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Yakity Yak!

I’ve never been very interested in WWII Soviet aviation subjects. Not that I have anything against them, I just never thought to look into them. That is until I saw a 1/48 Accurate Miniatures Yak-1 with skis for sale on several months back for about $12. That got my attention!

The kit is pretty typical of AM’s work. Very nice detail, practically no flash, no sink marks that were too annoying…. except for the gear doors. The level of detail was quite good, and the kit didn’t have to wait to long in the stash before hitting the build table.

As is required to not upset the delicate balance of the Earth’s orbit, I started on the cockpit. (You can thank me later for not choosing the landing gear or something and sending us all hurtling into the sun.) The detail in the cockpit was very good. The Yak had a tubular frame fuselage, and this is well represented in the separate sidewalls. the cockpit floor and forward firewall were a single piece, the firewall being “folded up” when ready to assemble the cockpit. The seat and frame worked much the same way, with the backrest/armor plating glued to that sub-assembly. The IP was typical of AM- nicely detailed with a decal.

I have to admit I didn’t really warm to the folding parts…. they seemed a bit troublesome to position right, and I ended up removing them and gluing them in the more traditional manner. Once I did that, the office went together well. The detailing was quite busy… all sorts of little knobs and levers. Though it did not match up exactly with the reference pics I had, I also noticed that none of the reference pics quite matched each other either.

I’d done quite a bit of research on the interior color, which basically left me concluding that it depended on the factory and the day- but that generally it was gray-ish. My friend at the LHS has built quite a few Russian aircraft, and suggested US Light Ghost Gray, so I used that.

Now- at this point I should be inserting photos of the assembled cockpit before enclosing it in the fuselage. Here’s why I ain’t.

The instructions have you assemble the fuselage and then insert the cockpit from underneath. Nothing new there- many kits do that. However, I failed to heed Modeling Commandment Number something or other- I failed to test fit.

The fuselage went together beautifully- no trouble there. Only a minimal amount of filler was needed at the very top of the rudder. After dutifully letting it dry overnight, I decided to test fit the cockpit assembly to make sure it would not interfere with the lower wing placement.

The instructions would have you simply insert the assembly into the lower fuselage, and no glue is needed to hold it in place, as the lower wing would do that.

What the instructions failed to say was that the real reason no glue was needed was that once you managed to jam the cockpit up in there- nothing was coming back out. I tried several ways to get it up there, and finally resorted to the tried and true method of gritted teeth, brute force, and a few words I won’t bore you with.

Eventually, it did fit in there, right where it was supposed to. True, the seat had snapped off and I had to used tweezers to get it in place, but it was there.

Thus ends the sub-plot of why I only have pics of the cockpit after being placed into the fuselage. On to the rest of the build.

Once the fuselage was complete, I moved on to the wings. The lower wing assembly has a spar that forms the rear of the wheel wells, and this helped get the wings to the correct dihedral. I found the easiest way to get this to work was to use a dot or two of CA to hold the middle down, then alternately do each side, holding the wing against the bottom of the spar until it dried. Once that set enough to hold. I ran a pretty hefty bead of cement along the back of the spar at the join, and after letting it dry overnight, it fit nicely.

The upper wings went on nicely, with only some minor gaps, which I think may have been due to some slight warpage on one wing. The wing assembly then went right into place on the fuselage. I used a very small amount of filler to close the gap. I probably could have gotten away without using any, but I decided to use a small amount anyway.

At this point, I started painting. The underside is PollyScale USSR Underside Blue, with the upper surfaces being US Tac Mid Green and Grimy Black- also PollyScale. I used plain old blue masking tape to mask off the camo.

Once the paint was dry, I gave the plane a coat of Future, and applied the decals, an aftermarket set from AeroMaster. The markings are actually for a Yak-7 or -9, but I liked them. No, it ain’t accurate- but I like them. So there.

I finished up with the usual stuff- wash for the panel lines, glue on the landing gear and other bits, and add the canopy. I drilled out the exhausts- they were very tiny and I had to use a pin, but I think the final look is pretty good.

Even with the issues I had with the cockpit, I’d highly recommend this kit. It’s a very nice, well detailed kit of an interesting aircraft. I’ll certainly look to do one again in the future. This kit is out of production, but if you can find one, plunk down the money- it will be worth it!