Bobcat Models 1/48 Il-28T Beagle Kit First Look
by Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||May 2019||Manufacturer||Bobcat Models|
|Kit Number||48006||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||First plastic kit in this scale, nice options||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||$42.99 at Lucky Model|
After World War II, the Ilyushin OKB began working on a turbine-powered light bomber design using engineering data captured from Germany for the Ar 234 jet-powered light bomber. Ilyushin developed the Il-22 that was powered by four Lyulka TR-1 axial flow turbojet engines (also based on captured German designs). They also developed the Il-24 which was also an Ar 234-based design but powered by four Rolls Royce Derwent engines. As luck would have it, the Soviets were able to acquire the Rolls Royce Nene which had twice the rated thrust of the Derwent and was produced as the RD-45. With twice the power available, Ilyushin was able to make further revisions to his light bomber design moving the pilot up out of the glass-nose cockpit of the Ar 234 into a fighter-styled cockpit under a dorsal canopy. The aircraft was powered by two RD-45s, one slung under each wing. The bombardier/navigator remained in the glass nose though both the pilot and bomb/nav were equipped with ejection seats. The third crewman was a tail gunner who sat in the rear of the aircraft and escaped out of a ventral hatch.
The Il-28 entered production in 1949 and became the Soviet Air Force's primary tactical bomber for many years. As with any practical aircraft design, the Il-28 saw derivatives developed for specialized missions including the Il-28U for ejection seat training, the Il-28R for reconnaissance, and the Il-28Sh (Shturmovik) for ground attack. One other unique configuration was the Il-28T torpedo bomber. Like the Soviet Air Force, the Soviet Navy also adopted the Il-28 into service and found that it was more suitable to the mission than their existing Tu-14 (NATO Codename: Bosun). When you look at the Tu-14, you'll note that it looks like a super-sized Tu-2 Bat powered by three jet engines. Though the Tu-14 had found a niche as a torpedo bomber, the Il-28T was given the mission of carrying the new rocket-powered RAT-52 torpedo. While the RAT-52 wasn't a successful design, the production Il-28T shared the same bomb bay as the standard bomber but could only carry one RAT-52 internally. With only one RAT-52, the Il-28T was only using 1/3 of its payload lift capability and the bomb bay was not long enough for the standard Soviet Navy torpedo. Instead, the Il-28T was given two external racks to carry torpedoes on the fuselage sides under the wings.
Bobcat Hobby Model Kits is a company from China that started out two years ago with their impressive 1/48 Yak-28P Firebar interceptor kit. This kit was followed by the Yak-28PP Brewer E electronic warfare variant, but for whatever reason, they never released the standard Brewer tactical bomber version. Bobcat is back with this new-tool kit of the Il-28 Beagle tactical bomber kit, with this specific release depicting the Il-28T torpedo bomber variant. While HpH was the first to get this subject out in 1/48 scale (and I have this one on my shelf), the Bobcat kit was the first to produce this kit in styrene in this scale. Molded in gray styrene, the kit is presented on six parts trees plus one tree of clear parts.
Among the features of this kit:
- Detailed bomb sight
- Detailed bomb/nav station
- Positionable bomb/nav entry door
- Detailed cockpit
- Detailed ejection seats (no crew restraints provided)
- Positionable canopy
- Detailed tail gunner's station
- Positionable tail gunner entry door
- Full-depth engine exhaust ducts
- Twin main spars for nice wing/fuselage alignment
- Positionable landing gear (choice of open doors or molded-closed doors)
- Positionable rudder
- Positionable ailerons
- Positionable flaps
- Two external fuselage racks (Soviet) or underwing pylons (PLANAF) provided for torpedo carriage
- Choice of RAT-52 (short) or 45-36MAN (long) torpedoes
Markings are provided for 15 examples:
- Il-28T, Bort 16, Soviet Navy, Black Fleet
- Il-28T, Bort 17, Soviet Navy
- Il-28T, Bort 15, Soviet Navy
- Il-28T, Bort 22, Soviet Navy
- Il-28T, Bort 37, Soviet Navy
- Il-28T, Bort 7, Soviet Navy, Pacific Fleet
- Il-28T, Bort 12, Soviet Navy
- Il-28T, 5469, PLAAF
- Il-28T, 5560, PLAAF
- Il-28T, 5564, PLAAF
- Il-28T, 83006, PLANAF
- Il-28T, 83002, PLANAF
- Il-28T, 82015, PLANAF
- Il-28T, 80816, PLANAF
- Il-28T, 1615, PLAAF
- According to the instructions, this model will be a tail-sitter and advises that you need to add 60 grams (about 2 ounces) of ballast inside the ventral radome under the nose though you can put ballast on either side of the nosewheel well instead.
- Check your references for the small details. Some Il-28s, including the Il-28T, had their tailguns removed to save weight, and you'll find other subtle differences as you look at the aircraft in service with different air arms around the world.
- Can you build a standard Il-28 out of the box? The bomb bays of the standard bomber and the torpedo bomber were the same length, and in this kit, the doors are molded closed as there is no detail inside the bays provided. The Il-28T had reinforced fuselage points from which the external torpedo racks could be installed, but without the racks installed, the Il-28T looked very similar to the standard bomber.
- While the kit provides markings for Soviet and Chinese aircraft examples, Hi-Decal has released two sets to render Warsaw Pact and allied nation examples, including a combat veteran from Egypt. fundekals has also announced an upcoming sheet for the Il-28 as well.
- If you're interested in the subject and can't find much reliable reference information, grab a copy of the Ilyushin Il-28 by Yefim Gordon and Dmitry Komissarov published in 2015.
- Another great reference, if you happen to have the HpH kit, are those instructions. They provide better images of how subassemblies will go together as well as the details. That kit has the options for open bomb bays as well as the cameras for the Il-28R reconnaissance variant, so you can use the Bobcat kit to render a version of the Beagle you don't build from the spares out of the HpH kit.
While the Il-28 had left mainstream service by the time I entered the USAF, some of the Warsaw Pact air arms were still using their Beagles to tow gunnery targets. As mentioned above, the Egyptians had made use of their Beagles in the 1967 and 1973 wars, though many of their Il-28T aircraft had been reportedly destroyed during a pre-emptive Israeli air strike. The Il-28s were rendered obsolete after the 1973 war with the introduction of the Mirage interceptors into the Israeli Air Force. These Beagles were among the few to see combat and you can see from period photos how the bare metal Beagles in 1967 would adopt camouflage paint before the 1973 war. Depending on your interests, there are a variety of examples of the Beagle in combat and in skirmishes around the globe to make for distinctive modeling subjects.
This is another outstanding kit from Bobcat Models and I look forward to seeing what the next subjects will be after the Beagles.
My sincere thanks to Lucky Model for this review sample! This kit is available directly from Lucky Model at a nice price - check it out!