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In-Box Review
132
Yak-3
Yakovlev Yak-3
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by: Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]

Special Hobby have released a new boxing of their excellent largescale Yak-3 which first appeared towards the end of last year. The original version was a high-tech kit, and included a healthy assortment of what would normally be aftermaket extras - alternative resin details, painting masks and an etched fret - but this time Special Hobby have kept things simple so, with one small exception, the new Yak-3 is a standard styrene kit.

Arriving in a very solid and attractive conventional box, the Yak-3’s main sprues are all bagged together, with the clear parts and accessories packed separately. The kit comprises:

123 x grey styrene parts
8 x clear styrene parts (plus 2 unused)
1 x resin part to blank off a cowl gun port
Decals for 3 x colour schemes

The styrene parts are unchanged from the earlier release (reviewed HERE) and show the same high quality moulding as the original. There’s one small blemish on the top of the port wing, but that will polish away with a couple of swipes of a sander. The detail in the tailwheel well has filled in at one spot - but, if I’m honest, that hardly concerns me, because I’m not likely to look inside. Slightly irritating are a couple of thoughtlessly placed (from a modeller’s perspective) ejection pins in the cockpit but, these minor whinges aside, Special Hobby’s Yak-3 is a very impressive kit.

As you’d hope, a quick test-fit of the main parts is just as encouraging as with the first release (a good sign of consistent quality control) and it doesn’t look like there’ll be any significant stumbling blocks waiting for the unwary. While it won’t quite be a “shake ‘n bake” build in the way you might expect from one of the “majors”, the Yak-3 is light years in advance of traditional “short-run” kits and should be well within the capabilities of anyone with a little experience.

A Few Details
Despite the absence of any resin details for the cockpit, this standard kit still boasts a very impressive “office” that will look excellent with careful painting. There are over 30 parts by the time you include the gunsight. You no longer get the resin radio set and rudder pedals, but the styrene parts certainly aren’t shoddy. The instrument panels and side consoles are very crisply moulded and the decal sheet includes individual instrument faces and a dial for the radio. Where I think Special Hobby have perhaps made a saving too many is by not including a seat harness this time. I can happily cope without a few etched switches, but a seat harness is a must-have for me.

The wheel wells are unchanged from the first release, as are the gear legs, and both show some very good detail. The wing spars with their integral details are particularly impressive. This time you have to rely on the styrene wheels, which understandably aren’t as nice as the resin versions.

You’ll also miss the resin exhausts, because the styrene parts are a bit basic by comparison. If you take a little while to drill out the stubs, though, they should look quite presentable. The propeller has separate blades which are keyed to fit the backplate of the spinner and set the angles correctly.

The canopy is crystal clear and provided in both open and closed forms. There’s a rear-view mirror to install inside the windscreen, and an armoured glass headrest.

Special Hobby have released their resin parts as separate sets in their CMK range, so you can mix and match according to your taste and pocket. They don't have a comparable set of etched parts yet, though, but Eduard's seatbelts and other details are all available through the Special Hobby website. Alternatively, HGW offer a set of their superb laser-cut belts with etched buckles.

Overall, seeing the kit afresh after a few months serves as a reminder of just how impressive it is, with or without the added goodies.

Instructions & Decals
The construction guide is printed in colour on high quality glossy stock as a 16-page A4 booklet. The illustrations are very clear and well laid out with additional "info" views to show painting and decal placement. The 36-stage sequence is all pretty logical and "modeller friendly" - but (just as with the first release) I will consider fitting the upper cockpit consoles much earlier than indicated.

Special Hobby quote Gunze Sangyo paint matches throughout.

The kit includes decals for three Soviet aces, with their mounts all sporting spectacular personal markings:

A. Yak-3 "White 15", Ltn. Semyon Ivanovich Rogovoi, 64 Guards Fighter Regiment, 4 Guards Fighter Division, 2nd Baltic Front, Autumn 1944.
B. Yak-3 "White 114", Senior Ltn. Valentin Grigoryevich Ermokhin, 402 Fighter Regiment, 265 Fighter Division, 1st Belorussian Front, Spring 1945.
C. Yak-3 "White 10", Ltn. Col. Boris Nicholaevich Eryomin, 6 Guards Fighter Division, 2nd Ukrainian Front, Spring 1945.

The decals are custom printed by Cartograf, so the quality of the sample sheet is as faultless as you'd expect. The thin, glossy, items show excellent colour opacity and minimal carrier film and the registration is pin-sharp. A clever touch is the silver overlay to covert the Soviet stars for Rogovoi's aircraft. A photo of Eryonim's mount in Erik Pilawskii's "Soviet Air Force Fighter Colours 1941-1945" seems to show a darker outline for the star on the spinner and a drop-shadow on the fuselage text, but just to complicate things it also appears to have been retouched.

Conclusion
Special Hobby's Yak-3 was a great kit first time around and is no less so in this boxing. Leaving out the hi-tech extras means a significant cost-saving, bring the kit down to under 40 Euros, which seems very reasonable for a kit of this size and quality in this day and age. While I definitely miss having the seatbelts included, the lower price gives you the option to add an aftermarket set and still not break the bank. The colour schemes chosen this time might actually have a wider appeal than the originals in representing late-war Soviet aces in the final drive to victory.

My overwhelming reaction on seeing Special Hobby's Yak-3 again was "How did I let the first release get pushed to one side!? I really, really, really need to build this!"

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
SUMMARY
Highs: Well moulded and highly detailed. Top quality decals for three very attractive colour schemes.
Lows: My only regret is that the kit doesn’t include a set of seatbelts.
Verdict: Special Hobby’s Yak-3 holds up really well even without the added hi-tech extras of the first release. It falls into the grey area between semi-short run and fully mainstream kits, and would be an ideal choice for anyone looking to try a kit of this type.
Percentage Rating
90%
  Scale: 1:32
  Mfg. ID: SH32011
  Suggested Retail: 39.90 Euros
  PUBLISHED: Jul 20, 2017
  NATIONALITY: Russia
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 87.64%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 84.49%

Our Thanks to Special Hobby!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.
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About Rowan Baylis (Merlin)
FROM: NO REGIONAL SELECTED, UNITED KINGDOM

I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...

Copyright ©2017 text by Rowan Baylis [ MERLIN ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


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Comments

Very comprehensive review, Rowan. Seat belts are a problem I agree, since Radu Brinzan doesn't offer his wonderful line for Soviet planes, nor do HGW have a set IIRC.
JUL 21, 2017 - 02:42 AM
Cheers Bill Seeing the new release has re-inspired me to get this beauty onto the workbench in the near future. When I realised it doesn't include seatbelts, I checked on Special Hobby's website and found they stock Eduard's pre-coloured etched belts, and also on HGW - who you'll be pleased to learn do a dedicated Yak-3 set of their laser cut belts. All the best Rowan
JUL 21, 2017 - 07:19 AM
Great review, looking forward to seeing this built. Yak have been a side interest for some time. Thanks for the review Rowan!
JUL 21, 2017 - 09:13 AM
That's good news about HGW, their stuff is very good.
JUL 23, 2017 - 12:32 PM
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