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In-Box Review
Chinese I-153
I-153 WW2 China Guomindang AF Fighter
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by: Darren Baker [ CMOT ]

Originally published on:


The Polikarpov I-153 entered service in 1938 and was technically obsolete even before it entered service with the Soviet Air Force. The Polikarpov I-153 was perhaps the best biplane the Soviets ever produced and was in front line service during the early stages of World War 2 flying alongside the I-16. During its initial service the Polikarpov I-153 performed well against Japanese aircraft that the Soviets were fighting at that time, but the Japanese soon got the better of the aircraft as they learnt from their experience how best to attack and defend against it. In early 1940 The Soviets provided 93 of their I-153 fighters to the Chinese. I am led to believe that these aircraft were the later version of the I-153 mounting four ShKAS machine guns and the more powerful M63 radial engine.

If there is no other reason for being a fan of ICM it is that if one version of an aircraft model they release is not appealing to you give it a while and ICM will release a different version that may hold more appeal. I do not see this as a weakness of ICM as it allows them to keep the prices down and also appeal to the widest possible market and so in my book it is a very big plus.


This offering from ICM is packaged in the usual high standard that they have adopted and now always stick to. The result is that the model arrives in the way that ICM intended, my only complaint or more accurately concern is that the sprues being packed inside a single plastic bag does allow movement and so potential damage, and those kits with a lot of sprues could suffer from warping. In the case of this example I am pleased to say that the model has arrived in perfect condition and with all parts present.

This model is to my knowledge the fourth offering of the Polikarpov I-153 in 1/32nd scale, and is the third all-plastic offering which makes it more affordable than the SilverWings offering which is a resin multi-media kit in the same scale. Dimensionally the model appears to be accurate according to my attempts to measure the model, and so I am happy with what is on offer in that respect.

The cockpit of the model is fairly simplistic for a 1/32nd scale model, but with that said, unless you are planning on cutting away parts of the fuselage you will not be able to see what is included, let alone what is not present. The framework of the cockpit area is present and the limited amount seen will add a nice touch; the floor is well represented along with foot pedals and control stick. The instrument panel is also present and brought to life with a decal for the instruments. The seat is also quite nicely replicated in two parts, but I am disappointed that again no harness detail is provided. I cannot say anything regarding the accuracy of the cockpit as I failed to find suitable reference.

The fuselage has a limited amount of internal detail present, but enough for what can be seen. The external detail on the fuselage is pleasing to me. As I expect most of you know the Polikarpov I-153 was a mix of metal and cloth on its exterior, and ICM has endeavoured to show this, the rear half of the fuselage showing this well if a little smooth as I would have liked a little texture to be present.

The flight surfaces of the model are well replicated, again the cloth and metal elements being well brought together. The gull aspect of the upper wing has been very nicely reproduced and results in a visually pleasing aspect of the model. The flight controls are provided for the wings and tail control surfaces and so can be set as desired by the modeller. Dry fitting the wings again revealed an issue with some of the locator holes being too small and needing to be enlarged a little.

The rotary engine provided with the model by ICM is very pleasing considering that ICM does not utilise photo etch. The cooling vanes of each piston housing have been nicely replicated and should meet with the approval of most. The ignition harness is a new part in this offering and looks reasonable. The engine detail offered is much more visible on this offering of the I-153 as the face is fully open; I assume the new engine required better cooling. The exhausts are an aspect of the engine that are easily seen and these are presented as individual items. My only concern here is that the exhausts will need to be further drilled out to improve their appearance. Looking at the propeller blade, the shape looks good to me.

The undercarriage does suffer from some over simplification of the struts in that they seem to lack a lot of detail that needs to be present, that does not mean they are wrong and with the addition of some brake cabling and the like, the result should be pleasing. The undercarriage doors look to have generally the right shape, but the detail on the inner face is not the same as what I have seen thus far. The wheel wells have been provided with the viewing windows; an upgrade that I understand was introduced to stop air coming through into the cockpit and making life uncomfortable for the pilot.

The external stores supplied with the model should be two 165 lb bombs or two 110 lb bombs in the case of this aircraft and I believe that is what is supplied here. My only concern here is that the racks for the rockets from the previous release are moulded as part of the lower wing and my reference searches indicate that the mounts were not always present even on aircraft that did have that weapon available; the result of this means that removal of this detail without ruining the rib detail will be difficult.

A nice inclusion that ICM has provided is a guide to the tensioning wires needed on the wings; an aspect that many companies overlook and send the modeller off scrabbling for reference. The canopy, or more accurately the screen, in front of the pilot is of a suitable thickness with a good level of frame detail.

The decals provided with the model by ICM are reasonably thin and have excellent colour saturation, I can feel them on the decal sheet but ICM is greatly improved in this regard. ICM has provided four finishing options for the model with three depicting aircraft serving with the China Guomindang Air Force in 1940 and the last an aircraft serving with the China Guomindang Air Force in 1941. The finish of all four aircraft is very similar but I do like that alternative options have been provided.


This is another great addition to the range of 1/32nd scale aircraft already released by ICM. There are a couple of negatives which are limited in my mind to the lack of harness detail in the cockpit, which can be easily overcome. The other is a much more thorny issue and that being the mounting detail for the rockets and armament more generally which have to be used and still requires you to tackle some surgery on the model. The aspect I like here is the open faced engine which at last allows the engine to be clearly seen; while in this area make sure you decide how you are going to finish the model as not all of the finishing options have the cone in place. The lines that this aircraft have are well represented in this model and give it a very pleasing look when sat on your display shelf.
Highs: The beautiful lines of this aircraft and ICM remembering to cover the rigging that is needed.
Lows: Undercarriage legs needs some detailing, but the surgery needed on the under wing rocket racks are the biggest issue.
Verdict: I have become a firm fan of this aircraft due to the lines it has and it doesn't take up to much space even in the scale. Get one I am sure you will find it appealing.
  Scale: 1:32
  Mfg. ID: 32012
  Related Link: 
  PUBLISHED: Jun 02, 2019
  NATIONALITY: China / 简体

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About Darren Baker (CMOT)

I have been building model kits since the early 70ís starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70ís, I have had lots of opportunitie...

Copyright ©2021 text by Darren Baker [ CMOT ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


Thanks for the review, Darren. It's good to see alternate air forces like the Republic of China represented.
JUN 03, 2019 - 03:56 AM

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