1:32 Yakolev Yak-3
"Onward to Berlin"
Following the German attack against the Soviet Union, it's soon become clear Soviet fighter aircraft lacked performance against the invading German types. The German attack came during a period when the new Soviet types were just being introduced into both production and service.
Types such as the Yak-1, Lagg-3 and Mig-3. Apart from the Mig-3 high altitude aircraft, all the other types were inferior to German machines. Soviet designers were struggling with the storage of high quality raw materials, insufficient equipment, poor performing engines and lastly with directives from the Communist leaders. The Yakovlev design bureau were developing new subtypes based on the Yak-1 fighter, trying to meet the VVS requirements.
However, all the versions that emerged from the Yak-1 development, which was designated as Yak-7, were still lacking in performance compared with their German contemporaries. In 1942, a new fighter type known as the Yak-9 was introduced. This type, originating from the Yak-7 seven, was the first of the Yak heavy fighters family.
Simultaneously in 1941, a new type was being developed. A nimble and light weight design with smaller dimensions and of mixed wood and metal construction. It utilised a new wing design as well, with a shorter span and the oil coolers moved to the wing root. This type was latter to be known as the Yak-3 and formed the light weight family of Yak fighters. Of interest is that the Yak-3 designation had already been used by the Yakovlev bureau. However it belonged a heavier armed fighter prototype built back in 1940 which, had not progressed be on the prototype stage.
This second Yak-3 also had it quite tough from the outset, and development was not easy. The acceptance trials not being completed until October 1943. The new Yak was equipped with the Klimov M105PF – 2 engine. However, because of poor performance and production standards, the overall weight exceeded the limits specified for the test aircraft, which meant that the first production aircraft were armed with only one 20 mm cannon firing through the propeller shaft and 12.7 mm machine gun mounted in the forward fuselage above the engine. Later production machines received the full designed armament of 120 mm cannon and two 12.7 mm machine guns.
The new machines were not introduced into service until 1944, and the first units to receive them were the elite units of the VVS plus the French volunteer unit known as the Normandie Niemen regiment. This French unit made its return to France in June 1945 and the Yak-3 remind with them and in service with the new France Airforce for some time after the war. Besides the Soviet and French Air Forces, the Yak-3 saw service with Poland and Yugoslavia.
The Yakolev bureau tried to develop the type further, but with no great success because of lack of dedicated engine development. It was only after the war that a small series of Yak-3 M–107 planes were produced. This type was fitted with a Klimov M-107 engine and was of an all metal construction and metal skin. Yet another version appeared, the Yak-3RD with a rocket engine mounted in the rear fuselage. Also the Yak-3 M–108 and the Yak-3U appeared, all of the types failed to progress further than the prototype stage. The Yak-3 fighter is considered amongst some to be one of the best World War II fighter types of soviet design and is the one of the very best to see action over the eastern front.
Hot on the heels of their non Hi Tec version of the Hawker Tempest Mk.V. Special Hobby have released a similar version of their Yak-3. It comes like the Tempest in a similarly style of box and as there isn’t any resin or Photo Etch parts the box isn’t too full.
Once you get the very tight fitting box lid off, you’ll find five sprues of grey styrene packed into a plastic bag, a separate, smaller bag contains one clear sprue, and lastly there is one bag with two decal sheets be very careful when opening the bag with the decals in as there is a very small plastic bag stapled to it containing a gun blanking piece for one of the decal options. At the bottom of the box is a lovely glossy, colour A4 manual.
This has both the fuselage halves, the upper gun cowl and two parts of the lower radiator housing. The overall finish on the parts is good, with nice surface detail with finely engraved panel lines (there isn’t too much detail to be seen as the aircraft is of metal and wood construction). The moulding has a satin finish rather than a super smooth finish found on other kits. You might want to give the surfaces a light buffing before applying any paint to the kit. Inside the fuselage there is some sidewall cockpit detail, but not much as the cockpit is inside of a tubular framework. There is also some tail wheel-well detail moulded in the rear of the fuslage.
The cowl that covers the machine guns looks very good, and has some lovely detail such as rivets and panel lines
This sprue has the upper and lower wing, and the sprue is split into two parts to allow it to fit more easily in to the box. As the wings are moulded in full span there will be no issues trying to judge the right dihedral etc.
Both flaps and ailerons are moulded in, which would which would require you to cut and reposition them should you wish to pose the aircraft on a base or diorama. Surface detail once again is very minimal as the wing is of wooden construction. However, the ailerons have good rib detail. The wing fairing is nicely blended and has well defined fastener detail. There is two holes in the upper wing, these are for the wing mounted fuel gauges. They are supplied as decals that you fix to the underside of two clear plastic lenses (located on the clear parts sprue). The centre section of the upper wing has the moulding for the cockpit floor with foot plates and control column base.
The radiator housing is moulded on the lower wing, and you will need to add the radiator parts before fitting the upper wing as none of this area will be assessable after the wing halves have been cemented. There is more detail on the wing undersides, these are the recesses for the main great wheel well walls, and the inside of the upper wing has detail for the upper surfaces of the wells.
This has the horizontal stabiliser and elevators, all moulded in the conventional way. The elevators and stabilisers are of a two part construction of upper and lower halves.
Once again as the horizontal stabiliser are of wooden construction there is no detail moulded on them. However, the elevators and the moving rudder part has the same ribbing detail as the ailerons. Also on this sprue are the separate propeller blades along with a two part spinner, and the main undercarriage doors, once again with very good rivet and internal detail.
Contains is the ‘smaller parts’ sprue, on here you will find some of the main gear well walls, the undercarriage ‘legs’, the tail wheel strut, instrument panel, cockpit seat tub and the seat backrest. Also there is the cockpit sidewall panels, main instrument panel, tailwheel mounting plate, radiator actuator parts, and other small parts for the cockpit and wheel wells. There is also parts for the wheels and exhausts.
This has the cockpit tubular assembly, control column and numerous other small parts for the cockpit and the forward walls of the main gear wells.
Before moving onto the clear parts sprue, it is with noting that the kit styrene does seem to be of quite a soft nature. I don’t remember other Special Hobby kits styrene being quite this soft. However with out digging a box out from the stash I’m not sure and I may well be wrong.
Sprue CP has the aforementioned clear parts. The canopy of which there are two option one to have the cockpit canopy open the other to have it in the closed position. There is also the two clear parts for the wing fuel gauges, again mentioned earlier.
The decals are on two sheets, both very finely printed by Cartograf, and as expected the decal quality is excellent. The larger sheet is a colour sheet with the various markings along with some very nice silver printed borders for the red stars.,The smaller sheet has the the red stars mentioned above, instrument decals, stripes for the tail of one option, the wing fuel gauges and various ‘stencils’.
There are three schemes offered in this boxing and they are:
Aircraft 15 flown by, Lieutenant Semyon Rogovol of the 64th Guards Fighter Regiment, 4th Guards Fighter Division, 2nd Baltic Front, Autumn 1944. This aircraft was presented to Rogovol by sailors of the Alum River Flotilla located in the Far East.
Aircraft 114 flown by Senior Lieutenant Valentin Gregoryevich Ernokhin of 402nd Fighter Regiment, 256th Fighter Division, 1st Belorussion Front, Spring 1945.
Aircraft 10 flown by Colonel Boris Nikolaevich Eryomin, Deputy Commanding Officer of6th Guards Fighter Division, 2nd Ukrainian Front, Spring 1945. This aircraft was being Eryomin’s second was paid for by Ferapont Petrovich Golovatyi and was an early production machine with one cannon and one machine gun.
The instruction booklet is a glossy, colour printed 16 page A4 affair, that started with the history of the Yak-3, the sprue ‘maps’. The construction is listed in 36 steps, with very clear line illustrations with the paint numbers for Gunze-Sangyo paints. The last pages of the instructions are the three scheme illustrations, in colour, with the decal placement guides. The lat three pages of the booklet contain some more of special Hobby’s offerings, several of which have caught my eye!
A PDF of the instruction booklet can be seen here.
Also in my box but not included in the kit was a replacement resin radio by CMK. Nice crisp moulded replace meant for the kit part.
Two Vacform Canopies for the Yak by MH Models, one for an open cockpit and one for a closed canopy. Both come with inner and exterior masks and look very thin and clear
This boxing of the kit is well worth waiting for as it give a cheaper and easier option than the Hi Tec boxing as it omits the Resin and Photo etch parts of the previous boxing.
I highly recommended this kit.
My sincere thanks to Special Hobby for the review sample