by: Tim Hatton [ ]
When the I-16 first flew on December 31, 1933 it was far ahead of any fighter design at the time. It featured manual retractable undercarriage, a cantilever wing, enclosed cockpit and a variable pitch propeller. The I-16 saw combat in the Spanish Civil War, Russia supplied around 475 I-16 type 4ís to the Republican cause. The I-16 saw further combat during the German invasion of Russia. The Chinese acquired 250 I-16 type 10ís and they were soon in action against the Japanese.
A 1939 government study found the I-16 had exhausted its performance potential. The addition of armour, radio, battery, and flaps during the aircraft's evolution exacerbated the balance of the aircraft to the point where the aircraft required considerable forward pressure on the stick to maintain level flight. This caused a considerable disadvantage when firing the guns. The I-16 became a real handful particularly as it developed a tendency to enter uncontrolled dives. The extension and retraction of the landing flaps also caused a dramatic change in the aircraft's attitude.
The I-16 type 28 depicted in this kit was fitted with the Shvetsov ASh-63 engine. The I-16 type 28 armed with two ShKAS 7.62mm machine guns mounted in the wing and two ShVAK 20mm cannons mounted in the fuselage. The cannons were capable of firing twenty eight rounds in three second. The armament certainly packed a punch if anything was caught in its cone of fire.
There are a few I-16 still in airworthy condition. Well worth seeing if you have a chance, particularly to hear its distinctive sound.
There are two large sprues of grey plastic and one tiny sprue of clear plastic. The recessed and raised detail looks superb and very consistent.
The cockpit is made up from sixteen parts. The framework on the inside of the fuselage around the cockpit is well defined. Itís marred a bit by recessed ejector marks, but they should be easily eradicated. There is even a flare gun and cartridges amongst the detail on the inside of the fuselage. There are a couple frames to fit to the inside of the fuselage and a firewall just aft of the engine. There are marks in the plastic indicating the location points inside the fuselage. The frame where the instrument panel is fitted has part of the cantilever wing spar moulded on it. The back of the seat is fitted to the rear frame. The floor then fits through the frames. Other separate detail includes control stick, various levers, two part instrument panel and engine control levers. One clear and one grey plastic part make up the instrument panel. The instruments are depicted on the clear plastic part. There is also a clear plastic gunsight. The only thing lacking are any seat harnesses. The two small cockpit doors are separate.
The short fuselage has little detail on it except for a maintenance hatch and some subtle detail depicting stretched canvas over the aluminium frame on the tail. The separate one piece rudder has similar subtle detail. The look of the canvas is realistic if you compare it with images of the real thing. The tail cone at the rear of the fuselage is separate. There is a little bit of shrinkage on the outer fuselage where the internal detail is in the cockpit. At the front the engine is built from around fifteen parts including the bearer. The detail on the engine cylinders is subtle. The rocker rods are separate and the exhaust pipes are individual parts. Some care is need when detaching the parts from the sprue. Care is also needed lining up the exhaust pipes with the exit ports. The spider like mass of induction pipes is one piece and fits between the engine and the bearer. The instructions take you through seven stages just to build the engine. So take your time and make sure everything is where it should be. The front of the nacelles has some good detail and the louvres are open. The propeller blades look very good, the boss and back plate are separate. The two side and top panels around the engine are separate, so you could leave them off to show all that lovely detail.
The wings really show evidence how far ICM has progressed with detail. It really is superb and on a par with the best. The recessed panel lines and the slight hint of stretched canvas is very subtle and consistent. The one piece lower wing will make construction that much simpler. The ailerons are separate one piece items. The horizontal tail surfaces are two part, while the separate elevator are connected to each other via a plastic rod. Again all the control surfaces have very delicate ribbing detail on them.
The undercarriage looks complex; thankfully the instructions break the construction into several easy to follow stages. Each leg has four separate doors and they certainly add to the complexity of the build. The frame work on the inside of the doors is a tad overdone, but good to see the attention to detail. Perhaps you might consider adding a length of stretched sprue or nylon to represent the cable that retracted the undercarriage. The wheel are two parts, the hubs have some subtle detail on them. There is a one piece tail wheel to add.
Finishing off there are the two good looking wing mounted machine gun barrels to add.
The decals are printed by ICM. The colour density looks good and there is a small margin of carrier film around each decal.
ICM provide markings for two aircraft:
-I-16 type 28, 45th Aviation Division, Southern Front, Odessa Area, Late June 1941
-I-16 type 28, 72d Mixed Regiment of the Northern Fleet Aviation, August 1941
Both aircraft have dark green upper surfaces and light blue under surfaces. A pity there are not a few more choices with a winter camouflaged version perhaps. Hopefully the aftermarket decal companies will be on the case with this release.
This is another area were ICM has improved. The A4 twelve page instructions have forty seven building stages and the black line drawings are large and clear. Part numbers are in black and paint colour and the icons providing building advice are in red. The painting guide is in colour. Suggested paints are Tamiya and Revell although itís easy enough to cross reference these with other paint companies.
I have to say that Iím very impressed with this release. The quality and consistency of the surface detail is excellent and the parts break down is well thought out. The cockpit and engine bay are superbly detailed. I think the only slight reservation is the choice of markings.