- Published on Thursday, 17 November 2011 05:00 James Hatch
Catalogue # HBB83204
Available from Creative Models for £59.99
The Ilyushin Il-2 Sturmovik must be one of the most feared, most respected and certainly one of the most numerous aircraft of any type, to have been built. Designed for a ground-attack role, the Sturmovik first flew at the advent of the Second World War, and eighteen months before the start of the 'Great Patriotic War, when Germany invaded the Soviet Union and the 'Barbarossa' campaign pushed deep into the Motherland. The 'Flying Tank', to give but one of its names, was probably the most potent and important machine in Stalin's arsenal, helping the Red Army push forward across the various wide open battlefields of the Eastern Front, providing close ground support by delivering lethal payloads of bombs and rockets into the laps of the advancing German armies. So important was this machine to the Russians that Stalin himself gave a thinly veiled threat of reprisal to the factory managers who couldn't produce these quickly enough.
The Sturmovik wasn't invincible. In fact, it suffered severely heavy losses to both enemy air and ground attack, but the ruggedness of the design and the blind faith of its pilots meant that Sturmovik attacks struck fear in the German armies. The Il-2M3, the subject of this kit, was a swept, all metal winged, 2 seat machine, with the rear gunner protected by an extended canopy. The swept wing of this particular design was created to help redress an issue with the centre of gravity, resulting from the second crew member.
HobbyBoss has supplied this kit in a box which is both large and rugged, just like the Il-2 itself! The box lid has a neat artwork of the machine banking towards the 'viewer', whilst flying low over the battlefield. The box sides show the two supplied schemes in both profile and upper plan images. Taking off the very tight box lid reveals a mass of grey, bagged plastic, and a large, glossy box at the right hand side, adorned with images of the Il-2M3.
The HobbyBoss Il-2M3 comes spread across TWELVE sprues of medium grey styrene, THREE sprues of clear styrene, ONE rubber sprue containing ammunition belts, and ONE photo-etch fret. The undercarriage in this kit has a metal alloy alternative to the plastic parts, and a set of rubber main tyres. Two decal sheets conclude the parts for the model itself. An instruction manual and a two-sided, glossy colour sheet gives the illustration for the two schemes.
All sprues within are bagged individually, and you'll be hard-pressed to make them all fit the box properly once you've removed them. The interior box contains the metal undercarriage, clear parts, rubber parts and one small grey sprue which I assume is in there as it wouldn't fit into the main area! Clear sprue 'P' is also wrapped in foam to protect it further, although it does seem unnecessary. HobbyBoss do indeed like to do this with transparencies, but I'm not going to complain if it does provide protection.
As it traditional, construction starts with the cockpit, and HobbyBoss don't disappoint here. The 'pit' contains some beautifully detailed consoles and a clear instrument panel. A decal is provided for this, which is fixed to a back-plate which then sits behind the main panel. The instrument faces can then be masked before applying the colour to the IP fascia. Detail here is excellent. A detailed pilot set with photo-etch seatbelts, a fuel tank and the authentically rudimentary rear gunners position complete this area. A bulkhead to the rear of the pilot is included, containing the armoured glass panels. Detail across all parts is very good, and just a little wiring would be all I would add to this area.
The Mikulin AM-38 engine hides under that rugged looking cowl. There are around fifty parts for this alone, and HobbyBoss have made a superb job of representing this power-plant. Each of the twelve exhaust stubs is made from two parts. Over-engineering? No. Producing the exhausts in this manner means you will have a true, hollow part. Various parts of the Mikulin's plumbing are also supplied, and HobbbyBoss have thoughtfully seen fit to protect these parts on these sprues by wrapping them in foam.
The rather 'agricultural' looking air intake is also well represented here, and the cowls for the engine are moulded in clear plastic. The reason for this is that HobbyBoss don't seem to have made provision for making the cowl removable. I do think that with a little foresight that the cowls can be made removable, if assembled to the upper forward cowl initially. You may need to check what can be seen underneath this area first though as you may need to do a little scratch-building work.
The rear fuselage contains a certain amount of moulded structural detail and a couple of trays of avionics equipment which you simply won't see when the fuselage is closed up. There are no real external ports you can open up to see this either, but I'm not going to complain at its inclusion. It's up to you if you wish to add those parts.
That large Il-2M3 wing is split into three sections; a centre section comprising internal wing bomb-bays and the two external wing sections which fit onto the centre section by means of two spars which plug into this area. The wing bomb bays, while moulded in plastic, contain photo-etch parts which line the side walls, leaving only the top face in plastic, but with a very good level of moulded detail. With these bays installed into the lower, centre-section, the upper centre wing parts can be attached.
The outer wing panels are built with the two integral spars, and also include the two guns per wing. Ammunition boxes are housed within the wing and the ammunition feeds to each gun are supplied in rubber so that a more realistic 'run' can be maintained between the two. There are no panels on the wings which will help you display the ammunition boxes, and nor will you see the internal gun. The external gun is housed in a clear pod, so you can choose to partially paint this or leave it unpainted. I would have liked to have seen the wing access ports removable on this kit.
You have a choice of either plastic or metal undercarriage. The latter isn't white metal, as some sites report, but instead some hard (zinc?) alloy with a high polished finish that won't need much in the way of prep work before painting, and the compression springs can be left as bare metal. The wheels are rubber and are more than passable. The under-wing undercarriage nacelles are separate parts, supplied as halves. Wheel bay detail is passable, but could benefit from a little extra work.
The Il-2M3 has its control surfaces moulded separately, and are located via tabs, meaning that it should be fairly easy to pose these dynamically. Landing flaps can be posed either deployed or retracted.
HobbyBoss do supply us with some ordnance for the bomb bays and under-wing stores, in the shape of:
· 4 x RS-132 Rockets
· 2 x FAB-100 Bombs
· 4 x FAB-50 Bombs
· 4 x ROFS-132 Rockets
· 2 x DAB-100 Bombs
· 2 x BRAB-220 Bombs
· 2 x FAB-250 Bombs
· 2 x PLBG-150 Drop Tanks
Dependant on your own choice of load-out, configuration options are supplied so that you may mount the BRAB-220's on external racks which sit over the regular wing bays.
Overall, the grey plastic parts are very well moulded with about zero flash, no visible sink marks and negligible seams. Ejector pin marks are unobtrusively placed and should cause no issue. Sprue gates are small and as mentioned, fragile parts are protected by foam 'wraps'.
Surface detail across the model is represented by finely engraved panel lines and access ports. The whole airframe is also riveted. Some may think this finish a little heavy, and if so, this can be remedied with a coat of Mr Surfacer, and then the model rubbed back. Having seen an earlier HobbyBoss Il-2 release at Telford SMW2011 recently, I personally think the riveted finish is more than acceptable. Fabric and rib definition on control surfaces is also well represented. Overall, there are over 400 parts to this kit, including other media.
The clear parts are extremely well moulded with excellent clarity and frame line definition is excellent. Again, sprue gates are small, and removal will be easy.
The single etch metal fret is crisply produced and is backed with a clear film to protect the parts from snagging before you come to use them.
Instructions are very typical of HobbyBoss in being that they are clearly produced black and white CAD rendered line drawings, and construction is simple to follow over the fifteen stages, with extra illustration given to smaller sub areas of construction. Paint reference codes are given in Mr.Hobby codes.
A single, double-sided glossy, colour sheet gives the two colour schemes for this model kit. Illustration is excellent, but there is a distinct lack of any stencilling both here and on the decals. I don't know if this is simply because the Sturmovik didn't carry any. Paint colour codes are given as Mr. Hobby, Vallejo, Model Master, Tamiya and Humbrol. The two schemes are:
· Il-2M3 – 'White 100'
· Il-3M3 – 'White 1', flown by Hero of the Soviet Union' Ivan F. Pavlov
Decals re provided on one main sheet and one small sheet carrying only the fin insignia for Pavlov's machines. The printing quality of these is excellent. I think they are perhaps a little thicker than European contemporary decals, but everything is in perfect register, authentic and solid colour, with minimal carrier film.
So what do we think?
I've always had a 'thing' for the Sturmovik and this particular release doesn't disappoint me in the slightest. Although HobbyBoss Il-2M's are the only 1:32 deal on the market, they certainly are well designed and look accurate enough to my eye. There's plenty of detail in here to make an accurate replica, straight from the box, but with a little wire and rod, you'll have an impressive 'Flying Tank' to display at home, club or competition stands.
Very highly recommended.
Our sincere thanks to Creative Models for the review sample used here. To purchase this directly, click THIS link.