Citadel metallic acrylics to show off the detail. It fits into the fuselage really well, although I had to cut a chunk out of the pouring stub as it interfered with the wing spar


The front of the fuselage is comprised of the upper and frontal engine cowling. These fit well and required little filler. Those wishing to show off the resin engine will need to cut the upper cowling in order to pose it open. The airscrew fits quite tightly into its hub; so much so that I didn’t need to use any glue to fix the two parts together. I painted the airscrew black, but on checking references I think perhaps it should be a natural metal colour. Ah well, it can always be put right later!


The canopy is nice and clear, but I dipped it in Johnson’s Klear just to be sure and then fixed it in place with Gator’s Grip acrylic adhesive. Once masked, the whole airframe was sprayed with Alclad’s excellent Grey Primer. A couple of sessions of sanding and filling seams, followed by some scribing and repainting then followed in order to prepare the model for its final coat of paint. Before adding this coat, I sprayed some Alclad Aluminium onto the upper wings and fuselage and then dapped on some Humbrol liquid mask to represent paint chipping. Although the Polikarpov I-185 was a prototype, the painting guide shows significant paint chipping and wear in certain places, so I took a punt and assumed that the real aircraft may not have received a proper coat of primer. Painting instructions suggest Humbrol colours, but I used my usual Tamiya acrylics and chose Field Grey and Light Blue. Both colours were then lightened for post-shading work, before a very thin mix of Tamiya Flat Black was used to shade the panel lines.

Those who dislike decaling will be pleased with this kit as just four red stars have to be applied. The decals are thin and delicate, but showed no signs of silvering. The remaining details, including the landing gear and doors were added last of all and presented no problems. The tyres are moulded with no bulges or flat spots, so I sanded them down myself.







The diminutive size of the Polikarpov I-185 can be seen in this picture, posed next to a Revell Hellcat.


As I said in my original review, the sleek and compact yet muscular Polikarpov I-185 is an attractive and unusual subject and kudos goes to Art Model for releasing this kit. With a little care and attention it builds up very nicely into a pleasing model. There really are no major problems with the kit and I can vouch that should you choose to build one of these it won’t give you any headaches! Definitely recommended.

Review sample courtesy of


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Great review, Paul - it's good to see builds of Russian aircraft, especially ones as well done as this. Excellent weathering, by the way. I bookmarked it for future reference! :thumbsup2:


Edited by John Thompson
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