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Eduard 1/48 scale Yak-3 "Normandie-Niemen"

Kit: No. 8029
Scale: 1/48
Manufacturer: Eduard, Obrnice 170, 43521 Obrnice, Czech Republic. Available from Squadron Mail Order, 1115 Crowley Dr., Carrollton, TX, phone 972-242-8663
Price: $TBA
Comments: Injection molded, 59 parts, decals.

One of the smallest fighters to be mass produced during World War II, the Yak-3 was an improved lightweight development of the Yak-1. Overshadowed by its larger cousin, the Yak-9, it was made famous by the Normandie Niemen squadron, Free French pilots who volunteered to fly for the Soviet air force.

I've always been jealous of 1/72 scale builders who can choose among several kits of the Yak-3. Now my 1/48 scale collection receives this pretty fighter from Eduard, which I think is the company's best kit to date. Molded in neutral gray plastic, the parts are flash free and feature sharp detail. The one-piece upper wing eliminates dihedral problems and includes the cockpit floor. A one-piece closed canopy and a three-piece opened top are crystal clear.

Markings are provided for four Normandie Niemen aircraft and are perfectly printed. The instructions include seven easy-to-follow assembly steps, parts map, and recommended modeling paints list.

Assembly goes quickly and without any major problems. The kit's 13-piece cockpit does a good job of representing the real thing. Note that the side consoles should stand away from the cockpit walls.

Reference photos show a vertical splitter plate in each leading edge air intake; add these from thin strip styrene. Indentations are given for the landing-gear-indicator rods on the upperwing, but you'll have to make your own from thin wire or stretched sprue.

The back plate of the spinner was a bit smaller than the front piece, but a little sanding made it right.

I painted my Yak with Polly Scale WWII Soviet air force colors. The decals went down well. Make sure you have plenty of water on the surface so you can position them. The white areas of the decal were translucent.

My references were Zbigniew Luranc's Jak-3 (Wydawnictwo-Avia Press) and Robert Bock's Yak-1/Yak-3 (English version, AJ Press). The kit's dimensions matched the drawings perfectly, and the completed model captures the high sit of the real aircraft.

I breezed through my Yak-3 in 18 hours. Anyone who has built a couple of models in this scale shouldn't have trouble with this project. Enjoy, Soviet Air Force enthusiasts!

- Jim Zeske

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