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Unicraft 1/72
Bolkhovitinov "SPARTAK"
Review by BOBBY J. KASZA
Optimized for 1024x768 resolution

finished model


The Bolkhovitinov "OKB" (disign bureau) was formed in 1937 and was responsible for producing several a/c types mostly experimental. The project "S" (dubbed "Spartak") was conceived in 1936. The prototype was ready at the end of 1937 and in summer of the next year the initial flight trials began. Despite of very promising tandem engines layout, the plane turned out to be sluggish and underpowered because of considerable loss of power in the transmission gear and wrong wing profile. Although the wing was modified, the plane's characteristics were still poor and the whole project was abandoned in 1941.


This all resin kit, made by UNICRAFT in the Ukraine comes packaged in a colorful box, which features a computer generated image of the aircraft. Inside are about 25 parts, molded in a very brittle blue resin, packaged in a thin plastic bag, a nice sturdy vac-form canopy (none of the flimsy, hard to work with ones here), a 1/72 scale 3-view drawing and a color painting plan. No decals are included, or building instructions (none are needed as it is pretty straight foward to assemble. Also included is a small slip of bright pink paper stating that the resin is brittle.....heed this warning!!! What do the parts look like?? At first glance, you'll be put off by the appearance of the parts.....DO NOT BE!!!! These kits are literally HAND MADE to order. The inside surfaces off all the parts are quite rough and have thousands of tiny air-bubbles, but in reality who cares about the inside....it's on the outside what counts (at least in this case!!). The outside (or visible) portions of the parts are very nice. Smooth, nearly bubble free, with recessed panel lines (that nearly match up when the model is constructed!!). The kit also includes basic cockpit detail...seats, floor, instrument panel (which is quite nice). One of the best features of the kit is the inclusion of the resin "master" for the vac-form canopy. It makes trimming it to fit pain free. Just pop the resin master inside the vac form canopy and trim with a sharp blade and you'll have a nearly perfect fit. For you lazy modellers, you could also just glue the resin master right onto the aircraft and paint it black to represent "glass" if you did not want to build up the cockpit area.


First, begin by removing the parts from the resin casting blocks. UNICRAFT recommends using a "hot knife" to do this, and so do I. NEVER attempt to break the parts off the molding blocks. I also used a fine tooth saw to remove some of the smaller parts. Next, clean up the mating surfaces of the parts with a few quick swipes of 220 grit sandpaper attached to a flat surface, and also the molding lines on the wings and such and remove the flash from the intake openings, etc. Wash all the parts with soap and water, and let dry. I decided early on that I was going to scratchbuild a cockpit for the model (God only knows why)and add a bomb bay. Since no known photos exist of the interior of the actual aircraft, I went on speculation and educated guesses (go ahead, tell me it's wrong!!). I began by working with the bomb bay area. This is clearly defined on the underside of the wing center section. Problem is that this particular piece is a SOLID block of very dense resin. I got to work with a small grinding bit in a Dremel tool, grinding away the bomb bay area. Once done, I had a quite sizeable pile of resin dust (not to mention lung cancer). I made the area slightly oversize. Why you ask?? I then proceeded to make a box out of .010 styrene and inserted it into the cavity where the bomb bay is located. To that I added some ribbing detail with .010x.020 styrene strips.

Photo #1. In this photo I have ground away the bomb bay area and built up the bomb bay with a thin .010 sheet plastic skinning


Photo #2. Close-up of the bomb bay area with .010x.020 sheet plastic ribbing added

I next turned my attention to the wheel wells. Although acceptable as they are, the sides slope inwards (probably a molding concession). I carefully ground away the sloped area, then "skinned" the wheel wells with .005 styrene to smooth everything out and make it level. A few ribs and supports were added from more .010x.020 and .005 styrene strips. Also looking at the drawings there is a square window on the underside of the aircraft, I would guess, where the bombsite would be situated. This is not included in the kit. I "guesstimated" the dimension and appoximate location and cut a hole using a fine tooth saw in each fuselage side.

Photo #3. Wheel well areas ground out and lined with a .005 sheet plastic skinning. Also added are a few .010 sheet styrene ribs and formers


Photo #4. Here you can see the beginnings of the scratchbuilt interior. Obviously it's pretty much all speculation and educated guesses. I lined the fuselage with .005 sheet styrene, made ribs and strentheners from .010x.020 strips. A few equiptment boxes have been added from various thicknesses of sheet styrene. These were subsequently removed and re-placed with home made cast resin items (see completed photos). The bomb-aimers window has also been cut out.

Now on to the cockpit. I started off by again "skinning" the cockpit area with .005 sheet styrene to cover all the pin-hole air bubbles and to give a more smooth surface in which to glue to. I then added fuselage stringers and formers using various sizes of styrene strips and shapes. The floor was made from .015 sheet styrene, cut to fit inside the fuselage. Cockpit details were added from various resin cockpit sets that I had previously made copies of. I cast a bunch of them, then cut them apart, and added what ever looked "right", using other aircraft for references and placement of the equiptment. The cockpit, wheel well and bomb bay areas were then given a coat of medium grey paint, a black wash and a little dry-brushing to bring out the detail. The equiptment boxes and instrument panel were detailed with various other colors.

Photo #5. A general view of the completed scratchbuilt cockpit and fuselage sides


Photo #6. Completed front cockpit. Various home made cast resin parts were used for all the details and a few bits of worw and scrap styrene

Photo #7. Here is the completed rear cockpit. Again, various home-made cast resin items were used for details and bits of sheet styrene, along with a bomb sight from the scrap box

Assembly of the major parts was pretty straight forward. If you did a good job earlier on, the parts fit together well. You'll still need to make a few adjustments here and there with a sharp knife or sandpaper to get a good fit. I used gap-filling ACC ("crazy") glue for construction. Actually, besides epoxy, this is the only glue you can use. Naturally, the gap-filling glue help fill in any small uneven areas. Once dry, I sanded down the seams and check for any remaining areas that needed a little more attention and re-filled them with either gap-filling glue or putty. Putty worked better on the wing to fuselage joint, as it was easier to spread and sand. I then saneded the entire model with 600 grit wet/dry to smooth everything out (some of the parts have a slightly rough texture to them), and gave to model a coat of lacquer primer. I then reinspected the seams, and fixed up any areas that needed it.

Next I attached the vac-form canopy. Using the resin master as a guide, I trimmed it to fit and applied it. Next came about 45 minutes worth of masking all the individual panes of glass on the canopy (sorry hi-tech modellers, no "fast frames" or "EZ masks" for this baby...you'll have to do it the old fashioned way!!!). It was now time to paint.

In the few pics of the actual aircraft I was able to find on the 'net, the aircraft is obviously a light color, most likely natural metal. I hate natural metal, so this was out of the question for me. The kit includes a "painting suggestion" of the aircraft in "operational" colors. Standard green and brown Soviet camoflage with a light blue undersurface. I went with that "suggestion". The model was painted with ModelMaster 2 enamels, using the colors from the Soviet WW2 color range. It was sprayed free hand with a Paache H-1 airbrush. The spinner was painted black. A coat of GlossCoat was then applied, and put aside to dry overnight. I gave the control surfaces a wash of a very dark grey acrylic to highlight them. The four exausts were painted a rusty brown/metallic color. Next came the decals. No decals are included, so I raided the spares box for some Soviet stars. I found a set left over from a Toko IL-2 kit and used them, along with the "tactical number", and a few maintainance stencils.

Then the remaining small parts were added. The landing gear was taken from a P-40 kit, along with the wheels and tail wheel. Decent landing gear is given in the kit, but the brittle nature of the resin left doubts as to how sturdy they wold be supporting the model over any amount of time. Also added were two Soviet style bombs taken from a Zvesda Pe-2 kit. Of couse these were placed in the bomb bay. Two bomb bay doors were previously made from .015 styrene and they were now also added.

Nearing completion, the model was then given a second very thin coat of gloss, follwed by a coat of DullCoat to finish everything off. Once dry the canopy was unmasked and the "glass" panels given a thin coat of Future wax. The small bomb aimers' window on the underside was cut from .015 clear styrene and added in place. Navigation lights were added from drops of red and green pain to the wing tips, and the cockpit machine gun (also taken from the Toko IL-2) was added. The model is now complete.


Although some work is needed to get these kits to look good (I did go a little overboard with the cockpit and bomb bay on this one), I HIGHLY recommend any kit by UNICRAFT. Their subject matter is un-beatable. If you like off-the-wall experimantals and prototypes, along with a fair amount of Luftwaffe 46 stuff, be sure to check them out at www.unicraftmodels.com. Considering the high cost usually associated with resin kits, these things are cheap!!!! The only down side (and it's due to the hand-made status of the kits), is the waiting time for them to arrive at your door, which is about 3 to 4 months.
Be sure to check them out!!!!

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