by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
Background"The Kamov Ka-8 "Иркутянин", (Irkutyanin - from Irkutsk), was a diminutive Soviet helicopter that first flew in 1947.
It was a precursor of the Ka-10. The Ka-8 was a single-seat helicopter with a 27 hp M-76 engine, boosted to 45 hp by using alcohol for fuel." Source: Wikipedia
The KitNorth Star's kit of the Ka-8 must rank among the most unusual models I've seen, looking pretty straightforward on paper, but I suspect it has the potential to be a little devil to construct if you're not careful.
The sample kit arrive packed tightly in a resealable bag with a separate sheet of instructions. Inside, the parts are sealed in further bags and a couple of parts had come adrift in transit, but no harm was done. Note: this may not represent how it would be packaged for sale in shops, because there was no box or printed cardboard header in the style of other North Star models I've seen.
The Ka-8 comprises:
17 x grey resin parts
58 x etched brass parts
The casting is excellent in the sample kit, with no visible flaws or flash. The attachments to the casting blocks are well defined, so clean-up shouldn't be difficult. The main point to watch out for will be ensuring that all six rotor blades end up identical.
The etched parts arrive on two brass frets. The larger of the two includes the structural elements of the helicopter, which I imagine were constructed from tubing on the full-sized machine. So, the etched parts are inevitably a slight compromise, but I can't really see how else they could have been modelled in this scale and they should look fine under a coat of paint to round the edges a little.
As you can imagine, a test fit is impractical in a review of a kit like this, so that will have to wait until I build the little beastie in due course. If you hadn't guessed already, this really is going to be a kit that's totally unsuitable for beginners - and I think will challenge experienced modellers. The vital thing will be folding the etched parts accurately and keeping everything square and true. It looks like itíll be one of those models where everything depends on everything else being correct, with no easy place to start - and with little or no leeway for error, the whole thing risks being cock-eyed if youíre not careful. Itíd definitely not a kit to rush.
In terms of what's provided, North Star look to have done a great job, with a beautifully detailed engine and transmission, and effective-looking floats. It's tempting to file slight flats on the bottom of these so that the finished model will sit with a little "weight".
Most sub-assemblies are a mix of resin and etched parts - and there's a fair amount of folding required on some pretty small metal pieces. For instance, the transmission is built up from around a dozen parts, and even the pilot's seat is in six pieces and must be folded to shape.
Instructions & DecalsNorth Star include a very nicely illustrated set of instructions that break construction down into 14 logical stages. The sequence makes sense and, for once, I'm likely to stick to the suggested way of doing things. Generic paint matches are given for the very simple colour scheme of grey and silver.
There's a neat little decal sheet with a choice of red or black markings. I've only ever found black and white photos of the Ka-8, and red and black can be notoriously difficult to tell apart depending on the type of film stock used (red can actually even appear white in some Soviet WW2-era photos), but in one photo the tail marking looks a little bit less dark than the deepest shadows, so Iíll go with red.
ConclusionNorth Star's looks a great little kit if you're after something distinctly "different". It's very temptingly priced at 21 Euros, and I don't think experienced modellers will be disappointed. As noted above, it will be a challenging build, but the resulting model will be an eye-catcher in any line-up of early helicopters.
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