by: Sam Berry [ ]
HistoryThe Petlyakov Pe-8 was a Soviet heavy bomber designed before World War II, and the only four-engine bomber the USSR built during the war. Produced in limited numbers, it was used to bomb Berlin in August 1941. It was also used for so-called "morale raids" designed to raise the spirit of the Soviet people by exposing Axis vulnerabilities. Its primary mission, however, was to attack German airfields, rail yards and other rear-area facilities at night, although one was used to fly the People's Commissar of Foreign Affairs (Foreign Minister) Vyacheslav Molotov from Moscow to the United States in 1942.
Originally designated the TB-7, the aircraft was renamed the Pe-8 after its primary designer, Vladimir Petlyakov, died in a plane crash in 1942. Supply problems complicated the aircraft's production and the Pe-8s also had engine problems. As Soviet morale boosters, they were also high-value targets for the Luftwaffe's fighter pilots. The loss rate of these aircraft, whether from mechanical failure, friendly fire, or combat, doubled between 1942 and 1944. The Soviets relegated the dwindling numbers of Pe-8s to second-line or non-combat units, especially after the Soviets deployed the American-supplied B-24s and B-25s.
By the end of the war, most of the surviving aircraft had been withdrawn from combat units. The last Pe-8s were completed in 1944 as Pe-8ONs (Russian: Osobovo Naznacheniya—Special Mission) with Charomskiy ACh-30B engines and a fillet at the base of the vertical stabilizer. These were special VIP transports with a seating capacity of twelve and a cargo capacity of 1,200 kilograms (2,646 lb). Sources disagree if the armament, either partly or entirely, was removed
The KitThis latest offering from Zvezda is the PE-8 ON ‘Stalin’s Plane’.
The kit comes in a very sturdy and colourful box. Upon opening the box you are greeted by seven cellophane bags containing nine sprues of light grey plastic, a zip seal bag containing a sprue of clear plastic, a small decal sheet and a booklet style instruction manual. In total there are 279 grey parts 40 clear parts. This model is Zvezda’s earlier PE-8 Bomber with an addition sprue for the 12 seat interior and the figures of Stalin and the flight crew. As such there is a fair amount of parts not used.
The quality of the moulding is excellent. A close inspection of the parts shows no signs of moulding flash, with minimal sink marks or major seem lines but the surface has a very slight texture to the eye but not to the touch. There are very fine and crisp recessed panel lines. The cockpit parts and gunner turrets are well done and makes for a busy cockpit, the only let down is the flat instrument panel and decal. The instruction say there are two options throughout, with pilots and gunners or without, if you choose without you made need some etch seatbelts to add some interest.
The fuselage has all the marking inside for removing the windows and doors to accommodate the passenger area. A nice touch is that the passenger area is a capsule that mounts into the fuselage. This also includes part of the main spar (as does the cockpit) and a large spar for the tail plane is also sandwiched between the fuselage halves so it should support the huge wings and tail plane without a problem.
Unlike American bombers, this plane used inline engines so there is no engine detail. The large radiator grills are finely detailed though, as are the rather huge undercarriage bays.
The clear parts are crystal clear and free from distortion, but as always will benefit from a dip in some Klear (Future). The canopy framing does look heavy in places and there is a lot of it, so I would suggest lots of tape and a sharp blade or get hold of the Eduard mask set for the kit.
The supplied figures are very well done for 1/72 scale with the seated figures coming with separate arms and heads in a similar fashion to the Japanese manufactures which allows for a bit of animation to be added.
The Instructions, Colour scheme and DecalsThe instructions come in the format of an A4 booklet. They start with the front cover having a picture of the box art with a brief history of the aircraft and the usual safety warnings, followed by a layout of the sprues. Forty five steps then follow. Steps one to twenty start with the unusual format of the engines, nacelle gun emplacements, wings and main undercarriage. Steps twenty one to thirty eight are the fuselage, cockpit and passenger area. The final steps are bringing main sub assemblies together and attaching ancillary parts. Throughout the instructions Zvezda refer to Version 1 and Version 2. The differences between these are: version 1 is the undercarriage down and using the standing figures. Version 2 is ‘in flight’ with the pilot and gunner figures in their seats. Note that if you choose to do Version 1 don’t install the figures in their seats as they are the four crew that stand next to Stalin and his aides.
The instructions are very informative in both Russian and English complete with the colour call outs being numbered throughout. These call outs relate to a chart on the last page and are all in Russian but fortunately Zvezda have converted them to Model Master Paint numbers as well.
Only one marking option is provided and is a medium green aircraft over a USSR medium blue underside. There aren’t that many decals. They look to be of a reasonable quality and are in good register
ConclusionWith over 335 parts this isn’t a kit for beginners but if you’ve built a bomber before then this won’t be a problem. I hadn’t really seen many aircraft kits from Zvezda before now, but I would say if they keep turning out highly detailed kits at these low prices they will certainly give the Japanese and other Eastern European model companies a good run for their money. The only thing that would have made this kit better would be the inclusion of the staff car and driver like on the box art.
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