Yak 9T WWII Soviet Fighter
The Yakovlev series are considered by many the best of the Soviet fighters of WWII. It was the equal of its opponents and generally carried a mixed cannon/machine gun armament. Yakovlev believed he could fit the recently developed NS 37 cannon to make the YAK 9 a tank killer. Designated the Yak9T for tyazhelowoonuzhenny or “heavily armed”, fitting of this weapon required some changes to the standard Yak 9. The cockpit was moved back about a foot and structural integrity was increased. Surprisingly, these changes didn’t reduce the aircrafts performance. This cannon was supplemented by a single 12.7mm machine gun. Both guns were housed in the engine cowling. Introduced during the battle of Kursk in 1943, the Yak9T became a favorite with the pilots who flew it. It was found that higher speeds and limited shots made for better shooting as the cannons recoil could quickly spoil the pilot’s ability to aim and damage the aircraft!
Despite the difficulties in Ukraine, ICM continues to issue new kits on a regular schedule and this one certainly doesn’t disappoint. Six frames of grey molded parts and one clear are packed in a sturdy cardboard box covered by a color printed slipcover. Interesting to note that the box illustrations show no Soviet insignias but fear not, the enclosed decal sheet has all the markings needed. The quality of the parts is typical ICM meaning fine panel lines and very delicate injected parts. As is also common for this manufacture, the plastic is on the soft side and the surface of the airframe parts have a texture. Since all the finishing options in this kit are camouflaged, the texture isn’t an issue. The decal sheet provides markings for four different aircraft. One serving in Kursk in 1943 and three others serving on the Ukrainian front in 1944-45. The instructions include paint references for ICM, Revell, and Tamiya paints.
ICM kits have some common themes I’ve found. The mating surfaces of larger parts tend to have very small contact areas and at times can make mating parts difficult. Very soft composition of the plastic makes it easy to leave marks on the parts when removing them from the sprues or during clean up. Another common theme of these kits is a lot of internal detail. For this build you get a very detailed cockpit and if you wish, a full engine bay with the cannon this version is known for. If you elect to expose the engine, the top cowl cannot be installed so you must decide early on what you want to do. Gun barrels and exhaust ends are solid requiring drilling if you want an accurate model.
Build up starts with internal details on the fuselage halves. The internal tube structure is an injected molded part and is very delicate. Test fitting of the parts is critical as some have specific orientations as is the case for the exhaust parts E15 and E16. The instrument panel is overlayed with a decal. If you use the kit decal, cut the instruments out and fill the various recesses to get rid of the white outlines. You will have to make or buy a harness set as none is provided. The instructions would have you paint the cockpit all one color, while this was done, my research showed factories varied right down to the individual in charge on a particular shift. A lot of the early Yak 9Ts didn’t have finished cockpits given the urgency of the need at the front. Using the two references I had, I came up with realistic and varied cockpit colors. As the pictures show, I built the open engine bay so you can see what the kit provides. The M-105PF engine consists of a crankcase, cylinder heads, supercharger and associated plumbing. The NS-37 sits down between the cylinder rows. Fitting the engine proved a challenge. I found I had to remove a bit from the bottom of the crankcase front to align the prop shaft in the center of the nose and allow part A8, the upper engine compartment frame, to fit. The removal is not visible, so it worked out but check the fit before you glue. This adjustment is required regardless of open or closed cowling. The second issue was the top wing to fuselage joint. When joined, the seam falls right in the middle of the wing fillets. A few millimeters added on either part would have avoided this.
Once that was cleaned up, I had decided at the beginning to model the Kursk 1943 version since this is where the Yak 9T was introduced and I liked the camouflage colors of AMT-6 Black over AMT-4 Green and AMT-7 Blue. I ordered the Tamiya colors based on the chart in the instructions. As it turned out, those color callouts are not correct. I ended up using a mix of XF-90 Royal Grey & XF-8 Flat Blue for the AMT-7 underside. For the upper surfaces I used XF-5 Flat Green for the AMT-4 and a mix of XF-1 Flat Black mixed with X-9 Brown to make an earthy AMT-6. A coat of Testors clear gloss was used for decal prep. The decals are thin and come off the paper quickly. I did have to use settling solution in this case Mr. Mark Softer from Mr. Hobby. The only tricky decals were the stencils which silvered even with softener. As with everything else, test fit the landing gear and its associated parts before committing to glue. This is one area that could have been a bit more substantial. There’s a lot of weight for the gear to hold up and the attachment points don’t seem up to the task long term. The oleos are molded fully extended but I didn’t modify them. The finish was too nice to muck up with weathering, so I didn’t.
My overall impressions are very positive. Some modeling skills are required to deal with the delicate parts and soft plastic, but things generally fit except the engine. Aside from the usual paint and glue the only other thing you’ll need is a seat harness since ICM doesn’t include one. There are also color instrument panels available which would take this build to another level. If 1/32 WWII fighters are your interest, this subject belongs in your collection as it represented one of the Soviets best. Highly recommended.
Many thanks to ICM, (please keep them coming) and to IPMS for sending me this kit to review for you.
- Yefim Gordan and Dmitri Khazanov, 1998, Soviet Combat Aircraft of the Second World War. Volume 1, Leicester England, Midland Publishing Limited, ISBN 1 85780 083 4
- Erik Pilawskii and Chris Banyai-Riepl, 2003, Soviet Air Force Fighter Colors 1941-1945, Surrey England, Classic Publications, ISBN 1 903223 30 X