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Zvezda 1/144 scale Ilyushin Il-86

Kit: No. 7001
Scale: 1/144
Manufacturer: Zvezda, from Dragon Models USA, 626-968-0322,
Price: $24.50
Comments: Injection-molded, 76 parts, decals
Pros: Excellent detail, easy to build, great decals, good subject
Cons: All assemblies mount on plinths, rough texture on fuselage and wings, difficult to paint around cabin windows
Chosen by Aeroflot over competing designs from Tupolev and Atonov, Ilyushin's Il-86 concept was developed into the Soviet Union's first wide-body airliner. With nine-abreast seating, this medium- and long-range transport was planned to debut in Aeroflot service in sufficient time to carry passengers to the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, though that timetable wasn't realized.
Zvezda's new tooling of this historically important aircraft features excellent detail and fine recessed panel lines overall. My sample was flash-free, but the surface texture of the fuselage and wings was rough and needed sanding down.
The cabin windows come on eight strips of clear plastic, to be inserted into the fuselage halves prior to gluing them together. These posed a problem to mask and paint around, but worse, protruded past the outer skin of the fuselage in places and had to be sanded flush in order for the cheat-line decal to conform there.
Boons for the modeler and good design work: for strength and rigidity, the wings each feature two internally-molded ribs, and the center sections of the fuselage halves have four "zipper" tabs each in addition to the pin-and-socket alignment aids. Putty was needed on the fuselage seams, but most other parts fit together well.
The four Kuznetsov NK-86 turbofan engines build up beautifully and are so well-engineered the seams in the intakes are hardly visible, a bugaboo for lots of airliner kits. I can't vouch for the accuracy of the fan-stage detail, but it seems a little plain to me. The cascade-vane thrust reverser detail is outstanding.
The wings, tail, and engine pylons all mount on plinths (raised areas) which make seams inevitable; the wing roots have large mounting tabs, but the horizontal tail features only two small locating bumps, which might not provide a very solid joint. I used gap-filling super glue to attach them to the fuselage.
The kit's landing gear is petite and well done, but the center body gear on my sample ended up shorter than the wing gear and had to be lengthened with a piece of brass wire so all the wheels would touch simultaneously. This may have been something I did rather than a fault of the kit, but I won't know for sure until I build another Il-86. The markings don't match the box art, but the decals are excellent and snuggled down without setting solution.
Markings are given for aircraft RA- 86065, after Aeroflot obtained it from AJT Air International. The painting instructions omit the bare-metal leading edges on all the flying surfaces, but these are shown on the box art. I used Gunze Sangyo acrylics and Testors Metalizers to finish my model.
Zvezda's Il-86 kit was a pleasure to build and scales out right on the money with the dimensional data given in David Mondey's Commercial Aircraft of the World. I spent just 20 hours on this kit, as most parts fit well and construction was simple despite the model's size.
- Walt Fink


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