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  1. Yak-9D (4815) 1:48 Zvezda The Yak-9 was an evolution of the successful Yak-7 fighter, and was intended to retake the initiative from the Nazis new Fw.190 and improved Bf.109s, which it successfully did. Production started in late 1942, and by summer 1943 there were enough in service to make a difference, playing a part in the crucial Kursk battle, thanks to its agility in the thicker air at lower altitudes and the heavy armament it carried. It was made in a number of different variants with different intended uses, with the D fitted with additional fuel tanks for longer range, and the DD for longer range still. There were also other versions with a larger 37mm cannon in the nose, and even a 45mm cannon in one variant that had to be installed with a muzzle brake. Post war saw the continued development of the type, which involved the installation of a more powerful engine, and these were later hived off to Soviet-friendly satellite states at the end of the 40s, where they served into the 50s, although their unusual lubrication system saw accidents caused by engines seizing due to forgetful pilots neglecting the hand-cranked lubrication lever in the cockpit. Something that might not necessarily be top of your agenda during a hectic dog fight or tricky manoeuvre. The Kit This is a brand-new tooling from Zvezda, and as it comes from Zvezda’s home country, the boat has been fully pushed-out, with the result a highly detailed kit. It arrives in a flimsy end-opening box, with a top-opening tray inside that is tough enough to hold everything safely inside, firm up the outer box, and comes complete with an additional captive lid/flap. Inside are six sprues in grey styrene, a clear sprue, decal sheet and the black and white printed instruction booklet, which has a separate painting guide in full colour, printed on both sides. A quick look at the sprues reveals that the detail is excellent throughout, with fine engraved panel lines and rivets where applicable, which are noticeably absent from the wings due to their construction with metal framework and a Bakelite impregnated plywood skin that was responsible for a major reduction in weight between it and its predecessors. There is also a complete engine that has some stunning detail moulded-in and goes all the way back to the cockpit, for which there is a very nicely sculpted pilot that has separate arms, torso and a choice of heads with goggles up or down at your choice. Other options include having the gear down, the engine exposed or closed up, with the additional option of closing up the landing gear and purchasing a separate stand for an in-flight pose. Construction begins with the engine, which is made from a substantial number of parts, and has some super mouldings that would make it a shame to pose it closed up. You will need the engine whether you display it or not, but most of it won’t require painting if you leave the engine closed. The radiator bath is next to be made, with back and front surfaces depicted, after which it is inserted into the full-width lower wing, which has a riveted armour insert behind the chin intake, and that also has front and back surfaces, plus a two-part fairing around it that has a seam up the middle, so will need careful fitting to minimise the seamline for easy hiding. The radiator intake also has a separate lip added to the front before it is flipped over and the wheel bay walls are made up, with the rear wall also forming a short spar that extends to the outer edge of the bays. Behind the spar a box is made up from individual surfaces, the aft section again forming a short spar as well as having tubular framework raised up that forms the rear of the cockpit. The floor of the cockpit sits on the boxed-in area, and has details such as rudder pedals and a choice of two control column types added, with a fuel tank and bulkhead in front, which are joined to the rear with more tubular framing that supports the cockpit sides and instrument panels, as well as other equipment within the cockpit. The instrument panel is well moulded, and four decals are included as well as a part that boxes in the rear of the panel, and a flat cross-member on which it sits at the front of the cockpit. If you're after more detail, Quinta Studio have already released a 3D Printed replacement that you can see here. The afore mentioned pilot is similarly well-moulded, with enough leeway in his arms to allow you to fine-tune them to reach the controls, plus a choice of goggles up or down, and you could incline his head up, down or to the sides to give him a little bit of additional character. The completed engine is decked out with four individual exhaust parts per side, and as some of them are twin pipes, care must be taken to correctly orient them firstly, and put them in the correct order. They aren’t hollow-tipped, but are very small, so with a dab of your blackest black it’s unlikely anyone will notice. The cockpit assembly is completed by bringing together the frames, the lower portion of the seat on its cross-frame, the vertically roll-quilted seat back set against the rear frame, the large cannon breech that runs through the prop, and the pilot if you are using him. At this stage the instructions have you inserting the landing gear legs and their retraction jacks, but these could be left off until later if you wish. The upper wings are joined to the lower after painting the bay roofs on the inside surface, and adding a pair of intake inserts to the wing root leading edges, and a cooling flap at the rear of the radiator, which has its actuators pushed through two holes from above. Wingtips with clear lights, the tail wheel leg that has a separate wheel and yoke half, and rear deck with equipment added are all built up in preparation for fixing the fuselage to the wings and internals. The inner surface of the fuselage halves are painted and has an additional frame added to the nose area on the starboard side, while a floor insert is prepared with the tail wheel for insertion later. The fuselage halves are closed around the existing structure plus the rear deck and a short bulkhead that also has the antenna moulded-in, although I would almost definitely knock that off during handling, so would probably replace it and drill a hole for later insertion of the antenna or its replacement. The port fuselage half is missing its side cowlings to accommodate the display option, and this is prepared with an intake in the lower nose, with a frame added to the inside for the closed-up version. The elevators and their fins are each made of three parts with the flying surfaces able to be posed, as is the rudder and both the ailerons, all of which are separate individual parts with lightly engraved fabric detail visible on the surfaces. If you are opening up the engine cowling, additional parts are included for the port nose machine gun as well as its ammo supply, made from a number of parts and nestling in the top of the engine. The canopy and its companion piece are then inserted in place whether you are showing off the engine or not. The section of the cowling at the very tip of the nose is used if you expose the engine, and this too has additional parts fitted underneath before it is installed behind the prop. The full upper cowling is supplied as a single part if you choose to close it up, leaving you with a neat panel line and one less seam, which is always nice. The prop is moulded as a single boss with the three blades integral, and this is surrounded by the spinner, with the boss and a cannon barrel part to allow the modeller to leave off the spinner front if desired. The canopy opener and the fixed aft section are added behind the windscreen and in front of the aerial antenna. After adding in the main gear legs during earlier construction, the task is completed by adding a captive outer bay door and inner door with actuator, adding two bay doors to the side of the tail gear leg, oil-cooler flap on the chin-intake under the nose, then making up the main wheels from two halves plus inner and outer hubs, after which they slip over the axles to complete the build phase. Markings There are three decal options included on the sheet, with a separate half-page of the instruction booklet showing where all the stencils should go, while the main markings are given on the colour sheet. From the box you can build one of the following: 1st Separate Regiment Normandy-Niemen, Pilot Marcel Lefebvre, #14 6th Guards Regiment IAP of the Black Sea Fleet Air Force, Pilot Grib, #22 64th Guards Regiment IAP, Pilot Denchik #3 Decals are printed for Zvezda in a similar style to Begemot, although no logo is included to confirm. They are in good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin satin carrier film cut close to the printed areas. Conclusion This is a highly detailed model of this important WWII Soviet fighter that some may contend was the best of the war, and certainly one of the best Soviet fighters of the war. Lots of detail throughout, and with enough difference in personal markings to interest many modellers. Very highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of Alex at Quinta Studios
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