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Yakovlev Yak-3. 1:32

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Yakovlev Yak-3

Special Hobby 1:32




Lighter and smaller than Yak-9 but powered by the same engine, the Yak-3 was a forgiving, easy-to-handle aircraft loved by both novice and experienced pilots and ground crew as well. It was robust, easy to maintain, and a highly successful dog-fighter. It was used mostly as a tactical fighter, flying low over battlefields and engaging in dogfights below 4 km (13,000 ft).

The new aircraft began to reach front line units during summer 1944. Yak-3 service tests were conducted by 91st IAP of the 2nd Air Army, commanded by Lt Colonel Kovalyov, in June–July 1944. The regiment had the task of gaining air superiority. During 431 missions, 20 Luftwaffe fighters and three Ju 87s were shot down while Soviet losses amounted to two Yak-3s shot down. A large dogfight developed on 16 June 1944, when 18 Yak-3s clashed with 24 German aircraft. Soviet Yak-3 fighters shot down 15 German aircraft for the loss of one Yak destroyed and one damaged. The following day, Luftwaffe activity over that section of the front had virtually ceased. On 17 July 1944, eight Yaks attacked a formation of 60 German aircraft, including escorting fighters. In the ensuing dogfight, the Luftwaffe lost three Junkers Ju 87s and four Bf 109Gs, for no losses to the Yaks. Consequently, the Luftwaffe issued an order to "avoid combat below five thousand metres with Yakovlev fighters lacking an oil cooler intake beneath the nose!" Luftwaffe fighters in combat with the Yak-3 tried to use surprise tactics, attacking from above.

Unresolved wartime problems with the Yak-3 included the plywood surfaces coming unstuck when the aircraft pulled out of a high-speed dive. Other drawbacks of the aircraft were short range and poor engine reliability. The pneumatic system for actuating landing gear, flaps and brakes, typical for all Yakovlev fighters of the time, was problematic. Though less reliable than hydraulic or electrical alternatives, the pneumatic system was preferred owing to significant weight savings.

In 1944, the Normandie-Niemen Group re-equipped with the Yak-3, scoring with it the last 99 of their 273 air victories against the Luftwaffe.

The Model

It was quite a surprise when Special Hobby announced a new 1:32 Yak 3 earlier in 2016, but here it is, re-released in Hi-Tech form. The colourful boxart, with a representation of two Yaks shooting down a Bf.109 also shows, in wording in the left hand bottom corner, that this is a Hi-Tech kit. This means that in addition to the seven sprues of bluish grey styrene, two sprues of clear styrene, (not sure if there should be two as they appear identical), there are also a sheet of etched brass, paint masks, and a blister pack of resin parts.  All the parts are well moulded with no sign of imperfections or flash, just beautiful, yet quite restrained panel lines, rivets and other detail, where it should be.  The fuselage and outer wing panels are smooth of these, as they are plywood. Whilst looking quite a simple build, there is a lot of detail included, particularly in the cockpit with a mixture of styrene, resin and etched brass parts. The rest of the kit looks to be quite straight forward, with no hidden problems.  The fact that the instruction booklet is one of the clearest and easiest to read, (are you listening Dragon?), helps.





The build itself begins with the assembly of the cockpit, strangely enough, and the fitting of the side consoles with their additional details to the tubular framework of what would constitute the side walls.  The moulded rudder pedals are replaced with resin and PE, whilst the eight piece instrument panel, (including the smaller levers etc.), is assembled and detailed with decals for the instruments, a drop of Kleer or aqua gloss will help them stay in position and give them a glassy look. The two piece rear shelf is fitted with a resin radio set, the front bulkhead, with the cannon breech, whilst the joystick is fitted with a PE trigger to replace the moulded part. All the sub-assemblies are then brought together, in addition to another section of tubular frame to build up the cockpit “tub” if you like.





The fuselage halves are joined together once the resin exhaust stubs have been fitted and four piece tail wheel assembly, including resin wheel and PE scissor link, has been built up and fitted to the shelf that is attached to one half of the fuselage.  The radiator chute is then fitted through the bottom of the fuselage. The tail surfaces are then assembled, each from upper and lower sections and the two piece rudder. The upper wing section is then fitted out with the fuel filler caps which unusually contain decals for what I presume fill levels, I know someone will come to my on these. The lower wing section is fitted with the radiator. The two wing sections are then glued together and the cockpit assembly glued to the centre section of the top wing, then fitted out with the seat, back rest, seatbelts etc. The wing/cockpit assembly is the slid into the fuselage assembly, followed by the forward cowl deck and resin machine gun muzzles.





The instrument panel is further detailed with the gunsight and its associated support rail, the coaming and cocking levers for the machine guns. This is then slide into the cockpit aperture, along with two extra side panels.  Each main undercarriage is made from a main leg, resin wheel, PE details, shock strut and actuator, scissor link and two outer gear bay doors, before they are fitted to their respective five piece bays, which in turn are slid into the apertures in the lower wing section.  The inner bay doors and their associated retraction actuators are then attached, along with the tail wheel bay doors and up lock fittings. The kit being finished off with the fitting of the four piece propeller, headrest, three piece, or optional single piece, canopy, and finally the pitot probe.










The two decal sheets provide markings for five different aircraft, although they are all in the same camouflage. The decals are well printed, by Eduard, and look to be in register with good density, important for the white markings and on quite thin carrier film.  The markings included are for the following aircraft:-

  • Yak-3, White “6”, of 1 Sqn, Normandie-Niemen regiment, Autumn 1944, Sterkl, Lithuania.
  • Yak-3, White “Double Zero”, East Prussia, 1944 to 45
  • Yak-3, White “24” Roland De Poype, Hero of the Soviet Union, Eastern Prussia, Autumn 1944.
  • Yak-3, White “22” Asp Pierre Douarre, Le Bourget, France, June 1945
  • Yak-3, White “4” Lt Roger, (Robert), Marchi, Lithuania, Summer 1944






This is really a lovely little kit, and looks like it will be a joy to build, although not without its quirks, such as the main undercarriage bays being completely assembled, with the legs and wheels before being fitted to the wing. It might be best to fit the bays to the wing first and do any filling and sanding they may require, before fitting the undercarriage.  Other than that, another nice release from Special Hobby.



Review sample courtesy of


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Thanks Dave,

Suits me well, I'll certainly get this box.

I only hope that there'll be soon more decal options available on aftermarket, as those Yaks did have some really colorfull outfit.

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5 hours ago, Tim T said:

  Special Hobby really seem to have upped their game recently.

They have done in all scales.



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  • 3 weeks later...

Great review and an impressive looking kit, Thanks much!


On 11/4/2016 at 11:18 PM, Shar2 said:

The upper wing section is then fitted out with the fuel filler caps which unusually contain decals for what I presume fill levels, I know someone will come to my on these.

Actually the holes on the upper wing parts are for the fuel level gauges. The filler caps are located in different places.

If anyone interested in more details about this topic, I'd recommend the following link:





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  • 2 months later...
20 minutes ago, petrichorAM84 said:

Sorry to bump this topic but does anyone know where this kit is available for purchase in the UK? Or am I just going to have to bite the bullet with shipping costs and order direct from SH?



Hannants have it in stock;





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Also one on ebay though I have never used the seller plasticmodelhobbies-5  before. Item 282328838727



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8 minutes ago, Julien said:

Also one on ebay though I have never used the seller Model Hobbies Limited before. Item 371785055672



Think I'll go with Hannants, they're advising they have 10+ in stock and have ordered from them before with no issue. Plus I have wishlist items I can add to my order haha



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