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Il-2m Shturmovik/Panther Ausf.D

Academy 1/72 Il-2m Shturmovik/Panther Ausf.D Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review September 2016 Manufacturer Academy
Subject Il-2m Shturmovik/Panther Ausf.D Scale 1/72
Kit Number 12538 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Nice details, simple construction Cons See text
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $42.00

First Look

Il-2m Shturmovik/Panther Ausf.D
Il-2m Shturmovik/Panther Ausf.D
Il-2m Shturmovik/Panther Ausf.D
Il-2m Shturmovik/Panther Ausf.D

The Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik, like the T-34 tank, was one of the pivotal weapons in the Soviet arsenal during World War II that blunted the advances of the Wehrmacht and subsequently pushed them all the way back to Berlin. The prototype was designed as a two-place all-metal attack aircraft, but it would enter production as a single seat aircraft with wooden wings and tail section. While the aircraft was able to press attacks into enemy columns, its lack of maneuverability and rear gunner made it easy prey for the Luftwaffe air defenders.

Engineering changes to the aircraft had to wait in those early days of the Great Patriotic War as engineering and productions facilities were moved east outside of the reach of German bombers and ground forces. When changes did start to trickle into the production line, the rear gunner position was restored to the aircraft, but accommodations for the gunner were minimalistic and combat losses of gunners were significantly higher than those of pilots or aircraft. Nevertheless, the two-seat aircraft also saw more armor plate, all-metal structures, and a more powerful engine.

One problem not foreseen by these changes in the aircraft was the center of gravity. Adding the rear gunner, gun, ammo, and even the minimal armor plating caused the Il-2 to become tail-heavy and loss of control would sometimes result during combat maneuvering. At the low altitudes that the Shturmovik operated, there was no time for the pilot to recover. Ilyushin applied a simple fix to shift the center of gravity aft without a major redesign of the aircraft - they swept the outboard wing panels.

Academy first released the 1/72 Il-2 series in 2008 and the kit is patterned after the Accurate Miniatures 1/48 scale kit. This kit represents the two-seat Il-2 before its wings were swept. The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on four parts trees, plus two small trees of clear parts and one tree of black parts. As with its larger cousin, this kit features finely scribed details and provides most of the same options.

Among the features of this kit:

  • Nice cockpit details
  • Nice rear gunner position
  • Nice fuselage fuel tank aft of the armored cockpit
  • Positionable canopies
  • Choice of weighted or unweighted (round) main wheels
  • Two bombs
  • Eight rockets on underwing launch rails
  • Optional display stand for depicting the Shturmovik in flight

The kit provides a nice selection of markings to render one of four subjects:

  1. Il-2M, White 24, 8th GShAP, Black Sea Fleet, 1944
  2. Il-2M, White 26, 8th GShAP, Black Sea Fleet, 1944
  3. Il-2M, White 66, 281st ShAD, Tartu, 1944
  4. Il-2M, White 7, unknown unit, Oryol, 1943

This kit is also paired with a 1/72 Panther Ausf.D tank which is produced by Zvezda, molded in tan styrene and presented on two parts trees plus lower hull, and one tree of black vinyl parts (tracks). When you pull both kits out of the box, you'll be a bit surprised to see how much larger the Shturmovik was compared to the Panther tank.

The Zvezda Panther is actually a snap-together kit though it doesn't seem to sacrifice details to make the model easy for assembly. The track has an innovative way to connect with the road wheels to create the appropriate sag across the top of the tracks. By the time you get this gem painted and weathered, you won't notice how the kit originally assembled.

The decal sheet also provides tactical markings for three examples:

  • Panther, 521, 5th Company, 52nd Armored Bde, Kursk, 1943
  • Panther, 745, 7th Company, 52nd Armored Bde, Kursk, 1943
  • Panther, 824, 8th Company, 52nd Armored Bde, Kursk, 1943

While the basic 1/72 Il-2 kit is nice, this release puts a bit of history in the box as it brings together two combatants at the battle of Kursk. You'll appreciate the nice details as you build the land tank and its flying tank counterpart.

My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!