Originally designed as a fighter, the Petyakov Pe-2 went on to become one of the most outstanding attack aircraft of WW2, forming the mainstay of the Soviet counter-offensive that overturned German gains through the long drive to Berlin. The Pe-2 "Peshka"
played a vital part on the Eastern Front and its performance was so superior to any other existing dive-bomber that reports brought back by RAF pilots serving alongside Pe-2 units around Murmansk were largely dismissed as fanciful, most likely because there simply was no comparable aircraft in the inventory of the Western Allies.
More than 11,000 Peshkas
were built in numerous versions, and the type went on to serve with many foreign air forces in the Eastern Block at the end of WW2, while captured examples were even used by Finland against thir former owners.
Zvezda's new Peshka
arrives in a large, attractive box. In keeping with the company's now standard style, the design is quite clever, with the parts protected in a very sturdy top-opening plain cardboard inner carton, that slides into a printed outer sleeve made of lighter material. The immediate impression on opening the box is that the model is very positive, with the 8 major sprues plus accessories bagged separately, and everything arrived in perfect condition in my kit.
The kit comprises:
391 x pale grey parts (plus 22 unused)
17 x clear styrene parts
Decals for 3 x colour schemes
The styrene used seems very good - easy to work and not at all brittle - and the moulding is generally excellent, with just a whisper of flash here and there. I say "generally", because I did find some shallow sink marks on the fuselage of my kit where the locating pins are sited. The designers have kept most of the ejector pin marks out of harm's way, but some modellers will want to tackle one or two that may be visible on the beautifully detailed interior. To be honest though, they will most likely be tucked largely out of sight, so it's probably a case of knowing they're there (So, yes, you've guessed it - I'll fill them. I know, there's no hope for me!...).
The exterior finish comprises delicately engraved panel lines, subtly depicted fabric control surfaces, plus full-on riveting on the metal areas of the airframe. The latter is probably going to divide opinion. Don't worry, though - it's nothing like the heavy-handed finish seen on some kits, and is nearer Eduard's approach. Still, from what I can see in reference photos, the Pe-2 was largely flush-riveted, so I certainly won't be accentuating the effect when I tackle the kit. I'll wait to see the result under a coat of paint before making a final judgement, but my gut reaction at first sight would be, if anything, I'd try to knock it back a bit - but that won't be easy without risking messing up the beautifully light panel lines.
The kit seems beautifully designed, and dry fitting the major parts is very encouraging. The fuselage halves clip together snugly and there are basically perfect joints at the wing roots. The wings are dead straight, and I really like the way the lower panels are inset into the upper ones, giving nice sharp trailing edges and tips.
The horizontal tailplanes have very positive locating tabs that set the prominent dihedral simply and effectively, while angled tabs at the tips set the twin fins accurately.
A Few Details
Zvezda envisage their Peshka
being built in one of two distinct ways, which the instructions outline basically as:
Version 1 - With the landing gear lowered, bomb doors open and the port engine fully exposed.
Version 2 - In-flight (a stand is available separately), with crew figures installed and an external bomb-load.
Obviously, you can mix and match these options to some extent - e.g. dispensing with the exposed engine for an aircraft on the ground, or fitting the crew figures as if preparing for take-off.
Construction begins with a finely detailed M-105 engine. This is the only part of the kit that isn't "new-tool", the sprue being taken from Zvezda's earlier Yak-3 (see our Review HERE
. A few items aren't used for the Pe-2, but you're still left with an almost 50-part assembly that should delight superdetailers and look superb once installed.
If you choose not to use the full engine, there is still a 12-part sub-assembly to fit in each nacelle to represent the rear of the engine, plus an oil tank to sit above it.
Staying with the wings and nacelles, the wheel wells are neatly depicted with a full "roof", while the main undercarriage is very crisply detailed. The mainwheels aren't "weighted", but they are beautifully moulded with fine tread and sidewalls detail.
As a sign of things to come, the holes for the airbrakes and external bomb racks are flashed over, while separate leading edge inserts point to automatic slats for a Pe-3 in a future boxing.
Construction then turns to the fuselage, and here Zvezda have really pulled out the stops, with over 90 parts creating one of the most detailed interiors I've seen in this scale. No doubt the aftermarket producers will take this as a superb basis on which to add even more, but straight from the box the front and rear crew stations should look quite excellent. There's a choice moulded or decal instruments (plus, of course, you could combine the two with the help of a punch and die set). To be honest, the only obvious omission is some seat harnesses if you don't install the and the very well sculpted multi-part figures.
Between the crew compartments there's a neat bomb bay with finely detailed racks and a quartet of 100kg bombs that are provided with decals.The bomb bay bulkheads double as short spars to support the wings that are attached once the fuselage is closed up (as noted above, the fit is excellent even without the spars).
In addition to the internal load, the kit includes a pair of 250kg bombs to hang under the wing roots. The instructions show these as an alternative to the internal load, but references indicate that both could be carried together, along with small bombs in the rear of the nacelles (not included in the kit).
The propellers are constructed with separate blades which have notched roots to ensure they sit at the correct angle, while the spinners have a huck for an external starter.
Finally, the transparencies are thin and crisply moulded, with little optical distortion evident and well-defined frames.
Instructions & Decals
The instructions are printed as a 12-page A4 pamphlet, with very well drawn partly shaded illustrations. This is quite a complex kit, so it will pay to study the assembly before commencing work, but the overall sequence of 42 stages looks mostly logical (although I'll probably try attaching the undercarriage after I'm happy with the fit of the wings).
Colour matches are included for Zvezda's own paints, along with Humbrol, so you should be able to cross reference easily wherever you're based for your own personal favourite brands if you wish.
Decals are included for three aircraft:
1: "White 01", 12th Guards Dive Bomber Aviation Regiment, 1944
2: "White 7", 40th Bomber Regiment, 2nd Squadron, Black Sea Front, 1944
3: "White 26", 34th Guards Red Banner Regiment, 276 Bomb Group, 1945
All carry 3-tone tan, grey and green upper surface camouflage, although I've seen totally different interpretations of some of the featured aircraft on the internet. Without any conclusive references to consult of my own, I'll leave it to others who are better placed to make a call on the accuracy of the colour schemes.
The decals themselves appear to be printed by Begemot and look pretty good quality on my sheet. I noticed slight bleed on one star, but the overall registration is sharp and the items look nice and thin with a matt finish.
Zvezda look to have done a fantastic job with their new Pe-2. It's well designed and beautifully detailed, plus it's remarkably well priced for a kit of this quality and complexity.
My first thought with any subject like this is to wonder what refinements Sergey Kosachev has up his sleeve to take an already superb kit to the next level, but even straight form the box it totally eclipses the vintage MPM and HiPM models which I built around 15 years ago (as much as I enjoyed them) and deserves to be a big success. Thoroughly recommended.
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