This is more a look at the content of the Royal Class I-16 box than a full review. If you want to have more info about the kit (overall quality, accuracy and test fitting), please read the article written by Rowan Baylis wich includes a full build report: Eduard 1/48 Polikarpov I-16 Type 10 review
Eduard's I-16 Royal Class triple kit comes in a huge box with three Polikarpovs represented on the top cover (picture 1). Obviously, the layout was copied from the previously released Fokker D.VII Royal Class box and I hope it will become the standard packaging for the forthcoming editions as the black background and the simple design is quite appealing.
Of course, when you open such a big box, you are submerged by a feeling of opulence (picture 2). There are so many plastic bags that it is complicated to get all the content on the "review table" for an overall view! (picture 3) If you take a closer look at the plastic sprues (picture 4), you will notice there are not six fuselage halves (for three models) but four, and also that four underwing parts are present in the set. This promises to be a real puzzle for the build of the various types of the plane, but more on that later.
the plastic parts
Let us start by what is simple: in one bag you have three identical plastic trees with detail parts labeled E
(picture 5) and in another bag three more sprues, with the cowling and propeller parts, labeled F
(picture 6). For each model, you will use both the parts located on the E
sprues independently of the variant (Type).
Things get complicated with the fuselage halves! There are two identical sprues labeled B
for the Type-10 or Type-17 variants (picture 7), two left fuselage halves labeled J
for the Type-18 or Type-24 variants, one right fuselage half on sprue K
for the Type-18 (picture 9) and one separate right fuselage half labeled I
for the Type-24 (picture 10). When you look at the fuselage halves, it's like playing a "find the differences" game. Sometimes, the only detail wich differs is a missing panel line! I know some manufacturers who would have asked the modeler to fill or rescribe the panel line rather than producing extra parts.
For the wings, there are 10 parts in total and none of them are similar! On picture 11, you can see the underwings of the Type-18 (above) and Type-24 (below), and on picture 12, the underwings of the Type-17 (above) and Type-10 (below). In this case, the differences are more obvious than on the fuselage halves. The exhaust openings for example have various designs. Other variations, and this is also the case for the upper wings, are the locations and shape of the access panels to the armament. According to the markings on the sprues, Picture 13 shows a Type-10/18 upper wing half, picture 14 the correct one for the Type-24 and picture 15 the one to use for the Type-17. Now if you look closely, you will notice the Type-10/18 and Type-17 upper wings are identical. This may be a detail right now, but you will see later that it is very important!
Two more injected plastic sprues will allow you to do a nice 1/16 scale figure of famous Ace Boris F. Safonov (picture 16). The kit looks very nice and includes photo etched detail parts. If you never tried to build or paint a figure, this could be a first step into this speciality.
Now that we have auscultated all the plastic parts, let's see what bonuses the Royal Box as to offer:
First, let me mention three pairs of resin wheels (picture 17) wich are much more detailled than the injected ones of the original kit (manufacturer markings, air valves, rivets etc...). There are also various bags with photo etched details parts and masks (picture 18). Two big decal sheets (picture 19 and 20) are provided and will give you the choice between 12 decorations (see below). A nice A4 size instruction booklet (picture 21) will guide you through the sometimes complex assembly due to the many variants. It is to note that Eduard have abandoned the 3D computer graphics for more common drawings (picture 22), and I must confess I'm happy they did! Another bonus are the 14 (!?) marking options of the kit (picture 23 and 24). On the box it is written the decals provided would give you the possibility to depict 12 different aircraft but I've checked it out and there are two more, even if one doesn't uses decals at all. One very nice addition is the replica of the Red Army Guards badge (picture 25). I know it must not have cost a fortune to produce such an item but it will definitely look good aside a finished model. Finally, the whole collection of IL-2 Flight Simulator games (for PC only) is included in the Royal Class box (picture 26). If you never played with that game, let me warn you: It is addictive! I remember returning to the modelling hobby partly because of this Flight Simulator, because I wanted to model the planes I flew with (I started with the P-39... from Eduard!). The game will allow you to fly a huge number of WW2 aircraft over the Russian, European and Pacific skies.
What is possible and what's not...
With 14 marking options, 8 fuselage halves, 4 different bottom wings and 6 upper wing halves, one could imagine all is possible... well not exactely!
You can, of course, do each variant proposed: Type-10, Type-17, Type-18 and Type-24. But you can't make two models of the same variant. There are for example 8 markings for the Type-10. This means, if you choose to do the earliest Polikarpov, that you won't be able to build a Republican and a Nationalist plane at the same time! It is the one or the other, not both. So if you want to do several Spanish Civil War I-16s, don't buy the Royal Class box as it will allow to build only one! The same is true if you want to do two Chinese Type-10s or if you want to do one Chinese and one Spanish aircraft. For the Type 17/18/24 there are only two options for each.
Fortunately, some variants share the same upper wing halves. This means that one choice won't necessarily eliminate an other variant. The Type 10/17/18 having the same upper wings, you can do two of them out of the three... but not all of them at the same time! If the Type-17 upper wings had been different, it would have been impossible to display a Type-10 and 18 side by side. Using the kit's parts straight out of the box, here are the possible combinations:
- Type-10 + Type-18 + Type-24
- Type-17 + Type-18 + Type-24
- Type-10 + Type-17 + Type-24
You can notice the Type-24 is the only variant you can't avoid because of the additional upper wing panels. Though sanding them smooth would backdate them and possibly allow you to build the Type-10 + Type-17 + Type-18 combination. But that's surgery...
It seems the people at Eduard like to test reviewers. I was about to write the conclusion as I noticed a few errors in the instructions about the wings. These errors were repeated in the color profiles to add even more confusion!
I scanned through my (few) references and came to the conclusion that the Type indications on the sprues are correct. Therefore, in the assembly instruction on page 3, Eduard made the following errors: it is written the fuselage assembly for the type-18 is Part J+I but you must read J+K2. For the type-24 it is written to use the parts J+K2 but you must replace this by J+I. The difference is an additional access panel on the right fuselage side for the later variant wich is present on part I (Type-24 is written on the sprue of that single part).
Furthermore, page 5, Eduard inverted the Type-18 with the Type-24 wings. It is written part A1 (underwing) and A2+A3 (upperwings) belong to Type-18 and K1 and H1+H2 belong to Type-24. In fact it's the contrary! Parts A1+A2+A3 have the additional panels for the later variant (Type-24 is written on the sprue). For the Type 10 and 17 wings, the instructions are correct.
In the color and marking instructions, all the Type-10 wings are correct but the Type-17 and Type 18 are depicted with Type-24 underwings (additional panels) and correct upper wings (no panels).The Type-24 instead is shown with the wrong early type upperwings (no panels) and an underwing design wich is not present at all in the kit! My advice would be the following: concentrate on the colors and the decal's placement and simply forget about the aircraft's differences!
Despite the aformentioned "typos" in the instructions, Eduard's new Royal Class box is another kit of superlatives. The quality is excellent and there are many bonuses wich makes this set very good value for money. Of course you must be a fan of Polikarpov's famous little fighter but with so many colorful decorations, the possibilities are endless. With the spare parts you can even build a destroyed fuselage, a common sight during operation Barbarossa and spice up any VVS diorama.
I hope Eduard will continue to produce such "special editions" and I'm looking forward to see a Fw 190 Royal Class box... without the typos in the instructions of course!
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