by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
Rest Models' I-15 arrives in attractive little conventional top-opening box. It's somewhat flimsy but, nevertheless, the package survived the combined best efforts of the international mail service and the UK's postal strike and reached London perfectly intact. It's always a treat opening a new Rest Models kit, for the simple reason that they are among the best (if not the best) cast and presented resin models available. The I-15 is no exception, comprising:
72 x resin parts
40 x etched brass parts
1 x sheet of printed film for the windscreen and instruments
Decals for no less than 13 colour schemes.
The casting is basically perfect - there are very few of the traditional pouring blocks associated with resin kits and the bulk of the parts are ready-removed and require only minimal clean-up prior to use. There is very little "flash" evident and, despite a very thorough examination, I couldn't find any bubbles.
As with previous Rest Models kits, the parts breakdown is rather unusual. The fuselage has been ingeniously cast as a hollow shell, with interior rib and stringer detail extending back from the cockpit to the tail. The top of the forward fuselage is a separate piece and includes the I-15's characteristic gull-wing stubs.
Surface detail is excellent, with a combination of very fine scribed panel lines and louvres, plus a superb representation of the fabric-covered rear fuselage. In my opinion Rest Model's owner and master pattern-maker, Ruslan Bilik manages to capture perfectly the look of taught fabric. The flying surfaces are equally good - thin and straight, with a subtle fabric effect (purists might with to add rib tapes) and excellent knife-sharp trailing edges.
Construction BreakdownA test fit of the main parts shows there should be few problems constructing the airframe. The main fuselage obviously takes care of itself, and the front decking is an excellent fit. The kit is designed with a full-span lower wing that slots neatly into the base of the fuselage to provide a solid foundation. The top wing is divided into separate outer panels. These match their corresponding roots perfectly and the joining surfaces of both the roots and wing panels are dead-flat and free of any pour-stubs to clean off, so the assembly will be very accurate - but they are plain butt-joints, so adding metal pins could still be a good idea to provide some support. The last major component is the undercarriage - and a choice of exposed or spatted wheels is provided, with two sizes of wheels for the former. The undercarriage is cast as a single part around a metal core, so the weight of the model should prove no problem over time.
A few detailsConstruction begins with a beautifully detailed radial engine. Each cylinder, inlet and exhaust is cast separately for total of 28 parts, plus a brass ignition harness. Dimensions for the push-rods are given to cut them from wire (not provided). The engine face is a delicate perforated dome and two are provided. This is because the part must be sliced in two and then fitted around the engine, trapping the cylinders, so the inclusion of the spare is very welcome.
The cockpit is nicely detailed with a combination of resin and metal parts. The floor, seat, control column and gun stocks are resin, while there are etched rudder pedals, throttles, buckles for the seat harness and the instrument panel, which comes with a film backing for the instrument faces. The cockpit's side framing is also provided in brass, which is arguably too flat for a true 3-D effect, so the option is always there to use the kit parts as templates from which to cut lengths of plastic rod or heated stretched sprue.
The windscreen is a little unusual as it's printed on film and must be folded to shape. This is one of the few areas of the kit might challenge less experienced modellers, more used to injected or vacu-formed parts, but the result should capture the faceted shape of the original windscreen very well and a spare is thoughtfully included in case of slip-ups. Accompanying the windscreen is a multi-part telescopic sight - a resin body with etched supports, ring and bead sights.
Full sized patterns are provided to cut rigging to length and the kit includes etched cuffs to fold around the base of the wires.
Instructions and decalsA strong point of all Rest Models kits is the quality of the instructions, which are very professionally produced with quite exceptional illustrations. The text is bilingual Russian/English and, while the translation is a little off the mark at times, it's clear enough what's intended. Generic colour matches are provided for the interior details.
Rest Models' I-15 is one of their early models and it was released originally with markings for 9 aircraft. The kit has been revamped recently and now includes a decal sheet covering an extraordinary 13 colour schemes! These are illustrated on a full-colour painting guide, which includes a small side-profile of each aircraft, plus a top view of one of the featured schemes.
The colour schemes break down into three groups;
2 x Soviet machines - including I.U. Pavlov's silver and red demonstrator with a spectacular "For the Communist Party" banner on the fuselage.
7 x Republican Spanish aircraft - including a great example of field-applied mottle camouflage on the top wing of one machine
4 x Fascist Spanish captured machines - including a post Civil War trainer.
The decals are well produced - thin and with excellent registration. The colour density looks good and the decals have a very matt finish.
Backing up the decals is a useful sheet of photo references - and what's neat is that larger versions can be accessed on the Rest Models website.
ConclusionThe I-15 looks another little cracker from Rest Models! The superb quality of the casting and straightforward basic construction would make it an ideal first resin kit for builders looking to step up from mainstream models. When you consider the time and effort needed to cast a kit of this quality by hand, it represents remarkable value for money - and Rest Models consistently produce superior quality kits at significantly lower prices than many other short-run resin manufacturers. Unreservedly recommended.