1:72 Yakovlev Yak-3

Zvezda 7301

"No glue required" said the box, but I didn't listen and completely ignored the snap-kit aspect of this set. Glue, putty and other standard modelling supplies were used. Effect? See for yourself.

The kit

Another easy-kit from Russian manufacturer- this time an aircraft model. After the T-34/76 I was just curious how Zvezda handled this rather different subject. First impression after opening the box is quite good- model is surprisingly well detailed for a snap kit and yes, it can be assembled without glue. But I dare to doubt that it would look very nice then.

After building it, I must say that I find that kit as a missing opportunity. In my opinion this could be the best 1:72 Yak-3 available on the market today, only if it was engineered as a standard model. Removing the snap joints in some places (like wing-fuselage connection) is time consuming and simply irritating.

In addition, kit has some other drawbacks, not linked with its "snap fit" nature. For example, paint instruction isn't very reliable and the decal has some errors (at least that which I used, didn't check the French option). In short: I would like to build at last one more Yak-3, but I doubt that it will be from Zvezda (there's no reasonable alternative though).

Assembly

I decided to build this kit almost “out-of-box” with only minimum, necessary in my opinion modifications, but without any "aftermarkets". Not surprisingly, I started with cockpit assembly. It's quite well detailed, so I only feel the need to add the seatbelts. Interior was paint with mix of some Model Master grey enamels, contrary to the Chromate Green proposed in the instruction.

I wanted to depict quite worn soviet machine, which was used for a while in heavy conditions, so with use of artists oil I made interior a little bit messy. It's worth mentioning at this point, that the kit decal for instrument panel isn't very good (i.e., my copy had slightly shifted white colour).

It's a “snap-kit”, but I chose to build it in the "normal" way- gluing parts together. I've removed all visible joints revealing the snap nature of the kit, which in some cases was quite irritating. Also some putty was necessary, as you can see on the posted photos. The worst is the fuselage-wing connection, which required multiple sessions of puttying, sanding and re-scribing of panel lines. This is in my opinion the weakest point of the kit by far.

Another of kit drawbacks, often mentioned, are the sinkholes on the wings. However that isn't much of a problem in my opinion. Yes, there is a need of some putty, but as the Yak-3 wings were mostly covered with plywood and there's basically no panel lines to watch out. Other than that, canopy was at this point masked (Tamiya Masking Tape plus masking fluid) and painted with interior colour.

After assembling the main parts, I covered the whole model with Mr. Surfacer 1200 from Gunze. It evens the colour and improve adhesion of subsequent coats of paints, which was the main goal here- because I wanted to use Model Master enamels and heavily weather them later. This of course revealed a few places requiring additional work. So further filling and sanding was performed.

Painting

At the beginning of the build, I decided to make Russian Yak-3 using the kit decals- Lieutenant Rogovoy personal machine. It meant that I needed to choose the colour of “15” on the fuselage sides and two tail stripes. Zvezda recommend white and yellow composition, but it's not certain. Also it looks like manufacturer wasn't sure either- colour profile on the box depicts this plane with single yellow stripe and “15” in the same colour

There are some WW2 photos of this particular Yak, but it doesn't help a lot- on one of them even the fuselage star outline looks darker than the number. There is also a question of a spinner colour. Zvezda suggest to paint it with grey used in camouflage, but on some photos it looks darker than the fuselage, so red is quite possible. Certainly it has a lighter border, often overlooked by colour profile authors.

However, I decided to go with white “15”, two stripes in that same colour and red spinner. So the first thing was to paint the portion of the tail with white. Next, two narrow stripes of masking tape and a modest pre-shading, which was a result of a small amount of panel lines.

Wheel bays were painted with grey used earlier in the cockpit, and masked. The lower surfaces of the WW2 Yak-3s were painted with Russian AMT7 paint. I mixed similar colour from Model Master enamels (“Flanker Pale Blue” used as a base, with a hint of “True blue”), and applied it on a model. Yes, the result is quite lighter than the AMT7, but it's intentional. As I said before, I was going for worn-out look, and the original paint used on soviet WW2 aircrafts had tendency to fade.

Upper surfaces, as far as I know, were originally in two colour camouflage consisting of AMT11 and AMT12. Again, I've mixed this two colours out of MM enamels, doing it “on the fly” in the airbrush, so it's impossible to tell the composition of the mixture.

First I've lay the lighter grey. Then, using the rolls made from Tack-It adhesive, I masked the borders of applied colour, so the transition would be little smooth. Then the darker AMT12-like mix was airbrushed.

Decals were easy to use- reacted nice for the Microscale Set & Sol liquids which I used.

However, there are some inaccuracies on the set provided by Zvezda in comparison to photos of the real plane. For example, the foundation emblem wasn't exactly the same on the both sides of the fuselage.

As you can see in the photos, landing gear was installed in the meantime. Wheels were sanded a bit to simulate tire deflection. Also, I added brake cables made from stretched sprue. I usually use black plastic for such purposes, so it's no need for painting.

Wash, made from artist oils diluted with White Spirit, was applied in appropriate places and sealed with mat varnish.

I used black oil colour, which often cause heavy “cartoon-like” effect, but this time I planned some heavy weathering, so this would be toned down.

Also I visually separated the control surfaces a bit more, using airbrush and simple masks. After removing the latter, it turned out to be a little too strong, but I leaved it be.

Weathering

Weathering was started with artists oil paints, dots of which were applied on whole model and wiped with a brush, in respect to supposed wind and rain directions.

Wheel bays and surfaces directly behind them were treated a little heavier, to imitate how the use of provisional airfield might impact on the plane condition.

Machine guns, removed during model assembly, were replaced with injection needles covered with gunmetal metalizer from Agama.

Spinner was painted red with a white border, and cannon barrel from the injection needle (of a larger diameter than the machine guns of course) was installed. Propeller blades, painted black, got decals and some battering (silver paint applied with a bit of sponge). That altogether was installed in the model and weathered, especially the fuselage just behind the spinner.

Exhausts, which ends I drilled earlier, got a coat of Model Master “Rust” enamel, some artistic oils and black pigment. Then they were also installed in proper places. Smoke stains were airbrushed. Yes, not surprisingly, Model Master enamels were used. The final touch was made with some pigments applied mostly on the landing gear and lower surfaces around them, but also on top of the the wings, where personnel stepped.

The model was finished and then it hit me- I forgot about aerial! So I drilled a tiny hole in the rear of the canopy and carefully inserted stretched sprue with a drop of glue on top, so it stick to the radio inside. Then it was over the hump. Second end glued to tail (although too low I must admit) and done.

Finished model

Miniature depicts Yak-3 of Lieutenant Semyon Ivanovich Rogovoy from 64th Guards Fighter Regiment, 4th Guards Fighter Division. Second Baltic Front, autumn 1944. Red spinner and white (or yellow, colour is uncertain) rudder stripes were 64th GIAP unit markings in that time. Inscription on the fuselage means: "To Semyon Rogovoy from members of the Amursk Red Flotilla". Apparently, the plane was dedicated to Semyon Ivanovich for his role in saving one of the flotilla's vessel.

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