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Tupolev ANT-4/TB-1 Bomber plus 2 X Tupolev ANT-5/I-4 Fighters (Zveno-1)

By Ken Duffey

TB-1 Bomber

The TB-1 kit is a vacform kit that I purchased from a German guy at a model show in the UK. All I know is that his business card says ‘Modelbaustudio Rhein / Ruhr’.

The kit is, I think, of Russian origin and the instructions consist of three A4 sheets containing a parts diagram with a crude sketch of a Zveno-1, construction diagrams and details of the I-4 attachment struts plus a separate sheet containing a three view of a Zveno-1 copied from a publication (possibly Czech ?) called ‘Monografie’.  The instruction sheet bears the logo ‘KACK’ under a half-star with a three-line flash.

The kit itself comprises three sheets of plastic card that is well moulded with some excellent representation of the corrugated skinning on the TB-1. The sheets contain complete interior parts including seats, floors, bulkheads, instrument panels etc. Even the control wheels are included but these are best replaced from the spares box - I used the metal parts from a press-stud. The cockpits on the real thing are open - so there is plenty of scope for detailing.

The fuselage is in four parts - two side pieces (with a large cut-out for the wing root) plus top and bottom sections. Initial assembly was a bit flimsy but bulkheads are provided to ensure rigidity and once they and the interior parts were in place everything went together without any problems.

The wings are in six parts - upper centre section and two outer panels plus a wider, lower centre section with two outer panels. The joints between the inner and outer sections are in different places on the upper and lower wings - which cleverly provides some overlapping strength to the whole wing assembly.

The fin and tailplane are in two halves each and, again, no problem were encountered in assembly or fit.

Alternative parts are provided to enable the TB-1 to be made into different variants - floats, skis, wheels or the enclosed-cabin G-1 Avia Antarktika version.

Some of the vacform parts such as the undercarriage struts, side ladder, exhaust pipes etc. need either strengthening, or replacing completely. One area I found to be slightly inaccurate concerns the engine nacelles, These are too tapered in front view and bear only a passing resemblance to the cowlings for the BMW V1 or Mikulin M-17.  I hand-made a replacement nacelle and cast two resin copies for my model. I have since talked to the German guy I purchased the kit from originally and sent him a resin engine so that he can make copies for inclusion in future kits - (I also purchased another TB-1 from him at the same time !)

The kit went together without any major fit problems and is probably one of the best vacforms I have made in that regard. Apart from the engines, I also replaced the two-bladed props and added machine guns and Scarff rings - all from Aeroclub parts. The ladder that is fixed to the starboard side aft of the wing root came from an etched brass set that looked about right.

I-4 Fighters

The ANT-5/I-4 fighters are ‘standard’ injection-moulded Nakotne kits assembled as the ‘Zveno’ option in the kit. The kits are a bit crude and according to some reports, are of dubious accuracy. All I know is - they look like I-4's !!!

The only changes I made to the kits was to thin down the wing trailing edges by scraping away the plastic from the undersides - where it wouldn’t be too obvious - and restoring the corrugations by scribing.

The mounts for the fighters are made from brass rod using the vacform kit instructions as a guide. These were let into the bombers wings and provided a firm location for the I-4's that are permanently "super glued" into place. The biggest problem was getting both fighters to line up with each other and be true in plan, front and side elevation.

Colour Scheme

No colour instructions are provided in the kit, but as the Zveno-1 appears to be in a standard green upper surface with blue undersides, I airbrushed on Aeromasters 9074 Light Blue followed by 9073 Topside Green from their Soviet colours range.

The finished model certainly draws attention wherever I display it and some people refuse to believe it really existed - wait till I make a Zveno-7 using the forthcoming ICM TB-3 kit with FIVE fighters attached, now that will REALLY show them !!

Ken Duffey, May 1998