Poplikarpov Art

I’m so behind on updates… And I really don’t care. This is a blog about a hobby and a hobby is meant to be enjoyed and taken at one’s leisure. As such, the updates will come when they come. I still need to finish (or start, actually) building a better setup for taking pictures. Until then, you’re just going to hear a whole bunch of in-progress reports without seeing much finished product.  
Lately, I’ve been working on a 1:72 Poplikarpov I-16. It’s made by a little Ukrainian company called "ICM", and it has the most unnecessary detail I’ve ever seen in a model of this scale. The completely engine is built up, with panels being applied around it. This is unlike the "traditional" approach of a 1:72 airplane fuselage, where it’s just two halves glued together. Each exhaust pipe is its own separate piece. And if you’re familiar with this aircraft, you realize how tiny and detailed that is. Of course, it didn’t assemble without a hitch, so I had to make some modifications to the kit in order to make it work, but that’s okay. It’s coming along nicely.
The Poplikarpov I-16 is a pretty unique aircraft. When the prototype flew in 1933, it was the most advanced aircraft in the world. Retractable landing gear, good speed, and great maneuverability–if the pilot could take advantage of it. Because of a variety of reasons, it was a notoriously difficult aircraft to fly, but good pilots could make a serious advantage of it. In fact, it was such a good aircraft that the Soviet Union continued to fly it against the Germans until 1943 when it was finally replaced.
I’ve decided to paint and mark my I-16 in the same manner as the I-16 Type 24 (or some sources say Type 18–depending on who you ask) of Boris Safonov–the first man to be decorated twice as a Hero Of The Soviet Union before his death in May of 1942. Safonov was regarded by both friend and enemy pilots as one of the most skilled aviators of his era. Flying over 200 combat missions, he was the first Soviet ace to personally destroy more than thirty enemy aircraft. As a result, he has been decorated with the Order of the Red Banner (twice), medal of the Gold Star (twice), the Order of Lenin, the Order of the Red Banner (three times) and Hero of the Soviet Union (twice).
Ironically, he died while flying an American P-40E Kittyhawk that the Americans had given his flying group (remember–we were all the Allies against the German threat in those days). It is widely believed that he died not from combat, but from a mechanical failure of his aircraft–which was very common. The Russian pilots jokingly called the P-40E the "miracle among the gliders" if that tells you anything about their engine problems.
Going back to the I-16, Safonov–like several other well-known Soviet pilots–decorated his planes with personal graffiti. The most well-known markings had "За Сталина!" on the left side. This is pronounced "Za Stalina!", which translates to "For Stalin!". On the right side, there was "Смерть фашистов!" And that’s pronounced "SMERT’ FASHISTAM!", which translates as "Death to Fascists!" Gotta love it. I seem to be drawn to those planes that display more personal markings, and this one is no exception.
It’s almost done. I hope to have it done in time for the local club meeting this Saturday. We’re supposed to bring our "summer project" kits, and I’d like to have more finished than unfinished kits on-hand. So, to sum it all up, I’m working on a cute-but-difficult little Russian plane–as flown by one of the most well-known Russian aviators of World War II.

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