Zlinek Petlyakov Pe-2 and Pe-3 in 1/72
Before the start of the Second World War, the need for a Soviet high-altitude fighter was expressed and Petlyakov took up the challenge and designed the VI-100. Incorporating a pressurized cockpit and twin turbocharged engines, the VI-100 airframe quickly became known for its versatility. First as a high-altitude, high-speed bomber, then as a high altitude dive-bomber, the VI-100 went through several design changes. In 1939, after studying the German concept of the dive-bomber, the other variants were dismissed and the Pe-2 was born from the VI-100. Removing the pressurized cockpit lowered the weight, while also allowing a much clearer canopy. Armament consisted of two forward firing machine guns, one turreted machine gun firing to the rear, and one more machine gun in the radio operator's section, firing ventrally to the rear. A bomb load of up to 1000kg could be carried, and the Pe-2 could handle dive angles of up to 70 degrees.
Throughout the war the Pe-2 was updated and modified, with more powerful engines and more powerful armament. Early in 1941, the original concept that the Pe-2 was designed for was revisited, with the type being converted back into a heavy fighter. The dive brakes were removed, the radio operator's compartment was removed, and the armament was increased. This new fighter was called the Pe-3 and it went into service in late 1941. The strong construction and long range of the Pe-3 made it ideal for long range reconnaissance missions as well as air defense of the major Soviet cities. The Pe-3 was assembled on the same production lines as the Pe-2, and combined nearly 12,000 planes were built during the war.
The Zlinek kits of the Pe-2 and Pe-3 share quite a bit of commonality, much like the originals, so I'll review them together. The main part differences are with the fuselage. The Pe-2 fuselage has the radio compartment and larger window present, while the Pe-3 has this blanked off and has the rear tail guns in place. With the dive brakes provided in photoetch, the wings remain the same, as do the engine nacelles and landing gear.
Starting with the interior, these kits have some very nicely done detail. Bulkheads, cockpit floor, and sidewall detail is present. To complement the plastic parts, a brass photoetch fret is provided, with the seat and instrument panel present as well as some other fine interior detailing. The Pe-2 also has a very complete radioman's compartment, which will look very nice once it's painted up. Unfortunately, once the fuselage is together and the windows in place, it's going to be very difficult to see any of this detail.
Moving to the outside of the kits, the surface detailing is very fine and recessed throughout. There is quite a bit of riveting on these kits, and while it looks a little odd on the sprues, I think that once a coat of paint is put on it will be just fine. There is an option to have the flaps down or up, and all the interior flap detail is present on both the flap pieces and the upper wing half. The engine nacelles have full wheel well detailing, and the lower wing finishes out the well with a wheel recession that's already blanked off.
The fit is fairly good, but there are no locating pegs, so some care will be needed to make sure everything lines up right. This is a very well engineered kit, easily on par with Accurate Miniatures or Tamiya. The molding quality may not be as good, but the manner in which the kit is assembled is very well thought out and great care has been taken in trouble spots. A good example is the ailerons. They are molded solid as part of the lower wing, and this arrangement generally makes for a lousy seam when you fit the upper wing in place. But on these kits, the upper wing has the aileron cutout beveled so that it provides a seam that resembles the injection one on the bottom. The manner in which the wing roots are done is also a good example, and with some careful dry fitting I think this kit can be assembled without needing to use any putty. That's a good thing, as using any putty on this kit would obliterate all that fine rivet work.
The decals are the one shortcoming of the kit. Well, the decals themselves aren't the shortcoming, but rather the instructions are. The decal sheets are the same for the two kits (reduction of costs), and there are decals for Soviet, Yugoslav, Finnish, Polish, and Czech Pe-2/3s. But here's the problem. The kits only have the marking instructions for two Soviet planes a piece. All the other choices aren't depicted in any drawings, leaving it up to the modeler to research the decals. I think this happened because of costs and production runs and things not meeting in the middle, and I'd much rather have it this way than the other way around of having a bunch of marking layouts and no decals.
When I look at this kit next to the Airfix Pe-2 kit, all I can say is wow. We finally have a very well detailed and accurate kit of this famous Soviet plane, and while it may take a little work to finish, done out of the box it can easily be a winner. With nearly 12,000 of these planes built and in service in many air forces, the marking choices are going to be great. That, plus the fact that it is just a neat-looking airplane will surely make this a popular kit.
1/32 Scale Guide $18.00
1/48 Scale Guide $25.00
1/72 Scale Guide $25.00
HH-43 Huskie Color
Reference Guide $15.00
Please add $3.20 Postage in the US.
PO Box 90933