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I-16 Type 24

ICM 1/32 I-16 Type 24 Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review September 2017 Manufacturer ICM
Subject I-16 Type 24 Scale 1/32
Kit Number 32001 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Beautiful kit Cons See text
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $32.00 (see notes)

First Look

I-16 Type 24
I-16 Type 24
I-16 Type 24
I-16 Type 24

The Polikarpov I-16 was a revolutionary fighter developed in the early 1930s by Nikolai Nikolaev Polikarpov and entered service in 1934. The I-16 was the first low-wing cantilever monoplane that incorporated retractable landing gear. The I-16 was developed in parallel with the I-15 which had a similar fuselage but featured a more conventional (for the day) biplane configuration. Powered by a Shvetsov radial engine, the I-16 was typically armed with four machine guns, two synchronized above the engine and two in the wings. In the early production versions, the entire windscreen and canopy enclosure would slide aft to cover the pilot in flight, but this was later changed to a fixed windscreen and open cockpit arrangement.

The I-16 became known worldwide because of its combat effectiveness during the Spanish Civil War though some would mistake the I-16 for the Boeing P-26 (while similar in configuration, the P-26 relied upon external rigging for structural strength like a biplane where the I-16's design had eliminated external rigging). Only with the introduction of Germany's new Bf 109 did the I-16 face serious opposition. By the time Germany had invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, the Soviet Air Force was still equipped with the I-16 though the type was outclassed by improved variants of the Bf 109. Even so, the Luftwaffe raided known I-16 bases to rid the skies of that menace. While the Germans were able to destroy several hundred I-16s in the first weeks of Operation Barbarossa, the I-16 would soldier on for another two years before being replaced.

MPM produced the 1/32 I-16 type 10/17 kit a number of years ago with boxings in their brand range (MPM, Special Hobby, and Azur). As with other kits in the MPM line, the kit is produced in low-pressure injection-molded styrene and augmented with resin and photo-etched details. The low-pressure parts require modeling skills to clean up, fit, and assemble the kit, but isn't a difficult challenge to build. Despite its size, MPM did not provide any engine details, instead opting to mold the intake shutters on the cowling face closed. While some of the kits offered a choice of Type 10 or Type 17 lower wing section, positionable rudder, and options for retractable landing gear or skis, the cockpit and airframe are pretty basic.

More recently, ICM produced several of I-16 variants in 1/48 scale and they offered details that none of the other I-16s in 1/48 have ever produced. I've built several Academy and Eduard 1/48 I-16s over the years and none of them are as nice as the ICM kits! It should be no surprise that they could easily tackle the subject in other scales as well.

Here is ICM's first kit in 1/32 scale, and it is the I-16 Type 24. The kit is beautifully done and for the most part, is a scaled-up version of their 1/48 scale kits, which means that they have produced the best kit of this aircraft in 1/32 scale. The kit is injection-molded and is of the same high-quality as their recent MiG-25RBT kit, so it should fall together. In fact, it does - a friend sent me in-progress shots of his 1/32 I-16 which caused me to order one from overseas. While I haven't found this kit in North American yet, it is available in the UK and it didn't take long to receive it.

Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Nicely detailed cockpit with structural details
  • Clear instrument panel face with decal instruments provided
  • No pilot restraints provided (aftermarket Sutton harness will be needed)
  • Positionable pilot entry doors
  • Light holes provided in combing (a detail missed in most other kits)
  • Reflector gunsight on combing
  • Detailed Svetsov engine with motor mounts and rear accessory packs
  • Positionable intake shutters
  • Positionable engine access panels
  • 7.62mm machine guns in troughs over engine
  • Detailed landing gear
  • Positionable rudder
  • Positionable ailerons
  • Positionable elevators

Markings are provided for four examples:

  • I-16 Type 24, Bort 72, 67 IAP, southern front, 1941
  • I-16 Type 24, Bort 11, 72 SAP, Northern Fleet Aviation, 1941, 'For Stalin!/Death to Fascists!'
  • I-16 Type 24, Bort 21, 4 GIAP, Baltic Fleet Aviation, 1942
  • I-16 Type 24, Bort 27, 257 IAP, Leningrad Front, 1943

For those of you who are fellow I-16 modelers, you may be aware of the Vector Resin 1/32 I-16 detail set which provides all of the missing details from the firewall forward in the MPM kits. I had acquired the set for my Azur 1/32 I-16 Type 10 kit, but thought about using it with this ICM kit after I finally found one and put it on order. Much to my pleasant surprise, all of the details in the Vector set are present in the ICM kit, as if they'd engineered this kit (and the 1/48 versions) with these parts.

As noted above, the kit doesn't provide pilot restraints, so you'll have to go to the aftermarket for a Sutton harness which was used in this aircraft. One other note, the instructions fail to mention the cables that run from the wheel hubs up through the center of the main wheel wells. These cables are used to retract the landing gear with a good old-fashioned crank in the cockpit. You can see examples of this with the photo walk arounds we have in our I-16 Modeler's Resource Section.

One last note, you'll note the listed 'MSRP' - this is based upon the price I paid in the UK for this kit. You might find it somewhat cheaper in Europe, but based upon the prices applied to the ICM 1/48 MiG-25RBT Foxbat B kit by the US importer, you can count on higher prices in the USA. It pays to shop around!