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I-16

Azur 1/32 I-16 Type 10 Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review September 2017 Manufacturer Azur
Subject Polikarpov I-16 Type 10 Scale 1/32
Kit Number A046 Primary Media Styrene, Resin, PE
Pros The kit is 95% styrene Cons See text
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) OOP

First Look

I-16
I-16
I-16

Polikarpov's design signature during the mid and late 1930s was stubby, barrel-shaped fighters. The primary machine during that era was the I-15 biplane. Like their barrel-shaped brothers on the other side of the world, the Grumman F3Fs, the I-15 was going to be transformed almost directly into a monoplane fighter, the I-16. In the transformation, the I-15's upper wing was deleted and the lower wing strengthened to carry the full load. With a wingspan one meter shorter than the I-15, the early I-16 was powered by the same 700hp M-25 radial engine as the late-model I-15. The I-16 also incorporated retractable landing gear which could be exchanged for retractable skis.

Armament for the I-16 Type 10 was a pair of 7.62mm machine guns in the top of the nose and another pair in the wings just outside the propeller arc. The I-16 saw combat on two fronts in the late 1930s, first in the Spanish Civil War and later with the Chinese against Japan. In Spain, the early Bf 109s flown by the Nationalists were surprised by the agile I-16 and suffered losses to the 'Rata' (Rat) as they nicknamed it. The Japanese forces were also surprised by the agile I-16 until they finally discovered and exploited the I-16's weaknesses.

By the time the Nazis violated the peace treaty between the Soviet Union and Germany, the I-16 was obsolete. Nonetheless, the I-16 soldiered on into 1943 before being completely phased out of service. One of the most famous tactics flown by Soviet pilots in 1941 was ramming their I-16s into the tails of German aircraft, then either limping back to base or parachuting to safety.

Twelve years ago, we examined the Special Hobby 1/32 I-16 Type 10/17 kit, which was first released in 2004 and was MPM's first entry into 1/32 scale. MPM also released the kit in their Azur brand with only the Type 10 parts, and subsequently released the Type 24 and a few export special editions. Since we recently examined ICM's recent 1/32 I-16 Type 24, I thought it worthwhile to look inside the Azur box for comparison.

As with the Special Hobby release, the parts are molded in light gray styrene and feature very nicely executed surface detailing. All of the panel lines, etc., are scribed. In this release, the kit is presented on three parts trees, plus a single small clear tree with the windscreen. The kit also includes a photo-etched fret for the Sutton harness for the pilot's seat and a set of resin parts making up the engine exhaust stacks.

Assembly begins with the cockpit. The instrument panel would have benefited from a photo-etched face with acetate instrument faces in this scale, but after installation, it would take a high-power IPMS Judge's flashlight to see the instruments.

The left entry door is molded separately, though the instructions show where to cut should you wish to have both doors open (the right side door was not added until the Type 24). The instructions have you trap the cockpit into the fuselage halves, but it appears that the cockpit will fit though the bottom of the assembled fuselage. This would allow you to assemble the fuselage and remove any seam lines before adding the cockpit.

The rudder is molded separately, but the elevators are molded onto the horizontal stabilizers. You'll probably want to remove the elevators so you can pose them with a more natural droop. The top and bottom wing halves go together next.

The shutters on the engine cowling face are molded closed, and there is no engine provided (or needed). If you're wanting to do a little superdetailing, Vector Resins produced a nice set that provides a firewall, separate cowling panels, a detailed engine, and new cowling face with open shutters to help show off that detail.

Markings are provided for three examples:

  • I-16 Type 10, CM-158, 1 Sqn, Liria AB, 1938, Republican, Spanish Civil War
  • I-16 Type 10, CM-190, 3 Sqn, Villajniga AB, 1939, Republican, Spanish Civil War
  • I-16 Type 10, Captured, 1939, Nationalist, Spanish Civil War

This kit was the best (and only) styrene option for a 1/32 I-16, and rumor has it that MPM is reissuing one or more variants. With the release of the ICM kit though, you now have a better option for the 'Rata'.

References:

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