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There’s been quite a bit of talk about the Tamiya Il-2 swept-winged two-seater (the arrow), and the Accurate Miniatures Il-2 kit of this version, both in 1/48th scale. Some have questioned whether another 1/48th scale arrow is needed; to that I say resoundingly, yes! In terms of which kit is better, I have the two kits, and I can say without a doubt that although the AM kit is still a fine kit, the Tamiya kit is better, with beautiful surface detail, and is the best Shturmovik kit available in any scale.

However, both kits suffer some inaccuracies - the elevator trim tabs should not be extended beyond the elevator trailing edge, the lever (a weapons release lever) attached to the round object on the starboard side of the pilot's seat should be mounted on the aft wing spar, not forward as it is. Both kits are missing the emergency manual gear retraction mechanism on the starboard side and the fuel gauges on the port side (most kits miss these). The square ejection chute on the undersides of the wing should be pointing to the port wingtip, on both sides, not mirror images of each other (the AM kit gets this correct, almost alone amongst Il-2 kits; the Tamiya kit gets it wrong). Perhaps the weakest point on the AM kit is the spinner; it's much too rounded and should be replaced with the Vector spinner and propeller set. The Tamiya version is much better in this respect and does not need replacing. Indeed, the Hucks starter dog on the very tip of the spinner is very well-represented.

There are some peculiarities with the Tamiya kit. In the actual aeroplane, there is no bulkhead in front of the pilot, yet Tamiya provides one, which the instrument panel attaches to. As an attachment for the instrument panel, it’s fine, but it’s not accurate. There was no bulkhead nor firewall between the pilot and the oil and water radiators’ intake trunk on wartime Shturmoviks (the AM kit correctly does not have this bulkhead). Another strange feature is where the rear fuselage blends into the underside of the wing. Tamiya have this as a rather complex curved shape, whereas other kits, such as the AM kit, have it as two metal panels that meet in a peak, to make a slightly triangular junction that the wooden fuselage blends into. I doubt whether the Soviets would have bothered with the complex metal plates, when flat metal plates would have sufficed. I am doubtful as to the historical accuracy of this shape, although it is difficult from wartime photographs to see this area clearly; perhaps some of the later Il-2's had the curved shape represented in the Tamiya kit, but I don't believe it was the normal shape. The rudder pedals also don’t look quite right to me. The AM ones look better. There is no leather boot (shroud) on the control column attachment, although the AM kit has one. This may have varied from aircraft to aircraft, however.

The VV-1 external gunsight appears to be based upon a photograph of an experimental installation, and not upon those used by production Shturmoviks.  Instead of being installed transversely as the instructions indicate, it should be installed with the long top post closest to the spinner.

The join lines on the windscreen side panels, although very nicely scribed, and better done than the AM kit’s, are not at the correct 90 degree angles to each other, which the AM kit’s join lines are. I’ve examined many photographs for single-seaters, straight-winged two-seaters, and arrows, and they all show this 90 degree angle. Perhaps Tamiya got this from a restored example, but it appears to be incorrect for GPW Shturmoviks. This will take some doing to correct, so you may wish to leave as is, as it’s not really that noticeable.

The booster pump array, a rather complex series of pipes and cylinders in front of the pilot on the starboard side are here represented in a fairly rudimentary manner, although they are at least represented (the AM kit represents them in a similar rudimentary fashion). The elevator control rod, which is a long rod that runs from the control column assembly back through the starboard side of the fuselage, is moulded as an integral part of the gunner’s starboard side panel. It would have been better represented as a separate rod-like piece, which it is in the pilot’s cockpit. In terms of the interior, the three fuel gauges and pipes on the port side of the cockpit are missing, as is the emergency manual gear retraction mechanism on the starboard side (as mentioned above). There are no posts for the landing gear indicators on the wings; on the other hand, the flap indicator on the port wing is represented, which it is not in the AM kit. As a final (for now) item, the navigation gear light at the very end of the fuselage could be a little longer, or represented by a clear part that glued on to the end.

None of these are insurmountable problems, and this kit should still build up into a splendid model of this extremely important warplane. I highly recommend it.

Note:  Tamiya have now released a 1/72nd scale arrow kit, which is a scaled-down version of this 1/48th scale kit.  Most of the same comments apply.  It is also highly recommended.  Here's hoping they scale it up to 1/32nd scale!