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Yak-3 Hi-Tech

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Special Hobby Yakolev Yak-3

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Aircraft history

The yak 3 is born from the Yak series of fighters from world war two starting with the Yak 1 and progressing to the Yak 7 heavy fighter and the Yak 9 fighter. All of these fighters had fabric skinned fuselage with an under chin oil cooler. After development of the Yak 1 Yaks designers started experimenting with the airframe and developing it until a halt was called on the Yak 1M project. Yak however persisted with their fighter and started experimenting with a shorter span wing and plywood skinned airframe. To improve things further the cockpit was moved forward and the oil coolers were moved to the wing roots. The type was first tried with the Klimov M-107 engine but this was beset with problems of overheating and oil leaks so the almost Russian air force standard inline engine the Klimov M-105PF-2 engine was put in its place, the same engine as used in the Petlyakov PE-2 and this solved some of the problems to a point where the aircraft was deemed acceptable in October 1943. Problems however did persist with the Yak and the Klimov engine as well as the Plywood skin coming unstuck from the airframe on occasion. Early aircraft had one 20mm cannon fitted firing through the propeller shaft and one 12.7mm machine gun fitted in the top of the engine cowl this was increased to two to improve the fire power soon after. Once introduced into front line units in 1944 the type was seen as quite a revelation and a nasty shock for Luftwaffe pilots who faced it. Due to the altitude most fighting took place at on the eastern front the yak could out climb, out turn and out roll all German fighters of the day and was also faster due to its relative light weight and small size, so much so that a directive was sent out by the Luftwaffe not to tangle with the Oil cooler less Yak aircraft below 5000 meters and only attack from above with the advantage of speed.  Many pilots of the Yak who flew other types have said it was as good as if not better than the P51 or late model Spitfire and was certainly a very good air superiority fighter.

The type was put into use with the Normandie-Niemen units of French volunteers who scored countless kills with the aircraft with many pilots being decorated as heroes of the Soviet Union, at the end of the war the Frenchmen were gifted the aircraft to take back to France with them. The French, Polish and Yugoslav air forces used the type after the war and production was carried out under licence to build the aircraft with an Allison engine in the United States, these generally being identified with an air scoop on the cowl.

 

The Kit

1/32nd scale Russian WW2 aircraft are something of a rarity with Trumpeter's Mig 3, Hobbyboss' IL2 being the main ones available, a resin kit of the Yak 3 was produced in small numbers by Aeropoxy but to my knowledge this is the first injection moulded Yak 3 on the market although the type has been well served in 1/48th scale by both Eduard and more recently Zvezda and even Airfix have produced one in 1/72nd scale many years ago. The kit here is marketed like Special Hobby’s recent Tempest as a Hi-Tech kit and therefore comes with such goodies as resin, Photo etch and self-adhesive masks as well as five marking options all of which are Normandie-Niemen aircraft.

The box has some cracking artwork much like their Tempest kit showing the extra bits included and it’s the same size as the tempest box, but being a smaller aircraft, the parts are not tightly packed in like the Tempest (that’s when I got the box open as its somewhat tight fitting). On opening the Plastic parts are packed in a single bag with a couple of bits of sprue floating around in the bag with a second bag with the clear parts in and a separate CMK blister pack with the “goodies in”

The kit is on five sprues of grey injection moulded plastic with one of clear parts and a small fret of pre-painted PE for the seat belts (why no fabric belts like the tempest?) and the resin parts are wheels, muzzles for guns, cocking lever, radio and rudder pedals, if you dislike using resin the plastic parts are on the sprues for a less hi-tech release in the future.

Sprue A,

This contains the parts for the fuselage, cowl and a part for the large underwing Radiator, this is the first kit I have seen of the type (and I’ve built the 1/48th kits) where the cockpit framing is separate. So this looks a bit bare inside, with just panelling to be seen.  However this panelling looks very good and would respond well to painting and weathering. There seems to be a trend with this aircraft both Eduard and Zvezda have done this as well as Special Hobby and that is not to provide locating pins on the fuselage so the modeller must find a way of lining up the fuselage so as not to get a step on the flat bottomed fuselage.  With this I tend to make sure that all flash is missing from the mating faces ( a rub of a sanding stick will usually suffice) to make sure the faces are square and then very carefully line it up.  The fastener detail however is sublime and very delicate including the piano hinges on the cockpit access hatches.

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Sprue B

This sprue contains the wings and in common with other manufacturers of the type it has a one piece top and bottom to the wing. This hopefully will show no real gapping at the wing roots and the sight glasses for the wings fuel tanks are separate a first for the type. The cockpit floor is moulded to the top of the wing, this is the same as the Zvezda 1/48th kit. The fabric detail on the moulded ailerons is really nicely done as well as the rivet detail on the underside fuel tanks and flaps are nicely done. At first glance the wheel bay detail looks sparse but, the wheel bay is inserted after assembly and is made up of lots of bits, a nice idea. With both this and the fuselage sprues I would recommend a light run over with fine Micromesh just to polish the surface a little.  

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Sprue C

This sprue contains the rudder Tail plane, elevators spinner and prop blades as well as the undercarriage doors, again the fabric detail is good and the prop blades look good and the profile of the blades looks good.

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Sprue D

This contains most of the parts that are replaced in resin. As well as cockpit, radiator and seat parts, as well as the undercarriage legs. The parts are well moulded and I would say that this is some of the sharpest detail in places that Special Hobby have produced that I have seen anyway particularly in the area of the radiators which are really sharp and replicate the depth of the real thing (the radiator on this aircraft is huge!)

 

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Sprue E

On this sprue are the frames for the cockpit as well as the wheel wells and other ancillary parts.  Again the moulding is sharp and looks really good, with the instrument panel bezels looking really good.  With both sprue D and E I would recommend care in removing some of the parts as they are very thin and detailed in places and would break easily, a razor saw maybe?  

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Clear sprue

This contains the gunsight and sight glasses for the wings and optional closed and open canopy parts, the parts are well moulded with no real sign of low lines or mould seams.

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Other parts,

In a separate CMK blister pack is the Resin parts, the wheels are slightly flattened, and are detailed down to the tyres with writing in Cyrillic so I couldn’t tell you whether it’s spelt right. The exhausts are nice and sharp with the outlets hollowed out and the radio is sharply cast.

The PE belts are painted nicely and the other PE parts look good.

The Masks are vinyl and are for the canopy sight glasses and wheels but will need tape or Maskol to infill the masks.

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Decals are printed by Eduard and look sharp and in good register with separate a separate sheet for the white decals and separate decals for each of the instruments and radio controls , (a nice touch)  and they appear thin and I have never had a problem with Eduard decals in the past and they respond well to sol and set.  

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The kit instructions are A4 in size and glossy with separate pictures for assembly and painting. I like this because you get the exploded diagram of the sub- assemblies you are putting together then a picture of the assembled parts and how they should be painted.  The paint call outs are form Gunze,  which is good but I do have worries about calling out light gull grey for the interior as Russian fighters were generally Painted A14 which is a steel grey. And somewhat darker, I would check your references . The marking choices are all Normandie –Niemen aircraft and are as follows:

1, White 6 Lt Marcel Albert CO 1st squadron autumn 1944

2, White double zero Cdt Louis Delfino 1944-5

3, White 24 Roland de la Poype Autumn 1944

4, White 22 Pierre Douarre France June 1945

5 White 4 Lt Roger Marchi Lithuania Summer 1944  

All are finished in dark/blue Grey over Light blue with a tricolour Spinner with option 4 being quite eye catching with the tricolour on the tail also as well as the Cross of Lorraine.

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Conclusion

I have been waiting for this kit since it was announced and I have to say I’m not disappointed, the moulding looks excellent and with the resin and PE parts as well as excellent decals there is no aftermarket that I would need to consider for this kit I know James is building his as I type this and Its looking to go together well. Me? I’ve cleared the bench and all my other builds have been put on hold and I will start this today.  By the looks of things I don’t think it will be long on the bench either if the quality exuded by the look of the sprues and resin is anything to go by.

It’s hard not to recommend this totally and if you’re a fan of eastern front aircraft (like me) it’s a must.

My thanks to Special Hobby and James Hatch for a chance to review this kit.

 

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8 hours ago, AlanHooker said:

Does look rather nice, I must say. May have to invest (y)

Oh it is nice I've cleared the bench to build it straight away and if you're not a fan of resin you can still build it . The parts require a little clean up but nothing serious 

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