The Yakovlev Yak-1 series design work began in the late thirties, with the first flight taking place in 1939. Production started in the same year, and by 1941, these planes were beginning to be issued to Soviet Air Force fighter squadrons. The type went through a considerable amount of development, resulting in the Yak-7, Yak-9 and later the Yak-3. At first designated I-16, the Yak-1 was upgraded in several ways, including replacing the faired in canopy with a version allowing the pilot to see directly behind him. Some units modified their aircraft, using what was known as the Shinkarenkov Modification, which was later incorporated into all Yak production aircraft. These modified fighters were known unofficially as Yak-1b. Later, the Yak-1M was produced, differing from earlier models only in new exhaust stacks, reposition navigation lights, and a revised oil cooler intake under the nose. I believe that this model actually represents a Yak-1M as well as a Yak-1b.
There is a lot of material available on the early Yak fighters, including the old 1961 edition of William Green’s Fighters, Volume 3, which describes all of the Russian fighters of this era. Yak-1 coverage is rather sparse in this source. A better source of information is the Squadron-Signal publication, Yak Fighters in Action, No. 78, dating back to 1986. The series is also covered in the numerous books on fighter aircraft of World War II. One problem is that there is not much coverage of the Yak-1b, which leads me to believe that the Yak-1M was the major production model, while the Yak-1b was the modified type with the different canopy, mostly converted by field units. You have to do some serious reading to figure this out. Have fun.
The instructions are on a single standard size sheet, folded in half to provide four pages of instructions. Page one has an extensive sprue diagram, identifying more than 50 parts and the canopy parts, a color guide, and some of the first cockpit assembly drawings. Page two shows how the fuselage and wings go together, while pages three and four illustrate the landing gear and final assembly. The color guide for the four aircraft included in the decal sheet is printed on the back of the box.
The four aircraft for which decals are provided include a Yak-1b operated by the 586 IAP (Women’s Fighter Group), the aircraft of Nikolai Kozlov of the 910th IAP in February, 1943, Lt. Savkin’s plane of the 3 GIAP, Baltic Region, 1943, and A.F. Lavrenov’s #10 of the 291 IAP during 1943. The decals are well printed and can be applied without trimming them to the edges.
The Kit and Assembly
The kit consists of over 50 injection molded light grey styrene parts, four clear plastic canopy sections, and one small photo etch sheet with an instrument panel, two seat mounts, and another part of the cockpit assembly. There is some flash that needs to be trimmed off, and there are no mounting pegs on or in the fuselage. The wings are made of three major sections, a one piece bottom and two top half sections, with a couple of fishhook sections forming the wheel wells, which have considerable detail. The major problem is the cockpit assembly, which is made up of at least 20 very small parts, with rather unclear instructions as to exactly how they should be assembled. The whole thing ends up as one unit, but there is no method of attaching the thing to the fuselage interior. I wound up just attaching the thing to the right fuselage section, and after some jiggling around, at looked acceptable. After joining the fuselage halves, a small amount of filler was needed to get rid of the seams.
The wings needed a little bit of trimming to get the proper dihedral angle, and small amounts of filler were needed to fill in the cracks. Underneath the rear portion of the center section, a radiator unit fits in place, and the fit here was quite good. The horizontal tail units were easy to install, and the whole thing was pretty easy to line up correctly. The landing gear is a bit complex, with seven parts for each unit. These don’t have much to attach them to inside the wheel well, but after trimming the top parts, they were superglued into place. The outer wheel hub covers seem a little large, but they are mostly hidden behind the gear covers so this is not a big issue. I had problems with the oil cooler intake under the nose, and had to use quite a bit of filler to get it looking right. Once the main airframe was assembled, the aircraft was ready for painting
Painting and Finishing
Painting the assembled model went smoothly. All of the versions for which decals were provided were the standard Soviet dark green and black over light blue, colors which are provided in the Model Master enamel paint series. After painting, the exhaust stacks need to be installed, a very tedious process since each stack is an individual (and VERY small) part, and very easy to lose on the workbench. By the way, these paints have been discontinued by the manufacturer, Rust-Oleum Corp., so we will either have to switch to acrylics or find a different paint source. I think I have enough in stock to last quite a while, but the day is coming. Oh, well.
Conclusions and Recommendations
This is apparently Brengun’s second issue of this kit, as I’ve seen reviews of this kit of the earlier model Yak-1 with the faired in canopy on the Modelingmadness site. In that review, there is apparently an additional photoetch sheet giving some underwing detail that wasn’t included in this kit. The instructions show the detail, which appears to be metal panels, but there is no mention of the parts or how to install them.
This is not a kit for beginners, and really, seems to be a little bit overdetailed for the average modeler. It is possible, however, to get an excellent model out of this kit, and if you are interested in this particular version of the Yak-1, you should certainly consider it. Just remember that it will take a lot more time than the average single seat fighter, but the results will certainly be worth it.
Recommended with reservations.
Thanks to Brengun and Phil Peterson for the review kit.