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Trumpeter 1/35 scale Aerosan NKL-26


The Aerosan was a propeller-driven sled with an aircraft engine mounted on a plywood body, a steel plate on the front for armor, and an armored driver’s visor.

Trumpeter’s version of the NKL-26 comes in light gray styrene with two photoetched-metal frets and a clear sheet for three windows. The moldings have minor flash and mold lines but are easy to clean up. The roof and front plate are added to a central tub for the body; the fits are good and require no filler. A basic interior is included, lacking only an accelerator, front and rear brake pedals, and a set of pulleys for the steering cables. Useful diagrams are found in Aerosan: Soviet Aero-Sleighs of World War Two, by Jim Kinnear (Tankograd Soviet Special No. 2010). 

I filled knock-out marks on the floor and roof interior with styrene disks or super glue, depending on the depth, then filed them smooth. Then the interior went quickly in the first two steps. The door has a handle on the outside but needs one inside if you’re going to leave it open. I would have preferred decals to the molded gauges on the dashboard.

I left the windows off until painting; the front glass needed trimming to fit. Mounting clamps are molded to the shovel, but you can shave them off and use photoetched-metal parts. I kept the molded mounts, which seemed to have better detail, but I replaced the gray styrene headlight with a clear lens from my spares. A photoetched-metal strip with all the rivet detail is glued to the turret; it is about 1mm too long and needs trimming. (I found this out after I had the whole thing glued together.)

Most of the photoetched metal is for the skis, each with 10 braces; a folding tool makes this easier. I needed a little filler for a gap on the end of the skis where parts C4 and C3 meet. I attached the skis at the end of the build.

The kit’s gem is its detailed radial engine, a three-piece core to which all the smaller parts are added. I lightly sanded core parts D10, D11, and D12 to get a good seal. I glued parts B3 (cylinders) to the engine core before gluing parts B2 and B13 (lines) to B3, rather than attaching the lines first as in the instructions. Gluing Part D25 helps show proper placement of other parts glued to B3. The generator belt is another piece of photoetched metal. I left off the completed engine to paint it separately.

Instructions are unclear regarding options for the front of the engine: Step 8 calls for one option, Step 9 shows a second. I chose the latter, because I couldn’t find any pictures of the former. If you do choose the latter, then you do not use parts E27 and E29 as shown in Step 4. In the second option, there should be a vent cap for the fuel tank. But none is provided.

You can paint your Aerosan any color as long as it’s white; I used Tamiya flat white (XF-2 ), mixing in a few drops of Tamiya light gray (XF-66) for contrast and weathering. Trumpeter includes a color guide for detail painting. I painted the props Tamiya khaki (XF-49); when that had dried, I streaked burnt umber artist’s oil paint on the propeller, then dragged a flat brush lengthwise to replicate wood grain. I painted other details with Humbrol and Vallejo colors. The weathering was completed with Vallejo black and pale gray washes.

Decals provide two options for markings — both are shown with the first engine option — but pictures in the Tankograd book show any kind of marking was rare.

A figure is included, wearing a greatcoat and a tanker’s helmet and posed to fire the machine gun. The fit of the figure’s parts is poor, requiring sanding and filler, and I was unable to position the trigger arm (surgery would be required). Fully assembled, the figure is too big to fit in the turret ring.

Internet sources have claimed various inaccuracies in the kit, but it still builds into an impressive little model (especially with that engine). Don’t let the small box fool you; this is no weekend lark. It took me 21 hours to finish; the engine alone makes this a better project for experienced modelers.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the January 2012 issue of FineScale Modeler magazine.

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