- Published on Tuesday, 01 May 2012 00:01 James Hatch
1:72 TB-7 Soviet Heavy Bomber
Catalogue # 7291
Available from Hannants for £24.99
The TB-7 Soviet Heavy Bomber was a seriously impressive aircraft with respect to its size. Larger than a B-17 or Avro Lancaster, and designed by Vladimir Petlyakov, the original TB-7 designation was eventually changed to PE-8 in recognition of Petlyakov, after his death in 1942. This aircraft, which was fitted with inline engines, had a wingspan of almost 130 feet, and a crew of eleven! Capable of carrying around 11,000lbs of bombs in her cavernous bomb bay, the PE-8 had the significance of being one of the first aircraft to bomb Berlin, in the opening months of the German offensive against the Soviet Union. The unreliability of the Mikulin engine installation meant that in late 1942, the Russian design engineers at Petlyakov, unable to guarantee a supply of a more reliable Mikulin engine, fitted the Svetsov Ash-82 radial engine to the PE-8 airframe. The type was plagued throughout its operational life with both engine and other mechanical failures, counting for a significant number of losses not applicable to enemy action.
Russian Language video showing the Pe-8
The Zvezda TB-7 kit comes in a significantly large and extremely robust box, with a fold out flap and top-opening lid. The box artwork shows a TB-7 over Germany at night, dropping a large, single bomb. Side images on the box show an unpainted and complete kit. The majority of this kit has in fact been released before, but under the PE-8 name, and with inline engines, and not the radial engines found in this kit.
Unlike the Carthgenian Warship I reviewed a few months ago, the sprues in this kit are all bagged, and with the exception of the wings and a couple of smaller sprues, in separate bags too. There are TEN sprues moulded in light grey plastic and six sprues of clear plastic, with the latter sprues being interconnected on the same runner.
This is the first Zvezda model aircraft kit that I have had the pleasure to thoroughly inspect, and I have to say that I am very impressed with the overall quality of the parts within. Scanning over the various sprues indicates some great and very subtle panel line detail and a refinement of many parts that I've found rare on 1:72 subjects in recent years.
Construction of the TB-7, unusually, starts with the wing. The wing to engine mounting fairings, as with a section of the wing leading edge, are moulded as separate parts. This allows Zvezda to interchange parts of the original PE-8 with this TB-7 kit. Construction of the wheel wells illustrates a number of spars, formers and frames which must first be assembled before the halves can be jointed together. The ailerons and landing flaps are integrally moulded to the wing, and you will need to perform a little surgery if you wish to pose these differently.
When complete, the multi-part engine fairings can be installed, complete with spacers to ensure correct alignment to the wing. The leading edges with the cooling slots which were only applicable to the radial engine TB-7 can also be assembled. Now I did say this was a big aircraft, and one which required some heavy defensive points. Two of these positions were situated in the rear of the under-wing undercarriage nacelle. Zvezda has included a lot of superb detail here, from the internal stringering, to a gunner seat, gunner figure, machine gun, and even an ammunition feed belt. There are a couple of ejector pin marks which you may or may not choose to remove. They can't really be seen when assembled, so I wouldn't be over concerned about them. The glazing for this area, as with all other clear parts, are perfectly moulded and with excellent clarity.
The undercarriage parts themselves also carry a very respectable level of detail, with perhaps a few hydraulic lines being the only thing required to bring them up to mark. Unfortunately, the tyres aren't weighted, and you'll have to do a little magic of your own to fix this. With such a seriously large and heavy aircraft, the tyres must be weighted.
Undercarriage door interiors are devoid of detail, so consider adding a little of your own in there.
The fuselage of this kit is very impressive. Moulded as halves, the upper central section is a separate part, as is the fuselage to tail fin fairing, presumably again to maximise the return on these moulds when releasing new versions. This standard fuselage also has a separate tail fin 'top' for which this version uses the cut down type. The fuselage itself has a number of windows and doors of which some need to be cut out specifically for the TB-7. The positions for these are moulded within the fuselage as thin areas which just need to be scribed a few times in order to remove them from the fuselage.
Most of us modellers like a detailed interior, even if we can't see it particularly well once everything is assembled, and this model doesn't disappoint in that area. The interior comprises of various bulkhead and floor assemblies, resplendent with various linkages, equipment, seating and avionics panels. Some of these panels, as with the main instrument panel, have decals to represent the instruments etc. There is no alternative to this with moulded dials, which is a little disappointing, but not insurmountable. The various glazings for the newly opened windows are fitted from the interior. The large wings are attached to the fuselage by means of two interior bulkheads which extend from the fuselage to create spars. Another spar is included for assembling the tail planes to the fuselage.
Crew figures for within the fuselage are moulded with separate heads and arms so you may pose these as you wish.
Various other crew stations within the fuselage, such as the upper mid gunner and tail gunner, are built as sub-assemblies and added to the main fuselage after the halves have been jointed. The mid upper gunner installation is assembled to the separate upper central section. This model has a detailed bomb bay which is installed after the fuselage has been fitted together also. Instead of a payload of individual bombs, a large, single bomb is supplied for this model. If you wish to pose this model with the bomb bar doors open, you will need to scribe the single piece door down the middle to split into two.
The whole nose of the TB-7 is supplied as a clear part, and onto this you simply mask the windows and spray the rest in the scheme colour. This saves a lot of time, anxiety and potential disaster in placing individual windows. This is the same technique that Revell used for their recent B-17 kit. An option to have the crew boarding hatch opened is given, as well as fitting a crew access ladder.
The horizontal stabilisers and elevators comprise of two parts each, with the elevator being moulded in situ, again meaning you have a little surgery to perform if you wish to pose them drooped. The fabric effect on the elevators, as with the rudder, do seem to be a little heavy, and I would use a sanding sponge to lessen the effect a little.
Each engine comprises a front radiator and cowl assembly, rear cowl, radiator flap and exhaust assembly. I do think the front of the radiator looks a little simplified, but not having great resources here, I can't vouch for its accuracy. The propellers are finely moulded with sharp edges and separate spinners and look very good.
The grey plastic parts are beautifully moulded with negligible flash and minimal ejector pin intrusion. Panel lines are finely restrained and extremely delicate. In fact, this aspect is produced in a far nicer fashion than many of Zvezda's contemporaries are currently doing. The airframe isn't riveted, and everything looks 'scale' about its representation. Seams are minimal and the constructional and parts break-down is entirely logical.
The clear plastic parts are also beautifully moulded, but do suffer from being thick in some areas. A dip in Klear should help lessen that effect though.
The instruction manual is printed in black and white, over 12 pages and 47 constructional sequences; all of them clearly drawn with no ambiguity. Paint references are given during construction with Model Master codes.
A small decal sheet is included which supplied some stencil data as well as the instrument panels, slogans and national insignia. The decals themselves, whilst being nice and thin and in perfect register, are printed with a matt finish, and I know I have occasionally had trouble with such decals. I can't vouch for setting solutions, so perhaps test a small stencil first and see how it reacts.
Only one scheme is supplied, and this is for:
- TB-7, No.4211, 25th Guards Aviation Regiment, 1943
So what do we think?
Well, what a release! It's certainly impressive in both terms of size, detail and design, and it really begs to be built immediately, but I have to restrain myself. The windows will be a bind to mask, unless you can source a set of die-cut masks, and I would have liked to have seen more than the single scheme, but I can't imagine it would be difficult to find an alternative. The real bonus with this model is the price. Hannants have it for just under £25, and I'm sure you can probably find it a couple of quid cheaper. In all, this is a fantastic modelling project, and with some patience, the result will be a head turner.
Our sincere thanks to Zvezda for the review sample used here. To purchase this directly, click THIS link.
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