Accurate Miniatures Yak-1 on Skis
By Tony Goetz
As in most kits, the first thing to do in this kit is to build up the cockpit. I first gave the components an airbrushing of Russian Interior Green; a mix of Testors Model Master Lt. Gray (FS 36492) as a base, TMM Bright Blue (FS 35183), TMM Insignia Yellow (FS 33538), Floquil German Intermediate Blue (matching RLM 66), and Aeromaster Intermediate Gray (RLM 02). The IPMS Color Cross-Reference charts show the mix as equaling RLM 02 alone, but this looked too tan in my eyes. I suppose it could be used as a base, adding various greens until it matches, but my mixture seemed to work well! The seat cushion was given a coat of hand brushed flat black with seat belt decals (which I don't recommend), and all other pieces a black wash to bring out the detail. The decal sheet gives you two instrument panel decals: one with the instruments down and one with them up. I guess this way you have the choice of putting it on the back of the clear panel, or on the front. After it had dried I sealed it in with a few coats of clear paint. I probably wouldn't use the decal normally on a kit, but it doesn't look too bad here! Assembly of the cockpit was pretty easy, but the shell chute wasn't clear in the instructions. Some testing of ways to glue it in showed it most likely goes from the firewall to under the left console. The cockpit was then folded up and assembled, made fairly easy by tension holding some pieces in place.
Very little had to be done to get the fuselage sides to go together well. Although you'll want to make sure the seam on the bottom of the rear fuselage is perfect, as it's hard to sand between the rib tapes. The forward bulkhead/oil radiator detail (D7) should go in just about perfectly, but with enough room to adjust it to line up with the propeller shaft. Glue in the bulkhead, the two exhaust doors (B32 and B51), and lay the shaft in to one side of the fuselage before gluing the halves together as the instructions say. However, I found it easier to glue the doors in after it was together. One piece that fit surprisingly well was the underside of the nose (B56), which fit seamlessly on to the fuselage. However, on the bottom of the fuselage the liquid cement had melted a ridge of plastic up through the seam, which had to be sanded and scraped down. It did provide a problem with the rib tapes, but some careful masking and sanding took care of it. The same thing happened on the radiator scoop, and with the fairing on it made it difficult to sand; I sanded it down, and built it up again later with Zap-A-Gap. After the fuselage had set, I glued on the top of the fuselage, which has incredible detail molded into it!
I attached and lined up the horizontal stabilizers, then set it aside overnight. The next day I installed the cockpit. Be warned, though: the cockpit takes some fiddling with to go in just right. A few extra hands will come in handy.
When I painted the cockpit interior green, I also gave the interiors of the wings and the main spar a coat. After this, I applied a dark wash to bring out the detail in the wheel wells and set it aside to dry for a few minutes before assembling the wing components. If you want to drop the flaps, now's the time to cut them out. Fortunately, Accurate Miniatures molded in all the detail you need to do so, and included a template in the instructions to close the gap in the wing. Installing the wing spar may be a bit tricky, but a little test fitting and super glue will ease the process. Notice that the cockpit tub fits into a notch in the spar (D20), which will hold it in place while you glue it. After this I attached the carburetor air intake (C49) to the lower wing. This has to be one of the most difficult pieces to deal with! If you get it to fit flush to the wing, it won't to the fuselage; flush to the fuselage, step/gap at the wing. It will take some scraping and test fitting, made harder by the fact that it's a small, oddly shaped piece, but necessary for a thin, crisp intake. I went by the instructions, and left the tops of the wings off until the bottom was on, as this seemed to be the easiest way. I also left the ailerons off even after the wings were together for ease of painting. The wingroot seam unfortunately wasn't very good, as shown in the overhead view. Some Zap-A-Gap, Testors putty, and sanding helped solve the problem.
Painting and Decals
The first thing I did (after masking off the intakes and cockpit) was spray the Russian black and green camouflage. This was very roughly put on, eyeballing it from the back of the instructions. A coat of any generic dark green, let dry for about half an hour, then a coat of flat black. I let this dry and then came back for the white camo. In real life, the "white wash" was hastily applied in the winter by cold ground crew, spraying any white water based paint they could find. This paint would begin to wear off in no time around access hatches and cockpit entry paths, showing the dark green and black underneath. To duplicate this, I decided to spray a white paint over sections of the airframe, then streak it back with an old brush. I used Testors WATER based white because when working it with the brush, it wouldn't eat away at the oil based paint previously applied. With an airbrush and hand brush in one hand, and the Yak in the other, I would airbrush a section with white, then quickly switch to the hand brush, streaking the paint back with the airflow. Along the wings the strokes ran parallel to the fuselage, and on the fuselage they ran at about a 30-45 degree angle to simulate the airstream and water droplets from the plane just sitting on the ground. Also, along the leading edges I tried not to spray any paint, and if I did, would rub it off with a paper towel. The leading edges of the wings and the horizontal and vertical stabilizers would be worn down easily as the plane was flying through clouds and as other moisture condensed on them. After I finished this step, I set it aside to dry for a few hours, then gave the decal areas a patch of Future floor wax to apply to.
As references showed, there would be very few markings on the plane, only the red stars on the sides of the fuselage, the vertical fin, and the bottom of the wings, the 9's centered in four of them, and a total of four small notices. I decided to start with the biggest decals first, the stars on the fuselage, careful to keep them vertical and lined up with each other. As these set I went on to the fin stars, again keeping them vertical and lined up as per instructions. To give them a chance to set, I next applied the 2 small notices on the left side of the radiator, but not going on to the bottom of the wings so that I could set the plane down on its belly. By now the stars had set enough to apply the blue 9's, so I carefully centered and lined them up within the stars on the sides of the fuselage, then moved on to the fin. I next applied the wing stars and the two notices near the gear wells, and I was done! In all, less than half an hour's work for the decals.
On such a good kit, though, the canopy really pulls it down. On the main sliding canopy component, there is a stark embedded line all the way through the part, where two flows of plastic most likely met. This is also on the rear piece, but it gets painted over. Besides this, the canopy isn't all that clear to begin with, with the grain of the mold showing through. I tried dipping the parts in Future as a possible solution; it made the canopy clearer, and the flow lines too! The only effective solution I see is to find an aftermarket vac-form canopy or vac-form/heat stretch it yourself. The canopy definitely makes the "misses" category. I used it anyway, to see what painting might hide. On the windscreen you can barely see the flaws, on the rear canopy it is covered over, but the main part is practically all clear, so braces won't hide it.
I masked the canopy using Scotch tape, applying it to the part then cutting it away along the braces with a NEW no. 11 X-Acto blade. When it was completely masked, I airbrushed the interior color on all three pieces, then black for the camouflage, and finally the white coat over that. I made sure not to put on too much white on the main piece, since this was touched and moved every flight.
I first thing I did for the landing gear was paint (interior green) and install the main struts and braces. They were carefully lined up and glued in using super glue, then had the gear doors attached to them. The ski components (top/bottom halves, and two linkages attached to them) were then assembled and airbrushed white. Before gluing them to the struts I glued in the tail ski so that the main skis would sit right when I lined them up. After the rear ski had set up for a few minutes, I set the main skis on to the mounting pegs, and set the aircraft on a hard level surface while I applied a drop of super glue to keep them on there for good!
Next I attached the canopy. The rear canopy fit well, and after being attached with a drop of liquid plastic cement, needed very little bodywork done. It did need some, though, and was touched up by hand then blended into the rest of the paint job with the airbrush. The windscreen actually didn't need any bodywork, as it slipped right on to the fuselage seamlessly. The main part of the canopy fit likewise, but I didn't glue it on since tension holds it in place, and so that I can clean it and the cockpit easily.
I masked off the canopy/cockpit, and gave the entire airframe a coat of flat coat to seal in the decals, and provide a surface to apply the exhaust stains. Now the fun part! When the flat coat dried, I used ground chalks and pastels and an old brush to apply the exhaust stains to the sides of the fuselage. Don't forget the cannons in the nose, which would have dark gunpowder stains trailing from them. I glued on the ailerons and weathered them and the other control surfaces while I was at it, since these would get a little more wear and tear than the rest of the plane. Be sure not to put the usual metal chips on the leading edges, because the Yak's wings were made of plywood, not aluminum, and the wood would absorb dents and stretch the paint around them, rather than have the paint flake off. Now I was just about finished; all it needed was another coat of flat coat to seal in the powder and any final touch-up.
Carrying with the Accurate Miniatures tradition, this is a good fitting kit with great detail. The cockpit, landing gear, and external details are perfectly reproduced, making for a stunning kit. The only problems I had with it were the wing root seams and the poorly molded canopy. Other than that, I would recommend this kit to any other fellow model builder.