A welcome addition to the swelling ranks of 1/48 scale Soviet WW2 aircraft kits available comes in the shape of Trumpeter's new MiG-3. This is the first time the type has been tackled in this scale by one of the major manufacturers, but it obviously benefits from Trumpeter's earlier release of a 1/32 scale version.
The kit consists of:
74 x pale grey styrene parts
7 x clear parts
Decals for 3 x colour schemes
The standard of moulding is generally pretty good - nice and crisp, as you'd expect with a new-tool kit, and with just a small amount of flash evident. My kit is free of sink marks, but there are one or two places where the slide moulds aren't quite aligned - the wing roots are one example - and a touch of filling will be needed.
Surface finish consists of of neatly scribed panel lines and embossed rivets on the metal areas of the airframe. The rivets are certainly more subtly done than on Trumpeter's earlier quarterscale kits, but they are still over-scale - despite the rivets appearing prominent in many scale drawings, period photos and shots of restored aircraft reveal that the MiG-3 was actually quite smoothly finished. The fabric areas are a little odd in that they're treated in two distinct styles: while the elevators and rudder show fine ribs, the ailerons are much heavier handled. Again, both styles are rather exaggerated - but they're definitely a huge improvement over the gross effect in Trumpeter kits such as the SM79 or Fw 200.
A quick test fit is encouraging. The fuselage halves on their own are a bit unsupported due to the long nose featuring separate upper and lower panels, but the cockpit tub and wings attach with substantial clips which pull everything into shape
A few details
The cockpit is something of a curate's egg - i.e. good and bad in parts. The side-walls show some effective detail and the rudder pedals and control column are very good - the later including a diminutive handle for the wheel brakes. Against this, the seat panel is thick and clumsy and the instrument panel is rather oversimplified, with faint rings for the bezels (in fact, the original instruments were inset into the panel without raised bezels). The kit includes a full floor, which is a compromise in the interests of making for an easy build - on the real aircraft, the floor began level with the front of the pilot's seat, with the fuel tank visible under the seat. There's no seat harness provided, but I think it's a safe bet that after-market detail sets designed specifically for this kit will be available very soon to fill the gaps.
The undercarriage is fair, with the distinctive double guides on the main gear legs. The wheel doors are very thick, but they have good detail on their inner faces and aren't marred by ejector-pin marks. The detail on the wheel hubs is a bit basic and doesn't really match reference shots very well, and there's a different tread pattern visible in many wartime photos, but there could well have been more than one style of tyre fitted. The wheel wells are good and deep - if a little empty, so there's plenty of scope to add extra interior detail.
The oil cooler intakes are separate parts and the shape looks good, but no radiator cores are provided, which gives a see-through effect when viewed from head-on.
Armament comprises three cowl guns and two sets of underwing triple rocket racks. Sadly, Trumpeter haven't included the gun pods fitted to some aircraft. If you don't want to fit the rockets, you'll need to fill some unnecessarily large holes under the wings.
The transparencies look good quality - very clear and with crisply defined frames. The windscreen is moulded integrally with part of the fuselage, which should ensure a good clean fit, and solid areas are treated to a frosted finish to make painting easier. There are separate navigation and landing lamp covers - and it looks as though Trumpeter included a second laning lamp on the starboard wing at some point in the kit's design, as there's the vestige of a mark still visible that will need filling.
Instructions an decals
The assembly diagrams are well drawn and clearly laid out in 11 logical stages. Colour references for Gunze Sangyo paints are provided.
The decals look very good quality, being thin and cleanly printed with good colour depth, excellent registration and minimal carrier film. Three paint schemes are illustrated in colour on a separate sheet. Trumpeter don't give any details of any of the schemes, but a bit of digging through some references provides a bit more information:
A. "White 17" - this aircraft was abandoned by the retreating Russians with a broken propeller.
B. A classic winter camouflaged aircraft with a distinctive arrow marking. The fuselage slogan reads "For the Bolshevik Party". Seemingly presented to 172nd IAP in February 1942, possibly the same a/c is illustrated as a late-production aircraft, with a different nose and exhausts in the new Mushroom Model Productions book.
C. "White 5" - In a rather old set of colour profiles, this a/c is attributed to Alexandr I. Pokryshkin of the 16 GvIAP.
The colour profiles look alarming with a peculiar fin fillet which thankfully isn't included in the kit. The GS colours quoted are rather misleading and I'll prefer to use White Ensign's excellent VVS Colourcoats
Trumpeter's new MiG-3 deserves to be a popular kit. It's a little simplified in places, but the basics are all there for a very attractive OOB build that's suitable for modellers of all experience ranges. The low price also means that it's perfectly affordable as a basis for the after-market detail sets which are bound to appear before long.
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