The fighter version of the Petlyakov Pe-2 light bomber, the Pe-3 was slightly faster but could still carry bombs. MPM's kit uses many of the parts from its earlier Pe-2 kits for the Pe-3.
Text on the large, end-opening box hails the inclusion of an injection-molded canopy. The injection-molded canopies and windows are clear but a little on the thick side. However, two sets of vacuum-formed canopies are clear and substantial.
Soft, gray plastic sprues are bagged separately from the resin and clear parts. The decal sheet contains markings for four aircraft in two different versions: a Pe-2 series 1941, Soviet southern front, 1942; Pe-2 series 1941, Finnish, summer 1942; Pe-3 bis, Finnish, 1943; and my choice, a Pe-3 bis of the Soviet Air Force in 1944.
The 16-page instruction booklet begins with a brief history. A parts map and symbol-style instructions steer you through an 18-step assembly.
Exploded-view drawings are generally good, but the locations of some parts are vague. A Humbrol paint color chart cross-references Federal Standard numbers. Four pages are dedicated to four-view colors-and-markings drawings.
Because parts for two versions of this aircraft are included in the kit, great care must be used to choose the correct parts. Because I was inattentive to the drawings, in Step 8 I included an upper fuselage window (Part E49) that didn't belong in my version.
The model does not go together smoothly by today's standards, and there are few part-locating guides. However, once parts are cleaned up and mating surfaces have been matched, their fit is reasonably good.
On my model, the right upper wing panel was fine but the left upper wing panel left a 3/32" gap with the fuselage at the trailing edge. The canopy and lower nose glazing fit very well, but the ports in the sides of the fuselage were poorly molded and required filing and filling to fit. The main landing-gear struts refused to settle in at the same angle. The main wheels had to be drilled out for insertion of scratchbuilt axles, as the kit's axle stubs did not reach the wheels. Installing the propeller blades without pitch and angle control was pure guesswork. The very delicate cast-resin exhausts did not fit the openings in the engine cowls and required extensive filing and fitting. I had to scratchbuild an antenna mast, as the cast-resin part was warped into a J shape. The antenna wires are stretched clear sprue. I found the cast-resin gun barrels were poorly molded and brittle; I replaced them with steel tubing.
Good photo references of these aircraft are scarce. None of the four planes for which markings are provided appear in my single reference, Petlyakov Pe-2 in Action
, Squadron/Signal Publications (Aircraft No. 181).
After more than 70 hours of filling, filing, sanding, and painting, the finished model is impressive. The scale measures dead-on, even if the landing-gear doors look thick.
I used Model Master enamels to approximate Soviet World War II colors. Interestingly, the Federal Standard numbers called for in the camouflage and markings instructions fall into the 20,000 series - semigloss rather than flat colors.
The decals settled with just a light application of Micro Set; minor silvering disappeared under a coat of Testors clear flat.
An absence of part-locating aids, lots of flash, prominent mold seams, and somewhat complicated instructions make this kit one for experienced modelers. But the completed kit fits well in any collection of WWII aircraft models.
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