Hobby Boss 1/32 Il-2m Shturmovik Kit First Look
|Date of Review||February 2012||Manufacturer||Hobby Boss|
|Kit Number||83203||Primary Media||Styrene, Photo-Etch|
|Pros||Nicely detailed kit||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||$144.00|
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.
Shturmovik (Штурмовик) is a term derived from the Russian word for storm (shturm) and figuratively means 'storm bird' though in the Russian language, it is synonymous with 'attack aircraft'. You'll see some variations of this spelling including 'Stormovik' or 'Stormovick' but the correct transliteration from Cyrillic is Shturmovik.
Until recently, the best Il-2 Shturmovik kit was the Accurate Miniatures Il-2 series produced by Bill Bosworth and his team in 1/48 scale. They produced the wood-winged and metal-winged single-seaters as well as the Il-2m unswept and Il-2m3 swept-winged variants. Has the Accurate Miniatures kit lost its title as best kit in any scale? Let's take a look:
Hobby Boss has released several Il-2 variants in 1/32 scale - a single-seater on skis, a single-seater on wheels, and this Il-2m two-seater. An Il-2m3 is on the release list as well. This kit is presented on 11 parts trees molded in light gray styrene plus a three trees of clear parts, one set of rubber tires, one set of white metal landing gear struts, and one set of photo-etched parts.
The Il-2 kits have been on the market for some time now, so chances are that you have one or have at least seen one built-up. These kits were well-designed by the earlier Accurate Miniatures and the late-version two-seater is still available from the current Accurate Miniatures. The single-seaters are still available at kit swaps and even eBay.
Construction starts off in the cockpit and Hobby Boss has captured some nice details in the 'front office' with detailed instrument panel, left-side console (with throttle and propeller controls as well as trim wheel) and the distictive flight control pushrods/linkages on the floor. The instrument panel is clear and a decal is provided for instrument faces before it gets mounted to another panel backplate. The pilot's seat receives photo-etched belts and shoulder harness.
Next comes the Milukin AM-38 V-12 1720 horsepower engine. The engine is nicely detailed and builds up like a Merlin or Packard V-12 engine. While there are no provisions for removable cowling panels, Hobby Boss molded the upper engine deck in clear so you can see the details if you'd like.
The landing gear is interesting, the main struts are white metal, the tires are rubber, and the wheel hubs are plastic. There is metal axle that mounts the wheels to the struts and plastic retraction arms to get the gear up into the wells.
Besides the engine that won't be seen if you paint over the cowling, Hobby Boss also provides avionics trays that mount inside the rear fuselage even though you won't see them back there once the model is assembled. If you study the instructions, you'll see where Hobby Boss has done a little over-engineering in providing details that only you and God will see once the model is completed. These are areas you can skip or minimize depending on what you're doing with the final model.
The wing center section has options for open or closed bomb bays as well as detailed wheel wells. The outer wing panels slip onto the center section through front and rear spars.
Also borderlining in the over-engineering column are the main guns. The weapons provided in the kit are all nicely done with ammo belts, etc., but only the rear gunner's weapon will be visible after assembly. The two 23mm cannons that are mounted in gondolas under the outer wing panels will be covered up with the gun covers installed. You can leave the covers off, or you can leave the covers unpainted as they too are molded in clear so you can see the guns. The two 7.62 machine guns are simply not seen inside the wing once the wings go together.
This kit is the early two-seater with the standard wings. You can tell the difference as the standard-winged Il-2 has a slight sweep aft to the wingtip and the trailing edge sweeps forward to the wingtip. To adjust the center of gravity, Ilyushin simply swept the wings aft so the leading edges have a sharper sweep back while the trailing edge is nearly perpendicular to the fuselage. The flight control surfaces are all separately provided and positionable.
To summarize the features/options in this kit:
- Detailed cockpit (front and rear)
- Positionable canopies
- Positionable ailerons
- Positionable elevators
- Positionable rudder
- Positionable flaps
- Detailed landing gear (metal struts)
- Detailed engine (that you won't see if you paint the cowling panels)
- Detailed 23mm cannons (that you won't see if you paint the gondola covers)
- Avionics trays that you won't see after the rear fuselage is assembled
- Nice fuel cell sandwiched between the front and rear cockpits that won't be easy to see
Armament options include:
- 8 x RS-132 rockets
- 4 x ROFS-132 rockets
- 2 x FAB-50 bombs
- 2 x FAB-100 bombs
- 2 x DAB-100 bombs
- 2 x BRAB-220 bombs
Markings are provided for two aircraft:
- Il-2m, White 24, 8 GShAP, Black Sea Fleet, 1943
- Il-2m, Yellow 31, unknown unit
So has Hobby Boss created the best kit of the Il-2 in any scale? Oh yes they have. Despite the over-engineering, there are lots of details where you can see them and these are nicely rendered. The kit has lots of options and for those of us with AMS tendencies, the over-engineering leads to opportunities to modify the cowling and open up the avionics access panel so those items are also in view which would make for a nice diorama. Whether you build it straight out of the box or want to modify this kit for even more details, Hobby Boss has done a really nice job. It is a bit expensive at $144 USD, but street prices are a little more reasonable.