Despite the fearsome reputation of the Il-2 Sturmovik on the Eastern Front, as early as 1943 the VVS began to actively seek a more modern replacement. Sukhoi and Ilyushin submitted three proposals, the Su-6, Il-8 and Il-10, the latter being chosen despite some sources deeming Sukhoi's entry superior in competitive trials.
Looking very much like a cleaned-up Sturmovik, the Il-10 was in fact a totally new design, much more compact and considerably faster. Deliveries began to training units in October 1944 and the type entered operational service the following January. Il-10s participated in the final push into Germany and the subsequent attack against Japanese forces in the Far East, going on to become the standard Soviet ground attack aircraft until the mid '50s. Il-10s were supplied throughout the Warsaw pact and were used with considerable initial success by communist forces in the Korean War. The Il-10 was also produced under licence in Czechoslovakia as the Avia B-33, not fully retiring until the early 1960s.
As the quality of Special Hobby kits has risen steadily over the years, it's inevitable that modellers' expectations would increase accordingly – perhaps unrealistically at times. The release of their 1:48 Avia B.33 (Czech-built Il-10) last year served as something of a reminder that these are limited run kits that can't match the "majors" for precision. If the model had appeared 10 years ago, it would probably have been hailed as little short of miraculous – as it was, the reception in some quarters ranged between frosty and downright hostile.
Perhaps that's one reason that the follow-up Il-10 has taken a little while to appear. Not having had a chance to examine the original kit, I was intrigued to see what all the fuss was about. But first, back to basics…
Special Hobby's Il-10 is well presented in a good quality conventional box. All the sprues and accessories are bagged separately, and an etched part is sealed in on the reverse side of the decal sheet. The kit comprises:
96 x grey styrene parts ( 22 spare)
9 x clear styrene parts
26 x beige resin parts
80 x etched brass parts, plus printed film for the instrument faces
Decals for 4 x colour schemes
The parts in the sample kit are cleanly moulded with no real problem with flash. I found a couple of small sink marks, and there are a few ejector pin marks to take care of but, generally, clean-up should be pretty quick for a short-run kit. The surface finish varies – mostly satin-smooth, but very shiny on areas such as the nose. A quick overall polish won't go amiss to deal with a few small blemishes and scuff marks. The panel line detailing is very nicely done indeed, with delicate engraving and lightly embossed rivets and fasteners. Fabric surfaces are always a strongpoint of Special Hobby kits and the Il-10 is no exception, with a very nice subtle effect that should look great painted.
Two areas came in for particular criticism in the first release – the fuselage and the wings.
As was discovered when modellers began building the Avia B-33 version, the two fuselage halves are slightly different lengths. Looking at the current sample, a first I couldn't see what all the fuss was about; the panel lines all match up on the nose and, with a little help, so do those on the rear fuselage. The problem is, in doing that, the whole fuselage curves to starboard. OK, try again, starting at the tail this time… same result. Relax everything and the fuselage is straight, but the starboard half is shorter than the port one. The difference is only 1mm or so, but left uncorrected, it throws the tailplanes out of alignment (and the trailing edge of the wingroot to a lesser extent) if you line up the nose, or the exhausts if you start at the tail.
Scaling down the quoted dimensions from the instructions, the starboard half seems to be almost exactly the correct length. The disparity seems to occur in the cockpit area, which is a really awkward place to do any surgery as it will mess up the wing roots. I think the "simplest" place to make a correction is at the panel line immediately ahead of the tail section, taking out a thin slice of the port half. This will mean minimal rescribing and minor reshaping of the port wing root fillet.
Turning to the rest of the model, the wings in the sample kit are no problem at all. They are moulded nice and straight and just need the trailing edges thinning for a better appearance. The wingroots are a good match for the aerofoil, but the full-span lower section is an extremely tight fit as moulded, so some filing and filling are going to be needed. The tailplanes are pretty good – the chord and airfoil match nicely, just requiring a touch of work to get the best fit.
A few details
The cockpit is quite nice and busy, with over 60 parts in a mix of mainly styrene, with etched and resin details. The main instrument panel is excellent with multi-layered metal with film inserts for the instruments, so it's slightly surprising that a similar fascia for the side console isn't provided. A nice set of harnesses are included for the pilot, along with a sling-seat for the gunner. One of the highlights must surely be the resin gun for the rear cockpit, which is beautifully modelled and cast.
The inside of the canopy is detailed with tiny etched grab handles, but many modellers will be disappointed that it's moulded firmly closed, so much of the interior detail will be hidden. Still, it's nice and clear, with crisply defined framing.
The wings feature boxed-in bomb-bays and wheel wells. If previous short-run kits are anything to go by, be prepared to do a bit of work making sure they don't interfere with the fit of the wing panels. The main undercarriage looks straightforward with sturdy gear legs and extremely well detailed wheels (the hubs and tyres are outstanding). The tailwheel is again quite nice, but where to attach it is vague to say the least. The info-view provided shows the gear-leg only touching the lip of its well, so I'll definitely add an internal mount for a stronger joint.
4 x bombs are provided, each comprising a styrene body with etched brass tail fins. I found a small sink mark on one bomb-half, but the overall effect with the delicate fins should look very good. The brass fret comes into play again for the exterior of the wings, since the original engraved panel lines are for the B-33 variant. Therefore these must be filled and new etched access panels applied. Obviously, the original kit's detailing was flush with the wing surface, but the metal is quite thin and flexible, so the new panels shouldn't sit too proud, and may actually add to the beefy look of the airframe.
The propeller features separate blades with locating pins to ensure they are set at the correct pitch on the backing plate. The spinner is cleanly moulded with a fitting for an external starter and looks a good fit to the nose.
Instructions & Decals
The instructions are clearly illustrated as a 2-page A-5 booklet, with the construction broken down into 18 stages. The sequence is logical and Gunze Sangyo paint matches are keyed to most details.
Decals are provided for 4 colour schemes, illustrated in black & white in the instructions. Colour versions of the diagrams are available online
A. Il-10, "White 2", unknown unit, VVS, 1945.
B. Il-10, "Blue 6/Red 18", unknown unit, VVS, 1945.
C. Il-10, 108th Guards Assault Aviation Regiment, VVS, 1945.
D. Il-10, "Red 1", probably 2nd Assault Aviation Regiment, VVS, 1950.
The decals are beautifully printed in perfect register by Aviprint.
Special Hobby's Il-10 looks quite a challenging kit due to the problem with the fuselage. Modellers used to earlier short-run kits will probably take this in their stride as just part of what you sign up for in such kits, but I less experienced builders are likely to struggle to get a neat result. Overall though, I'd say it'll definitely be worth the effort, and the Il-10 is guaranteed to stand out in a collection of the more common Sturmoviks, particularly in its wartime camouflage, which I have to admit I find far more appealing than the post-war schemes for the B.33.
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