In Pt. I of this dual-build, I covered Ark Models’ 1/48 MiG-3. In Pt. II, I’ll be covering Trumpeter’s 1/48 MiG-3 Late Version.
There are quite a few folks who give Trumpeter a hard time about their kits. From their use of recessed rivet detail to errors in shape or other detail accuracy, the company receives some harsh treatment on forums from many modelers. And some of the criticism is not unwarranted, in cases. But overall, I’ve enjoyed every Trumpeter kit I’ve built, despite the complaints.
In initially comparing the parts for this Trumpeter MiG-3 to the Ark Models (ex-ICM) kit, I was immediately impressed with the detail and finesse Trumpeter put into this kit. The overall quality of the engraving, surface detail and general precision of the parts was much better.
The cockpit in this kit, unlike the Ark Models example, used a solid insert for the sidewalls with raised detail, instead of using rods. I do think the Ark Model kit looks just a tiny bit better in that respect, but I have to admit that the level of detail Trumpeter put in their cockpit, despite the use of raised detail, is superior to the Ark kit. And while the Ark kit’s cockpit was not too fiddly to build, the Trumpeter kit’s cockpit was a breeze to put together. And with some dry-brushing and a good oil wash, the detail pops out nicely.
Where the Trumpeter kit really shines is int he overall fuselage and wing assembly. Unlike the Ark Models kit, the Trumpeter kit has the wing filets cast as part of the fuselage. The fuselage itself goes together with no fit issues at all. You will want to take care to align the upper cowl part carefully, and then let it dry, before adding the lower cowl part. The fit is good, but it works better to do them one at a time.
The wing fit was perfect. Unlike the Ark kit, which required a lot of test fitting and sanding and filling, the Trumpeter kit just goes right in place. I did use a bit of Mr. Surfacer and a Qtip soaked in alcohol to “sand” the wing join seams, just to give it a consistent look. But there are no problems with the fit.
The rest of the build is a breeze. Everything goes in place easily and fits right. I thought the breakdown of the landing gear parts was a bit more logical than the Ark kit, and the positive attachment of the gear was much better than the Ark kit.
For camo schemes, I decided to depart from what came in the box. The kit has three schemes, one of which I used on the Ark Models kit. But I found a really unusual camo scheme for the MiG-3, and green and tan camo job, with black oversprays along much of the color demarcations on the upper surface.
I painted the lower surfaces with Vallejo Sky Blue, and the uppers with Tamiya XF-52 Flat Earth and XF-62 XF-62 Olive Green. The demarcations were oversprayed with Tamiya XF-69 NATO Black.
I could not find the decals for the bird I wanted to build, White 54, but I realized all I needed was the white 54 itself. The red stars could be sourced from the decals I had on hand for the kit. So I used a simple technique for making a negative mask, and I had my white 54 marking.
Weathering was done with the usual mix of post-shading and oil washes. I’m still not completely comfortable weathering Russian birds, as I’ve not found a great number of photos that clearly show how their typical weathering patterns looked. And because so much of their airframes were generally made of wood, it does not weather quite like aircraft made of metal. So I still have some learning to do there.
Overall, this kit was a pleasure to build, and I plan to the build Trumpeter’s MiG-3 Early Version soon. It’s a great kit that I can highly recommend.
In comparing it to the Ark Models kit, I have to say the Trumpeter kit is a clear winner. While the Ark Models kit builds up nicely with some work, the fact that the Trumpeter kit presents no problems, and costs about the same (perhaps even a bit less, depending on the source), I have to give the nod in Trumpeter’s direction. However, if you are inclined to build several MiG-3 kits, and like to try different kits, I do say give the Ark Models kit a shot also. While it will take a bit of work, it looks good when built up, and it will expand your modeling muscles in ways the Trumpeter kit won’t.