Review: Italeri 1/48 Cessna 172 Skyhawk

This is quite an interesting little kit released by Italeri. The box-art features a Cessna 172 landing on the Red Square in Moscow, and this drawing is based on true facts™. This aircraft was flown by the then 18 year old Mathias Rust from Germany to Moscow via Iceland, Norway and Finland, bypassing every Soviet Air Defense system on the way due to a combination of extreme luck and confusion in the Soviet Air Defense system. It seemed like you didn’t need a SR-71 flying Mach 3.3 at 80,000 feet to fly all across Soviet Russia after all.

As you can imagine, this was quite an embarrassment for the Soviet armed forces as Rust was spotted on Soviet radars and even intercepted by Soviet fighters but neither received permission to engage the little Cessna. After landing Rust was able to walk around the Red Square and hand out signatures for two hours before being arrested. and was released just a few months after his trial.

The kit

The kit is based on a and old ESCI kit from 1981, so don’t expect crisp detail, but despite its age it stands up reasonably well. Engraved panel lines are crisp, if a bit overdone, but are lined by rivets which are huge. The kit also lacks details in many parts, for example the instrument panel is completely featureless which is supposed to be tarted up with just a decal. Another disappointing part is the engine, but sadly even this little engine did not receive much love in the way of details. Just your basic shape of the engine and various other parts and that’s it, but it does come with an engine mount. I feel that Italeri has missed the mark here since even the little Lycoming O-320-D2J engine of this Cessna has a lot of parts. Although the engine bay can’t be left open you can still see a large part of the engine through the cowling. And yet another point is the lack of any fuel tanks. Rust modified his Cessna with an extra fuel tank inside to be able to fly the long distances he flew. There is nothing in this kit that even hints to that, sadly.

Overall the kit is well molded, with just a hint of flash here and there. Fitting issues aren’t immediately obvious, we will see that in a future build.

Decals and color schemes

This kit comes in three color schemes:

  1. 206 Sqdn. Irish Air Corps (1972)
  2. Croatian Air Force, Vukovar Battle (1991)
  3. Mathias Rust’ Rhein Cessna 172P (1987)

The Irish variant is rather strange, since the 172P that Rust flew was only introduced in 1981, but the Cessna didn’t see radical changes in all those years. The Croatian variant has some nice camouflage, although it reminds me of a desert camo scheme. All decals included are nicely printed by Cartograf. The decals for the Civilian variant are the biggest, as usual for a General Aviation aircraft.

Clear Parts

The clear parts fairly large and well molded with no visual distortion apart from the rear window. The rear window also seems a bit too thick, but I suspect this won’t matter much.

Conclusion

This kit is Ok. But for the price  (€25) I would have liked some more detail in the shape of new parts. It looks like it is easy to build and offers both military and civilian versions with some interesting stories behind them.

Score

7/10

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