Thursday, September 2, 2010

Yaketiyak yak - Yakovlev Yak-1

The Yakovlev series of fighters (Yak-1, -7 and -9) provided the Soviet Union with arguably the most important fighter aircraft of the Great Patriotic War. The development of the Yak-1 started in 1939, and just over 300 production aircraft had been delivered before Barbarossa. Sixty-two of these Yak-1s had been delivered to the 11 IAP (Fighter Regiment), which functioned as a form of familiarization unit for pilots from the 20, 45, 123, 158 and 91 IAP. Most Yak-1s were concentrated near Moscow, but 105 were available to the five western Military Districts, although a mere 36 pilots of the 20 IAP Sambora in the Kiev Military District had mastered the Yak-1 before the onslaught of Barbarossa.

One of six fighters defending Moscow were Yak-1s during the summer of 1941, and by July 10, 133 Yak-1s were defending the city. The first aerial victory claimed by the Moscow Air Defence Corps took place on July 2, 1941, when Lieutenant S. Goshko of the 11 IAP rammed a German reconnaissance aircraft after his guns seized. Despite the ramming, Goshko managed to land his Yak.

The Yak-1 was an outstanding dogfighter. and it was able to out-turn the Bf 109 E. It also had superior roll speed, considerably lower stalling speed and greater sustained turning ability due to low wing load. It was, however, slower than the Bf 109 F, especially at higher altitudes. The Bf 109 could also out-climb the Yak-1, but then the Bf 109 could out-climb most Allied fighters during the first half of the war. Some Soviet pilots also found the armament (two machine guns and one 20mm cannon) too light to deal with German medium bombers. As with many other Soviet aircraft, it was considered robust and reliable, especially after the end of 1941, when teething troubles with the engine had been overcome, although issues with landing gear retraction remained. The Luftwaffe considered the Yak-1 to be the best Soviet fighter, especially below 6,000 meters.

This Yak-1 is painted in the so-called "Symmetrical Meander" camouflage pattern of AII Black over Green that was developed at Zavod 292 in Saratov (Erik Pilawski, Soviet Air Force Colours 1941-1941), probably during the late spring or early summer of 1941. I opted to refrain from too much weathering, since the life expectancy of an air frame was short, and most of the Yak-1 was covered in a type of plywood.

The kit is an A-Model limited release, and the plastic itself was rather hard. The parts were endowed with generous amounts of flash that required quite a bit of cleanup. The accuracy is very good, and so are surface details, but the decals were outright wretched. They silvered despite being applied on a coat of Future Floor Polish and covered with Micro Sol, and they are also too thin, which means that the backround green and black shines through. I would have used other sets of VVS markings if I had known this, but other Soviet models had decals that were so much better, so I assumed that these decals were good as well.


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  2. Yet another fine example of craftmanship, Mr. F. :)