The Polikarpov I-153 Chaika (Russian Чайка, "Seagull") was a late 1930ís Soviet biplane fighter. Developed as an advanced version of the I-15 with a retractable undercarriage, the I-153 fought in the Soviet-Japanese combats in Mongolia and was one of the Soviets' major fighter types in the early years of the Second World War.
The Finnish Air Force operated 21 Chaikaís, 11 of which were bought from Germany, and the rest were captured. They flew with the serial numbers IT-11 to IT-31. The Finns changed the Soviet ShKAS machine guns with British built Brownings. In Finnish service, FAF pilots claimed at least 5 kills in I-153s against the Soviets during the Winter War 1939-40.
Several I-153s are still flying.
I do like the packaging from ICMO, it's a strong box with a lid on it. So much better than the old end opening kits. On opening the box the first impressions is rather good. The small parts count on the three sprues may see this interesting looking bi-plane leap up the list of things to build. The parts look very well moulded, although there is the merest hint of flash here and there. The small grey plastic sprue is an additional feature of this release.
The cockpit has a tubular frame made up from four parts. There are a few plastic runoffs blobs and a hint of flash to carefully remove; the completed frame then sits on the cockpit floor. The instrument panel is finely detailed and attaches to the frame. There are some tiny decals that look like instrument faces, but they are not mentioned in the instructions. The seat, control stick and rudder pedals fit onto the floor. There are no harnesses. There is a little extra detail on the inside of the fuselage halves, though you might need to fill the two recessed ejector marks. The complete cockpit is fixed onto the lower wing. There is also guidance on the colour of individual parts of the cockpit. The cockpit door is moulded in the closed position. The tiny injected plastic windscreen is pretty thin and clear. All in all a pretty good looking cockpit straight from of the box.
The fuselage is made up from two halves split vertically. There are a couple of location pins to help with The vertical tail is moulded entirely on the left side fuselage. The panel lines and rivet detail is excellent and the ribbing detail on the canvas parts of the fuselage is subtle. There are some protruding pieces of plastic that I not sure should be there, but they will be easy enough to remove. The engine is moulded onto the firewall and there is a hint of the cooling vanes on the cylinders. The push rods are separate and are a little thick. Once the cowling front is attached there will be little to see of the engine except through some the open louvres. The front of the cowling is nicely detailed, though you might want to improve the look of the gun barrels. The sides of the cowling are made up from two parts with an additional part of the cowling attached to the lower wing. The look of the exhaust could be improved by opening up the recesses and the placing of piping to represent the exhausts. The two bladed prop looks very well moulded, the spinner boss is a separate part.
Each wing is one piece and similarly to the fuselage has some fine ribbed detail representing stretched canvas. The ailerons are moulded into the wings. Itís suggested in the instructions that the two inter plane struts are attached to the upper wing before joining to the fuselage. It might be worth waiting until the wings are attached before fixing in place. There may be enough flex in the wings to allow the fitting of the struts. The location points for the bombs under the wing are predrilled, although a couple of them need to be shown the tip of a twist drill to deepen them. Armament comprises of three types of bomb. The tail planes are both one piece and again display some fine detail. There is a strut to fit to each tail plane. There is a rigging diagram in the instructions but as always check your references.
The ski undercarriage is the noticeable feature of this kit. The parts for the ski undercarriage are all contained on the additional small sprue. Each ski comprises of seven parts and there additional parts for the panels that cover the wheel wells. The skis did retract back, but there is no indication in the instructions on how they would look. The tail skid is a one piece affair. All the parts for the wheeled undercarriage are included. There is a little detail in the wheel well.
There are four marking options with this release:
Red Army Air Force, Winter 1939-40
Finnish Air Force, LeLv 14, April 1940
Finnish Air Force, LeLv 14, March 1942
Finnish Air Force, 3/LeLv 6, November 1942
I was a little disappointed there was not more wintry finished Finnish aircraft. A quick look at references reveals that little or no aircraft were camouflaged for snowy terrain.
The decals are printed by ICM and look glossy and well printed. The Finnish swastikas are disguised by separate feet. Attaching the twenty four separate feet will be a chore, but be careful as there are three different sizes corresponding to the size of the roundel.
The instructions are provided in a twelve page A4 manual. Language is in both Russian and English. The instructions take you through thirty stages and the grey shade drawings are very clear. The painting and decal placement guide is in colour. Paints referenced are Tamiya and Revell.
Rowan reviewed the first release of the I-153
back in 2015.
Itís actually quite difficult not to get excited by this kit from ICM. The moulding standard is very good and consistent. The kit does look very good as it stands straight out the box. As this is the second incarnation of the I-153 from ICM, there are many aftermarket products for the fastidious. This is a diminutive aircraft and will make an interesting contrast to a large fighter such as a P-47 on your flight line.