Biplanes of the 1930s and 1940s (Не-51A-1, Ki-10-II, U-2/Po-2VS)
Brief Description of Product
This kit includes three quite well done 1/72 scale kits of three biplanes which were historically very important during the nineteen-thirties. Each kit includes an extensive instruction sheet, several color and marking choices, and adequate decals. The aircraft included are (1) Japanese Army Kawasaki Ki-10 Biplane Fighter, code named Perry by the Allies; (2) German Luftwaffe Heinkel HE-51A Fighter Biplane, used before the outbreak of World War II, and especially in the Civil War in Spain, and (3) the Polikarpov PO-2/U-2 Training Biplane, produced in enormous numbers in the Soviet Union up to the end of World War II, and which was used for pilot training and various combat roles, some involving the use of women pilots in combat.
Kawasaki KI-10 "Perry"
At this time of developmental aeronautical history, various national military organizations were debating the issue of biplane or monoplane. The issues tended to center around flying performance, with the biplane winning hands down on the issue of maneuverability, especially in tight turns, while the monoplanes won in the maximum speed category. Service pilot inputs seemed very important to the Japanese, so even though the Nakajima Ki-11 monoplane fighter was faster, the Japanese Army pilots preferred the more maneuverable Ki-10 biplane. The Ki-10 was of all metal construction, with fabric covering, the powerplant being a liquid cooled 850 hp. Kawasaki Ha-9-11a engine.
The Ki-10 was used during the opening stages of the Second Sino-Japanese War in the late thirties, but by 1939, when Japan went to war against the Soviet Union, The Ki-10 was considered obsolete and was in the process of being replaced by the Nakajima Ki-27 “Nate” fighter. After the Japanese began hostilities against the United States, Ki-10’s were used for reconnaissance and other secondary roles, as their usefulness as fighters was gone by 1941 and 1942.
The only other 1/72 scale kit of this aircraft I am aware of is the issue by Aviation Usk, one of which I built about 2004. It was a reasonable kit in all respects, and compares well with the ICM issue. The ICM kit has slightly less than 30 parts, which are finely molded, although there is a slight amount of flash. The kit is basically very simple, and in most cases, goes together without any real problems. One problem I encountered with the size of the wing struts and the location of the holes required for mounting the top wing to the structure. Things did not seem to fit properly, and redrilling holes helped to solve the problem. One other problem was the use of acetate for the windshield, which is very flimsy. While fitting mine, it popped out of my mounting tweezers, effectively escaping, so I had to make another one.
Decals are provided for two aircraft, one being Capt. Tateo Kato’s aircraft when he was flying with the 64th Sentai in China in 1938, and the other being a more colorful one flying with the 77thSentai, flying in China in 1938. This one is more attractive , with red and white stripes used for in flight identification. The decals are of good quality, and do not require trimming.
Recommendation and Commentary
Although this is not a kit for beginners, with serious effort the kit can be made into an acceptable model of a famous Japanese Army aircraft. It does fill a gap in any model collection of aircraft flown during this era, and it is certainly worth getting. Recommended.
Heinkel HE-51a and HE-51B
The Heinkel HE-51 was developed before the existence of the German Luftwaffe was publicized, and the plane was intended to replace the Arado AR-65 and AR-68 fighters. It was not a particularly successful fighter, and relatively few were built. At the beginning of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, examples of the HE-51 were made available for Franco’s Nationalist forces, and these were used against the Russian backed forces. The Russian types proved superior in most respects, and the nationalists eventually used German Messerschmitt Bf-109’s and Italian Fiat CR-32’s and CR-42’s. While withdrawn from combat use, the HE-51 continued in use after the war, the last ones leaving service as late as 1952. I would like to see some material showing the color schemes of HE-51’s operating that late. I also wonder whether any of them survived as museum displays.
The first kit I am aware of was the old Hasegawa 1/72 scale HE-51, which came out at least twenty years ago. It was a very basic kit, but the outline appears to be accurate, and I ended up building quite a few of them. From my experience, as I built a Hasegawa kit alongside the ICM kit, the Hasegawa kit is easier to assemble, and didn’t require nearly as many naughty words as did the ICM kit. The ICM kit had a lot more detail, including individual exhaust stacks, and a much larger, and probably more accurate propeller than the Hasegawa kit. One problem was the length of the ICM landing gear. The legs were too long, and required trimming, which was not a serious problem. At least they did include individual wheels, which could be added to the landing gear struts to make the version which operated without wheel pants.
When completely assembled and painted, the model is relatively easy to rig with electrical wire. I did the ICM kit in JG233 markings, with a blue nose and black markings over a light grey surface. I found a colorful scheme for the Hasegawa kit in the old William Green Flying Colors book, which is a very useful source of information on military aircraft color schemes. My model is of one used by a flight school, AB Schule 71, in Germany in 1942. I’m still looking for a decal of the unit , which was painted prominently on the forward fuselage, but I will find one eventually.
The ICM kit of the HE-51 is a good kit, and is worth getting.
The ICM Polikarpov U-2/PO-2VS
The earliest 1/72 scale kit of this aircraft was one done by KP, and I built one in 1977. The PO-2 is probably the most produced aircraft in the world, with numbers published ranging between 20,000 and 40,000. It was originally designed as a primary trainer, first appearing in 1927, and after use in this role, the type was armed with a machine gun and light bombs, and the plane was used as a trainer, light bomber, and night attack bomber during the war. Some were used by the VVS RKKA’s 588th Night Bomber Regiment, which was made up entirely of women pilots and ground crews.
The type was produced long after the end of World War II, and quite a few still exist. Quite a few have been modified as crop dusters, and many were operated by Aeroflot in that role. In a way, the type could be considered to have been Stalin’s Stearman, except that the Stearman was never flown in combat. Of course, I did an agricultural conversion model. A photo off the model is included.
The KP kit must have appeared in the period, before the turn of the century, as it is listed in the Burn book published in 2003. The ICM kit appeared much later, as it doesn’t appear in Burns’s book. I built an ICM kit, and reviewed it for IPMS, about 2020, so it hasn’t been around that long. It actually builds up into a rather nice crop duster.
The ICM kit is highly detailed, and depicts the bomber version, although any variant could be built from this kit. It is nicely molded, and the instructions are very detailed, including even a color chart noting the paints that ICM produces.
It is not a very robust kit, and the tail unit is particularly weak once it is attached to the airframe. The rudder attachment to the vertical fin is very weak, but once attached mine stayed on the airplane, even when I mounted tail marking decals.
This kit is typical of the ICM kits I have assembled in the past week, with high detail and structural weakness. However, once I attached the struts and landing gear with superglue, they held together. The previous kits I built were all one color, either silver or white color, but this one I did in a four color camouflage pattern, green, tan, and dark grey on top and black underneath, and the colors look good even if they are done in acrylic paint. There is a lot of detail in the engines and fuselage interior, and the seats require a lot of attention. Once the model is painted and assembled, wire rigging is rather complicated, as wire include all control cables as well as all bracing cables. I used my standard electronic wire system, which worked out pretty well. I used white glue for some wire, and super glue for other wires. One feature I haven’t used before was the small rotating circular tables, which measure about 8 inches in diameter, where the model can be placed on the table and the table rotated to any position desired during assembly. My wife bought them as a surprise for me when she saw how difficult it was to apply wire rigging on my workbench.
If you want something different to model, this one would be a good bet. The kit itself is nicely molded, and not much trimming is required. The parts fit well, and the kit has a lot of potential for some of the different variants. If you have any KP kits, save those to build also, but the ICM kits are good and fun to build. We just have to hope that in the Ukraine, the Russian illegitimates stay the heck away from the model industry so that this kind of art can continue to be created in the future. Get several of these while you can. Highly recommended.
Thanks to ICM for the review samples. It is refreshing to see three good model kits marketed in one box.