In January I had written a kit preview for Ark Model’s MiG-3, graciously provided by my friend Alex at scale-model-kits.com. The research for building this kit sparked an interest in learning about the MiG-3, and so I have had quite an enjoyable time not only with the build, but with learning also. That’s one of the great things about this hobby- it’s as much history as it is hobby.
In reading about the MiG-3, I decided building one wasn’t enough. So inspired by my recent dual-Airacobra build, I decided to do a dual MiG-3, comparing the Ark Models kit to the Trumpeter offering, which is covered in Pt. II of this dual-build.
One thing I learned fairly quickly in my research is that the MiG-3 that Aleksandr Pokryshkin flew (which is the subject of this boxing) is actually an early model MiG-3, and the Ark Models kit is a late version. Of course, I’m not a stickler for details like that, but as my research had turned up quite a few color profiles, and the other half of this dual build, the Trumpeter kit, had multiple marking options for a late version MiG-3, I decided to use the Trumpeter markings for the Ark Models kit.
The Ark Models kit is actually the ICM molding, repackaged by Ark Models.
The cockpit for the kit is fairly detailed. It consists of separate tube-framework sidewalls and floor pieces for the cockpit, similar to a Hawker Hurricane. The parts are nicely detailed. I normally am a bit put off by this type of arrangement, as they often can be quite fiddly to assemble, but these actually went together with no problem. Once assembled, it forms a nice little framework that fits easily into the fuselage. I did opt to leave out the seat backing, so that by adding it later, I could get a proper angle for it’s fit.
The instructions called for fitting the cockpit into one fuselage half, and then sandwiching it between the other half. Test fitting showed that doing so might be a little tedious. I opted to glue the rear half of the fuselage together first, and then insert the rear decking in, and then the cockpit, and then closing up the rest of the fuselage. This method allowed for a much easier process of adjusting and gluing, and presented no trouble at all. I then glued in the rest of the cowl pieces to give a bit more strength to the fuselage assembly.
The wings for this kit are engineered in a fairly odd fashion. They consist of two upper and one lower wing panel, two wing filets, and two forward wing root pieces. The instructions call for the builder to just join the parts in one single step, but test fitting showed that such and arrangement might not work out well.
I spent considerable time doing various test fit scenarios. Fitting the filet parts to the fuselage, and then joining the three wing parts in a traditional fashion showed that there would probably be some significant wing gaps, and some considerable gaps in the filet to fuselage joins to deal with.
After trying several options, I decided that the path of least resistance would be to fully build all of the wing parts together, including the filets, and get those aligned as precisely as possible, and then join the entire affair to the fuselage, and deal with the gaps there.
Gluing the wing parts together worked out reasonably well. There was a bit of sanding and filling to do, but not to a great degree. Because the parts were not yet joined to the fuselage, it allowed for easy sanding. Once the parts were sanded and rescribed where required, I began test fitting to the fuselage.
The fit to the fuselage was definitely not perfect. Left as-is, it would have shown a very large seam. The gap was not bad, but the seam was very obvious. However, I had an ace in my sleeve!
Tamiya Basic Putty to the rescue!
I love Tamiya Basic Putty, as I find it works better than any other brand of putty I have used. (And I’ve used quite a few…) It seems to have a very fine grain, sands very nicely, and does not seem to shrink or to be as brittle as others I have tried. And my “secret” was that it can be “wet sanded” with nail polish remover and qtips.
So I loaded up the gap with Tamiya Basic Putty, and began using qtips and nail polish remover to contour the area, gradually removing the putty until just the gap was filled, and it left a relatively smooth finish. Only a little sanding was required once it was dry to get things smooth, and no rescribing was needed at all. Close examination will show some signs of the gap, but overall, it I was very happy with how it turned out.
Most of the rest of the build was uneventful, except for the landing gear. The instructions show the placement pretty well, in terms of what attached where. But the reality is even with instructions, to just doesn’t make much sense when you try to put the parts in place. There is a small stub that goes at the top of the landing gear strut, and then a brace that attaches to the strut. There aren’t any real positive attachment points. I decided to move the struts a bit more outboard- really only a millimeters at most, so that the strut would touch the outer edge of the gear opening in the lower wing part. This would allow that part to be glued, in addition to the rest of the gear parts, to provide additional strength for the join. Finally when the out gear doors were added, I used those as additional reinforcement, gluing them on less for accuracy and more for strength. Only someone who really knows MiG-3s will be able to spot the difference, and then only on close examination. But it gave good strength to the landing gear once finished, and it sits well on it’s legs now.
The undersides were painted with Vallejo Pale Blue. I doubt this is anywhere to close to an exact match, but it was what I had on hand, and once weathered, I think it looks OK. The various documentation I found for this particular airframe (which was actually used for testing an upgraded engine) called for olive green and black by some sources, and olive green and dark green with others. Having some Tamiya Black-Green on hand, I decided to split the difference and use that. However, once weathered, finished and all done, it looks pretty much black except in bright light and when closely examined.
The markings are not anything exciting, of course, but I thought they had a nice simplicity to them anyway.
Overall, I was happy with the results, especially so given the degree of difficulty in assembling the wing roots and landing gear. It’s really not a bad kit, though I could only recommend it to advanced modelers. And in Part II of this dual-build report, we’ll see how it compares to Trumpeter’s kit.