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    IPMS/USA :: Zvezda 1/72 Petlyakov PE-8

    History

    The Petlyakov PE-8 prototype first appeared in December, 1936, although
    production models only went into service in 1940. Powered by four Mikulin
    AM-35A liquid cooled V-12 engines rated at 1,350 hp. each, the production
    PE-8 (known to Americans as TB-7) was 77 ft. 5 in. long and had a wing
    span of 128 ft. 3 in, considerably larger than the contemporary Boeing
    B-17. Armed with three powered turrets and two precariously mounted gun
    positions aft of the inboard engine nacelles (No. 2 and 3 engines), it was
    an advanced design at the time of its introduction. Featuring a maximum
    speed of 276 mph., the PE-8 was intended as a long range bomber, carrying
    8,800 lbs. of bombs, although some could carry an 11,000 lb.
    "blockbuster".

    Although a promising design, the PE-8 was not produced in large numbers,
    the VVS high command apparently thinking that emphasis should be given to
    the development of tactical rather than strategic types. Between 1936 and
    1944, between 93 to 96 examples were completed. Although the major
    variants were powered by Mikulin liquid cooled engines, some examples were
    equipped with 1,850 hp. Shvetsov radials or Charomski M-30B or M-40 diesel
    engines. Neither of these variants was successful, and in general, the
    type was not developed to its potential. Although it was used for nuisance
    raids on Berlin starting in 1941, and for tactical operations against the
    German Army at Stalingrad and Kursk, its main claim to fame appears to be
    its epic May, 1942 flight from Russia through German controlled territory
    to London and Washington, D.C., carrying Foreign Minister Molotov for his
    highly publicized talks with British and American government officials
    concerning the opening up of a Second Front against the Germans.

    The Kit

    Consisting of seven sprues of light grey plastic parts and one sprue to
    clear parts, one intrepid reviewer counted 270 parts, and I'll take his
    word, since I could assemble another in the time it would take to count
    them. This kit is a very high quality item, with almost no flash and only
    a very few almost unnoticeable sink marks in places easy to repair. The
    kit features finely engraved panel lines, realistic fabric detail, and
    clear transparent parts. There are a few parts that will not be used, as
    they will probably produce a radial engine version before long. Something
    I haven't seen in years is the provision of little crew figures. I left
    them out. Apparently, this airplane has been kitted before in 1/72 scale,
    with a vacuform offering a few years back, and an A-Model injection molded
    kit of the Shvetsov-powered radial engine version selling for $128.00 USD.
    From the in-box review of the A-Model kit, my impression is that the
    Zvezda kit is definitely superior, and certainly more reasonably priced.
    Although I don't have a 1/72 scale drawing of the airplane, the kit
    appears to be accurate in outline, and looks like the airplane I've seen
    in the photos. You can't ask for much more than that.

    The instructions are very detailed, consisting of a short history,
    lawyer-induced warnings, basic assembly instructions, a sprue diagram, 8
    pages of 54 assembly steps, all of which are very well illustrated and
    generally very clear, and a four view color scheme drawing that is
    actually very useful, as it shows not only the colors but also the decal
    placement. Exact shades are not given (i.e., dark green, military brown,
    and bright blue), but I used Model Master Russian colors and was satisfied
    with the results.

    Decals are provided for one airplane, #42107, a PE-8 of No. 746 Aviation
    Regiment of the "Far Ranging Air Force" in February, 1943. The decals are
    excellent, and go on smoothly with no trimming or aftermarket products
    needed.

    Assembly

    With this kit, following the directions is essential if you don't want to
    wind up being carted off to a mental institution. However, there were a
    few glitches in my assembly. In the early stages, Drawings #6 and #7,
    parts C-5 through C-8 are misidentified, and should be switched. These are
    the rear portions of the engine nacelles with the little turrets for that
    unfortunate soul that was assigned the task of nacelle gunner. I certainly
    wouldn't have volunteered to ride into combat in that position, but I
    guess with an SOB like Stalin in control, you didn't argue.

    Another problem, not serious, but one that costs a little time, is the
    fact that a lot of the parts for one assembly operation were on different
    sprues, making sprue searching necessary. It is essential that you keep
    track of every part and every operation, only removing parts from the
    sprue when you need them for painting or assembly. Parts can, of course,
    be painted on the sprue.

    Other problems involved the gun turrets. Most of these need to be at least
    partially installed on the airframe before final assembly takes place,
    creating a very fragile structure that has to be avoided or something will
    be ruined. The turret mechanisms are very detailed, and have some fiddly
    parts, but I managed to get them assembled somehow. The dorsal turret was
    a particular problem, as the kit instructions aren't completely clear, and
    if you follow the kit instructions, the turret base will be slightly too
    far to the rear, necessitating some trimming if the ball turret is going
    to fit properly. In addition, the wing light covers don't fit, and these
    need to be trimmed to shape. In fact, the insides of the lights need to be
    trimmed or the wing sections won't fit together. The light itself is nice,
    with a small light that can be painted silver and filled with white glue
    to simulate the landing light bulb. Some of the interior windows, parts
    E-25 and E-12/13 were replaced with crystal clear solution.

    The cockpit is nicely done, with seats, instrument panels, control wheels,
    and even trim wheels. Locations of the instrument panel assemblies are not
    clearly shown on the instructions, and there are no places to attach them
    to the cockpit floor. The rear panel is a little easier, but the front
    panel (the pilot and co-pilot are seated in tandem) must be glued in after
    the whole assembly is attached to the fuselage section. The control
    yokes/wheels seem to sit a little high, and should be trimmed down at
    least a foot in scale. I'd hate to try to fly an airplane having to reach
    several feet up into the air to grasp the control wheel. The fuselage
    interior and bomb bay fit easily into place, although not much detail can
    be seen inside on the completed model. Note that the elevators can be
    assembled either way, as they seem to be identical top and bottom.



    The fuselage is equipped with two very substantial "carry through" spars,
    which protrude outside of the fuselage on either side, and which fit into
    the wing root to achieve a very secure structure. These need to be doused
    heavily with liquid solvent and then immediately pushed into place. Once
    in place, a modest application of solvent along the join lines will
    securely attach the wings to the fuselage. A slight sanding will eliminate
    any glue marks on the outside surface. As far as filling was concerned, I
    needed a bit on some of the fuselage joints, and on the wing sections
    where the inboard leading edges faired into the wing surface. Also, the
    engine nacelles are designed to fit smoothly into the wing structure, but
    these required some filler. This wasn't a serious problem, but it did take
    time.

    The instructions state to install the exhaust stacks while assembling the
    engine nacelles, one of the first steps in the entire assembly process. In
    fact, the recommended assembly stages have the wings, engines, landing
    gear, and rear nacelle turrets completely assembled before the fuselage is
    started, a reversal of the usual assembly procedure for most models. I
    cannot see why they follow this process, and it certainly doesn't matter,
    but assembly of the exhaust stacks before painting makes it harder to
    paint them once on the engines. So I waited until after the whole model
    was assembled and painted, and surprise! There was no way they were going
    to fit. For some reason, two of the sets of stacks were different, with
    six individual stacks, while the other six had five stacks with the rear
    ones a little fatter, probably because they were taking the exhaust of the
    two rearmost cylinders. The units in question are parts G-17 and G-18. The
    overall problem is that they don't fit into the receptacles, and you can't
    simply trim down the stacks to get them to fit. The receptacles on the
    sides of the cowlings need to be gouged out so that the units will fit.
    This is a little tedious on a painted and assembled model, but I managed,
    although it took half an hour to get it right.

    The landing gear is almost idiot proof, but the rear inboard nacelle
    sections need to be attached before the rear gear braces can be installed.
    Everything fits nicely, and lines up perfectly, showing very good design
    work. The gear doors are typical, with small tabs which are used to get
    the doors in the proper position. The tail wheel strut is made up of two
    pieces, and it is supposed to be installed in its position before the
    fuselage halves are joined. I just trimmed the shaft a little, and
    installed the tail wheel after painting. I didn't care if it turned or
    not. The bomb bay gives you two choices, opened or closed. A single set of
    doors allows for closed assembly, while a pair of doors provide for an
    open bomb bay. Some rather interesting looking door opening struts ensure
    that the doors are in the proper position. Inside the bomb bay, a large
    bomb can be mounted. Another larger one is also provided, but it is listed
    as "not to be used", so I suspect that this bomb is for another version of
    the kit yet to be released.

    The props are also very interesting. The rear of the spinner is to be
    assembled when the nacelles are installed, although on the inboard
    nacelles, these are placed in between the nacelle halves. On the outboard
    units, the hubs are glued onto the forward portion of the nacelle. All are
    attached in a manner that they can be turned as long as you don't use too
    much glue. Three of mine made it. Then, after painting, the hubs can be
    brush painted black, while the props and spinners can be airbrushed the
    same color, as the props and spinners are all black. It is a pretty nice
    assembly.

    Painting and Finishing

    The instructions and drawings say to paint the model in a three color
    topside scheme of "military brown", "dark green", and black, with the
    underside "bright blue". There is a wealth of color information available
    on the "modeling the vvs" website, and most of the drawings I have seen of
    these aircraft show indistinct color separation lines, but in this scale,
    I opted for direct masking, which I think looks OK. The camouflage pattern
    looks to be a standard pattern, with no two aircraft exactly alike, as
    opposed to the British A and B schemes. After decal application, I dirtied
    the airplane up a little with brown and grey overspray's, and chipped it
    somewhat with silver. Light grey exhaust stains (they must have really
    leaned them out) were applied by airbrush, and stretched sprue low
    frequency radio antennas finished the job.



    Conclusions and Recommendations

    Although this is not the first kit of this airplane to be issued, I can't
    imagine a better one coming out in the near future. It does have its
    issues, such as the exhaust stacks, but overall, it is an excellent kit,
    and any good 1/72 scale model collection should include at least one.
    Don't miss out on this one. With its relatively low price, it will provide
    entertainment for about 15 cents an hour, truly a bargain in these days of
    four dollar a gallon gas. Get one! Thanks to Zvezda, the Dragon Models
    USA, and IPMS/USA for the review kit.


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