Eduard's excellent little Polikarpov I-16 reappears this month in a new form - the Type 29, the ultimate development of the fighter and an attempt to restore parity between it and its more modern opponents. In an effort to reduce weight and boost performance, the 7.62 mm wing guns were removed and replaced by a single belly-mounted synchronised 12.7mm UBS machine gun firing under the engine and through the bottom of the cowling. To make way for the gun, the undercarriage was moved outboard slightly, and the lower air intake was moved to the "7 o'clock" position on the cowling.
Along with changes for the revised armament, the Type 29's wing was redesigned for the ground attack role, with provision for 6 x RO-82 rockets mounted under the wings, and attachment points for 100 litre fuel tanks or a variety of bombs.
As you'd expect, Eduard's new kit shares many parts with the previous versions released, but there's an all-new sprue containing the modified wings and the rocket armament. The kit comprises:
100 x pale olive styrene parts
2 x clear parts
33 x etched steel parts, including a pre-painted seat harness and instrument panel.
Decals for 4 x colour schemes
The original kit has been covered on Aeroscale in its Type 10
releases, so I'll concentrate here on the new parts and decals.
The modified wing is well up to the standard set by the rest of the kit, with crisply moulded panel details - engraved lines and fasteners and raised access panels and armour to protect the fabric underside of the wing and ailerons from the blast of the rockets. The fabric effect itself is excellent - in my opinion, in their latest releases Eduard simulate fabric better than any of the other major injected kit producers.
The new bulged belly is neatly done and certainly changes the look of the model, with the wheel wells positioned slightly further apart to compensate. Accompanying the fuselage gun, there's a choice of new engine cowlings, with early- and late-style air intakes.
The rockets each consist of three parts - a rail, a body and a separate tail. The latter is rather heavily moulded and it's a shame Eduard didn't include optional metal fins. Sadly, no fuel tanks or bombs are included for the inboard hard-points.
Decals are included for a nice variety of machines:
A. "Yellow 45", 156.IAP, Winter 1941-42 with a white overspray over the original green topsides.
B. "Red 9", 16. IAP, Autumn 1941 with black and green camouflage and red fin tip and spinner and a "Death to Invaders!" slogan on the fuselage.
C. "White 1", 7.IAK-PVO, Spring 1942, with a field applied camouflage, blue fin and rudder and what seems to be an uncompleted slogan - it just reads "For"
D. "White 1", 19th Observation Sqn., Rumanian Air Force, 1941. The aircraft was captured and painted in Rumanian markings. It's depicted with a full set of rockets, but a photo in Squadron's In Action shows it minus the rockets and, if it was used for pilot familiarisation as suggested, it seems unlikely that they were carried.
The decals appear excellent quality - thin and glossy, with minimal carrier film and printed in excellent register on the review sample. One point to watch out for is the underwing stars - in several photos I've seen of Type 29s, they are positioned further towards the wingtips than shown by Eduard. Unfortunately, I haven't found shots of the particular VVS machines covered by the decal options to confirm the position.
This looks an excellent addition to Eduard's range of I-16s. I found the original release a very satisfying build and now that Eduard have corrected the early problems with the cowling, this should be even more so. Even if you've already bought the earlier releases, the Type 29 is different enough to still appeal - and of course, being so small for a WW2 fighter, there's room for several on the shelf! Recommended.
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