1/72 Pavlamodels Polikarpov I-15

Gallery Article by Carmel J Attard on Dec 20 2012



Polikarpov I-15


A single-seat biplane fighter of composite wood/metal construction, the prototype flew in November 1933 with legendary pilot V.P.Chkalov at the controls. The performance of the aircraft especially its manoeuvrability, controls, speed, and rate of climb were so satisfactory that it was put into mass production in 1934 under the designation I-15. Various engines were powering the type over the years including Shuetsov M-25 power plant, which was a Cyclone engine, built under licence in the USSR. Standard armament consisted of four synchronised 7.62mm PV-1 machineguns mounted in front of the cockpit. Provision was made to carry small bombs on under wing racks alternatively six unguided rocket projectiles on rails below the lower wings could be carried. The I-15 was used extensively by the Republican forces during the Spanish Civil war initially being flown by skilled Soviet pilots. 150 ‘Chatos’ as the I-15 was then known were delivered by the Soviet Union and another 273 were licence-built by the local CASA factory.


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The kit
This is another short run Czech kit by Pavlamodels to scale of 1/72 scale. Moulded in grey plastic the kit lacks guiding locating pins. There are 33 injected parts comprising airframe items, spatted and unspatted wheels wing parts, struts, props etc, cockpit and engine detail parts are in resin of which there are 11 pieces. There is a clear vac canopy including an extra one. Plastic is well moulded with fabric surface texture. Presence of flash on most parts had to be carefully filed off. Twin bladed props come in three bits. Detail of engine is very well presented. The instructions are clear and easy to follow step by step. There is colour detail indicated with each step as you go along with construction. A useful diagram is provided. Decal options are for three from the Spanish civil war and one Russian. The first three being camouflaged dark green top and blue grey undersides. The Russian machine being silver finish overall with red unit detail decals.

Construction starts with painting and assembling the cockpit. Resin parts were first separated from their blocks using razor saw and painted according to instruction sheet. When cockpit detail is complete one finds that not much can be seen of the interior from the cockpit opening and side square windows once fuselage is closed. Most of interior was painted aluminium. Fitting the four guns to fuselage side and front of cowling raised some difficulties. I replaced the cowling ones with hollow metal tubes which were cut to size but when it came to the side cannons it was best to fix the radial engine in place and allowing space for the guns to pass between the engine cylinders to fit in holes refreshed by drilling to fuselage side. After fuselage was closed and set, joining seams were attended to with a little filler, and then the lower wing was added. Strut parts glued inclined to take the upper wing to rest on top. Assembling the tail lane and rudder was straight forward in spite that they were butt jointed. I found Humbrol liquid cement as very suited for such joints. The engine along with the trunking detail were inserted in their place at the front but I found that it is better to cut the front rectangular bit of trunking inlet to be sawn and fitted from the outside as it will be difficult to guide it through the upper square opening.. Little if any of the trunking part R3 detail could be seen once enclosed but the detail is there. 

The next step was fitting the landing gear. I have opted for a version without spats and the legs were then glued at correct inclined angle allowing the wheels to be attached at a later stage. The wheel centre was also drilled a little further to allow a better fit to the legs. The windscreen was the last thing added when all paintwork was complete. This is vac-form and is therefore very clear even so I dipped it in Klear liquid once I drilled a through hole in front to allow the aiming sight tube to be inserted when in place. Rigging consisted of twin double wire rigging. Ideally I used the drill and fine thread method, drilling two equally spaced holes from where the rigging will pass. Making rigging out of steel wire is not recommended, as this will not produce the clean parallel wire rigging like that on the real aircraft. The thread was secured with super glue and as usual added strength to the wing assembly.

Painting and decal.
A primer coat of light grey was first applied to reveal any small imperfections left unattended at joining areas. Lower surfaces were airbrushed Russian blue grey Humbrol 115 and upper surfaces Olive drab Tamiya XF62. Propeller was silver with red and yellow decal stripes at the tips. Undercarriage wheel hubs were dark olive. I found decals to be of Pavla usual top quality and once a coat of Klear (Future) was applied with a hand brush the decals were then fixed in place. The I-15 Chato represents one in Nationalist livery, depicting modern style of Spanish AF roundels with a characteristic black X on a white rudder. The side windows were covered using a toothpick with a small amount of Micro Kristal Klear. Windscreen was applied in place fixed with a small amount of Klear with frames being hand painted. The kit was finally given an overall coat of semi gloss sheen with Modelmaster lacquer.

On reflection these short run kits are not so different from other main stream kits and one has to keep in mind that these are not always there, once the lot produced expires there be no other way to get one unless via some place like e-bay etc. So make it a point and get yours while you can. The kit is all within everyone’s capability and most important of all it shows that a kit does not have to be all bells and whistles to be fun.

Carmel J Attard

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Photos and text © by Carmel J Attard