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ICM Polikarpov I-16 Type 24

FineScale Modeler reviews the 1/48 scale plastic model aircraft kit
Molded in light gray plastic, ICM’s I-16 Type 24 features excellent surface detail with fine recessed panel lines and subtle ribbing on fabric-covered areas. All of the control surfaces are separate and have thin trailing edges; the rudder and elevators are movable, but the ailerons require modification for offset poses.

The comprehensive detail extends to the cockpit, but much of it is difficult to see through the tiny opening.

Clear plastic provides the windscreen, gunsight, and wingtip lights.

The decal sheet gives markings for four I-16s: three in standard dark green and blue camouflage, the other overall silver.

Despite the plane’s diminutive size, the instructions comprise 47 steps. But each adds only a few parts. Detail painting callouts are included throughout the instructions, referencing Tamiya and Revell paints.

Aided by good fits, construction proceeded quickly. I found the instrument panel disappointing: It includes a gray plastic panel (B29) with a clear insert (D1) for the dials, but there’s no provision for instrument faces, either with decals or molded detail. Admittedly, the panel is difficult to see. I painted the gray part and the back of the clear part flat black. 

Minor sanding cleaned up the fuselage seam, but the wing roots showed deep grooves — not gaps, but a wide depression as if the part edges weren’t square. I filled them with stretched sprue and scraped them smooth with a No. 10 blade. A coat of Mr. Surfacer 500 and light sanding eliminated the seams.

Like the cockpit, the detailed engine largely disappears once the cowl is buttoned up. I had difficulty attaching the nine exhaust pipes, because the pegs designed to align them are not precise. After drilling the ends for realism, I added the pipes one at a time, ensuring each lined up with its port and the glue was dry before attaching the next. It would probably be easier to cut the pipe short and glue them to the inside of the fuselage panels. The multipart cowl fit perfectly.

I painted my I-16 using the recommended Tamiya colors and applied the decals over a coat of Vallejo clear gloss. The markings responded well to Microscale’s decal solutions.

After flowing a black enamel wash into the panel lines, I added the windscreen, guns, pitot, prop, and landing gear. The last is delicate but sturdy once in place.

I spent 19 hours on my I-16; the model matches published dimensions.

Fit and surface detail is top-notch, and any builder with a modicum of experience will have no problems.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the October 2017 issue.
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