Special Hobby 1/48 I-15 'Chato'





Three aircraft


Scott Van Aken


Short run with resin, etched and vac bits


Once again, I delve into the kit instructions to paraphrase the historical background.

"Initially designed in 1933, the I-15 became the forerunner of a series of Polikarpov aircraft that formed the backbone of the Soviet air force for nearly a decade. Thanks to its excellent maneuverability and rate of climb, the plane was quickly put into series production. Early aircraft were powered by the M22 radial, but once the M25 became available, it was the engine of choice for the rest of the run. Armament was also different during production. Initially starting with twin 7.62 mm machine guns, this was raised to four and later replaced by twin 12.7mm weapons. Production lasted 3 years, from 1934 to 1937

Initial combat using the I-15 came in the Spanish Civil war, where the Soviet Union provided 155 aircraft and a number of 'volunteer' pilots to aid the Republican forces. (To many, the Spanish Civil War was a bit of poser. One side was aided by the Fascists and the other by the Communists. To me not much of a choice) The type was also put into production by CASA who produced 237 additional aircraft. Until the introduction of the even more superior I-16 monoplane, the I-15 was the best performing fighter available to the Republican side. Even after the war, Franco's air force used the plane until the early 1940s. In the USSR, the type was used until the beginning of WWII.




To some of you, this may look suspiciously like the Classic Airframes I-152 kit, but though there are many similarities (as in both made by MPM), the sprues are not the same. Much of the layout of the kit, however, is quite typical and something we've all seen before. The same high quality exterior detailing, the same well done vac canopies (two sets), the bag of well molded resin, a small etched fret, and a superbly done decal sheet.

Speaking as someone who is currently building the I-152, I can tell you that this one has a more standard resin interior with a number of photo-etched  parts. All the colors are provided as Humbrol numbers and generic names in the construction sequences. The only options I see are the style of doors and windscreens. Like the I-152 and I-16 kits, there is not much of a cockpit opening, so I fear that much of the sweat and toil that goes into building it up will not be seen. A nice touch is the one-piece prop, which is something I like. What I'm less than fond of is the multiple piece engine, made up of a block, 9 cylinders, and 9 cylinder heads. Do we really need a 19 piece engine when a single casting will do just as well? Fortunately, it seems as if the cylinder placement points are well defined so you shouldn't have any problems with alignment. The builder will have to make blast tubes for the cowling out of tubing.

The instructions are well done and offer good diagrams of where everything goes. There is also a bit of a wiring diagram provided that along with the box art, will allow a proper rigging job. I didn't see any of the little rigging fairings that are shown on the box art where the wires go into the wings and fuselage so you'll have to make those somehow.

Markings are provided for three aircraft. First, is the box art plane of  Vicente Cactillo in late 1938 with Mickey Mouse design on the fin. It is painted in Dark Green over Middle Blue with red fuselage band and wing tips. Next is a similarly painted plane of  Grupo 26, though it has the fuselage band outlined in white and the upper wing has a Desert Yellow color with Dark Green mottles. Finally, a post war version with Franco's air force with the upper surfaces in a banded Dark Green and Desert Yellow scheme. Decals are superbly printed and should go on very well.



For a 1/48 biplane, this one has a minimal amount of rigging. Unless there are fit problems with the interior, it should be a pretty quick and easy build as things go. It certainly will look nice on the shelf when done.

Review kit courtesy of me.

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