Accurate Miniatures 1/48 Yak-1b

Model, Text and Photos by: Tony Bell 

 

Introduction

The progenitor of a long series of Soviet fighters culminating in the Yak-9, the Yak-1 was produced from 1940 through to 1944. A fairly conservative design for it's day, it featured a tubular frame fuselage with aluminium skins over the nose with a plywood and fabric rear fuselage, much like the Hawker Hurricane. The wings and empennage were plywood with fabric control surfaces. The -1b version differed externally from the Yak-1 in that it had a cut down rear fuselage and carried a single 13mm machine gun.

The Kit

Upon opening the box, one is treated to the usual Accurate miniatures packaging. All the sprues are bagged separately and there is a false bottom under which are the clear parts and decals. The surface detail consists of finely recessed panel lines and fasteners, with restrained rivet detail in places, most notably on the lower wings. The kit is entirely devoid of flash, sink marks or any other moulding flaws.

Construction

Having built both the Accurate Miniatures F3F-2 and B-25C, I was already well aware of the wisdom of reading, studying and following the kit instructions carefully. As usual, the construction started with…

The Cockpit

As this was to be an OOB build, I added nothing to the kit cockpit, which was assembled per the instructions. It was painted overall Testors Russian Underside Blue, with details picked out in black and silver with a few red bits for some colour. I applied a "wash" of Poly Scale flat mixed with black ink and thinned with water and then drybrushed the whole thing with light grey oils. The seat harness decal was applied to masking tape for a more three dimensional look. It too received the Poly Scale wash to give it more depth. The instrument panel is typical of Accurate Miniatures, being moulded in clear styrene with a reverse printed decal to be applied to the back side of the panel.

Easily the highlight of the kit, the Yak cockpit went together easily with no problems whatsoever, in contrast to my experience with the F3F-2 cockpit. It's no surprise that the aftermarket resin companies have ignored the Accurate Miniatures Yak cockpits, as the detail is superb right out of the box.

The Fuselage

This is where I started to encounter some problems. The fuselage consists of three main components: the left and right halves and the upper deck. I had read about the tricky fit of the upper deck and so was prepared to do some dry fitting and fiddling to get it right. First I glued one fuselage half to the upper portion, let it dry completely and then attached the other half. This resulted in a nice, tidy join along the length of the fuselage, but left a seam on the deck behind the cockpit which would be visible through the rear canopy. This seam was filled with Mr. Surfacer 500 and sanded smooth with bits of sandpaper glued to pieces of wood cut to fit in the opening. After this was accomplished, the cockpit area was painted Underside Blue and the armoured glass behind the pilot attached with white glue. The forward and rear portions of the canopy fit well and were attached with liquid cement. A bit of Mr Surfacer 1000 was all that was required for a perfect join. The canopy was masked off with Tamiya tape. Because the frames were well defined, it was possible to trim the tape in situ with a new No. 11 blade, having taken care not to consume any caffeine in the previous six hours!

Another problem was the oil cooler outlet door under the nose. This absolutely refused to sit properly, and in the end I had to cut the hinge pins off, thin the forward edge of the fuselage opening and aft edge of the door and carefully glue it in place while holding it with a pair of tweezers to prevent it from falling inside. The radiator outlet door was somewhat easier and only required thinning on the trailing edge. The seam on the underside of the fuselage was filled with Mr. Surfacer. The fabric detail was masked off with electrical tape to avoid damage when sanding the seam smooth. Lost rivet detail under the nose and radiator was replaced with a pounce wheel.

The horizontal stabilisers fit well, only requiring a bit of Mr. Surfacer to fill the seam. The Mr. Surfacer was brushed on and allowed to dry for about 20 minutes, and the excess wiped away with a cotton swab moistened with methyl hydrate, avoiding the need for any sanding.

The Wings

I had also read that the wing root join was potentially troublesome, so I elected to attach the upper wing halves to the fuselage first. This is where not following the instructions got me into trouble as I had neglected to install the cockpit before hand. A substantial amount of bending and prying was necessary to get the cockpit into place, but fortunately nothing broke or split in the process. The wing spar was clamped in place in the lower wing to force the two together and generous amounts of liquid cement were used to ensure a strong bond. The carburettor intake was a separate piece and required considerable shimming, trimming and dry fitting before it could be attached to the lower wing without the need for filler. It should be noted that the intake is completely inaccurate, being too small, round and flush, as well as missing the splitter plate. The intake in the Eduard Yak-3 is much more accurate.

The lower wing was attached to the rest of the model, with the spar locking the cockpit into place. The left wing was fine, but the right wing had a pronounced warp to it. This was straightened out by steaming and twisting the wing back into shape. The separate ailerons fit nicely and were attached with liquid cement. The wing tip lights fit poorly but, due to the lack of surface detail in the area, were easy to fill and blend in. I applied instrument decals to the back sides of the wing tank fuel gauge covers, which were then glued into place and sanded and polished to blend them in with the wing surface. Circles of Tamiya masking tape were punched out with the Reheat punch & die set to mask the gauges off.
Painting, Weathering and Decals

As is my usual habit, I started off by spraying Tamiya black along the panel lines to "pre-shade" them. The undersides were painted Testors enamel "Russian Underside Blue" (how could I go wrong?) Instead of thinning the paint with mineral spirits or lacquer thinner as usual, I decided to experiment and thinned it with "automotive paint reducer". This is actually a lacquer thinner, but is considerably less volatile (i.e. "hot") than the regular stuff. The paint flowed beautifully, adhered well and dried hard with a slight sheen.

Once the undersides had hardened for a few days, I masked the demarcation line between the upper and lower colours with a roll of Blu Tac. The upper camouflage colours were sprayed with Aeromaster enamels Russian light and dark grey (9070 and 9071, respectively), again thinned with automotive paint reducer. If anything, the Aeromaster paints worked even better than the Testors.

A coat of Future floor polish was sprayed on as a precursor to applying the decals. Oddly enough the Future beaded up horribly on the Aeromaster colours, but went down fine over the Testors. I overcame this by applying a heavy, almost runny coat of Future over the upper surface. I had never encountered this problem before and attributed it to the paint reducer. Some experimentation revealed that wetting the surface with alcohol immediately before spraying the Future allowed it to cover properly.

The kit decals were thin, well printed and reacted well to both Gunze Mr. Mark softener and Microsol. I managed to wreck the starboard patriotic slogan decal when I handled the model too soon after applying it. Fortunately I had a spare set of decals and was able to replace it after carefully removing the remains of the first attempt. The rest of the decals went on without incident, including the potentially tricky spinner decal.

Weathering consisted of a Windsor and Newton burnt umber oil wash in the panel lines and paint chipping done with Humbrol silver No. 11 and a 0000 brush. Because the wings were wood and the rear fuselage was fabric, I made sure I applied chipping only to those areas that were actually metal on the real aircraft.

The whole model was sprayed with Aeromaster acrylic flat, and the exhaust stains airbrushed on with a brown/black colour mixed from Tamiya paints and thinned 90% with rubbing alcohol.

Finishing Details

Accurate Miniatures thoughtfully provide separate wheel hubs and tires, which simplifies painting. They also provide the option of round or slightly flattened tires. I opted for the flattened tires and painted them Aeromaster acrylic tire black and the hubs were painted underside blue and glued to the tires. The tail wheel was painted in a similar manner and glued in place.

The landing gear legs were painted the same colour as the undersides, with Testors raw umber for the leather oleo covers. Attaching the landing gear gave me considerable difficulty. While the lateral location of legs is fool proof and impossible to misalign, the fore-aft rake allows for approximately 20 degrees of play. I had to break off and reattach the left leg twice to try to align it with the right, and still I didn't quite get it right. My advice is as follows: glue the lower (inner) gear door to the gear leg temporarily with white glue and glue the upper (outer) door permanently to the gear well edge. Next glue the gear leg and retraction strut to each other and to the wing spar, lining up the trailing edges of the doors. Let everything set up completely and repeat for the other side and take the time to line both sides up. Check the alignment from the sides, top, bottom, front and back. Once everything has dried completely, pop off the lower (inner) gear doors and attach the wheels, taking care to get the flat spots to sit properly. Finally, reattach the lower gear doors.

Conclusion

I have determined that a great deal of my modelling enjoyment is derived from my expectations of the kit in question. For instance, when I set out to build the ICM MiG-3, I was expecting to have to put a lot of effort into test fitting, detailing, refining, etc. As it turns out I was correct, but still enjoyed the kit immensely. In contrast, I was expecting a shake & bake OOB when it came to the Yak. After all, it was Accurate Miniatures, wasn't it? Because of this unrealistic expectation and in spite of the fact that it was a much easier build than the MiG, I didn't enjoy this kit nearly as much.