Encore Yakovlev Yak-9 in 1/72 Scale

The box says Encore, but Scalemates indicates this kit was first issued by Dakoplast in 1997, then Encore, then Eastern Express, and finally Modelist.  As Marc mentioned in comments to the build thread the sprues match the ICM kit. I enclosed the wheelwells, replaced the wheels, and substituted a vacuform canopy for the awful kit piece.  The model represents a generic Yak-9T of the 3rd FAC operating in the Kursk area, summer 1943.

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Encore Yakovlev Yak-9 Build in 1/72 Scale Part II

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The wing joint took a lot of filling, I used several applications of Perfect Plastic Putty to get it smooth. I also used the PPP to blend the Falcon vacuform canopy, which was a vast improvement over the kit piece.

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Here is the underside after filling with superglue and sanding. The position of the radiator and the cockpit opening is dependent on the type of Yak-9 being built.

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The model was primed with Mr. Surfacer 1000. You can see by the sanding that the wing root required multiple applications of filler to finally smooth out.

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This model was finished in the AMT 12 / 11 / 7 scheme mixed from Mr. Color paints. The dark gray faded quickly and could be lighter than I’ve shown here, but I like the contrast.

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Decals were spares from the Arma Yak-1 kits with the exception of the emblem on the nose, which is from the Begemot Yak-7 sheet.

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I substituted spare wheels from Eduard’s La-5 kit and replaced the pitot tube and gun barrels with Albion tube.

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Well, it can be built! The Yak-9 was in service with several nations well into the 1950’s and had a production run of over 15,000. It’s surprising that there isn’t a new tool kit, you’d think it would be a natural for a company like Zvezda.  I like the way it turned out, but then again I am not a VVS expert so the shortcomings don’t jump out at me.

Encore Yakovlev Yak-9 Build in 1/72 Scale Part I

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Lurking in the stash was this Yak-9 in an Encore Models box. This kit was first issued by Dakoplast in 1997, then Encore, then Eastern Express, and finally Modelist. It is not considered to be a good kit by those who know the Yak-9 and is known to have several shape issues. I am not an expert on the type therefore the shape issues don’t jump out at me so I decided to build the kit along with all the other Yaks. When else would I ever build one?

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The box contained two sprues with a lot of mold release. I wash all my sprues in hot soapy water before beginning construction. These got a good long soak. When done there was still some discoloration but no sign of oil. The two fuselages are there to account for the different placement of the cockpit and radiator between different subtypes.

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The cockpit is basic. The control column looked like it would be more trouble than it was worth to clean up so I substituted one made from wire.

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The wheelwells have some detail but there are gaps showing up into the fuselage and at the rear of the well. Another Yak kit which will need some work with Evergreen card.

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The cockpit under a coat of paint, what there is of it. Not super detailed but the basics are in place.

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There are some gaps on the underside seams which will need addressed. You can see the card used to close up the wheelwells in this photo as well.

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There is a pronounced step at the wing joint which will take some filling. At this point I should also mention that the clear canopy was beyond useless – it looked like it had been squished and no way was it ever going to fit. I used one for a Yak-3 from a Falcon vacuform set which looked much, much better and actually fit pretty well.

US Aircraft in the Soviet Union and Russia Book Review

US Aircraft in the Soviet Union and Russia

By Yefim Gordon, Sergey Komissarov, and Dmitri Komissarov

Hardcover in dustjacket, 355 pages, bibliography, profusely illustrated, color profiles

Published by Midland Publishing Ltd., January 2010

Language: English

ISBN-10: ‎ 1-85780-308-6

ISBN-13: ‎ 978-1-85780-308-2

Dimensions: ‎ 8.9 x 0.9 x 11.5 inches

The Lend-Lease policy was enacted in March 1941, before America’s entry into the Second World War.  It allowed the United States to provide military and logistical material to Allied nations fighting the Axis.  While the main beneficiary of this aid was the United Kingdom, a significant portion went to the Soviet Union.  This included roughly half a million vehicles and about fifty percent of the food, ammunition and aviation gasoline consumed by the Soviets.  While this aid was officially downplayed publicly, Stalin admitted privately that the USSR would have lost the war without the vast amount of material supplied by the U.S., Great Britain, and Canada.

Part of this aid was over 11,400 U.S. aircraft.  Most types operated by the USAAF were represented, with the largest portions being the Bell P-39 Airacobra with 4,719 provided and the follow-on P-63 Kingcobra with 2,397.  Soviet pilots were enthusiastic about both types.

I expected this book to be about the Lend-Lease program.  While that is a primary focus and occupies a substantial portion of the page count, there is so much more.  The book opens with the purchase of a Wright A Flyer in 1908, and several additional pre-war types made their way to the Soviet Union under various arrangements.  A surprise (to me at least) were the Soviet efforts to acquire American heavy bombers.  These were denied under Lend-Lease, the USAAF citing the need for every bomber they could get, but several crash-landed examples were discovered as the Red Army pushed into Eastern Europe.  Many of these were repaired, and the USSR were able to operate both the B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator in squadron strength.  The story of the Tu-4 Bull, reverse-engineered from three interred B-29 Superfortresses is better known.  There is also a small section dealing with U.S. types (or components) acquired in various ways during the Cold War, and a much larger section on U.S. civilian types purchased after the end of the Soviet era beginning in 1991.

This is a beautiful book and a valuable reference.  The pages are printed on glossy stock, and there is no shortage of photographs, line drawings, and high-quality profile artwork.  Modelers looking for unusual schemes for American aircraft types will be thrilled.  Highly recommended.  If the subject interests you at all pick this one up, you will not be disappointed!

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Yakovlev Yak-7B Build in 1/72 Scale, Dakoplast and Valom Kits Part II

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Limited run kits often present fit challenges, and the Dakoplast Yak-7 is no exception. The wing roots will take some filling to eliminate the seams.

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The underside is no better. The kit features a gap where the chin scoop fits, and my example was short-shot behind the scoop. Nothing some Evergreen and a dab of filler won’t fix!

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The undersides of the Valom kits are also rough. I prefer to fill areas like this with superglue, using accelerator they can be sanded and re-filled right away. Also, the superglue will not draw in along the seams later, which can be a problem with thin glues and soft plastic.

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Just like the Brengun Yak-1, these Yak-7’s also have different thicknesses between the horizontal tail pieces and the fairings molded with the fuselage. These can be reduced with an Xacto knife and sanded smooth.

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Everything is filled and sanded. The canopy pieces are in place and the gaps filled with Perfect Plastic Putty. The landing light is sanded flush and buffed out before painting to ensure the will be no gaps.

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A shot of the underside of the Dakoplast kit showing the wheel wells and repairs to the oil cooler scoop. In contrast with the clunky fit issues the surface details are pretty well done.

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Seamwork on the Valom kits, which had fit issues at the wing roots. I replaced the cowl guns with Albion tube.

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The Valom kits are a little better underneath, but only a little.

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Priming with Mr. Surfacer 1000 always reveals a few areas to fill and re-sand, but it’s also the first time the model starts to look like a model and not a collection of parts.

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The obligatory photo showing the Mr. Color paints used.

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I used decals from Begemot sheet 72-051, which contains eighty marking options. Only seventy-seven more to go, I’m not sure how I feel about that. The decals went on without any drama, but the whites could be a little more opaque.

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Here is the underside of one of the Valom kits. The inner wheelwell doors were replaced with plastic card, stencils are extras from the Arma Yak-1 kits.

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All three together. These are classic examples of limited-run kit technology and take some work to build up. They are not quick builds and there are several areas where some basic improvements go a long way to making the kits look better. If the Yak-7 is your thing, this is the way you’re going to have to go, at least until someone issues a new tool.