by: Russ Amott [ ]
Zvezda Yak-3, by Russ and Andrew Amott
Yak-3The Yakolev Yak-3 was an aircraft of the Soviet Union that entered service in 1944. It was small, with a length of 8.5m (27 feet) and a wingspan of 9.2m (30 feet), lightweight, easy to fly and rugged. Because of a lack of aluminum portions of the aircraft were constructed of plywood. The Klimov VK-105PF 12 cylinder liquid cooled engine providing 1300 hp and a maximum speed of 655km/h (407mph). Range was limited, at only 650km (405 miles). Armament consisted of a 20mm cannon firing through the rotor shaft and two 12.7mm UBS machine guns mounted in the engine cowling and firing through the propeller. From it's first engagements in June of 1944 the Yak-3 proved an excellent dogfighter, able to take on the best aircraft the Luftwaffe had. Production continued until 1946, by which time 4,848 had been built.
The ModelZvezda have now released a 1/72 scale version of this kit in all new tooling, and in a snap fit format. The kit comes in a small, sturdy end opening box with a painting of white 6 of the Normandie-Niemen, flown by captain Marcel Albert. Kit contents consist of two grey styrene parts sprues, one small clear part sprue, a decal sheet and instructions. There are color profiles on the box side for the two aircraft markings provided in the kit.
DetailsFirst impressions of the kit were excellent. Detail is very fine, much better than anything I expected in a snap fit model, and well beyond anything I ever built as a kid. Options for assembly include having raised or lowered landing gear and a pilot or an empty seat. The pilot is in multiple parts, allowing for excellent detail. There are two instrument panels included, one flat for a decal, and one with the instruments molded in place for detail painting. The canopy is very clear and relatively thin, molded in a single part.
InstructionsInstructions are on a single sheet of paper, double sided, and assembly is called out in 7 steps, with construction options clearly pointed out, including making a cutout in the fuselage bottom for a stand, which is not provided. A painting guide is included for the two marking options, with Model Masters paints called out by number. The decal sheet appeared to be very clearly printed, with bold colors in register.
TogetherAs soon as I had photographed the sprues, my son and model buddy, Andrew, instantly started with construction. The multi-part cockpit includes an impressive amount of detail but Andrew did have trouble with part A28, what appears to be a throttle control. He could not get the part in and soon lost it to the carpet monster. He used tweezers and a magnifying glass to place the other details, which fit without difficulty.
For step 2 he opted to build the pilot, who fit nicely into the cockpit. Once in place, this completed construction of the wings and cockpit.
Step 3 attaches the fuselage halves together, with options for a raised or lowered tail wheel, exhaust pipes and a freely spinning propeller.
Step 4 attaches the fuselage to the wings and adds the engine cowling top.
Step 5 places the canopy glass. Throughout this process you will see prominently posted "Wenk (snap)", indicating the sound you should hear as parts click into place.
Step 6 gives options for the raised or lowered main landing gear.
Step 7 completes assembly of the lowered landing gear and air intake, and assembly is finished.
It took Andrew less than 30 minutes to get everything installed, and he found he could change out the landing gear if he was careful. Leaving the kit in snap fit finish leaves some significant gaps on all join surfaces, but this is regular styrene and can be glued as with a normal model.
Painting and DecalsFinished options are for two aircraft, first from the box top, white 6 of the Normandie-Niemen, flown by Captain Marcel Albert, in called out colors of steel and medium gray over USSR pale blue underside, and yellow 15 of the 14th GvIAP, VVS of the Baltic fleet,` pilot `Lt. Semen Rogovy, painted in European green over steel, with USSR pale blue underside. Both aircraft are from 1944.
In conclusionThis is a simple, easy to assemble kit, but with a lot of good detail. It is far better than any snap fit kit I have seen before, offering enough detail to satisfy more advanced modelers, but also making an excellent beginners level kit that doesn't look toy like. There are some fit issues as far as gaps on join lines, but with care they can be closed up. With an average price online of $10.50, I think this is a kit that gives you more than it's value.