Polikarpov I-16 Type 28, 45th Aviation Division

Polikarpov I-16 Type 28, 45th Aviation Division

By Oleksandr Prykhodko, Ukraine
ICM, 1/48

Oleksandr's Facebook

I-16: The Iconic Soviet Fighter of World War II

The Polikarpov I-16 stands as arguably the most emblematic and memorable Soviet fighter of the Second World War. It represents the world's first mass-produced monoplane fighter with retractable landing gear. Before the war, it became the most produced fighter globally, with around six thousand I-16s manufactured by the start of World War II.

About the Prototype

The I-16 featured predominantly wooden construction, with plywood and fabric covering. It served as the main fighter for the Soviet Air Force (VVS) from 1936 until early 1942. I-16 fighters were also supplied to other Soviet-allied countries. Its combat debut was in the skies of Spain in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War, where the Soviet Union supplied hundreds of I-15s and I-16s to Republican forces.

In 1937, I-16s of the Chinese Air Force faced Japanese Mitsubishi A5M and Nakajima Ki-27 fighters. In 1938, during the Battle of Lake Khasan, Soviet I-16s escorted heavy TB-3 bombers. The Winter War with Finland in 1939-1940 saw I-16s in action against Finnish Fokker D.XXI aircraft, proving to be formidable opponents.

In June 1941, I-16s were among the first Soviet aircraft to engage the Luftwaffe. Despite being technically outdated, they remained a threat in the hands of skilled Soviet pilots.

About the Model

The I-16 model by ICM in 1/48 scale, released in 2017, represents a relatively recent addition to the scale modeling world. It's a highly detailed model belonging to a new generation of ICM kits developed using 3D modeling. Unlike earlier models crafted by hand, these new kits utilize 3D models for production.

I-16 ICM 48098 box-art
The boxart of the I-16 type 28 model by ICM released in 2017.

The model closely resembles the historical prototype, making the building process enjoyable. For a detailed look at the kit contents, check this link.

Building the Polikarpov I-16 Model

Opting for minimal modifications, I started with the pilot's cockpit interior, which is rich in detail. Unfortunately, no photos of the construction process were retained, but the cockpit interior was painted A-14 Steel Gray, the standard color for Soviet aircraft of that era.

After assembling the cockpit, I worked on the airframe, involving minimal modifications. Gaps were filled, and panel lines were restored. Later, after painting, casting seams became apparent, but I noticed them too late to address.

Moving to the painting phase, at that time, Arcus had only late-war colors. Despite this historical inaccuracy, these colors reasonably represented Soviet aircraft of the 1940s. The lower surfaces were painted with lightened AMT-7 (note: A II Light Blue, which iscurrently available in the Arcus range, is the original color for I-16 lower surfaces of that period), while the upper surfaces received the corresponding AMT-4 Green (note: A II Protective which is also available now is the recommended original color for I-16 upper surfaces in 1937- early 1941).

After painting the main camouflage colors, the model received a gloss varnish, and decals were applied to depict the chosen variant, "White 6" with an arrow on the tail - I-16 type 28, 45th Aviation Division, Southern Front, Odessa area, Late June 1941. Minimal weathering and wash on panel lines were added.

Notably, the metal strap on the engine cowl was made of aluminum foil, and the propeller blades were painted with bright aluminum paint. The rear surfaces of the propeller blades were painted black so as not to blind the pilots in sunshine.

In conclusion, the model was coated with a matte finish, finding its place in the collection. The I-16 model build was swift, given its minimal modifications, and brought considerable joy throughout the process.

Thanks, everyone!

(Edited and Translated by Mykhailo Orlov)

I-16 port side
I-16 had a very original profile typical of Polikarpov's fighters, a short barrel-shaped fuselage and a cockpit shifted to the tail.
I-16 3/4 view port side
3/4 view of the I-16, probably the most spectacular.
I-16 front view from below
Front view of the I-16, the landing gear retraction ropes, which I added, are clearly visible. On the real airplane, to retract the landing gear, the pilot had to make 44 turns with the winch.
I-16 3/4 view starboard side
Starboard view of the I-16 model.
I-16 port side from behind
The white 6 with white arrow from the 45th Air Division I chose was only available in the first issue, in later issues it was excluded from the available options.
I-16 starboard from behind
Note the white lightning arrow on the tail, the insignia of the 45th Air Division, it always points forward on both port and starboard sides.
I-16 port side, upper rear view
The I-16 canopy framing was usually different in color from the airframe - they were usually preserved in natural metal. This one is painted in light blue - the color of the lower surfaces.
I-16 3/4 port side view from above
Like its predecessor, the I-15, the I-16 also received an engine cowling with louvers that could open and close in different engine modes.
I-16 front view
The Polikarpov I-16 was powered by the huge M-62 radial engine, which evolved from the Wright R-1820 Cyclone.
i-16 starboard side 3/4 from above
The I-16 Type 28 received 20mm ShVAK cannons in the wings. Look how long the barrels are, almost reaching the propeller blades.
I-16 rear-end of the starboard side from above
I-16s retained the traditional markings of Soviet aircraft of the 1930s. It still has red stars on the upper sides of the wings. These red elements disrupted the camouflage, and later, in 1941, the stars on the wings were painted over on most Soviet aircraft.
I-16 rear-end of the port side from above
In this photo you can see the asymmetrical tail mounted on the I-16. To compensate for the reactive torque, it was installed at an angle of 2° to the left (it is clearly seen in comparison with the previous photo).
I-16 port side from above
I opted for foil instead of paint to replicate the shine of the metal engine hood clamp.
I-16 port side front view
Soviet airplanes of the late 1930s usually kept their propellers in their natural metal finish, and only the rear side was painted black so as not to glare pilots in sunlight.
I-16 front view to the port side
I-16 and little helpers. 2 bottles of the main colors used in this build AMT-4 Green and AMT-7 Light Blue (Note: We still recommend using the more historically accurate 189 and 190 colors for painting I-16s of that period - A II Protective Green and A II Light Blue).
I-16 model with Arcus paints used in the build
Another photo of the I-16 model against the Arcus paints. Despite the strange blue bottle labels and different logo, this is not a special edition paints. This is a standard label of colors produced by Arcus circa 2014-2020s.
I-16 compared in size to the paint bottle
A 10ml bottle of paint in comparison to the I-16 model. Even though it is made in 1/48, look how tiny it is.
I-16 under surfaces
Bottom view of the I-16 model. Details of landing gear struts and wheel wells are clearly visible.
Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

1 of 4