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ICM 1/72 I-15bis Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review June 2006 Manufacturer ICM
Subject I-15bis Scale 1/72
Kit Number 72013 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Easy build Cons
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $12.00

First Look


During the early 1930s, noted aviation designers Pavel Sukhoi, Artem Mikoyan, Andrej Tupolev and Nikolaj Polikarpov were sitting in a Black Sea dacha, relaxing over some Vodka, when the inevitable dares were exchanged. When it was Polikarpov's turn, his friends dared him to make a 55 gallon drum fly. And so began the I-15/I-152/I-190/I-16 fighter series. Okay, so this isn't how this famous fighter series started, but the one characteristic common to the aircraft series is a big radial engine mounted to a short round fuselage!

The I-15bis was the engineering answer to improve the visibility for the pilot. The gull upper wing was replaced with a conventional upper wing and the airframe was strengthened. While other improvements were incorporated into the I-15bis, the aircraft failed state acceptance trials. Political pressure allowed the aircraft to enter production, though the additional weight of the aircraft decreased performance over the original I-15.

ICM has produced a nice rendition of this little fighter. As you might imagine, the aircraft was small in full-scale, so in 1/72, it is very small indeed. Molded in white styrene, the kit is presented on one parts tree, plus a tiny clear windscreen that you might miss at the bottom of the parts bag if you're not careful.

Don't let the size fool you, ICM has engineered a nice cockpit, complete with separately molded structural side frames and the various other frames to create the cockpit area. The cockpit floor, pilot's seat, control yoke, and surrounding structure all go into the fuselage halves.

Despite the scale, ICM hasn't skimped on engine detail either. The radial engine still has separate push-rod and exhaust manifold details. The completed engine then installs inside a six-part cowling and mounts onto the firewall.

The upper wing mounts via cabane struts to the fuselage and interplane struts to the lower wing, the normal biplane configuration. You might use a jig to hold the upper and lower wings in proper position whilst installing the struts to ensure proper alignment from all angles.

Markings are provided for two examples:

  • I-15bis, 13th Independent Fighter Sqn, Red 10, Baltic Fleet Air Force, 1940
  • I-15bis, Red 52, Winter 1941/42

This is a nice looking model that should build up into a nice replica of this somewhat overlooked piece of aviation history. Combined with the ICM I-15 and Amodel I-190 kits, you've captured a significant slice of Polikarpov's biplane fighter history.

My sincere thanks to Testors for this review sample!