1/72 Red Wings Tupolev Tu-16

Gallery Article by Carmel J Attard on Sept 21 2017

Malta Independence Day



Tupolev Tu-16 


The aircraft that became the Tu-16 was actually based on the fuselage and systems of the Tu-4 'Bull', an unlicensed copy of the wartime B-29-married to a newly-designed swept wing, rugged undercarriage and twin jet engines of revolutionary new design. The Type 88 prototype made its maiden flight on 27th April 1952, and despite being overweight and unable to attain either speed or the range originally specified in the requirement, the aircraft was ordered into production as the Tu-16.

The Tu-16 was Tupolev's most important post war production programme. The OKB workshops and factories at Kazan, Kuibyshev and Voronezh built a total of 1,515 Tu-16s and more were later built in China. The Tu-16 was retired prematurely, as part of the massive force reductions, which followed the end of the Cold War. There was no room for the kind of specialized reconnaissance, early warning, and electronic counter measure, which the Tu-16 had become. The type remains in use in China, in its license built Xian H-6 form and indeed remained in production in China into the 1990s.

The Tu-16 was rather less dramatic and futuristic than the B-47 but its more conservative design in the end proved more durable. The Tu-16 entered service in 1954 and 54 aircraft flew over Moscow's Red square on Aviation Day, 955 was the Tu-16 leading to some panic among NATO onlookers. The basic Tu-16 was improved throughout its career and adopted to succession of variants. The Tu-16s of various types were exported to Egypt, Indonesia and Iraq.

The Badger A could carry a bomb load of up to 19,800 Lb. Naval version carried air-to-surface stand-off missiles. For defense the Tu-16 had forward and rear ventral barbettes each containing two 23mm NR-23 guns and two similar weapons in tail position.

The 'Red Wings' scale model of the Tu-16KS Badger B is a AV-MF missile carrier with provision for under wing KS-1 Komet (AS-1 Kennel) standoff air-to-surface missiles, Kobart-N Guidance transmitter installed, glazed nose retained.; The Tu-16K-10 Badger C was an AV-MF missile carrier. There were other varieties of Tu-16 both A and K versions refitted with Rubin radar under nose and with provision for KSR-11 or KSR-2 cruise missile.

Ref: The Encyclopedia of World Aircraft by Paul Eden and Soph Moeng.

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Tupoleve: Tu-16
Make: Red Wings
Scale: 1/72
Type: Injection moulded with brass etch detail parts and Soviet AF decals.
Cost: 49Euro

The kit:
Injection moulded in cream coloured plastic to limited run standard with extensive flash and very crude joints, released before the Trumpeter kit this was very welcomed at its time back in 1980. The moulds appear to have been hand made with non-uniform thick cross sections across all the fuselage parts, which was made out of 6 pieces to give a full fuselage length. Parts had poor fit and the build was more of a challenge than fun to build. There was lack of refinement even on the surface finish of main parts. Joining the parts to make the fuselage gave the most non-symmetrical cross sections of the different sections. Joint in the flying surfaces was also poor and this resulted in a pronounced and excessive gap in trailing edge. The problematic situation was made good with considerable sanding of the inner parts on a flat surface. The positive thing is that the thick plastic was very robust.

The wing joint slot is an arduous task, as it requires a dremel to open or a considerable time shaping with files. The rear and forward fuselage parts are separate halves from the central section. The joint is very crude and requires considerable care to align correctly to satisfy the final appearance.

A large quantity of brass etch parts comes with the kit. This appears to be very accurate and a considerable time must have been devoted to produce them to such fine detail. The instructions are a headache in spite of the pictorial hand sketches intended to assist one to locate the tiny metal etch items as it is of poor printing and you will be lucky if you manage 50% of all these miniature etch parts, as the numerical references with respect to the parts could hardly be read.

When it comes to the transparencies these are again thick and crude and unless one replaces them with a new set of molded ones from acetate ones will loose the scope of detailing the cockpit interior with brass etch parts issued but can be described as modest. The wheels are of rough finish and if best are replaced but I refined them with a flat file and plenty of wet and dry.

Decal and paintwork.
The decals provide for three different Russian AF bombers, all in metal upper finish with white lower fuselage. There is a pretty green curled crocodile on one of the schemes for a Tu-16 that served in the war in Afghanistan with mission marks too. Paint scheme on the instructions appear to portray the aircraft accurately which will be of considerable assistance to those with limited access to suitable reference material on the type.

The Tu-16K was completed in Egyptian AF camouflage finish. There were varieties of this scheme. I have used Humbrol enamel paints, mixing the appropriate shades to conform as close as possible to the following FS colors:

Underside blue grey FS 25526
Sand FS 20400
Dark olive-gray FS 34050
Grey-green FS36251

There were also variations in shades of the camouflage colors as the Tu-16 were subjected to both intense hot weather at the desert bases and also subjected to erosion operating low over the sea. Egyptian Air Force decals were acquired from an old ESCI decal sheet that had the correct size of roundels of red white and black at center. The Arabic numbers were hand painted. The aircraft was in the end given a coat of semi matt Micro varnish.

The Red Wings kit of the Tu-16 was built as a Tu-16 K-26 and this required a new nose antenna, which was made from plastic card. The Kingfish ASM missiles were removed from the under wing pylons as it was not sure if the Egyptian AF had them in service.

This was the only kit available at the time. It is not a kit intended for one who is new to the hobby in view of the size and quality of the product as explained above. Nevertheless it is ideal for those with a special interest in Warsaw pact aircraft during the cold war era and this will be an appealing model worth having a try at.

Carmel J Attard

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Photos and text by Carmel J Attard