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IBG Models PZL P.11a

Build review of the 1/72 scale aircraft kit with excellent moldings
RELATED TOPICS: AIRCRAFT
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Designed by aeronautical engineer Zygmunt Pulawski, the P.11a was the initial version of the fighter ordered for the Polish air force. When introduced, it was considered to be one of the most technically advanced aircraft of its day. Unfortunately, aviation’s rapid development in the late 1930s left it outclassed at the start of World War II.

IBG’s new P.11a is a jewel! While the plane itself is quite simple, there is a ton of detail packed into it straight out of the box. In addition to 50 exquisitely molded plastic parts, the kit comprises a photo-etched metal (PE) fret of 45 parts and decals for three marking options. The color 12-page instruction book incorporated 14 assembly steps with excellent drawings and color callouts for five paint brands.

Add the foot pedals to the cockpit floor before gluing the front frame in place (ask me how I know!). The upper frame mounts on two PE supports at the rear, but the position and angle of those mounts are not well-defined. I used the fuselage as a jig, positioning the cockpit inside as the glue set to ensure alignment. I painted the completed cockpit and fuselage interior with Alclad II dark aluminum and gave everything a light wash to highlight details. The cockpit was glued in place and then fuselage sides mated; the fit was perfect and the seams needed just a little light sanding.

Leaving the enxgine for final assembly, I skipped ahead to finish the airframe. Separate rudder and elevators may be posed. I chose the PE tail braces over the plastic because they look more in-scale. The main legs slot into the fuselage for sturdy landing gear, but its PE rigging is flimsy and difficult to attach without bending.

The wing is a full-length upper piece with lower halves and separate ailerons. The detail molded into the wing surface is nothing short of incredible. Breaking from my standard practice, I painted the wing and fuselage separately, which simplified masking. I used Testors Model Master aircraft gray underneath and Afrika khakibraun topside.

For the canopy, the kit provides both injection-molded clear plastic and, for the adventurous, a PE frame with individual clear-film panes. I chose the latter, but lacking a proper bending tool I found it difficult to get good, sharp bends on the tiny frame. Be sure to cut the panes just outside the lines on the clear sheet, or they will be too small and fall through the framework. There are even tiny PE parts for the gunsight, rearview mirror, and step.

I was concerned about the decals conforming to the corrugations molded on the wing, but they performed well with a little help from Microscale Micro Sol.

This is the second IBG kit I’ve built and I am most impressed. Both were absolute joys to build with great detail right out of the box. I heartily recommend the PZL.11a to any moderately experienced builder!


Note: A version of this review appeared in the April 2020 issue.

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