Eduard 1/48 Yak-3
KIT #: 8029
PRICE: 20 Euros when new
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Spiros Pendedekas
NOTES: Oh, my! Yet another 1/48 Eduard Yak-3!


The Yakovlev Yak-3 was a petite and lightweight single-engine, single-seat World War II Soviet fighter. With its high power-to-weight ratio, it proved to be a formidable dogfighter. Robust and easy to maintain, it was much liked by both pilots and ground crew. It was used, among others, by the famous "Normandie - Niemen" Group, during the war, with French Ace Marcel Albert, who then flew with the Group, considering it a superior aircraft to the Mustang and the Spitfire!

For a detailed history of the type, as well as its usage with Normandie-Niemen Group (with a “bonus” excellent build of the 1/32 Special Hobby kit), please refer to Tom’s thorough review 

Introduced by Eduard in 1998, apart from the fact that there are no parts numbers molded at the sprues, this kit easily falls into the mainstream kit category. It comes in a top opening box of sufficient quality, with a nice box art of “Normandie-Niemen” aircraft No.5 proudly flying. Inside you find two separately bagged, very well molded dark gray sprues that contain all the parts. External detail is nicely engraved. Cockpit detail is not bad at all, with a believable seat and quite a few “bits and pieces” to make it look busy. Same for the landing gear and bays, kit provided detail level is fine (I am aware that there are “profipack” versions of the kit that take care of the cockpit and landing gear with some nice, scale looking PE parts, replacing, at most cases, the kit provided ones, but also adding some extra detail as well).

Clear parts are thin, well molded and crystal clear, nicely offering a one-piece (closed) or three-piece canopy option. Decals are superbly printed, but look extremely thin. Instructions are very detailed and well written with Tamiya, Humbrol, Revell, Testors and Aeromaster color codes provided. A small but comprehensive history of the type and its “Normandie-Niemen” days is also there. All in all, a very pleasant looking kit, begging to be built!

I started by attaching the aft headrest plate, cockpit trim wheel and rear wheel support at the starboard fuselage half and another trim wheel at the port cockpit sidewall. I then joined the fuselage halves, with the prop axle trapped at the front, followed by attachment of the top cowling. I continued by joining the two wing halves. The wing top middle section doubles as the cockpit floor, so I built up the cockpit onto it. It consisted of 12 parts, the seat included. Following the instructions (yes, I did perform that radical act), basic cockpit color was Hu92 Tank Gray, with black instrument panel, consoles and stick grip, light brown trim wheels and slate gray backrest. All instrument and switches areas were dry brushed with silver and had some tiny red, white and yellow details painted with 10/0 brush, to add interest. I have to say that the (non-profipack) kit provided cockpit looked very nice after completion!

The fuselage was then attached onto the main wing and the horizontal stabilizers were affixed at the back. The three piece underbelly oil cooler was assembled, had its innards painted tank gray with black, then silver dry-brushed radiator faces (which have a nice mesh-looking surface) and attached into position. Despite a feeling of “clunkiness” (mentioned by other modelers, as well), overall fit was good, and in no time I had a basic model assembled. After some minor filling and sanding, I covered the cockpit and oil cooler areas with wet tissue and headed to the paint shop!

I first gave all undersides (including gear doors) a coat of Hu65 Light Blue, then masked it off and gave the topsides a coat of Hu64 light gray. With my airbrush at “fine” settings, I then freehanded the Hu224 Extra Dark Slate Gray that dried to a greenish/slate-ish gray shade, which I think comes close to how that color looked in reality.

After removing the masks, I gave the model a coat of Future and went on to apply the decals. I used the kit provided markings, in order to represent Commandant Louis Delfino’s plane. Due to the extra thinness, I handled the decals very carefully. To my relief, they adhered very well, snuggling over every surface detail with no silvering whatsoever. Of interest is the fact that, according to instructions, no red star (which was the “norm”) is to be applied onto Commandant Louis Delfino’s plane fin, just a very nice Lorraine Cross, a great looking and “different” scheme. This is justified by pic evidence, though fin red stars might have been applied at some time as well in Commandant’s plane (this or a different one).

A coat of Future sealed the decals.

The main wheels were assembled and lightly filed to look “weighted”. Together with the tail wheel, they had black tires and tank gray rims. After the main gear legs had their scissors glued, I went on and attached in position the complete landing gear, together with doors and wheels. Again, the sense of “clunkiness” was evident, possibly due to the fact that the parts are thin (more “scale correct” I would say), but, with some careful approach, all were nicely installed and aligned. Door innards, landing gear parts and bays were painted tank gray. Oleos were highlighted with my thin tip silver pen. The scale correct (and, thus, fragile) pitot tube was painted gunmetal and attached at the port wing, as well.

The 5-piece prop was assembled, had its cowling hand painted red/white/blue (per the “Normandie-Niemen” style) with black blades and attached at the front. The exhausts were painted Testors Burned Metal and affixed into place. The top cowling bland gun recessions were also drilled out to look real. I then went on and airbrushed a very thin black mist aft of the exhausts area, to represent staining, and fore of the guns, to represent gun gases “blackening”. I have to admit that the net effect is on the (very) heavy side. To even things out, I went on and applied some generous weathering/dirtying at places (I used black-wash and dark colored dry pastels), in order to give the model a well-used look. After deeming the result passable, the Yak was given its final, almost matt finish, as was the case in reality.

Since I am a “closed canopy” modeler, I hand painted the frames of the one-piece canopy and attached it on top. Fit was very good, with the minor gaps faired with white glue.

A wire antenna runs from the fin top area, right onto the rear glazing, where, through a hole, it seemingly ends at the radio underneath. Fearing that it would be risky to open a hole at the clear part and run the wire antenna through it (which would also have to be somehow tightened), I chickened out and run the antenna wire (silver stretched sprue) through a hole that I opened just at the frame edge of the rear transparency, supposing that the wire was ducted this way at this plane…).

I then called this beautiful Normandie-Niemen Yak done!

This is a very good kit of this important plane, with nice overall shape and external details. Cockpit and landing gear are also well detailed, even at the non-Profipack edition. Apart from some (easily manageable) “clunkiness” in construction, fit is good and the kit can be quite easily put together.

Transparencies are crystal clear and nicely thin, instructions are superb and decals are very well registered (but very thin, so they must be carefully and positively applied). Due to the relatively low number of parts and uncomplicated camo, even a novice modeler could tackle it and come up with a very good looking Yak-3.

Until the 2012 arrival of the Zvezda, this kit had been the only serious game in town for an accurate Yak-3. With the Zvezda offering understandably being the “latest and greatest” (Tom’s review 
here), the now (as of 2021) elderly Eduard still represents a fine kit that can result in a good representation of this petite beautiful fighter. If you own one, or find one at a good price, do not hesitate to tackle it!

Happy modeling!

Spiros Pendedekas

4 June 2021

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