Build Report: Hobbycraft’s 1/48 Polikarpov I-16 Type 5

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Lately I’ve been on a bit of a Spanish Civil War reading “kick”. I had been discussing the subject with a friend, and he asked a question that I realized was fairly fundamental to the history of the conflict- and I didn’t know the answer. And the answer I guessed was wrong. I decided I needed to read a bit more to fill in the gaps in my historical knowledge.

Of course, as a result of that, my interest spilled over into my hobby work, and I decided to build some aircraft used in the Spanish Civil War.

Two types immediately came to mind: Polikarpov’s diminutive I-16 fighter, and Messerschmitt’s Bf-109 series. (Here is the build report for the Bf-109B.)

I decided to build the I-16 flown by Frank Tinker, who was the leading American ace that flew for the Republican side. (You can read more about him here.) He flew the I-16 Type 5, which was one of the few variants of the fighter to have a sliding canopy. I considered the Eduard kit, as it is certainly the most detailed available on the market. However, they don’t make a Type 5 specifically. And while a conversion would not be difficult, the issue was solved when I found Hobbycraft’s Type 5 kit at a bargain basement price. While I knew their kit was not quite as detailed, my goal was more to build a simple model that tied in with my reading.

So Hobbycraft it was.

I knew the kit well- I’d built it before, and thoroughly enjoyed it. That was also a Spanish Civil War build, utilizing the Academy boxing of the Hobbycraft kit.

The cockpit on the kit is very, very simple. Plain floor, seat, stick, instrument panel, and rudder pedals. I opted for an aftermarket resin seat, as that is the only thing you can really see when you look in the cockpit opening.

Assembly was quick and painless. Everything fits. No drama at all.

And there’s not much to paint. I painted the cowl black, masked off the metal strip, painted that, then masked it all off for the rest of the paint. Akan paints were used for the upper and lower colors. Once those were on, I masked and painted the red fuselage and wing bands. I also painted the rudder white, as I thought that would be a better background for the tricolor decals in case they had some transparency issues.

Once that was completed, on went a gloss coat, and a grand total of 4 decals. Two aircraft numbers on the fuselage sides, and two rudder decals. Simple enough.

Another coat of Future was applied, and then weathering commenced with post fading and shading, oil washes, and some pastel chalks.

The only real difficulty on the build- and it was a very minor one- was getting the landing gear struts in place. The instructions aren’t really clear on placement, and given the odd landing gear door arrangement, if you get the struts wrong, it can make gear door placement a bit difficult.

Of course, guess which route I found myself on?

Anyway, after  pushing things around a bit to get them sorted out, I glued the gear doors on, the prop, and canopy, adding in the scope-like gunsight in the process. The canopy always looked a bit odd to me on this one- it slides forward. I’d actually wanted to close it up, but the fit was so poor in the closed position, I opted for the open look.

I was pretty happy with the result. It’s a neat little airplane, somewhat comical with it’s short, barrel like shape. I certainly recommend this kit to any level modeler.