Donkeys, Rats and Flies, oh my! 1/48 Polikarpov I-16
The Polikarpov I-16 is considered by many to be the first truly modern fighter - a low wing monoplane with an enclosed cockpit and retractable landing gear. Early models saw combat in the Spanish Civil War, where they were referred to as the Rata (Rat) by the Nationalists, Mosca (Fly) by the Republicans, and Ishachok (Burro) by Russian pilots. It was generally considered tricky to fly and underarmed in early variants. Later models were equipped with more powerful engines and more armament, but the flying qualities remained pretty much the same.
My first build of the new year. I was bogged down in a couple of more extensive builds and needed something to kickstart my model mojo. This is the Hobby Craft (yeah, I know...) I-16 model 24, which fulfilled all of my requirements; low parts count, interesting markings, and instructions that had pictures that were drawn by an 8-year old and no big words! What could possibly go wrong?
As I expected, it was a quick build, being framed up and ready for paint in just a few hours. Filler was needed on the bottom wing to fuselage joint and a little along the wing fillets, but nothing major. Cockpit is very basic, with a nice instrument panel and stick, a seat and nothing else. Not that it matters because you can't see any of it, but I did add some masking tape seatbelts. The engine is not bad either, but that also is not visible through the cowling shutters. The landing gear was the worst part of the build. The instructions are very vague on where things go, so I did a lot of looking at pictures on the interweb. In retrospect, I should have opted for the skis so I wouldn't have had to use the gear doors, or just left the doors off, as I saw in a few photos. The decals were just as bad, but there really aren't any options that I wanted to spend money on, so I used them because I liked the ones that came with the kit. The best way to use those was let them soak until they floated off the paper and then drench them in setting solution. It seemed to work; they came out ok. Paint was my usual Model Master enamels, with a first foray into bare metal foil for the metal ring behind the cowling.
All in all, it was a fun build. I've never done a Russian airplane, and with the huge graphics on the fuselage, it makes a colorful addition to my shelf.
7 additional images. Click to enlarge.