Ilyushin Il-2 Sturmovik

Published: July 5th, 2013     
Product Image
Box Art
Reviewed by: 
Brian R. Baker, IPMS# 43146
Scale: 1/72
Company: Tamiya
Price: $37.00
Product / Stock #: 60781

History

The Ilyushin Il-2 Sturmovik has the distinction of being produced in the largest numbers of any combat aircraft anywhere in the world, and its developmental history is well known to most modelers and historians. Conceived in 1938 as an armored, close support and anti-tank aircraft, its designers wanted the plane to be a two-seater with a rearward firing machine gun for defense. Politicians changed the design, however, replacing the rear gunner with an additional fuel tank and more protective armor. Although the center section of the aircraft was essentially an armored shell, the wings, rear fuselage, and tail unit were made of wood.

When the Germans invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, large numbers were in service, but the single-seat version was particularly vulnerable to attack from the rear, and some units modified their aircraft by adding a rear cockpit and gunner. This led to a center of gravity problems; it was eventually solved by sweeping the wings back, which changed the CG so the airplane was not tail heavy. This variant, the Il-2 Type 3, was produced in the largest numbers, and a total of over 36,000 Il-2's of all models was produced. One problem encountered by Il-2 crews was that the casualty rate for rear gunners was seven times that of the pilots, mainly because the pilots were encased in armor while the gunners had none. I recall a conversation a few years' back with a friend, a Hungarian who was a boy during the war when Il-2's were operating from an airfield near his home. (He later flew MiG-15's before coming to the US.) He stated that it was very common to see wounded or dead gunners being removed from the rear cockpits of Il-2's when they returned from a mission. The Il-2 was fitted with machine guns and 20mm and 37mm cannons, plus bombs and unguided rockets, and was a big factor in driving back the German armored divisions that had been so successful at the beginning of the war.

Later developments included fighter and torpedo variants, plus the Il-10 that served through the Korean War; one was even tested by the USAF at Wright Field.

The Instructions

This kit has extensive instructions, with two pages of legalese, six pages of easily decipherable exploded assembly drawings, and two pages of color scheme and decal location details. These sheets are actually big enough so you don't need a magnifying glass to see them. There is a color guide on page 1 with codes within the instructions telling you which color goes where. My only comment on this is that they recommend that the interior of the aircraft be painted RLM 02 Grey, a most unlikely color, while the camouflage colors are light blue, flat earth, USAAF olive green, and Gunship Grey. These are Tamiya colors, and are probable matches. FS color numbers might have helped, although the box art gives a lot of information.

Decals

Decals of excellent quality are provided for three aircraft - "White 1" of the 6th Gv OShAP; "White 07" of the 566th ShAP, Leningrad, 1944; and "White 12" of the 16th VA, Berlin, 1945. None of these unit codes is explained. The decals do not need to be trimmed, although some softening solution will help snug them down on the surface.

References

There is a lot of information available on the Il-2. The Squadron-Signal Il-2 Stormovik In Action, No. 155, has a lot of useful details, and the kit actually includes a separate sheet giving the basic history of the type.

The Kit

I have built nearly all of the current kits of the Il-2 in 1/72 scale, including the old Airfix, KP, Zvezda, Academy, and Hobby Boss kits, and I have to say that this is the best kit of a late model Il-2 I have seen. Apparently a scaled down version of Tamiya's 1/48 kit, this issue has about 100 parts (sorry, I didn't think to count them, and there is no sprue diagram included), and includes a selection of ordnance (bombs, rockets) as well as some excellent interior details. The cockpit is what you might expect to find in a 1/32 scale kit and includes seats, an instrument panel, sidewall detail, gunner's sling, dual tank, and machine gun, and the panel lines are finely engraved. I realize that some of these aircraft had wooden components while later versions were all metal, and from the looks of the model, it appears that this is one of the all metal versions. Anyway, fit is really great, and very little fill is required. There are some sprue attachment points, especially in the rear fuselage, that require careful trimming. These look like they belong there, but they don't, so remove them carefully. The wing-to-fuselage fit is very good, and the horizontal stabilizers snuggle into place easily. The landing gear requires some finesse, and the main strut should be installed before the leading edge fairing is installed - otherwise, you'll have to trim down the gear mounting and insert it into the gear well, a not-impossible task as I found out. Once the gear struts are in place, the wheels can be easily slipped into place. The prop is a little tricky to install, but can be put into place without gluing. There is a rubber plug that goes over the crankshaft after the spinner base is in place; the prop fits over this, and then the spinner tip can be glued into place. The prop could be removed if necessary and replaced later.

Painting and Finishing

Contrary to the instructions, and not having any Tamiya paints on hand, I used Model Master Russian colors for the blue undersides and Topside Green, Earth brown, and RAF Dark Sea Grey for the upper surface camouflage pattern. I painted the white fin section, as I don't like to use decals when painting is so easy. I experimented with a roll of Tamiya masking tape for the windows, and it worked very well. Bombs and rockets are easy to attach, and with a little weathering, the model was complete.

Recommendation

This is probably the best kit of the Il-2 that has been issued so far, and the price is probably not too far out of line for this kind of quality. It was an enjoyable build, with no problems or glitches. Get one of these while you can. It is certainly an excellent kit.

Thanks to Tamiya USA and IPMS USA for the review sample.

  • Instructions cover page
    Instructions cover page
  • Assembly instructions
    Assembly instructions
  • Painting and markings diagram
    Painting and markings diagram
  • Decals
    Decals
  • Box contents
    Box contents
  • Sprues 1
    Sprues 1
  • Sprues 2
    Sprues 2
  • Cockpit
    Cockpit
  • Assembled
    Assembled
  • Masking process
    Masking process
  • Right front
    Right front
  • Right side
    Right side
  • Left side
    Left side
  • Underside
    Underside

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