During the World War 2, Ilyushins flying tank design, the Il-2 “Sturmovik”, became a legend over the battlefields of Eastern Europe, similar to what the A-10 is now to the US troops on ground. Feared by Germans and cheered by Soviet troops, it was part of technological equipment, like the T-34 tank, that helped Soviets defeat the Germans. More than 32.000 airframes of different versions were built, making it the most numerously built military aircraft in history.
In 1950s, with the advent of jet age, a requirement for jet version of Sturmovik appeared and Ilyushin responded with the design called Il-40, which was ordered into service, but unfortunately Soviet Air Forces changed doctrine and opted for tactical nukes, making the Il-40s role redundant and the order was cancelled after 5 production aircraft completed.
Fast forward into ’60s, VVS analyzed the Close Air Support capabilities and noticed that the existing fast jets in VVS inventory like Su-7,-17, MiG-21,-23 were too fast for such role as well as not being armored and consequently too vulnerable. A bid was released for a new CAS aircraft and both Ilyushin and Sukhoi responded to it. Ilyushin OKB decided on revamping their Il-40 design from the ’50s while Sukhoi started with a fresh new designed labeled T-8. The later’s progress was much faster and Soviet MoD decided for it, and the series production of Su-25 started in 1978. Ilyushin apparently struggled with their design as the first flight of Il-102 happened in 1982, when Su-25 was already in operational use for a few years.
Il-102 carried on a tradition from Il-2 days – rear gunner, operating a remote tail gun, thick wings with bomb bays, 3 on each wing and heavy armament and multiple redundant systems for increasing the chances of survivability. The crew was equipped with modern K-36 ejection seats and the aircraft was powered by non-afterburning Klimov RD-33s, same engine as used on MiG-29. The aircraft made 367 flights in the span of 5 years and was grounded since then. It has been however shown publicly in 1992 at MosAeroShow and marketed as available for export. Needless to say, no contracts were signed and the sole remaining prototype was moved as a gate guard to the entrance of Gromov Research Institute at Zhukovski air base.
Until the release of A&A Models Il-102, the only Il-102 kit available was Anigrand resin one. While resembling the real aircraft, it was relatively simplified but because of the media, expensive and hard to work with. Having injection-moulded kit, albeit of short-run nature promised a lot, especially coming from a subsidiary company of Modelsvit, a company which in my view, has redefined what a “short-run” model is in 21st century.
The kit, however, is not made up to such high standards, but before you loose hope, let me explain first. During the construction, I got this feeling that this kit was made by two different companies; certain parts have lots of fine details and finely scribed panel lines (wings, main gear gondolas, gun mount!, most of the smaller details, weapons), while others have a more classic short-run feel to them – big chunks of plastic and wider panel lines (engine gondolas, fuselage). The result is a mixed difficulty build that will definitely require more skill and experience.
Cockpits are simple but have all the necessary visual detail and finely printed decals for side consoles and walls and of course for instrument panel. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of photos of cockpits available to provide a modeller with some extra detailing references. K-36s are 20+ part “models in a model” that will be familiar to anyone, who has built any of the recent Modelsvit models.
Landing gear details are excellent – struts are reasonably accurate, but the gear wells exceed with all the structural details as well as all the required actuator arms for the complex multi-part door assembly. Engine gondolas are designed in way to show the full length of the intakes and exhausts but unfortunately the fit was bad and after several sessions of puttying and cleaning I gave up and made simple engine intake covers.
You’ve got an option to either show bomb bays closed or open. If you choose later, you have to cut the doors out, but A&A scribed the guide lines for you and you just have to follow the scriber on those lines and you’ll have a perfect cut in no time. You get all the weapons to build her, as she was seen at MosAeroShow in 1992 – 6x FAB-250 bombs for bomb bays and 6x UB-32 rocket launchers with two external fuel tanks as well as the weapons that were posed in front of the aircraft – 2x R-60 and 2x R-73 short range air-to-air missiles and 2x B-8M and 2x B-13L rocket launchers.
Il-102 is a very interesting and obscure aircraft and A&A models did a good job representing it. It is not a kit for beginner modeller, but with a little bit of skill and patience, can be built into a fine scale replica. Compared to the only resin alternative in the market, it is a quantum leap ahead in terms of both accuracy and details.
Thanks to A&A Models for the review sample!
Step-by-step build: https://vvsmodelling.com/2020/04/27/aa-models-172-ilyushin-il-102-build-article/
Company: A&A Models
Aftermarket: A-squared ASQ72006 Soviet Aviation Sights with HUD
Paints used: Mr.Paint
Camouflage: MRP-018 AMT-7 Grey Blue, MRP-368 Earth Yellow FS30257, MRP-178 Mid Green, MRP-101 Dark Green FS34079, MRP-005 Basic Black
Other details: MRP-173 Tire-Rubber Matt, MRP-040 Dark Grey, MRP-042 Red, MRP-051 RLM04 Yellow, MRP-186 Light Grey, MRP-009 White Aluminum, MRP-147 Burnt Iron, MRP-148 Exhaust Metal, MRP-152 Pale Burnt Metal)