Aer Moldova's 1/72 Mi-4M
The Mi-4 was a logical extension on the successful Mi-2 family, resulting in a larger helicopter that was more capable than its smaller stablemate. The Mi-4 first took to the air in August of 1952 and since then over 3000 have been built, both in the USSR and in China. Its main usage was as a general transport helicopter, but some were also modified into ASW platforms, where they performed admirably until the advent of the superior Kamov designs.
The Mi-4 quickly found its way into the service of a great number of air forces, including Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Bulgaria, China, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Egypt, Finland, East Germany, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iraq, North Korea, Mongolia, Poland, Romania, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, USSR, Vietnam, Yemen and Yugoslavia (and I'm sure I missed a few in there).
This kit is from Moldova (gee, what a surprise, eh?) and for the most part appears to be pretty decent. It's molded in a dark greenish gray plastic and has recessed panel lines throughout that are petite and fairly crisp. Those on the rotor blades appear to be a bit heavier, but considering that Aer Moldova has molded in the characteristic blade droop I'm willing to overlook the heavy-handed scribing. Besides, a coat of primer will probably do a good job of evening them out.
The interior cries out for aftermarket details, though. There really isn't much of anything for the cabin area other than what appears to be a sonobouy rack and a winch. The cockpit isn't much better, although it does have a floor and front & rear bulkheads. The seats, however, are molded integrally with the pilot figures, and these figures are actually smoothly blended into these seats. Separate heads are the only extra part for these guys, making them look like someone covered the whole person & seat with shrinkwrap.
The rest of the kit, however, has some fairly nice detailing. The rotor assembly is very nicely done, in fact, with some very fine detailing on the hub that would rival the best resin attempts. The struts for the floats are pretty decent as well, although one set of struts has a completely flat back. A couple swipes with some sandpaper will help there. The floats are a peculiarity, though. In looking at the boxtop painting, they appear to be inflatable rubber devices, with some rather interesting shapes to them. The kit parts, however, are nowhere near the shape of those depicted on the boxtop. Rather the kit parts are simple tubes with rounded ends. Which is right I don't know, and it could be that both are correct. The photo on the instruction sheet I have shows the Mi-4M on wheels, so there's no comparison there. I'll have to do some more research on it, that's for sure. If it turns out that the boxtop artwork is correct, you'll have a bit of scratchbuilding before you, as the kit parts, while being completely the wrong shape, also appear to be too narrow as well.
The markings and decals offer another peculiarity, in that the decal sheet does not match the instructions. You have Polish and Soviet national insignia, and three sets of numbers, while the instructions show a Polish, a Soviet and an East German example. To confuse things even further, those three examples, while labeled as Mi-4Ms, are all on wheels, not on floats. They do show the general placement of the numbers and national markings, though, so you can use them to at least place the decals.
This kit definitely has some high points and some low points. The high points are ones that are very good and Aer Moldova should be commended on their skills in rendering the rotor hub and general surface detailing. If they can extend that level of quality over to the entire kit they definitely will be a strong competitor in the future. Even with all the low points of this kit, it is very buildable and with a little extra effort you'll end up with a very nice Soviet chopper on your shelf.
My thanks to Aer Moldova for the review kit.