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I-153 Chaika

ICM 1/32 I-153 Chaika Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review August 2018 Manufacturer ICM
Subject I-153 Chaika Scale 1/32
Kit Number 32010 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Beautiful kit Cons See text
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $32.00 (see notes)

First Look

I-153 Chaika
I-153 Chaika
I-153 Chaika
I-153 Chaika

The I-15 was supposed to be Polikarpov's last biplane fighter as the design bureau had transformed the aircraft into a monoplane with retractable landing gear and designated I-16. However, combat experience from the Spanish Civil War showed that while the I-16 was a match for the early German Bf 109s, it did not have the maneuverability against the Fiat CR.32 biplane. Looking to fill that performance gap, Soviet planners looked for a modernized biplane and Polikarpov proposed the I-15ter (later redesignated I-153). Like the I-15, the new design was a biplane, but the upper wing was redesigned into a gull wing providing the pilot vastly improved forward and upward visibility. To improve performance, the I-15ter was given retractable landing gear and the higher performance M-62 (redesignated ASh-62 after 1941) also used in later variants of the I-16. The I-153 first saw combat in 1939 against Japanese forces in Mongolia during the Battle of Khalkhin Gol and into the early days of the Great Patriotic War (WWII) before being replaced with more modern types.

Last year, ICM released their first 1/32 scale subject with their I-16 Type 24 kit. The kit is the best I-16 in any scale to date and I'm happy to see ICM continue with other interesting subjects in this scale. With the I-153, this kit provides the Soviet's last front-line biplane fighter in the same straightforward design used with their I-16 kit. One of the interesting features of this kit is the main landing gear which retracted aft and rotated 90 degrees, similar to the P-40 and F4U. Unlike the US examples though, the main gear and gear wells are in the fuselage and wing roots, making for a narrow-stance and what must have been interesting ground operations.

The kit is injection-molded and is of the same high-quality as their I-16 kit, so it should fall together. 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 harness will be needed)
  • Positionable pilot entry doors
  • Reflector gunsight on combing
  • Detailed M65 engine with motor mounts and exhaust stubs
  • Positionable intake shutters
  • Positionable engine access panels
  • Detailed landing gear
  • Positionable rudder
  • Positionable ailerons
  • Positionable elevators
  • Choice of underwing rocket rails (with rockets) or two types of bombs on bomb racks

Markings are provided for four examples:

  • I-153, Bort 26, 70 IAP, Khalkhin Gol, 1939
  • I-153, Bort 28, 15 IAP, Lithuania, 1941
  • I-153, Bort 6, 72 SAP, North Fleet, Vaegna, 1941
  • I-153, Bort 102, 71 IAP, Baltic Fleet, Lavansaari, 1942


  • As noted above, the kit doesn't provide pilot restraints, so you'll have to go to the aftermarket for a suitable harness which was used in this aircraft.
  • The instructions do provide rigging instructions for the wings, which are (fortunately) simple to run.
  • One last note, you'll note the listed 'MSRP' - this is based upon the price 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 and 1/32 I-16 kits by the US importer, you can count on higher prices in the USA. It pays to shop around!