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Classic Airframes 1/48 scale MiG-3

Kit: No. 96-405
Scale: 1/48
Manufacturer: Classic Airframes, P.O. Box 577580, Chicago, IL 60657-7580, phone 773-327-6088
Price: $29.95
Comments: Injection molded, 64 parts (5 resin, 28 photoetched, 1 film), decals.

Designed as a high-altitude interceptor, the MiG-3 was fast for its time (398 mph in 1941) and it was made almost entirely of wood products (from the Soviets' vast forests of pine and birch). As tactics changed from interception to low-level assault, the MiG-3's capabilities were strained.

When you open the box for Classic Airframes' MiG-3 your first impression may be that the kit is simple and has little detail. But the wings and rear fuselage of the MiG-3 were plywood with few panel lines. While comparing the kit with my references I soon realized how faithful and well detailed this model is. All the Dzus fasteners, hinges, venting louvers, intakes, blisters, and petite recessed panel lines are there and accurate.
Resin parts and some photoetched add-ons make an intricate cockpit and radio assembly.
The detail in the resin tub is great, but it's hard to paint and detail. Separate side walls would have made the job easier. The photoetched parts are well detailed down to metal eyelets in the seat belts. You'll like the photoetched panel with the film instruments, but don't forget to paint the back of the film.

A good vacuum-formed one-piece canopy is supplied, but be careful cutting if you want to display it opened.

Wheel-well openings, doors, and struts are exceptionally well detailed, but some parts are intricate photoetchings that must be bent to fit. The photoetched wheel covers are a nice touch. The separate propeller blades have no alignment method to establish pitch. There is no clear landing-light cover.

While there is little flash and the fit overall is good, the MiG is not a shake-together kit. Dry-fit all parts and have your sanding tools handy for a light touch. You'll need to sand down the trailing edges of the wings, and the wing-root radiator intakes don't align well when you assemble the wing and fuselage.

I chose the white winter scheme and painted my model with Tamiya acrylics. I mixed a dirty flat white for the top color and light blue (XF-23) for the undersurfaces.
My first attempt at the fragile, easily folded decals ended up a shriveled speck - I was glad there were extra stars. After applying appropriate finesse I soon became friends with them and they snuggled down well. A light coat of Dullcote hid all the edges. The red arrow decals for the fuselage sides were not wide enough to span the exhaust area properly and I had to fudge them. The decals look fine on the white surface, but they are translucent and will look odd over dark schemes.

Classic Airframes' MiG-3 is accurate, compared with photos in MiG - Fifty Years of Secret Aircraft Design. This reference also confirms the single trim tab per pair of ailerons and elevators, transposed oil-cooler scoops, and other oddities. I spent 28 hours on my kit. To modelers used to working with photoetched parts and vacuum-formed canopies, it's a pleasant experience.

Hank Borger


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