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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

I-153 Chaika (SU950)

The Polikarpov I-153 Chaika "Seagul"
By Tom Burgess

Battlefront sent an I-153 Chaika (SU950) model to WWPD to review. So I jumped at this opportunity to expand my Flames of War Early War ground support options. 

Accuracy: 9/10

The model seems accurate enough for gaming purposes. It comes both with bombs and rockets to mount under the wings. It also has an optional propeller hub cap, which some I-153s had.  The only item I saw not correctly modeled are the lower supports for the rear horizontal stabilizers (clearly shown in the above photo) . Good enough for the game table, but not good enough to win a 1:144th scale model competition!

My I-153 harasses some Japanese light tanks on a road march.

Quality: 9/10

The model arrived complete with no broken components. The flight stand parts had already been removed from the sprue to package in the blister and were done so without being damaged.

All parts accounted for and intact!

Unfortunately, the model did not come with decals. I had resort to using French tank numbers to add to the fuselage and Battlefront Soviet tank stars. The stars, when off the decal sheet were rather translucent. They are barely visible on the final model and ultimately I will  have to replace them with better decals.

Versatility:  7/10

The I-153 first saw action in Manchuria and served in other Early War fronts as well.  Enough of them continued to serve into the Mid War period for their inclusion in the "Eastern Front" army book. In Early War they come equipped with machine guns and bombs, in Mid War they are armed with machine guns and rockets.

So far there is no option to use them in Flames of War in Late War, though historically some did. Also, I had expected that they would have been available during the Spanish Civil War but found the Soviet biplanes used where predecessors to the I-153.

Ready to fly in Early War or Mid War!

Ease of Build & Paintability: 9/10

The model is a bit hard to assemble as getting the metal upper wings lined up and seated with the wing support posts and resin fuselage/lower wings is fairly tricky.  I glued the wing support post to the upper wing first and then the fuselage/lower wing.

Tricky wing assembly required.

I had no problems painting the model.  I used Vallejo Model Colors: base of Russian Green (70894), Flat Brown (70984) for the camouflage, and Grey Blue (70943) for the undersides.

Note how barely visible the Soviet red star insignia are.

Overall Rating: 8/10

Overall I'm pleased with the model and think it's a "must" have for Early and Mid War Soviet players. But I am disappointed that at $17.50 US, the same price as other boxed Battlefront airplane models, that it did not include decals. That and given that the I-153 is such a small plane and packaged in a blister rather than a box, both lead me to think that this model should have been offered at a bit of a lower price than its other Battlefront aerial counterparts.

The I-153 is much smaller than its IL-2 cousin, but it has the same cost and does not include decals.

Tom has been playing wargames since the late 70’s, and Flames of War since 2007. He maintains a gaming website for the BattleVault Gamers of Kentuckiana and posts and moderates WWPD as Iron-Tom.

Model provided by Battlefront Miniatures.

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