KIT: Special Hobby 1/32 I-16 type 10/17
KIT #: 32001
PRICE: $45.00 ($36.00 at Roll Models)
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Multi-media kit with resin and etched brass parts.


The Polikarpov I-16 was a design that was basically obsolete at the start of the Great Patriotic War, but it was available in large numbers and so bore much of the brunt of the fighting and losses during the initial stages of the conflict.

The I-16 was also the first low wing monoplane fighter with retractable landing gear to enter service with the air force of any nation and provided the Soviet Union with a real edge in terms of aviation fighter capabilities. At least for a few years as the pace of improvement during these times was quick.

Developed in the early 1930s, the I-16 first flew in late 1933. So successful were the state acceptance trials, that the aircraft was put into immediate production with deliveries commencing barely 6 months after first flight. The type 4 with the M-25 engine (a Wright Cyclone 9 cylinder radial), was the first really combat ready type and deliveries started in early 1934. This was followed in 1936 by the type 6 with an improved engine and the next year with the type 10, which had even more improvements.

The type 10 was the version sent to Spain in 1936 so that it could be evaluated against other aircraft. The Spanish Republicans liked the aircraft so much that a manufacturing license was obtained to build the aircraft locally and many were produced before the Nationalists under Franco and with help from Germany and Italy won the war in March of 1939. The type was also provided to the Chinese who used it against the Japanese.

Other versions followed including the type 18 and 24 which had an M-82 radial and carried improved armament, with the type 24 also carrying 20mm cannon. Total production of all types exceeded 7,000, a huge number for the time. 4,000 of these were used against the Germans during the early years of the war.

Today, several have been pulled out of bogs and swamps to be rebuilt and are flying in various places around the world.


Tom Cleaver has built the Azur version of this kit, which is basically the type 10, and found it to be a rather easy build with only a few problems. One of them being that there is no engine, the front cowling being molded with the shutters closed. Not a major gripe, but one that has led several to wish for an engine option. The parts are cleanly molded and provide good detail.

There is very little in the way of non-plastic bits compared to many other kits from the MPM family. This one provides an etched fret for the seat harness and the ring and bead gun sights. Resin is limited to exhaust stacks and a later gun sight.

What does set this kit apart from the earlier Azur boxing is that there are a number of options. One is for a ski mounted version. The other is that the type 17 can be built in addition to the type 10. A separate lower wing/fuselage center section is provided for this variant. The exhaust arrangement is different in this one. You get two prop spinners, but apparently only one is used.

Instructions are quite good showing where optional bits are to be used and where any modifications or builder additions are to be done. Interior color information is provided as are exterior colors using Gunze paint references. An oddity is that the instructions show the right side door being removed and later, the left side door is shown being replaced, even though you are not told to remove it. Most odd and obviously a glitch of some sort. Actually, there will be little to see in the small cockpit as it is quite Spartan.

Markings are provided for three aircraft. Two are type 17s, including the box art plane from 4 GIAP at Leningrad in 1942. The other type 17 is a rather ratty camo version from 7 IAP, also near Leningrad in 1941. The ski equipped plane is a type 10 in winter camo  from the winter of 1941. Decals are nicely printed and should provide no surprises.


Overall a very nice kit. 1/32 is all the rage at the moment and it is quite nice to see the short run guys coming out with these subjects. Though I've not heard of any aftermarket bits (aside from the UMI Resin replacement cowling/engine), I'm sure the decal lads are hard at work on something.

October 2005

My thanks to Roll Models for providing the review kit.

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