Polikarpov I-16 “Chato”: Diorama of the Spanish civil war

Academy 1/48 scale

by Jose Angel García Martín © 2012 Modeler Site

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During the Spanish Civil War, there was a manufacturer of Polikarpov I-16 in Alicante (La Rabasa) which production line was set up by the Republicans. They didn’t use the original drawings but they had to copy from the parts of the airplanes sent from the URSS. When the War ended, the tools and airplanes in different assembly stages were moved to a wines cellar in Jerez de la Frontera, the Gonza0lez- Byass’ (source Juan Arraez), creating in this way the “Taller Experimental del Aire” with the direction of Frigate Captain Luis Arias Martinez, naval engineer.


When the airplanes were finished, they were taken to the La Parra aerodrome to carry out a number of test flights. The first flew was on September 1939 with Jose Luis Aresti as test pilot.

It is believed that the airplanes coming from the manufacturer were painted in a light bluish tone with the wings, cowling and the rudder/stabilizers, in silver.

The model

This is an Academy kit, quite sober, it’s not marvellous regarding details, but correct in shapes and it’s an excellent base for the work I would accomplish. At first, I had thought just to build a model with the Spanish colors, but reading the article about the construction of these aircraft in Jerez, in the magazine “En vuelo”, inspired me to make a diorama representing that moment. I only used the fuselage and wings from the kit since the rest of parts had to be scratchbuilt to accomplish the diorama.

The cockpit

It's very basic and I wanted it to match the real thing. I started studying a lot of pictures of the interior of the real plane in order to know what I really needed. I used Evergreen rods and spare PE to scratchbuild the parts I needed to detail the cockpit.
The interior frame was made out of plastic rods, cutting and gluing the plastic carefully.
Using stretched sprue, I made the control sticks, the pedals support and the cockpit’s floor. Also over the floor, I glued a spare PE fret to get the aspect of the structure of the real plane. I used PE seat belts to place on the seat supplied with the kit.

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