Yakovlev YAK-1 “ACES” with Accessories
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-26, the Yak-1 was later redesignated Yak-1 in honor of its designer, and during its service life 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. The Yak-1 was the first of a series of fighters that became the mainstay of the Soviet Air Force for the duration of World War II.
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. There is also the internet.
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 clear canopy parts, a color guide, and some of the first cockpit assembly drawings. There is no sprue diagram for the PE parts. Page two shows how the fuselage and wings go together, while pages three and four illustrate the landing gear and final assembly. Also, the location of the PE parts on the lower wing surface is illustrated. The color guide for the four aircraft included in the decal sheet is printed on the back of the box.
The Photo Etch Accessories
This kit comes with a standard PE sheet, which provides underwing details, flaps, and landing gear covers. In addition, a Model Accessory sheet, Yak-1b, BRL 720194, provides additional details, including radiator surfaces and details, seat belts, some interior cockpit details, rudder pedals, an instrument panel, a pilot’s seat and mounting hardware, some interior bracing for the main wheel wells, and tailwheel doors for the retractable tailwheel.
The four aircraft for which decals are provided include a Yak-1 of 296 IAP, L.V. Litvyak (12 v.) Stalingrad, Summer, 1943; 183 IAP, M.D. Baranov (25 v.), Stalingrad, Summer, 1942; 20 IAP, E.V. Petrenko (17 v.), Murmansk-Vaenga 1, September, 1942; and 273 IAP, A.M. Reshetov (35 v.), Kharkov, May, 1942. The decals are well printed and can be applied without trimming them to the edges. Good four view color drawings are provided on the box for each aircraft. I had no problems with the star decals, but found that the squadron and kill markings tended to adhere prematurely to the model surface, requiring a large amount of water and decal solution to get them to move into the correct locations.
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. Photo etch sections are provided for two panels in each wing lower surface, along with the flaps. These can be easily attached using superglue, and they fit perfectly. 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, it looked acceptable. After joining the fuselage halves, a small amount of filler was needed to get rid of the seams. The cockpit assembly, however, is quite impressive once installed.
The wings needed little 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, although the mounting pegs needed to be trimmed very carefully, and the whole thing was pretty easy to line up correctly. The landing gear is a bit complex with six parts for each unit, but they fitted snugly into the wheel well and were superglued into place. The wheels were mounted on a resin bar and looked very good once installed. 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. In addition, there was a small oil cooler intake that mounts on the leading edge of the wing on the left side, and this part was so fragile that when I tried to remove it from the sprue, it broke in two, and was almost impossible to repair. Be very careful with part No. 23. The canopy is divided into three sections: the windshield, cockpit cover, and rear window part. These fit very well, and can be masked off for painting. 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. Although half of them have one part number, # 39, and the other #36, they look fairly similar on the sprue. This kit has a lot of small, highly detailed parts, and I would advise having a pretty good size magnifying glass on hand during assembly, as losing track of small parts might be a problem. They have a tendency to want to escape.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Brengun is one of the up and coming kit producers in the Czech Republic, and they have been introducing some kits of some obscure but needed kits of Czech, German, Japanese, and even American aircraft. They seem to be doing their research correctly, and the results have been some fine models which, although somewhat complicated to build, can result in some spectacular models for your model cabinets. These guys have a lot going for themselves. Keep your eye on them.
This is Brengun’s second issue of a kit of the Yak-1. They differ mainly in the rear fuselage, canopy, and the underwing PE detail. 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. Get one.
Thanks to Brengun and Phil Peterson for the review kit.