by: Darren Baker [ ]
ICM has been doing overtime and burning the midnight oil where 1/32nd scale aircraft models are concerned and have released a Stearman PT-17/N2S-3 Kaydet. This aircraft from The Stearman Aircraft the PT-13 first flew in 1934 and then as production started the first aircraft were delivered 1936 to the US Air Corps with deliveries continuing in 1937 and 38. The outbreak of war in 1939 did not make any real difference to production of the aircraft, but in 1940 when World War 2 really heating up in Europe demands for the PT-13 outstripped the supply of the Lycoming R-680 engine and the PT-17 was born with the addition of the Continental W-670 engined aircraft.
The Stearman PT-17 is arguably the most important biplane ever built due to the vast numbers built which was in excess of 8,000 aircraft with over 1000 aircraft still flying today around the world. It is not these facts that underline the importance of the Stearman PT-17, but that over half of the pilots that flew in World War 2 as American Forces both Navy and Army Air Force trained on these aircraft and that is not counting the 10,000 pilots that flew with the Royal Air Force and Fleet Air Arm in the US and that is not counting the Canadian pilots trained on the aircraft.
The packaging in this offering is what has become the standard from ICM, a substantial cardboard tray and integrated lid, plus an additional card lid with the artwork on it. This is I feel up to the rigours of the postal system and something that ICM deserve recognition for. The sprues are packaged in a re-sealable plastic bag, which also contains a clear sprue inside its own plastic bag. An examination of the contents reveals some very cleanly moulded parts, but there are a number of ejector pins marks, which I am pleased to say have been placed in what would be hidden locations. Access to the parts for removal from the sprue is good, and that will be appreciated for the finer mouldings. I do have some concerns about the ailerons as there are two ‘S’ shaped swirls present and while I cannot feel them I cannot say that they will not impair the finish.
The cockpit of this offering from ICM is quite nice with the one immediately observed issue, no harness straps replicated in anyway. I love these large scale aircraft offerings from ICM, but please address this aspect of your models in this scale. So with that said what are the high points? There is internal frame structure present over a large portion of the internal fuselage halves. The pilot area is made up of what I believe is a tubular frame, and this is nicely replicated in the model. A number of the control instruments are replicated on the frame or added and while these are acceptable I am sure that a photo etch set will be fast on the heels of the release to improve the model greatly in this area. The internal frame structure does present a painting issue as the recessed areas are one colour and the frame another; to overcome this problem I would spray the recessed area and when dry use a very stiff sponge to dab paint on the raised frame work. You are of course welcome to come up with another solution. The flight instruments are covered via the use of decals which is acceptable, but there are of course better methods for those willing to dip into their pockets.
The fuselage of the model is a little unusual in that it is assembled without the cockpit in place and the cockpit assembly plus roof of the cockpit is added later; I do not have any major concerns over what I have in my hands, but any deformation of the fuselage halves could make for some issues and strong words. I dry fitted the fuselage halves in this particular kit and found a perfect fit, fingers crossed for the rest of you. Another interesting feature of the fuselage is the exterior faces of the undercarriage are moulded attached and that means getting the angles right will not be an issue. The skin of the fuselage was cloth covered for the most part and that looks to be well represented if a little on the smooth side, but stippling with Mr Surfacer or such could be used to enhance the texture further and hide any seam lines at the same time.
The flight surfaces and flight controls are also fabric covered and have been well replicated other than the strange ‘S’ pattern I mentioned earlier. The texture is missing which is accurate for the scale, but as mentioned you could use Mr Surfacer to add a greater texture. All of the flight controls have been supplied as separate parts and so can be positioned as the modeller likes. I really appreciate that ICM has gone to the trouble of showing the modeller how to string this model up in the instructions, but there is a problem ICM has not provided the interplane cross brace that is very prominent and has also chosen not to show it in the finishing images; they are shown in the rigging plan but look as if they are rigging rather than rods.
This aircraft had its engine fully exposed and so while ICM has done a pretty good job using plastic parts only and so I can see many modellers looking to really dress this area of the model up. The parts supplied do appear accurate to me but there are finer details that would ideally be added in a model of this scale, I am not going to knock ICM over this as I suspect you will have the modellers who are happy with what is provided, the group in the middle who will do some scratch work to dress it up and the last group that will throw everything at it. ICM has provided the option of a wooden or metal propeller and it is my belief that in most cases the wooden propeller is the one to use.
I appreciate greatly that ICM has provided a pattern for cutting out mask for the glazing on the aircraft.
ICM has provided three finishing options with this model two of which are very colourful; the options are:
63d AAF FTD, Douglas, Georgia, 1942
WASP, Avenger Field, Texas, 1943
ICM has done a reasonable job on this release of the Stearman PT-17/N2S-3 Kaydet in 1/32nd scale, but it is not without its issues. For me the lack of harness detail is beginning to bug me as it is not something that is difficult to supply in the model. I would also have appreciated the interplane cross braces being either supplied or clearly identified in the rigging diagrams. On the plus side I am pleased with what is provided in the model as regards detail and the quality of the mouldings with the possible exception of the moulding issue I pointed out in body of the review. I think it is the colour schemes that really draw me to this model and will make an eye catching addition to the shelf.