Building the Eduard 1/48 PE-2FT Peshka
By Ken Murphy
The Petlyakov PE-2, known as the "Peshka", was a World War II Soviet light bomber. The Peshka was one of the most effective twin-engine bombers of the war with 11,427 built, albeit less well known than the Il-2 Sturmovik. Designed by Vladimir Petlyakov upon his release from prison when war was imminent, the PE-2 was originally slated to be a heavy fighter but just before the War it was redesigned as a dive bomber. It was used in a variety of applications including standard light bomber, heavy fighter, reconnaissance, night fighter and trainer. The Finnish Air Force flew captured PE-2s during the War and post-War they flew with several Communist Bloc countries. The kit provides Wartime Soviet mark but aftermarket decals are available from Begemot for those non-Soviet markings.
Eduard's's Limited-Edition kit is the reboxed Zvezda kit with additional bells and whistles such as photo-etch, resin, masks, 5 marking options and a full color 20-page booklet with historical data, parts map, 46 step instructions and four views of each marking option. In other words, a fantastic kit. I want to make it clear it is not Eduard's fault that it has taken me over four years to build it; I have a comprehensive list of my excuses available upon request. It has been on and off the bench numerous times, but it's finally done!
If you are looking for a highly detailed and accurate model this is the kit. Want parts? Lots of parts? Try 435 parts! It is the most I've ever worked with. The kit includes a single engine that can be displayed with an optional open cowling. Although I admire what some guys do, I don't like to open every hatch, panel, cowling, and cover to expose all the innards, but, because I was building this for the review, I decided I needed to build the engine-and what an engine it is: 47 parts including a couple of PE screens and a full page of instructions. It's very detailed and looks so good that I have decided to display it (maybe in a crate or on a stand?) with the model on the base.
Aircraft builds start with the cockpit typically but in this case the first step is the wings. These consist of 15 parts each and include ducting for the air intakes, ailerons and interestingly, the outer leading edges as separate pieces. This is a design function that saves some seam work but they are one of the few parts that are not a perfect fit. This step includes the 6-piece landing gear struts and including them this early in the build makes me think that whoever designs kit instructions has never built a model. I left off this step as I might inadvertently break them off during the build. The landing gear fairings are equally detailed with several PE options, but I determined I could attach them to the wings and still get the landing gear on later. The engine cowlings include multi-part aft sections with plumbing, etc. (12 more parts each) that cover the area behind the engines and are visible in the wheel wells. If you choose to mount the engine, there is an oil tank, frame, and braces for that.
If you enjoy a well-appointed interior with lots of detail, you'll find it here. There is an incredible amount of detail down the entire length of the fuselage with lots of finely molded plastic and PE parts. There is ample work with for those who enjoy detailing though sadly much will remain unseen unless you have a very bright flashlight. I found some of the parts so tiny that they defied being worked with, let alone lost to the rug monster.
Still, with its PE control panel, levers, rudder pedals, yoke, and more, the busy cockpit looks terrific and of course, there are pre-printed seatbelts for each of the three crew positions. One odd note: The kit includes all three crew members posed to sit in their seats however Eduard's instructions ignore them. They are marked on the sprue map as "parts not to be used." I have no idea why, Zvezda's original instructions show them and give paint callouts. Go figure.
The bomb bay is equally detailed with over 30 parts including four bombs. I like to keep the airframe clean, so I simply closed the bomb bay. One nice touch is spar tabs on each side of the bomb bay section that protrude through the fuselage and help anchor the wings.
The radio operator's position in the rear fuselage is equally busy. One big headache is his belly-mounted machine gun. The ammunition can is mounted in the ceiling with the belt snaking down to the gun on the floor. I found it nearly impossible to connect that belt when installing the gun. The only saving grace was the inability to see that connection once the side windows were installed (how the gunner could hit anything from that position is beyond me.)
The upper turret gun had its own problems. The gun sits in a rack with the ammo can suspended underneath as one unit. That whole thing then rests on a very slender tripod on the floor. It broke off a couple of times and rattled around the turret until the end of the build when I epoxied it in place.
The tail feathers and ailerons are all poseable. I couldn't find a picture of a PE-2 on the ground that had anything "posed" so I didn't.
The version I chose to replicate was a PE-2 of the 16th Guards Bomber Regiment from the winter of 1943/44 with its interesting late winter, early spring half-faded-off winter camouflage. I applied the excellent Eduard masks to cover the glass, and they fit easily with one exception: the oval windows in the rear. The masks are in two pieces, covering the window edges and required Mr. Masking Sol to fill in the middle. This would have worked fine, but at this stage after painting it was several months before I could remove the masks and the masking fluid left a film that was very difficult and nerve wracking to remove; I was afraid I might push the windows into the fuselage. I painted the underside light blue then masked the upper surfaces for the regular three-color camouflage using ropes of modeling clay to create soft edges.
For the winter white I performed several experiments with an old model to determine the best way to create the faded look. I finally settled on a suggestion from John Miller of Model Paint Solutions using Mission Model flat white. Mission paints typically need to be used with a combination of thinner and polyurethane mix. John thought that using the paint without the poly binder would make it easy to use it like a watercolor. I applied it with the Harder & Steenbeck Infinity fine point airbrush I purchased from him, which gave me the control I needed. It would have been difficult to achieve the results I wanted without it.
One more painting step: the two-color red stars. The decals are excellent but for some reason, the "white" sections of the stars are dark gray. Not at all the look I wanted. I decided to paint them using stencils created on my new Silhouette Portrait stencil cutter. I'm still trying to figure out how to use the cutter but I figured stars would be easy. Well, not so much. I tried several experiments with various solutions until I figured out how to employ transfer tape to register the white areas within the stars. I could have saved a lot of time just using the decals but I'm pleased with the look of the painted ones. At that point I was able to remove the mask and see the inside of the cockpit for the first time in over a year. I put on the other decals, the Cyrillic script, the propellor spinner stars (which did not want to conform) and the Guards badge.
I opted for this version in no small part because the exhausts were a single pipe instead of the versions with 8 individual stubs per engine. Much easier. For the exhaust stains I used Mig Modeling Pigment lightly tapped on and blended with a soft brush. This was my first time using that product and with some tips from fellow club member Djordje Nikolic, it turned out fine.
I saved the fiddly bits for last. With most of the handling done I was ready to install those things which I otherwise would have broken off or lost, such as installing the landing gear, which was complicated and touchy but fit in nicely. I used the resin wheels but had to pinch them in place while gluing. The kit includes resin spinners, starter lugs, and blades, none of which I used. I felt the lugs were too large and the individual blades were too thin and warped. It also has a clear resin piece for the radio position hatch. I cut out the windscreen part and used that instead of the plastic version which I thought was far too thick. Lastly I glued on the antenna and rigged it with Uschi Rig That Thing elastic rigging.
This is an excellent kit of an important plane. The Zvezda plastic and the Eduard extras make it one of the best kits I've ever built. Most the problems I had were of my own making, but I learned a lot by using many products and techniques for the first time and soliciting help from experts. Sadly this boxing is no longer in production, but the Zvezda kit is still around. I found it available online (check out eBay and I'm sure more can be found at your local hobby shop, meeting, show, or convention. The Eduard extras are also available individually as PE or Eduard Brassin resin. What more can I say? Highly recommended. I would like to thank Eduard for the review sample.