Academy
1/72 Ilyushin IL-2 Stormovik
Kit Number: 12417
Reviewed by  Brian R. Baker, IPMS# 43146

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MSRP: $24.00
Distributed by Model Rectifier Corporation: www.modelrec.com

History

The Ilyushin IL-2 "Stormovik" was to the Russians what the Spitfire was to the British and the "Zero" to the Japanese. It was the best known and most produced military aircraft in the world, a total of over 36,000 being delivered to the Soviet air Force during World War II. Originally designed as a two seat assault aircraft to support ground troops, the plane featured very heavy armor protection, necessitating a reversion to single seat configuration for adequate performance. Mass production was ordered in December, 1940, and the first production models appeared early in the following year. Early IL-2's used 20 mm. cannon as their main armament, while later models had 23 mm weapons. Early in its service life, VVS planners realized that a second seat was necessary for defense, and two seat models appeared. Strangely, all IL-2's were delivered as IL-2's, with no designation distinction made for the single and two seat versions or for armament variations.

IL-2's were used with devastating effect against German forces during the war, although they operated best with fighter escort. Casualties among rear gunners were especially high, as these brave souls were not protected by armor the way the pilots and the vital aircraft components were. I recall an interview with a Hungarian friend who was a teenager towards the end of the war, and he recalls seeing many IL-2 two-seaters landing with dead and wounded gunners aboard. These versatile planes were used for nearly every conceivable combat role, using gunfire, rockets, bombs, and torpedoes to destroy their targets.

Note that the Anglicized term "Stormovik" is usually used to describe the IL-2, but the correct term is probably "Shturmovik". No matter; it was an effective aircraft, and no other nation had anything like it.

The Kit

This is a new release, and a welcome addition to the current crop of IL-2's on the market. The old Airfix IL-2 is totally obsolete, and while the KP issue was adequate, the newer releases are up to date in most respects. I built the Zvezda offering (albeit that one is a two seater) alongside this model for comparison, and I preferred the Academy kit hands down. Consisting of three light grey sprues and one clear one, the moldings are crisp, highly detailed, with fine engraved panel line details. Nothing is overdone, and the cockpit details are excellent. No after-market products are needed here. The kit even includes two sets of wheels, one bulged and one completely round. Armament consists of some nicely done bombs and rockets on highly detailed racks. The holes are already drilled into the wings, so if you wanted to delete the racks, you'd have to fill the holes. The vast majority of these aircraft carried racks, so this shouldn't be a problem.

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Assembly

The instructions are very clearly organized, although one glitch is the installation of the horizontal tail plane. Initial instructions show the elevators with the trim tab cable mounting holes on the top on one side and the bottom on the other. They are, in fact, on top, and although a correction sheet was included, I found that to be confusing. Just remember, trim tab cables go on top. The cockpit consists of a floor, stick, rudder pedals, side panel, rear armor plate bulkhead, and some kind of side panel control on the right side. There is a control cable rod projecting backward from the pilot's seat, but this is invisible after the canopy is installed. The tail wheel should be installed before the cockpit halves are joined, as should the exhaust stacks. The nose cowling had some rather complicated parts simulating the intake into the engine cooling system, but these are not too confusing, and go together easily. The radiator assembly instructions are somewhat vague. A drawing of the completed unit would have been helpful.

The wing assembly posed the most serious problems. The center section requires careful assembly, with a main spar which includes part of the landing gear mountings, and while the left wing went on with no problems, for whatever reason, the right wing refused to go into position. It is an intricately molded unit, and one problem involved the air filter on the right leading edge, which is cast partly on the top wing and the other half on the bottom section. These did not line up when the wing was in position, and I eventually cut the thing off and replaced it after I finally got the wings lined up properly. There is a lot of good detail, but the fit is poor.

The landing gear fairings are cast with the gear doors down, which is good as long as you are building your models wheels down. It would be a problem with the wheels up configuration. Once the fairings are installed, some filler is needed, but the result is impressive. However, the landing gear is supposed to be installed on the stubs protruding from the wing spar. This works, but the rear struts don't fit well, and I trimmed mine back so they fit into the wheel wells. The wheels are nicely done, and these snap into the gear struts with no problems.

Also, the horizontal tail planes need to be trimmed slightly, as they were lined up slightly off position, resulting in a small edge that needed to be sanded off. The small caliber machine guns are strangely designed in an ""L" shape. I just trimmed them off and inserted them from the outside after painting was completed.

The canopy is very good, as is the prop. These virtually snap together, and the canopy frames are pronounced enough to be easily masked and painted. The canopy can be left opened or closed. I opted for open, as the cockpit detail is excellent.

Painting and Finishing

The kit instructions provide information and decals for no less than ten different color schemes, including Russian, Captured Luftwaffe, and Captured Hungarian. All of these include decals, so that leaves a lot for the spare decals box and future use. The decals are of excellent quality, being Italian Cartograf products, and go on with no trimming or special solutions required.

Painting is very easy, and the result is an excellent model of the famous IL-2. This kit is better than anything I've seen on this aircraft, and although it has issues (and what kit doesn't), it is certainly worth getting. I would suspect that Academy will produce a two seat version in the near future, and that would certainly be better than some of them on the market today. Get one today.

Thanks to MRC and IPMS/USA for the review copy.

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