ICM 1/48 MiG-3 (late)

KIT: ICM 1/48 MiG-3 (late)
KIT #: 48051
PRICE: $12.95
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Jonathan Prestidge
NOTES: Eduard Seat Belts and Cutting Edge Instruments used


  Built as a high altitude interceptor, the Mig 3 was fast and maneuverable when operating in its intended role. However, the Mig 3 was found to be lacking in performance at the lower heights where most air combat took place on the Russian front. In fact most wartime pictures of Mig 3’s show them fitted with RS-82 rockets which were generally used for ground attack (though I have read of them being used in air-to-air combat as well). The Mig 3 was considered a “hot” ship with torque induced swing on takeoff, unpredictable stall characteristics and high accident rates among under-trained Russian pilots. Later versions of the Mig 3 incorporated a refined engine cowling and leading edge slats among other minor changes. Though production was discontinued long before the end of the war, many Mig 3s soldiered on until lack of spares or attrition ended their careers.


The ICM Mig 3 represents the “late” version of the airplane. I for one was thrilled to find an injected kit of this important Russian fighter in 1/48th. Having built ICM’s Yak 7DI I knew what I was in for when I started this one. The kit is made of gray plastic with some short shot areas (wing trailing areas) pebbly surface texture in spots and plenty of mold release agent. On the plus side, there is a nice AM-35 engine, detailed interior and separate control surfaces. The clear parts were a highlight and looked great once dipped in future. Trumpeter and Classis Airframes both market a 1/48th kits of the “early” version.


 Since this kit was cheap $$$$, I decided that I would “push the envelope” and try several new (to me at least) techniques and mediums during the build. I decided to use the photo-etched seat belts from Eduard as well as a Cutting Edge instrument set. I also decided to pose the control surfaces. Since I wanted to do the natural metal finish on the cowling, I decided to try my own home version of bare-metal-foil.

 Though the engine is nicely detailed, I did not use it due to fit problems I have been warned about and my past experience with the ICM Yak 7DI.

 Unlike most aircraft kits, I started by gluing the fuselage halves together. I then started building the 13 piece wing. A word to the wise; dry fit, dry fit, dry fit!!!! The critical area here is the wing to fuselage joint. I had to use several pieces of left over sprue to spread the forward fuselage and get an acceptable fit.

 Before gluing the wing to the fuselage, I assembled and painted the interior. Care must be taken to when trimming and gluing the interior framework since it is very fine. I followed the kit instructions and painted the interior and wheel wells a darkish gray with a leather seat back and an aluminum seat base. The Cutting Edge instrument panel was installed per the instructions, was hassle free, & looks great. The seatbelts were installed as well and add tremendously to the look of the kit. I gave the interior my standard wash and dry-brushed it with silver to highlight the details. I then glued the interior into the kit and glued the wing to the fuselage. Putty and sanding is necessary to get a nice finish.

 At this point, I cut the movable portion of the elevators off, and glued them in the “dropped” position. I also glued the ailerons on in the left roll position.

 I took the one-piece front cowl and tried something new. I cut a piece of kitchen spec aluminum foil to roughly the same size as the cowl. I then brushed white glue onto the cowl surface and rubbed the foil onto the cowl using my fingers, a q-tip and a tooth pick to gently press the foil into the engraved detail. Once dry, I sanded down any remaining creases with 2000 grit wet-or-dry sand paper and polished the aluminum with a used dryer sheet.

 I left the cowl off until after painting. I glued the front and rear sections of the canopy in place. The canopy fit so well that the removable center section snaps into place. I masked the canopy using Tamia tape and a sharp #11 X-acto blade.


 I have wanted to do Red 02 since first seeing the color profile of the plane. I actually spent hours researching this scheme and studying the famous photograph of Red 02 in a lineup of other Mig 3s on the Moscow front. There is some discussion about the color of the outer wing panels on Red 02. Some seem to think that they may have been green as seen on the planes in summer. Since the green is almost the same shade as the red and very difficult to differentiate in a black & white photo, I opted for the red as shown in the color profile.  

All paints used in this build are Polly Scale acrylics. I used Russian underside blue for the lower portion of the plane. The lower cowl was painted in flat aluminum. The prop was painted aluminum with a blacked-out section on the back sides of the blades. I gave the upper portion of the kit a coat of flat white and then masked off the wing outers and shot them with Tamia red acrylic. At this point, I applied pastel weathering to the panel lines and then sealed everything with a coat of future.

 I used the kit decals for this one with no problems. The clear area around the decals was trimmed with a new X-acto blade. Though a bit “sticky” the decals went down fine. I had to apply water to the area where the decal was to go and float the decal into place. Once the decals were in place and almost dry, I brushed on some Champ setting solution and I’m pleased with the results. All markings are correct according to the photos of the actual plane. After weathering the decals, I gave the plane a final semi-gloss coat of future to represent the hard wearing wax coating applied to most Russian planes of WWII.

 The landing gear and other final bits were added at this time. I noticed in my research that the rear gear doors on Red 02 had been removed and were replaced with a leather cover. I made this up with toilet paper and rubber cement and painted it leather brown.


 Well, I must say that I could not be happier with the end result. I thank ICM for giving us an injected kit of this great looking plane. That said the ICM Mig 3 is not a kit for the faint of heart or those lacking in patience. This kit must be treated as a short run kit due to the amount of cleanup and dry-fitting, the fiddly bits, and the scratch building required for a passable end result. If you persevere it will improve your skills. In fact, after finishing the ICM, I had the confidence to tackle my first short-run, multi media kit (the Classic Airframes Mig 3 early). Recommended for those with some model building experience.


Jonathan Prestidge

March 2008

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