What to do with a bad kit

I picked up this 1/72 scale IL-2 by Airfix several weeks ago and was pretty disappointed with what was inside the box. As much as I enjoy Airfix, I’m not going to blow smoke up your ass and say they are without fault. This is one of their very early kits, and it while it fits very well for an old kit, it isn’t very accurate.

old shcool modeling - recently re-released by Airfix

Now Airfix is generally not known for including a lot of fine detail into their kits, but for the most part, their kits are pretty accurate in shape and dimension. Not so with the IL-2. The fuselage is pretty spot on, but the kit does not have the characteristic swept wing of the prototype.  Nevertheless, this kit can be a fun build, and that what being an Airfix Junkie is all about, right?

Of course I’m right!

So what to do? I can just build it as is and have a funky looking Il-2, I can use the kit for practice painting, I can throw it out (not an option), or I can throw caution to the wind and turn this into a fictional aircraft…who needs accuracy when you’ve got imagination?

Imagination and strip styrene that is.

various sizes of styrene should be a part of every modeling toolkit. They're cheap and available at most hobby and craft stores

So I thought to myself, what can I do with this thing? I’m a big fan of nightfighters, and I always thought that the IL-2 would make a good platform for a radar equipped interceptor. As far as I know, this was never done, but its within the realm of possibility.

So here is what I envision: The Il-2N.

The IL-2n is a postwar development incorporating the rugged Soviet aircraft with radar and weapons technology “acquired” from captured Nazi aircraft in the Soviet push to the west. The aircraft features a wing mounted A/I radar and revised armament. The wing guns have been removed to conserve weight, while the rear gun position is replaced with two obliquely  firing 20 mm cannon, much in the fashion of German Schraggmusik. To counterweight the heavy radar pod on the starboard wing at take-off, a large drop tank is fixed to the port wing, effectively increasing the range of the aircraft and increasing its patrol-time in turn. Exhausts shrouds are fitted to the exhaust, and the canopy is modified to accept the 20 mm cannons. Camouflage is based on German mottle patterns which proved effective during WW II.

This kit involves a few simple conversions. So follow along as we turn a sub-par IL-2 into something interesting, and put an old kit to good use.

I began by converting the wings. This was pretty simple and involves cutting off the wing root siren and cannon stubs, and then sanding those areas smooth. I also plugged up the shell ejection chutes in the bottom wing with plastic-card, and modeled the simplified landing gear in the closed position. None of this is rocket science; but for the neophytes among us, this involved gluing the gear legs and wheels into the gear bay, and then covering them with the gear doors included in the kit. Since these are a bit too short to fully close. I cut larger doors from styrene strips by measuring the dimensions of the openings and then glued them over the kit doors. In the photo below one wing is painted black to show where putty will be needed to smooth things out and shape the contours of the new doors.

the gear doors are now ready to be contoured and faired into the shape of the gear wells

Since the photo was taken I have attached the ailerons and top halves of the wing. The next step will be the fuselage assembly. Stay tuned.


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