Eduard's 1/48 scale
Polikarpov I-16 Type 24
by Scott Lyle
Polikarpov I-16 Type 24
Eduard's 1/48 scale I-16 Type 24 is available online from Squadron.com
Small and stubby, the Polikarpov I-16 was nonetheless the most technologically advanced fighter in the world when it rolled off the assembly lines in the early 1930s. The world’s first all-metal, cantilever-winged monoplane fighter, it was easily the fastest fighter in the world at that time. It was also the first fighter to feature retractable landing gear and a fully enclosed, forward sliding canopy.
During the 1930s the I-16 saw action during the Spanish Civil War and the Battle of Khalkhin Gol against Japan in 1939. When Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941 the I-16 made up roughly two-thirds of the Soviet fighter force at the time. Though the I-16 was near the end of its useful life, Soviet pilots had to make due as best they could against the very modern, well equipped, and well oiled machine that was the German Luftwaffe. One of the Soviet pilots who succeeded during those early, dark times was Boris Safonov, the first great Soviet ace.
Eduard’s thoroughly modern model includes what has become common for them these days - a color PE fret, a set of masks, and a nice set of decals allowing one to build one of four different aircraft. Construction began with the cockpit, and Eduard provides nice photo etch details for the sidewalls and seatbelt harnesses for the seat. Unfortunately the small cockpit opening coupled with the sloping shape of the fuselage means it will be very hard to see any of the details once the model is finished. I had no luck finding any definitive information on what color to paint the cockpit of the I-16, so I used the color call-outs in the instructions and painted the floor and sidewalls Testors Acrylic Light Gray and the seat Testors Medium Green. The instruments, rudder pedals, and control stick were picked out by hand, and the cockpit was set aside to dry. Eduard gives you the option of either painting a plastic instrument panel, or utilizing their color photo etch version. Since the color photo etch version was far more detailed than what I could paint, I used that. The fuselage halves were closed up, and the instrument panel and cockpit was then glued into position from underneath.
Next up I assembled the wings, and once they had cured I sanded the fuselage and wings seams. The fit was very good in all areas, with only a small amount of Mr. Surfacer 1000 needed to fill in any seams. Construction continued by attaching the horizontal stabilizers, rudder, and landing gear.
The final construction step revolved around the engine. I hollowed out the kit-provided exhaust pipes and glued them in place, and then assembled the engine cowling. With that assembly completed I masked off the cockpit and headed for the airbrush booth.
Painting and Finishing Touches
I sprayed a primer coat of Mr. Surfacer 1000 onto the aircraft and then filled in any remaining gaps and seam lines. I’ve really become a fan of the primer coat, and now consider it a mandatory step in all of my models. The panel lines of the under surfaces were preshaded with Tamiya XF-69 NATO Black, and than the upper surfaces were similarly preshaded with Tamiya XF-11 Japanese Navy Green. I spent some time deliberating on what colors to paint the aircraft. Both Testors and Polly S offer their own versions of Soviet Underside Blue and Soviet Top Surface Green, and the shades are quite different from each other! The color renderings in my Osprey and Squadron/Signal references also revealed fairly different colors, so there seems to be no consensus on what shades are appropriate for the aircraft, certainly not in the way there is for German or other Allied aircraft. I finally decided to use the Polly S Underside Blue for the under surfaces and then Testors Acrylic Medium Green (FS 34102) for the upper surfaces. Each was airbrushed on in light coats to let the preshading show through. To create a faded effect on the upper surfaces I mixed some Testors Wood into the Medium Green and airbrushed random splotches all over. Both the Underside Blue and Medium Green looked sort of rich at this point, but I knew that further weathering would tone them down.
The prop and tires were painted Tamiya XF-69 NATO Black and the prop hub was painted Testors Medium Green. Future was then airbrushed onto the whole model in preparation for the decals.
Applying the decals was very simple. I used the kit-provided decals for Safonov’s aircraft #11, and there were not many to apply – nine to be exact. Eduard’s decals performed beautifully with Walthers Solvaset solution.
Final Painting & Weathering
I airbrushed a coat of Future over the whole model again to seal the decals. Using a small brush I applied small dabs of black, raw umber, Paine’s Gray, and ochre oil paints all over the entire aircraft. Then using a larger brush and some Turpenoid I spread the oils all around in every direction. My goal was to create very subtle hints of color all over to create a weathered effect.
Once that step was dry I applied a thin wash of 50/50 Lamp Black/Raw Umber oils to all of the recessed panel lines. That was followed by airbrushing a thin mix of the same over the panel lines, exhaust areas, and machine gun areas – again keeping it subtle.
Up next was an airbrushed coat of Testor's Lacquer Flat Finish. I left that to dry overnight and then dry-brushed a mixture of Testors Medium Green and Testors Yellow over the raised details on the engine cowling, as well as the ribs on the wings and tail. I then added some paint chips around the nose cowling, cockpit area, and wing roots using a Silver Berol pencil. My final weathering step was to airbrush a bit of Tamiya Desert Yellow on the tires to simulate some dust and dirt. I painted the wingtip lights, glued on the prop and canopy, and the model was done.
Eduard’s I-16 is a very rapid and pleasant build. The level of kit engineering is very high, and the included color photo-etch set and masks are very helpful. It was one of the fastest 1/48 aircraft builds I’ve done in a while.
Osprey Publications, Aircraft of the Aces #15, “Soviet Aces of World War 2”
Squadron/Signal, Aircraft in Action #162, “Polikarpov Fighters in Action, Pt. 2”
Wikipedia, the Online Encyclopedia
Images and Text Copyright © 2008 by Scott Lyle
Page Created 28 April, 2008
7 May, 2008
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