Comparing Tamiya's and
Accurate Miniatures 1/48 scale
Il-2 Shturmovik Kits
by Brett Green
Tamiya's 1/48 scale Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik
Test Shot Build
Tamiya's 1/48 scale Il-2 Shturmovik may be pre-orderded online right now from Squadron
Last week I built the test shot of Tamiya’s 1/48 scale Il-2 Shturmovik, as reviewed earlier on HyperScale .
The model was built straight from the sprues with no additions or modifications.
The build was impressive and fit was perfect, but still one question is often asked - is Tamiya's Il-2 that much better than Accurate Miniatures' Shturmovik from 1997?
In order to answer this question I have opened up Italeri's 1/48 scale 2007 re-issue of the Accurate Miniatures swept-wing Il-2, sometimes referred to as the Il-2m3 or Il-2 Type 3. This is the same variant as Tamiya's new kit.
Let's take a detailed look at the contents to see the differences between Accurate Miniatures' and Tamiya's 1:48 scale Il-2 Shturmoviks.
Please note that in the comparison photos below, the parts on the white background are Tamiya’s and the parts on the black background are Accurate Miniatures’. In the case of the clear sprues, the parts on top are Tamiya, while the parts at the bottom of the photo are Accurate Miniatures.
The first obvious difference between the kits is that Accurate Miniatures’ fuselage is spilt into separate nose and main fuselage sections. Successfully mating the front and rear sections is one of the most challenging (and painful, I can assure you from personal experience) aspects of building the Accurate Miniatures kit.
Tamiya’s fuselage is presented as two full-length halves. Fit is perfect.
Surface detail on the Accurate Miniatures kit was the best available in 1997, and it still stands up well today. However, Tamiya’s crisp combination of recessed and raised surface detail has the clear advantage in 2012.
In my opinion, the fabric texture of control surfaces is also better on Tamiya’s kit (top photo).
Accurate Miniatures’ spinner is noticeably bulbous compared to the real thing.
Accurate Miniatures’ propeller blades are too narrow and taper even more as they approach the hub (below). Tamiya’s propeller blades and spinner (top) are accurate.
The sectional profile of the upper cowl intake is too flat on the Accurate Miniatures kit. Compare the almost flat profile above the ducting of the Accurate Miniatures intake (Calum Gibson's build in the bottom photo) with the smooth curve of Tamiya’s. Also note the size and shape of the cheek scoops on either side of the spinner. Once again, Tamiya’s looks much more like the real thing. Follow this link to see several photos of the nose area of a wrecked Il-2 Shturmovic posted to HyperScale’s Plane Talking Forum recently by Sergey Kosachev.
Tamiya and Accurate Miniatures took different approaches to the cockpit. Accurate Miniatures supplies a clear instrument panel that will look great with careful painting and the application of dial decals on the back. Tamiya’s is solid plastic with decals supplied for the dials. The choice between the two is really a matter of personal preference.
The Accurate Miniatures cockpit floor incorporates the radiator face, but does not have a forward bulkhead. The long control rod linkage on the starboard side of the cockpit is painful to fit, and the Accurate Miniatures seat is not really up to the standard of its Tamiya counterpart. Tamiya takes a points win in terms of detail and sharpness in the cockpit.
The fuselage fuel tank is split vertically in the Accurate Miniatures kit. This means that the join will be visible when the part is fitted between the cockpits. Tamiya’s join is horizontal, and is effectively below the line of vision once the tank is installed – another thoughtful engineering touch.
In the rear cockpit, Tamiya’s machine gun is better, even featuring teeth on the half-ring mounting rail. Accurate Miniatures’ strap is nicely detailed though.
The windscreens of the Tamiya and Accurate Miniatures kits appear to be different. The rake of the Accurate Miniatures windscreen is slightly steeper while the armoured glass at the front of Tamiya’s is a bit wider. Once again, refer to Sergey’s photos to see one real example. Looking at wartime photos, it would appear that there were (at least) several variations in the style of windscreen, and the fairing below the windscreen. Sergey has pointed out that there were more than 90 serial modifications made to the Il-2 at various factories, so it is entirely likely that both Accurate Miniatures’ and Tamiya’s are correct, but different.
Both Accurate Miniatures and Tamiya offer three alternative styles of gunner’s canopies. Accurate Miniatures’ pilot’s canopy must be glued over the centre section if it posed open, but Tamiya supplies a clever two-part assembly to depict the open pilot’s canopy (top photo) - another win for Tamiya engineering.
Tamiya’s wheel wells are boxed in with a separate insert between the upper and lower wing halves, while Accurate Miniatures’ are open between the wings. Tamiya also provides more structural detail moulded to the inside of the top wing.
Accurate Miniatures' kit has two separate parts for each lower section of the wheel wells, while these structures are moulded to the centre section of the bottom wing on the Tamiya kit. This is a simpler solution that results in less join seams and cleaning up later on. The main wheel wells are a clear victory to Tamiya in terms of detail and engineering.
Accurate Miniatures offers the option of bulged and flattened main wheels. Tamiya does not. Optional underwing gun packs are also unique to Accurate Miniatures.
Tamiya’s unique options include two styles of rocket rail, two different sets of bombs, alternative fairings for the wing cannon and seated pilot and gunner figures.
Tamiya’s two-part tail wheel assembly with its open oleo scissor is clearly superior to Accurate Miniatures one-piece tail wheel.
The Build Experience
By far the biggest difference between the two kits, however, is buildability. Tamiya’s kit fits together supremely well with no gaps or misalignment on either of the two kits that I have built so far.
On the other hand, Accurate Miniatures’ Il-2 kits demand a great deal of attention and tweakery to fit properly. This is particularly true of the cowl ducting, the nose to fuselage join, the wing root to fuselage join, the cockpit and the wheel wells / undercarriage. The Accurate Miniatures kit will fit together, but it demands a level of skill and a good measure of patience.
Just for fun, here are a couple of photos of the painted cockpit from the second Tamiya Il-2 that I am building at the moment.
Please note that in the absence of the Tamiya decal sheet, which provides the harness straps and the instruments, I have substituted a “Good Stuff” resin seat with cast-on harness straps, and instrument dial decals from Airscale and MDC. The project is otherwise straight from the box.
High contrast weathering was applied to the fuel tank as it will be mostly obscured in the shadows between the cockpits once the canopy is fitted.
Tamiya’s debut 1:48 scale Shturmovik release is a swept-wing two-seater Il-2.
Starting in 1997, Accurate Miniatures released the following variants in 1:48 scale:
Although Accurate Miniatures never released a straight-wing two-seater Il-2, Eduard combined the wing from the single-seater with the fuselage of the two-seater to deliver this variant for their 2007 boxing. Eduard’s Limited Edition kit also included colour and nickel-plated photo-etched parts. It is no longer available.
A number of resin conversions were also made for the Accurate Miniatures kit, including wooden wings and straight metal wings.
A detailed side-by-side comparison of these two kits shows that Tamiya is the clear winner in almost every respect. Tamiya’s accurate spinner, propeller blades, scoops and upper cowl shape are all noticeable improvements over the Accurate Miniatures kit, making a big difference to the overall look of the nose.
Tamiya’s wheel wells and tail wheel are much better too. Although Accurate Miniatures' surface textures and cockpit details are very nice, Tamiya pips them at the post in these areas as well.
Clever engineering touches such as Tamiya’s approaches to the open canopy and the intake ducting also remind us that this is a state-of-the-art kit from a manufacturer at the top of their game.
What really sets these two kits apart, though, is the building experience. Tamiya’s Il-2 is sheer joy to build. During construction, the kit had me literally shaking my head in admiration of its clever parts breakdown and precise engineering.
Back in the late 1990s, Accurate Miniatures’ Il-2 also had me shaking my head, but for entirely different reasons. It too can be built, but it is temperamental and can be frustrating. Such fussiness of construction is easy to forgive when there is no alternative, but Tamiya's new Il-2 has changed the game.
Even so, Accurate Miniatures’ Il-2 still deserves our respect today. It was a genuine milestone in 1997, a plastic wonder of its day, and it remains a respectable kit in 2012. Indeed, if you want to build a 1:48 scale single-seater Il-2, Accurate Miniatures is still your only option, although I would urge you to replace the spinner and propeller. Vector offers an excellent resin correction.
However, if you want to build a two-seater Shturmovik, do yourself a favour and grab Tamiya’s Il-2. It really is a beautiful kit, both in the box and on the workbench.
We can only hope for a straight-wing two-seater and some single-seater variants from Tamiya at some time in the future.
Thanks to Tamiya Japan for the sample
Tamiya kits are distributed in the UK by The Hobby Company Limited
Model, Images and Text
2012 by Brett Green
Page Created 10 May, 2012
11 May, 2012
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