While Ilyushin might be more familiar in the aviation world as a producer of passenger aircraft, it is at the same time the OKB that created the most produced military aircraft design of all time – the Il-2 and its successor the Il-10 which were produced in more than 42.000 examples.
Although Il-10s performed well in the jet infested Korean skies, it was soon becoming clear that dedicated close air support (CAS) jet striker was needed. This resulted in the odd looking Il-40 ‘Brawny’. While the first design was pretty ordinary with side mounted intakes and nose mounted guns (first flight in 1953), the latters gases caused irregular engines operation and the further prototypes were modified and resembled double barrel shotguns (MY IL-40 BUILD). Soviet leadership’s obssesion with nuclear weapons caused cancellation of this project but apparently the blueprints were kept. Fast forward to the late 1960s. Soviet Air Forces issued a specification for new CAS aircraft and while Sukhoi designed a new aircraft, the T-8 (later becoming Su-25), Ilyushin revised an Il-40 and redesignated it as Il-42. When the Sukhoi was chosen, Ilyushin kept on developing the aircraft, which was later redesignated as Il-102 and took to the air for the first time in 1982. In two years it made 250 test flights after which the engines (RD-33I, non-afterburning version of MiG-29s) expired. It is still beyond belief to me, that they still marketed the aircraft for export at 1992 MosAeroshow at Zhukovsky.
Before the A&A Models released Il-102 last year, the only other kit on the market was Anigrand’s resin version. Despite A&A being a short run company, building one in styrene compared to resin, will certainy be an easier endavour not to mention cheaper.
The kit comes in a sturdy enough top opening box, packed full of plastic. Beware, Il-102 is not a small aircraft. Light grey plastic features engraved panel lines but no rivets, which is a pity, as these CAS aircraft are usually heavily riveted in the back (same goes for A-10 and Su-25). A little flash is present as well as plenty of sprue attachment points, so clean up will mandatory. However the details are very well and remind me of earlier Modelsvit models (newer ones are crazy good). Talking of Modelsvit, A&A Models are actually a budget sub brand of Modelsvit so you can expect some good practices the parent company has evolved over the years. The inclusion of wheel hub and canopy masks is one of such nice touches, some small photo-etched details, the other and we are treated to Modelsvit’s K-36 seats of more than 20 pieces each. Optional open (2-piece) or closed canopies (single piece) is also a great addition. Cockpits and wheel bays have nice details that should look really great when painted and weathered.
A&A also includes a huge arsenal of weapons – 2xR-60 and 2xR-73 air-to-air missiles, two external fuel tanks, 2xB-13L, 2xB-8M and 6xUB-32 rocket launchers as well as 6x FAB-250 free fall bombs, along with a dorsal gun armament. Il-102 was fitted with three external pylons approximately mid wing and it retained from the Il-2 times the bomb bays on the inner part of the wings – 3 small bomb bays holding one bomb each. A&A decided to close the doors, BUT! But they actually thinned the part of the wing where the doors are located, made details to the interior of the opposite wing and provided all the bomb bay sidewalls and doors if you decide to build them open.
The instructions appear pretty straightforward though the true test, of course, will be the actual build of the model. There is only one marking option, the sand/green/dark green with light blue undersides, which appeared at 1992 MosAeroshow with minimal markings. Paint codes are given for Humbrol line.
Thanks to A&A Models for review sample and stay tuned for the review build in the very near future.