And here we are, completed at last! Tamiya's 1/48 Il-2 M3 Sturmovik, in camouflage and markings of aircraft 07 of the 566th Assault Aviation Regiment, Leningrad, 1944.
The Il-2 Sturmovik was a Soviet purpose built ground attack aircraft of the second world war. Heavily armoured and armed, it earned the nickname of "the flying tank" from both those who flew it, and those who fought against it.
Used extensively by the Soviet air force during the war, it was highly effective against both soft targets and hard targets, employing weapons such as 23mm and 37mm cannons, unguided rockets, bombs, and PTAB anti-tank bomblettes.
The usefulness of the Il-2 cannot be understated, with Stalin personally writing to request increased production of the aircraft, stating that "The Sturmovik is as important to the Red Army as air and bread!" Which certainly motivated manufacturers, as the Il-2 went on to become the most produced military aircraft of all time, and the second most produced aircraft of all time.
Initial versions of the Il-2 were single seat, however following many losses to Axis aircraft which were able to get behind the aircraft, the Il-2M version entered production, which featured a rear gunner armed with a 12.7mm UB machine gun, covering the rear blind spot. Later the final model of the Il-2, the Il-2 M3 was introduced. This featured slighly swept wings, moving the aircraft's centre of gravity backwards, and balancing out the rear gunner, returning some performance that was lost due to the weight of the gunner.
The kit was unsurprisingly excellent Tamiya quality, with perfect fit, and no filler required at all. Both interior and exterior featured excellent details, and went together flawlessly. The kit includes 4x RS-132 rockets, and a choice of either a pair of FAB-100 or FAB-250 bombs. I went with the 250 option as the 100kg bombs were usually carried in an internal bay, so would not be visible from the outside.
Happily the kit also included canopy masks, which were mostly successful. I painted the aircraft using Vallejo Air paints, using 4B0 Russian Green, Sand Yellow, and Dark Blue-Grey for the outside, and Light Blue-Grey for the inside.
This was the first time I have painted a camouflage with an airbrush, and after a lot of cleaning up, I feel it was mostly successful.
The decals were mostly a pleasant experience, with the exception of the "For Leningrad!" decals, which broke into 3 pieces each due to being reluctant to come off the backing. In future I would try soaking them for a little longer, then very carefully removing them.
The aircraft was coated and the decals sealed using Pledge Floor Polish, a successor to Future klear polish, which works very well, is easy to apply, dries quickly, and smells nice on top!
All in all, whilst this build had many stressful moments, I feel it was in the end at least somewhat successful, and other than the rather high price, I can definitely recommend this kit to fans of the Il-2, or Soviet aircraft in general.
Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily (Soviet Air Force 1918-1991)
566 ShAP 07 | Leningrad 1944
|Timeline:||Started on December 30, 2018, Finished on January 4, 2019|
|Time spent:||5 days|