The I.A.R. 80 was a Romanian World War II low-wing, monoplane, all-metal monocoque fighter and ground-attack aircraft . When it first flew in 1939, it was comparable to contemporary designs such as the German Messerschmitt Bf 109E, the British Hawker Hurricane Mk.I, and the American Curtiss P-40B/Tomahawk Mk.I and superior to the Dutch Fokker D.XXI and Polish PZL P.24. However, production problems and lack of available armament delayed entry of the IAR 80 into service until 1941. It remained in front-line use until 1944.
The final stage in the I.A.R. 80's wartime history was the 81-C. This version changed the guns to the Mauser MG 151/20 which was replacing the MG FF/M in German service and had just been released for Romanian use. The order for the 81-C was placed in May 1942. The first order for 100 airframes was delivered with the center-line bomb rack removed to be used as fighters. An additional order for 35 was placed in February 1943, and then another 15 in January 1944. These aircraft were primarily meant to replace the losses of the earlier models.
Icaerodesign's new 1:48 scale I.A.R. 81-C resin kit is packed within a rather small top opening cardboard box. Inside, the parts are well protected although in an unusual way. Indeed, each main part has been wrapped in paper towel and placed into a recess into a polystyrene block. Not a common method in the model kit industry but quite effective in my case since no items inside the box were damaged on the way from Romania to France. The smaller parts have been placed into small plastic bags and the photo etched parts, decal and mask sheets placed in an envelope.
The overall quality of the kit is really excellent for such a niche product. The resin castings, in particular, are the finest I have seen. It seems as if this model has been designed using CAD technology and that the master parts have been created using milling machines. Only the riveting looks as if it has been made by hand with a riveter tool. The level of detail is very high as well, thanks to the resin casting method, and for the very fine items a photo etched sheet is provided.
The clear parts are resin as well and their transparency is equal to plastic parts. The only difference is that one will have to use a razor saw to carefully free the parts from their respective moulding blocks without breaking them.
The kit features a detailed cockpit, a complete engine which can be left visible on the upper side, separate flaps, ailerons, stabilizers and rudder, detailed landing gear bays and landing gears, etc... In total more than 100 resin parts and about 100 PE parts which, once assembled, will make into a very realistic replica of the I.A.R. 81-C.
Decals and masks are provided for 3 marking options:
A - I.A.R. 81-C No. 320, Escadrila 61 Vânatoare, Grupul 6 Vânatoare, Popesti-Leordeni, June 1944.
B - I.A.R. 81-C No. 323, Escadrila 61 Vânatoare, Grupul 6 Vânatoare, Popesti-Leordeni, January 1944.
C - I.A.R. 81-C No. 446, Escadrila 67 Vânatoare, Grupul 2 Vânatoare Gherasti, Bacau, July 1944.
The decals seem to be of good quality and they have been designed by I.A.R. 80/81 specialist Radu Brinzan. Some markings are included as masks if one wishes to airbrush them onto the model.
As a big fan of the I.A.R. 80/81, this review might appear a little too enthusiastic. But it is not. This resin kit is a little gem and should remain the most detailed 1:48 scale rendering of the Romanian fighter for a while. The price (66€ shipping included) may be a little on the high side but remember that this is a "Garage Kit" and thus cant' be compared to mainstream productions in term of research, development and manufacturing costs. Unless Tamiya or Eduard do an injected plastic kit of the I.A.R. 81-C in the future (which seems unlikely), I do not see any reason not to buy Icaerodesign's kit if the subject appeals to you. Highly recommended to builders with some experience with resin kits.
The kit can be ordered directly from Icaerodesign
and payment made with PayPal. The kit is available in limited quantity (the first production batch of the kit was only 15 examples) but if it is sold out, check back on the site after 2-3 days for availability as it is produced in 5 to 10 examples per week.
For more infos about the I.A.R. 80/81, I can recommend the following books:
- The I.A.R. 80 & I.A.R. 81 AIrframe, Systems 1 Equipment by Radu Brinzan - SAM Publications (ISBN 978-1-906959-19-7)
- IAR-80 (French text only) - Editions TMA (ISBN 2-915205-08-6)
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