Trumpeter's 1/72 Tu-16K-26 Badger G / Chinese H-6
There are few kits of Soviet bombers in injection plastic, but hopefully this latest release from Trumpeter will mark a change in that area. This is the second 1/72 kit of the Badger to come out and it's by far the better of the two. While I've only seen photos of the Red Hurricane kit, this kit shows so much more detail and is so much better engineered that it will definitely be the choice for Badger builders.
One thing I was struck with was the excellent surface detail present throughout the kit. Finely recessed panel lines throughout are the norm, and the clear parts are very well done. This last point is a good thing, considering how much glass is on this plane. The cockpit is well detailed out of the box, with a floor, rear bulkhead, instrument panel, control columns, and four seats (pilot, co-pilot, bombardier and upper turret gunner). The seats are decent as well, being made up from three parts. All of this together will provide a busy-looking interior, much of which will be visible from both the cabin windows and the clear nose.
Still working on the insides of the plane, the bomb bay is complete, being made up from five pieces. There are three options to fill this bay up, either with two large bombs, sixteen small bombs, or eight in-between sized bombs. No notation is given as to the weight of these weapons, and I'm not too familiar with Soviet weaponry to know for sure. They are decently done, though, and even if you don't use them in this kit they could be used on other aircraft.
The final bit for the inside of the fuselage is the tail gunners. There are two guys in the back of this plane, one controlling the tail turret and the other controlling the lower belly turret, aiming through the two blister windows on either side. All of the turrets are designed to be sandwiched in between the fuselage halves without glue, allowing them to be movable. The last thing you'll be putting in the fuselage is weight to keep it on all three. The instructions say 50 grams will be needed. I think I have a finished model that weighs less than that.....
The breakdown of the parts results in a rather interesting construction. The fuselage halves are split right and left, with the nose being separate (split upper and lower). This likely means that we'll see different variants in the future, ones with the big radar nose. The wingroot engine nacelles are separate, split top and bottom. There is no intake trunking provided, but Trumpeter gets around this by providing intake covers. The exhaust pipes are separate pieces and look decent, although they're not deep enough for me.
The wings offer some nice features as well. The ailerons are separate, as are the wheel wells. The tailcone on the wheel sponson is separate as well as the wingtip lights. All of this will result in a wing with excellent detailing throughout. The tailplanes are similar in that the elevators are separate items (as is the rudder). The fit of all of these parts is exceptional and very little filler will be needed.
The landing gear is also very nicely done, with the main gear strut having seven separate pieces. The wheels are split into halves, which leaves all the alignment problems up to the builder, so be careful. You'll probably want to use a slow-setting glue on the main gear to give you time to make sure all four wheels are on the ground. Other details hanging down from the plane include all the open hatches for the crew.
The final bit of plastic in this kit comes in the form of underwing armament. This is probably the nicest bit for me, because you get two AS-6 Kingfish missiles and two Silkworm missiles. While I believe the AS-6 missiles were only air-to-surface, I think you could adapt the Silkworm missiles into the ship-based or land-based examples without too much work. Unfortunately it appears that for the Badger I want to do, I actually need a pair of AS-5 Kelt missiles. I guess you can't have everything, though.
The decals are the last step in this kit, and the sheet is very large and provides markings for Soviet, Iraqi, Egyptian and Chinese Badgers. The Soviet example features a white belly and a gray upper surface, with an alligator on the right side nose. The Chinese example is in a similar scheme, with a white belly, but the upper surfaces are in silver (or natural metal). There are a bunch of extra numbers in two different styles, allowing you to choose your own Chinese Badger.
Both the Iraqi and Egyptian Badgers are camouflaged, with the Egyptian one being the most complex. It features a three-part upper camouflage consisting of 'cream yellow', 'IJN gray', and 'middle stone', over light gull gray. The paint callouts are Humbrol colors, I believe. Unfortunately the instructions do not give a complete diagram of this complicated scheme, and after looking at some photos it looks like this scheme followed a fairly strict pattern. The roundels are the early style of Egyptian roundels, with the flag on the tail having an eagle on it.
The Iraqi example has a somewhat simpler camouflage consisting of tan with red-brown spots over gray. The Iraqi "roundels" are the standard triangle shape, but the alignment on the white is off a bit in my example, and the red portion is translucent, showing the green through it and blending it in almost to the point of not being able to see it.
Trumpeter has really outdone themselves with this kit. The engineering is wonderful and the assembly will be both quick and sturdy. The large choice of weaponry is to be commended (although I still wish they did a pair of Kelts) and the broad range of markings will give you plenty of choices out of the box. If you've been wanting to build a big Russian bomber, you'll definitely want to pick up one (or even two) of these.