The Accurate Miniatures kit dates back to 1998 and has hitherto slipped through the Armorama review-net. Its a great little kit with some very fine detail - but it doesn't "build itself" and it has a couple of pitfall to trap the unwary. Therefore, I've taken the opportunity to build up Eduard's new version and will highlight the differences over the AM kit and give some assembly notes which I hope will help anyone tackling either the new or original releases.
The plastic parts are identical to the AM release and consist of:
83 x grey styene parts (4 x unused) spread over 4 x sprues
16 x clear parts (1 x unused) on 2 sprues
An additional sprue ontaining 11 x parts for a ski-undercarriage is included, but not required for any of the colour schemes shown.
On top of the plastic parts, Eduard provide:
A fret of 62 etched parts - some pre-painted.
A set of 13 x Kabuki tape painting masks.
Accurate Miniatures models are famous for their instructions. These are among the most comprehensive available, with written notes (in English) identifying every part. That's all well and good, but it was pretty obvious that Eduard would have to rework things to incorporate all the new etched parts. To their credit, they've completely redrawn everything in a new 9-part assembly sequence which is very simple to follow, despite the losing the written notes in favour of an "international" diagram-only approach. The drawings are colour-coded to show where the plastic parts must be modified and each includes tags keyed to a paint-chart at the front of the instruction booklet. The chart features Gunze paints as its primary references, along with matches to the Tamiya, Humbrol, Revell and Testors ranges where possible, so no-one should have trouble accessing the required colours in some form or other.
However, for the purposes of this review, I've used the excellent WEM Soviet VVS Colourcoats
range of enamel paints, which are matched to Erik Pilawskii's "Soviet Air Force Fighter Colours 1941-1945 (Classic Colours, 2003).
I've read over the years that AM's Yak has a few snags up its sleeve, so I was careful to do a test-fit before wading in. Sure enough, the fit of the fuselage top decking left a bit to be desired and the wing/fuselage joint wasn't great. Problems like the latter are usually down to incorrect dihedral and AM included a main spar to ensure this is right. A quick check showed the problem - the lower wing half (Part #A1) doesn't match the dihedral of the spar. So, ignoring the suggested assembly sequence, I tackled the wings first, clamping the spar firmly in place while the joint dried for a few days.
- Back on course, the Eduard etched extras come into play from the word go. The cannon charger gets a new handle and the moulded straps for the rudder pedals are replaced. The floor (Part #D19) is unusual, as the front part folds up to form the firewall. It's worth painting the main parts before folding this and fitting the the rudder pedals before cannon assemble, which slots over and around the pedals, with the shell case chute (Part #26) angling into the trough in the floor.
The instructions call for Light Grey as the basic interior colour, but Erik Pilawskii states that Metal Use Primer "Bright" was commonly used on early Yak-1s, so I used that, along with a little artistic licence to break the monotony by picking out the cylinders under the pilot's seat in green, black and blue to suggest oxygen and hydraulic systems. (This was totally without refs.).
On the underside of the floor is the radiator and Eduard provide 2 new etched faces. I found the fit of the radiator into into the fuselage very tight, so I left off the etched parts to let me trim things later as required.
Rounding off stage one is the pilot's seat, with a delicate plastic frame which must be folded to shape. The seat pan has a nasty ejector pin mark which will be partially hidden by Eduard's very nice pre-painted harness. I filled the mark and also took the opportunity to thin down the edges of the of the pan somewhat for a more scale appearance.
- If you like etched details, you'll love this part! Eduard have scrapped the original AM instrument panel and side consoles and provided an etched replacement (Part #PE1) which must be folded to shape. This is fair enough, but the question is "What shape?". The answer lies in the tiny pins on the sidewalls (Parts #D33 and #D34), but these aren't fitted and this stage, so I simply folded the panel to a "best guess" in the knowledge that I'd have to adjust it later.
The instrument panel is further detailed with front and rear placards and the effect of the pre-painted faces is excellent, especially with a drop of Klear/Future or Humbrol's ClearFix to "glaze" them. The original plastic machine gun charging handles and optional radio panel fit onto Eduard's new etched panel. Next come a mass of tiny throttle levers, trim wheel, and various minute knobs which must each be sat on a tiny stem made from plastic rod or stretched sprue. I thickened up the knobs on the throttle levers a little with a drop of white glue before repainting them. As you can imagine, this isn't a stage to hurry - but the result is quite impressive.
Next up come the afore-mentioned sidewalls, which require a little surgery to fit some new details inluding pre-painted placards for the upper consoles. These are perhaps a little too 2-D in appearance - the original parts have some delicate controls moulded on. I fitted them for the review kit, but you may wish to "mix and match" plastic and etched for best effect.
- Fitting the interior into the fuselage. Now comes the juggling, as you bring together the sub-assemblies from the previous stages. I assembled the floor and the right sidewall to lock the position of the fold-up firewall and give a positive locator for the instrment panel. Before attaching the delicate panel, I double-checked the fit of the whole cockpit assembly into the right fuselage half (Part #B41). Satisfied with that, I removed the part-built cockpit again and attached the panel with CA adhestive and adjusted the angle of the folded side console to match the pins of the sidewall. Surprise, surprise! The part actually fits very nicely (and I didn't manage to lose all the tiny details in the process)! After attaching the left sidewall, I did a similar bit of juggling to match up the other console and, finally, clicked the seat into position.
Before joining the fuselage halves, you must add the nose radator-face which supports the propeller shaft. The fuselage halves fitted together well enough and I took care to try to get the best joint I could along the bottom to avoid having to damage the "stringer" detail with sanding later. When I consulted plans, these showed an extra stringer along the centreline so, once everything was dry, I represented this with a strip of black Letraset Lining Tape. I like using this for ribs and stringers, because it's a plastic tape available in various small widths for a consistent look and has a "double layer" quality; as supplied it's rather thick so, once it's in place, I sand it very gently to reveal the white base layer.
Last of all, the chin is fitted under the nose. Take a moment to ensure a good fit and preserve the lines for the cowling panels.
- Now we come to the fuselage top decking (Part #C42) - and forewarned is forearmed. From my earlier test fit and what I'd read elsewhere, I knew this was a problem piece. Some people have commented that you can get a good fit on either side but not both. I cemented it in stages, aiming to get the best overall fit I could and, again, tried to make sure the cowling lines were preserved. With everything dry, I taped along joint line on the rear fuselage to preserve the stringer detail on the fuselage and applied "supafiller" (a mix of CA and talcum powder) as neccessary. This dries quickly and sands very well, feathering into the surrounding plastic to leave no sign of the work.
The a/c I would be modelling was fitted with a radio, so I folded Part #32 to form a box and added the pre-painted face. I left off the horizontal tail until later, because I was planning a fairly elaborate painting technique. At this stage the instructions show the cockpit slotting into place, but I left it loose until I was happy with the fit of the wings in the next stage.
- the precaution of clamping the wing spar (Part D#20) earlier paid off and made for a much easier assembly. I drilled out the holes for the rockets and drop tanks and assembled the wings halves without problem and achieved a nice thin trailing edge. The ailerons seemed a little thick for the wings and the rib tapes are quite heavily represented, so a little sanding improved matters. The wing-root air intake was a poor fit and needed trimming and tweaking to attach.
I didn't fit the fuel tank contents meters until after main painting. The instructions show that the original moulded detail needs removing, but I simply dropped the etched faces into the holes and glazed them with Humbrol ClearFix.
The instructions indicate that the wheelwells wre painted Light Grey, but Erik Pilawskii states that they were often painted in the underside colour, so I used AII Blue.
- deals with smaller fuselage details such as the tail wheel and navigation lamp, along with etched rudder actuators and the radiator vent, and wing details such as the landing lamp and the mainsheel doors. I left all these parts off until after painting, but I checked the fit of the navigation lamp and drilled a "bulb" in it. The landing lamp cover (Part #F36) was a bit of a shock - there's quite a noticeable moulding mark inside. I set about polishiing this away and the part promptly split in two! I fetched a pair of original issue AM kits from the stash and found exactly the same problem in both - a moulding flaw and the beginings of a crack waiting to happen. I cleaned up a replacement VERY gingerly, but was never truly happy with the result. It's a part that really needs a vacuformed or plug-moulded replacement - but the good news was that it was a tight enough fit for me to be able to attach it without cement, leaving me the option to return to it in future. I added a small "reflector" by punhing out a disk from chrome adhesive tape.
- deals with the undercarriage, which looks deceptively simple. Eduard supply etched oleo-scissors for the main legs and the plastic parts include a choice of plain or "weighted" tyres. The tyres themselves have very crisp moulded-on lettering - perhaps a bit on the heavy side, but impressively done. Fitting the undercarriage takes a bit of juggling to get the correct angles - and this isn't helped by the gear-legs being quite a loose fit in the sockets in the spar. But once they'e attached and the door lined-up, the undercarriage looks pretty good.
I painted the legs with Metal Use Primer "Bright" to vary the look of things a bit from the AII Blue on the other parts. I reasoned that pre-painted sub-assemblies might well have been used. Eduard call for the gaiters to be painted black, but AM say they were red rubber. Needless to say, I couldn't resist the brighter colour and it certainly stands out amoung other kits!
- sees the underwing rockets and drop tanks fitted. Each rocket is a 2-part assembly and the tail fins are a bit on the chunky side. There is a neat little firing-cable for each rocket, and it's worth bending this out slightly so that it touches the underside of the wing snuggly once the rocket is fitted. I used Alclad for both the rockets and tanks, and (based on the AM instructions and the models in the IL-2 flight simulator) painted the tails of the rockets with 4BO Army Green and the warheads in a dark red.
- the home run and time to fit the last external details. I left most of these off until after painting except for the canopy, which includes a choice of early or late rear sections. I was modelling a later a/c with windows set into the plywood rear decking, so I'd actually fitted this earlier and filled the joint with "supafilla".
The kit includes a neat little etched rear-view mirror for the windscreen and a small etched part for the gunsight. Additionally, I trimmed off the reflector glass and replaced it with thin clear sheet.
The exhaust stubs are individual and I drilled them out for a better appearance and I felt that the pitot tube looked rather thick, so I made an alternative from thin plastic rod with a wire tip.
The navigation lamps were drilled to represent a "bulb" and, last but not least, the propeller was attached after thinning the blades slightly.
Painting and decorating
The original AM releases were't particularly exciting with there choice of colour schemes, but Eduard have changed all that by providing decals for no less than 6 aircraft with quite a wide variety of markings and schemes.
1. "White 1", Lt. Mikhail Dmitrievich Baranov, 183rd Fighter Regiment, Stalingrad, 1942.
2. "Red 23", Cpt. Georgij Nikanorovich Zhidov, commander of the 1st escadrille, 123rd Fighter Regiment, Air Defence, Lake Lagoda, Leningrad Front, April 1942.
3. "White 9", Lt. Stepan Tikhonovich Gabenko, 247th Fighter Regiment, Smolensk, November 1941.
4. "Red 26", Lt. Innokentij Vasilievich Zuznetsov, 180th Fighter Regiment.
5. "White 49", Capt. Nikolai Vasilievich Cagoiko, 122nd Fighter Regiment, Air Defense, Summer 1943
6. "White 2", of an unknown unit, Leningrad Front, Spring 1942.
All of the aircraft are painted with various AII Black, Green & Blue patterns except Scheme #3 which is painted aluminium all over. Schemes #2 and #4 have a roughly applied coat of winter whitewash over their standard camouflage.
The decals are very thin and glossy and, at first glance, look very impressive. Closer inspection reveals a slight misalignment of the white and red - which you could probably live with on the larger markings, but it is particularly noticeable on the kill markings for Scheme #1.
I chose Scheme #4 - Red 26 as a chance to try painting a winter camouflage for the first time. In a moment of daftness, I also decided to try a new weathering technique too. It's not always the brightest idea to try too many new things at once - particularly when working to a deadline - but where's the fun in playing safe? LOL!
I began by "priming" the aircraft in a rough approximation of the real thing. I worked without references (so this is artistic licence) and sprayed the basic airframe with WUP Grey interior wood primer, with bare metal panels of Alclad II Aluminium and doped areas in brick red. Once this was dry, I applied latex masking to areas that would be heavily weathered, using a small piece of kitchen scouring-pad for a semi-random effect.
With this all dry, I applied the camoflage colours - AII Black, Green & Blue - following what Erik Pilawskii describes as the "Great Meander" scheme common to many Yak 1s. Once this was dry, I pealed off the latex to reveal areas of "paint chipping". I then gave the model a couple of coats of Klear/Future and applied the decals. These went on very nicely, but they are thin and quite delicate, so take a little extra care. The designs snuggled down well over the moulded details and there was no sign of silvering. Once the decals were safely dry and I'd washed off any excess adhesive and water-marks, I gave them another coat of Klear/Future to seal them and even out the finsh.
Then more latex! I went back to areas like the wingroots and the leading edges of the wings and applied more stippled-on latex, before roughly spraying the white winter finish in the semi-mottled pattern shown in the painting instructions. I didn't have any references for this particular a/c, so I was left wondering whether the national markings were masked or not. I decided to spray quite crudely and then clean up the edges as though the squadron painter had used a rag and thinners to tidy up the insignia. Once all this was dry, I removed the new latex to reveal a weathered winter scheme over an already tatty standard camouflage pattern.
One more coat of Klear/Future and I highlighted the panel lines with oil paints - Paynes Grey with a little Burnt Umber to make it look a "dirtier" colour and then sealed everthing with a light coat of Windsor & Newton's Galeria acrylic matt varnish. I represented the exhaust-staining with pastels - mixing a variety of greys, browns and black to avoid a uniform look and re-sealed things to complete the painting.
I thoroughly enjoyed building the Yak-1 and it's great to see Eduard improve AM's model with a superb set of new etched details. It's not a kit for absolute beginners, but modellers with a little experience should be able to overcome the minor fit problems inherent with the AM original. With the extra detail and striking new colour schemes, Eduard's Yak-1 marks the very welcome return of an excellent kit.
Thank you to Eduard for kindly supplying the review sample.
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