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Polikarpov I-152 (I-15 bis)


Classic Airframes


S u m m a r y

Catalogue Number : 455
Scale: 1/48
Price: USD$39.95 RRP (USD $33.96 from Squadron.com)
Contents and Media: Low-pressure injection plastic - 43 grey styrene and 4 clear vacform windshields. 14 parts in pale cream-colored resin. 2 etched metal parts. Decal sheet. Instructions and painting guide for approximately 8 aircraft options.
Review Type: FirstLook
Advantages: Another minor player in the history of aviation given its due, and in the markings of one of the smaller air forces. Crisp, but restrained engraved pane lines and wing fabric and ribbing; excellent resin parts with resin skis; clear parts to do two different style windshields; excellent quality decals; clear instructions.
Disadvantages: Molding blocks on bottom of skis, and flash on wings.
Recommendation: Highly Recommended for moderate to experienced modelers who enjoy modeling the footnotes of WW-2 aviation.


Reviewed by Steven Eisenman

Classic Airframes' 1/48 scale Arado Ar 68 is available online from Squadron.com




The Polikarpov I-152 (AKA, I-15 bis) was a continuation in the line of Polikarpov biplanes beginning with the I-5 and ending with the I-153. It was an attempt to improve upon the I-15 by replacing the upper gull wing of the I-15, which was complex to manufacture and restricted the pilot’s vision, with the traditional biplane separate upper wing and improve the engine performance. But the performance of the I-153 suffered in comparison to the older I-15 as a result of increased weight.

The I-152 served with a number of combatant air forces, in addition to the Soviet Air Force. During the Spanish Civil War, both the Republican and Nationalist Air Forces used the I-152. So also did the Chinese Air Force and the Finnish Air Force. As was often the case, the Finns received their Russian aircraft as a result of capture following a forced landing. The Finns acquired five I-152s and used them primarily as trainers.





Once again Classic Airframes takes a risk to issue a kit that none of the larger main stream manufacturers would most likely issue. The I-152 is boxed in two versions. The only difference between Kit No. 454 and 455 is that, for a few more dollars, Kit No. 455 comes with a lovely pair of resin skis, and the appropriate markings. The marking included two Russian aircraft in dark olive green over light blue-gray with the early style black outlined red star with the inner black circle. One of these aircraft, red 173, was captured by the Finns and became VH-11 in the Finnish Air Force.

The Finnish markings will allow you to do a variety of aircraft. Although the Finns only had five, they changed the markings and designations over time. You can begin with VH-11 in plain dark olive green over light blue-gray and move on to VH-4 or IH-5 in the same basic color, but with the addition of yellow underside upper wing tips and fuselage band. Finally, there IH-2 in the classic Continuation War color scheme of black, dark olive green, and blue-gray with the yellow underside upper wing tips, fuselage band and cowl. On this last aircraft, I do not know whether the black was applied over the existing green or whether the aircraft was totally repainted. If it was repainted, the greens and blue may have been different. The green being less drab and more green and the underside being closer to RLM 65. There are enough letters and numbers on the decal sheet to do whatever Finnish aircraft you want to do.



Construction appears to be straight forward and very similar to precious CA kits. The cockpit is finely done in resin and includes the upper machine gun breaches that intruded into the cockpit. The lower wings are butt joined to the fuselage and, as the instructions indicate, some dihedral must be incorporated. However, the upper wing is molded in a single span and does appear to have the appropriate dihedral across the span. This will be of some aid in setting the dihedral for the lower wings. Both upper and lower wings have well defined attachment points for the inter-plane struts, which also have small points for attachment. The under side of the lower wings appears to have attachment points for bomb harnesses, but none are included in the kit. The little indents are so small that they can be left alone, or filled in if you wanted. It appears that Soviet red 173, which became Finnish VH-11 which was renumbered to VH-2 had the small bomb harnesses.

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Unlike the previously issued I-153, the I-152 comes with an etched metal front for the cowling. This will allow you to model the adjustable engine shutters in any position you want, from full open to full closed.

The kit also comes with options for the spinner cap. It appears that Soviet red 173 / Finnish VH-11 had the spinner cap in place. But when VH-11 was renumbered to VH-2 and had the yellow wing tips and fuselage band applied, the spinner cap was removed. Most likely the Finns removed the spinner cap, if one was in place, soon after capture.

The kit also comes with two different styles of windshields. One with a flat front portion and another with the curved front. What few references I have seem to indicate that the curved windshield was used predominately on the I-152. For landing gear the kit has three options: open and covered wheels and skis.

The skis, of the “hump-back” style, are nicely done resin. (Note: some I-152 in Soviet service were equipped with the “flat” style skis, so you will need to check your references if doing an aircraft different than the kit markings.) A molding block on the bottom will require careful removal.



To attach the skis you need to cut the gear leg and glue on a piece of shaped plastic rod included in the kit. For better support, you may want to use a piece of metal rod instead. You will also need to fabricated the stabilizing straps on the front and rear of the skis. The beautiful illustration on the box lid show these very well.





Once again Classic Airframes fills in the small spaces left by others in depicting the history of aircraft in 1/48 scale models. This kit, or its brother Kit No. 454, will make an excellent and interesting addition to any model collection. Certainly the I-152 in early Finnish makings will look great next to my Classic Airframes I-153 in Continuation War camouflage.

I am usually a total mess at doing biplanes, but as was the case with the I-153 and the CR-42, I find that these early war biplanes with the simplified inter-plane struts to be quite manageable. I highly recommend this kit to any modeler who has at least moderate proficiency working with limited run multi-media kits, or a modeler who wants to step up to try to do one.

If you are at all interested in the Polikarpov biplane fighter, I would also recommend that you get the Squadron/Signal Polikarpov Fighters in Action Pt. 1.

Thanks to Jules Bringuier of Classic Airframes for the review sample.

Classic Airframes kits are available worldwide through hobby retailers and at Squadron.com

Review Text and Images Copyright © 2002 by Steven Eisenman
Page Created 26 December, 2002
Last updated 22 July, 2003

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