by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
As most of you will know, 1/72 scale isn't my usual cup of tea, but I was so impressed by ICM's recent Heinkel He 70, I jumped at the chance to look at their I-15bis which Jean-Luc brought back from Nürnberg recently. I'm delighted to say that I'm not disappointed - the kit has all the potential for building into a real little gem, and just makes me wish that ICM's designers would release more new kits in 1/48 scale too!
Arriving in a colourful end-opening box that features a painting guide for one of featured colour schemes on the reverse side, the kit consists of just a single grey sprue containing 54 parts (plus 2 unused) and an injection-moulded windscreen. Decals are provided for two aircraft.
As you can see from the accompanying photos, there is a little flash evident and most parts in the review sample will need a bit of a clean-up. There's a definite hint of "semi-short run" about the moulding, but don't be put off! - look closer and you'll begin to see just how fine some of the surface detail is, with delicate engine panel lines and an excellent subtle fabric effect.
The cockpit is detailed enough to put many larger scale kits to shame, with 14 parts, including an accurate seat, flying controls, gun breeches and side framework.
Despite the typical Polikarpov cowling faceplate hiding everything, there's a surprisingly neat engine with a well moulded propeller and separate push-rods and exhausts. The cowling is made up of 5 parts and could be the trickiest part of the kit to assemble neatly, but it does give the option to display the engine detail with the side panels off.
The kit has parts for both standard and winter landing gear, with the wheels not being needed for the two aircraft featured. The ski undercarriage is nicely moulded - all it really needs is the addition of the bracing cords shown in the painting guide and boxtop illustration. Rounding everything off is a set of light bombs to mount under the lower wing.
Instructions & DecalsThe assembly diagrams are clearly drawn, breaking construction down into 5 logical stages. Colour suggestions for ModelMaster paints are keyed to most details.
Decals are provided for a pair of aircraft:
1. I-15bis, 13th OAE (Independent Squadron) of the Baltic Fleet Air Force, December 1940 - still wearing standard camouflage.
2. I-15bis, winter 1941-42 with white topsurfaces.
The decals seem to be good quality. Typically for ICM, they are matte-finished, and the registration is very good on the sample sheet.
ConclusionICM's I-15bis is a delightful little kit. Due to the extra clean-up required, it's probably not best suited for inexperienced modellers, but anyone used to kits from the smaller manufacturers should have no trouble at all and will be impressed by the level of detail squeezed in. It should build into a very cute little model indeed. Recommended.
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