Soviet Fighter Yak-3

Published on
May 10, 2012
Review Author(s)
Product / Stock #
Company: Zvezda
Provided by: Dragon Models USA - Website: Visit Site
Box Art

The Soviet fighter Yak-3 is part of Zvezda’s new “Snap Fit” series. You get 45 medium gray hard plastic parts and two clear parts with minimal flash. The instructions are very well illustrated with seven sequences of assembly. The detail is exceptional and surprising for a snap fit kit. The three piece pilot figure is a work of art, with the seat pan molded to the pilot. A seat without pilot is also provided, should you wish that option. The kit is designed for snap assembly and can easily be assembled with no glue. However, I plan on using glue. Areas of concern are the sink marks on the upper wings (part 40) and front top cowling (part 41). Filler will definitely be required. You also get two finely detailed instrument panels, one to be used with kit supplied decals and the other with raised details for the instruments if you prefer to paint yours. You also have the option for wheels down or wheels up. You get one sprue with the clear parts: A very clear canopy and rear head armor. The decals are in perfect register. I don’t know how they will work and look on the model as I have never used Zvezda decals before (stay tuned).

I started with assembling the wing lower center section (part A39) to the main wing (part A40). Since I wanted to align the sections myself, I removed the molded alignment pegs. When I test fitted the two wing parts, it revealed that the splitter plates in the wing root intakes did not reach all the way to the bottom wing section. I removed the molded splitter plates and replaced them with plastic card. As mentioned, there are sink marks on the upper and lower wings. This might be due to the almost one piece wing and the deep wheel wells, among other things. I was able to sand some of the sink marks flush but the rest were filled with Milliput and then sanded smooth.

Next, I turned my attention to the rather nicely detailed cockpit. In fact, I was surprised at the level of detail for a snap fit kit. I added a homemade lead foil seat harness and wiring for the radio, otherwise everything else is from the box. I mixed Gunze RLM 02 (50%) and RLM 65 (50%) to get what I thought looked like an interior color for the Yak. I then used MiG Pigments’ light wash to bring out the interior details, then followed by picking out the details with black, red-brown, dark gray, white, yellow, and red. I added scuff marks randomly in dark gray followed by a few silver pencil paint chips to show a little wear. You get a choice of instrument panels, one for painting and one for use with decals. I opted for the painting. You get very nice raised details on the instrument panel. The details showed up really nicely with some gray and white dry brushing.

With the cockpit area now finished, it was time to button it all up. Assembly was quick and straightforward and, in no time, the fuselage, wings, tail planes, and front upper cowl were all together. Because of the snap fit nature of this kit, there were large gaps at the wing to fuselage joints. Special attention was required at the wing roots and several sessions of filling and sanding were needed to seal these gaps to satisfaction. Some putty was also needed on the rear upper and lower fuselage joints. A few panel lines were restored by re-scribing and all areas were painted with primer to test for any missed seam marks. Once all areas passed the test, the whole airframe was lightly sanded smooth and washed. The Yak was prepared for the next step, PAINTING!

I started by painting the underside first with a mixture of Gunze H323 Light Blue (50%) plus H67 RLM 65 (50%) to get what I think matched the VVS underside blue. The bottom was masked and the med gray color was applied by mixing Gunze H317 gray (50%) plus Tamiya XF-83 RAF med sea gray (50%). Then the dark gray was sprayed on over raised masks with a mixture of Gunze H331 dark sea gray (33.3%) plus H70 RLM 02 gray (33.3%) plus Tamiya field gray (33.3%). After a few touch ups, the whole thing was sealed with Future to prepare it for decals. I chose the Normandie Niemen color scheme. To my surprise, the decals worked rather well except for the kill markings, which were out of register and appeared oversized. I found replacement kill markings that were the correct size and in register in my scrap decals. The decals were sealed with another coat of Future.

I pin washed the whole airframe with a mixture of 50% MiG dark wash and 50% MiG neutral wash. This was the first time I used MiG pre mixed washes and they performed as expected, with fine pigments being deposited. After a few minor adjustments, I was finished. The entire model was then shot with Tamiya clear flat that I decanted previously from a rattle can. I finished painting all the small bits before they were joined to the airframe. I added a few subtle paint chips and scuff marks.

The tail wheel, radiator and rad cover were added on. Then I assembled the landing gear wheels, struts, and well doors without the need of cement. The main gear was then attached to the airframe and a little glue was used to make it all permanent. The exhausts were then forced into the slits on the front cowling. Now, I say forced, as the fit was very tight and required serious coaxing to get them in place. I had decided to have the canopy opened earlier on; this required the kit canopy to be cut up (the canopy is molded closed). I was able to find a suitable sliding hood from the spares box, as I could not cut close enough to save the kit one. Once the canopy sections were painted, they, too, were installed along with a tiny rearview mirror. The pitot tube was re-installed along with the prop assembly to complete the project.

I was amazed at the level of detail this little Yak-3 packed. The only real issues encountered were the sink marks and the wing roots gaps, but these were easily overcome with some filler, sanding, and a little elbow grease. I am very pleased with my little Yak and will display it with pride. I recommend it to all from the beginner to those with many projects under their belts. It’s a good starting point for the detailer, but it builds well without any extras added.

I would like to thank Zvezda, Dragon USA, and the IPMS/USA Reviewer Corps for the opportunity to review and build the Yak-3 Fighter.


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