by: Darren Baker [ ]
There has been a number of 1/32nd scale aircraft released by ICM recently with the Polikarpov I-16 proving a popular aircraft in the scale. ICM has now tackled the Polikarpov I-16 as the type 17 version which has required the addition of some large new mouldings and ski type landing gear. The Polikarpov I-16 type 17 was produced from 1937 to 1939 with 341 of the type being produced. The Polikarpov I-16 type 17 saw service in the Soviet Finnish War and Khalhin-Gol conflict and of course World War 2.
This offering from ICM is packaged in their now standard high quality cardboard flip top tray and separate card lid. This packaging will hold up to everything but the roughest treatment by postal services. Inside there is a re-sealable plastic bag containing five grey sprues for the aircraft plus a clear sprue in its own bag. There is an instruction booklet for the aircraft and the decals for the model are also packed inside the booklet. A look at the sprues indicates that the moulds from the original release are holding up very well and of the standard I expect from ICM.
Starting with the cockpit on this offering and while it is limited in detail for a 1/32nd scale model I feel there is enough detail present due to the very small amount that can be seen trough the cockpit opening. The one weakness that has been shouting out at me with every release of the I-16 is the lack of harness detail, a detail that is possibly the only one you really see; it is my understanding that Eduard has released a set of seat harnesses for this aircraft but not specifically for this model. The instrument panel has been tackled in an interesting manner with a decal that should be placed on rear of a clear moulding and then inserted into a grey moulded part; the result is a dial that looks to have depth and a clear lens. Another positive with this area of the model is that a lot of bulkheads are provided and so make getting the fuselage aligned and so go together correctly. I also like that a full cockpit floor has been replicated rather than a just a portion. The cockpit detail in this offering is the same as the detail in the previous releases.
The fuselage of the model has been well tackled having a good level of detail moulded on the interior where the cockpit is situate and the ribs in the tail are clearly visible; I donít know if the tail was a fabric skin for this detail to be so prominent. I do know from past experience that the internal bulkheads are the only thing holding the aircraft fuselage in place after its put together. The right half or the fuselage on this model is a new part as the large access panel in later versions is incorrect for the type 17 . The rudder is shown as workable and so not glued in place I would suggest it is cemented at the angle you prefer. You will notice that there is not a lot in the way of panel lines visible on the fuselage and that does seem to be correct looking at photographs of the real aircraft. Please not that when part 21 is added to the front of the fuselage the seams should be filled as only the machine gun mounts have a visible seam. The front engine cowl and lower area in front of the wings has been changed due to the change in engine; I cannot tell you if the engine looks different, but it was a lower powered engine in this version of the I-16.
The wings and tail of the I-16 type 10 would seem to show a lot of ribbing through the covering looking at online reference; I am unsure if this is due to the images being of aircraft that are still around or an aspect of the aircraft in use. Looking for period photographs proved fruitless as regards showing that detail well, but my gut instinct tells me the leading edge should be smooth. The control surfaces on both the wings and tail are provided separately and so can be set at the angle the modeller prefers. The detail on the upper face of the wings near the root is another area that I was unable to verify how accurate the detail provided is. The entire lower wing is a new part and does away with the rocket mounts and changes the wheel bays detail.
This offering from ICM provides quite a nice representation of the radial engine with the exhausts being the only aspect you will see once the model is built. There are three panels that you could leave off the model to display the engine, but if you decide to take that route you will need to put a lot of effort into further dressing up the engine. With this in mind I did a little looking and thanks to the first 1/32nd scale Polikarpov I-16 having been originally released in 2017 there are a number of aftermarket companies offering upgrades for the modeller. Another aspect that I am happy to see included is the machine guns mounted above the engine. It should be noted that the machine guns fitted on this version of the I-16 are another change specific to this variant of the aircraft. The lower exhausts are new parts in this offering along with the new panel beneath the engine in this area. ICM has provided a new profiled propeller for this offering along with a new nose cone, the nose cone is more pointed than in later examples where it is domed.
The canopy for the I-16 only consists of the front screen; the I-16 was supplied with a fully enclosed cockpit but due to issues with it sticking pilots had it removed and so a front screen only is correct. The detail present in the canopy looks correct to me and is of a reasonable thickness.
The undercarriage is an area I have got a little upset about in the past due to the tail wheel being a single moulding rather than the wheel being a separate part from the leg; not so in this case as this type 17 did not have a tail wheel but instead has a skid. The main undercarriage was raised and lowered manually by the pilot using a winch inside the cockpit and that is why there is a hole in the middle of the wheel bay. A thin wire needs to be placed from the centre of the wheel through the hole in the wheel bay. I will say that I struggled with the undercarriage on one of the I-16 models in this scale and so take your time to get this right and avoid the struggles I had. This offering has the skies fitted rather than the wheels; the struts of the undercarriage remain unchanged with the wheel removed and a ski assembly fitted. I am led to believe that the skies can be retracted, but I am at a loss to see how this was achieved. The modeller will need to do some work on the undercarriage legs as the brake lines are missing and would still be in place I believe also it is a little simplified in my opinion. The new wheel wells have a oval opening that remain open and are there for the pilot to verify if the undercarriage is fully up or down.
ICM has provided four finishing options with this model and I am impressed with the decals despite there being quite a lot of carrier film around the number decals. The colour is good and so far as I can see there is no bleeding present. The aspect that pleases me the most is that when running a finger over the decals I cannot feel the decals on the carrier paper. The four finishing options are:
I-16 type 17, 22nd Fighter Regiment, July 1939
I-16 type 17, 5th Baltic Fleet Fighter Regiment, Winter 1939-1940
I-16 type 17, 191st Fighter Regiment, 7th Fighter Corps of Leningrad Air Defence, Autumn 1941
I-16 type 17, 4th Baltic Fleet Fighter Regiment, Spring 1942
It should be pointed out that ICM that the finishing options provided here are a mix of wheel and ski equipped aircraft. The parts for wheeled aircraft are provided but assembly of that aspect has not been covered; it is really just a case of adding the wheels rather than the skies and some work on the doors which are also not covered. With that said I suspect most that buy this model will be looking to the skies due to the different look it provides.
I am really rather pleased to see ICM tackle the type 17 Polikarpov I-16 as it fills in another gap for the aircraft type, and of course we can live in hope that the earlier versions will be released soon as well. The changes in detail are the most radical so far in the I-16 releases by ICM and they look to have tackled those changes very well. As with previous releases I still have the gripe about the lack of harness detail, but it can be overcome via scratch work or after market sources. I do feel that the addition of a ski undercarriage is a nice touch and appeals to me a lot as it gives the aircraft a fairly unique look.