Kit: No. 1026
Manufacturer: Encore, Squadron Mail Order, 1115 Crowley Dr., Carrollton, TX 75011-5010, &972-242-8663
Comments: Injection molded, 112 parts, decals.
Often compared to the Douglas A-26, but designed to counter Germany's Ju 88, the Tupolev Tu-2 forged a place in history as the Soviet Union's most capable medium bomber during the last part of World War II. Like the Invader family, variants remained in service and production after WWII - long enough, in fact, to earn the NATO code name Bat.
Manufactured by Ukraine's ICM, Encore's kit features dark green and clear styrene parts. While easy to cut and sand, the plastic fractures easily. It also bonds slowly with Testor liquid cement, but Tenax 7R quickly and solidly fuses joints.
The level of detail is outstanding, with complete interiors and separate control surfaces. Exterior surfaces feature fine, beautifully executed, raised scribing. It's so petite that thick paint can obscure detail. Every piece had flash, demanding tedious removal, especially on small parts. My sample had a lot of oily mold release on the parts, and the cloudy canopies needed a dip in Future floor polish.
Decals for three Tu-2s are beautifully printed. The instructions include parts maps, a paint guide (with FS and Humbrol reference numbers), and small two-view drawings for painting and marking options. Some of the color notes are curious, calling for light gray machine guns and gunmetal crew flight suits. Also, color callout "R" on the exhaust collector rings is not included in the color list; use a rusty metallic here.
The breakdown of the parts seems to follow the construction of the real Tu-2. It starts out complicated and assembly problems are compounded by warped parts. The double wing-spar assembly provides mounts for the landing gear, wing, and nacelles. You'll need an extra set of hands to fit the cockpit to the spars and between the fuselage halves.
In step 5, the landing-gear mounting brackets prevent attachment of main spar C35. Instead, with the previously completed rear spar and interior assembly, you separately wrestle it into place between the fuselage halves. Only then can you glue it to the floorboard (C28).
Grow even more hands to build the 20-piece wing/nacelle assemblies: Again, everything has to be built around the two mounting spars. The parts here fit poorly. The exhaust collector rings were too big, so I cut off the projecting stacks and pitched the rest.
My outboard wing panels were warped, as were the rear fuselage components. The resulting filling and sanding destroyed much of the fine surface detail. Topside B17 and underside B4 help establish the shape of the rear fuselage, so install them before adding the tail wheel and other small parts.
The main gear assemblies are complex, and fragile once finished. I found it easier to attach the retraction strut anchors C19 to retraction struts C18 during main gear installation.
You can't attach the dorsal machine guns without significantly enlarging the glazing openings. Encore's clear plastic is brittle, and the enclosures are easily fractured.
I painted my Bat with Floquil Classic Military colors and Polly Scale acrylics following the pattern on the tiny drawings; I had to guess at the right-side pattern as none is provided. My model represents the three-color Pacific Fleet Tu-2 in November 1946. A wartime Soviet and postwar Polish trainer complete the sheet's selections. I used the old Air Enthusiast No. 4 for my main reference, and Bill Gunston's Encyclopedia of Russian Aircraft 1875-1995 provided a helpful history with photos. The finished model measures within a few scale inches of actual dimensions.
I spent 50 hours on this project, triple my usual for a kit this size. Poor fit and overly complicated assembly make this a project for expert builders.
- David L. Veres