Updated on April 20, 2005
file name: yak-matvienko.html
What would it take a Yak to make?
article and model by Alexei
translation by Alex Ruchkowsky
This article is merely for scale modelers and for modeling purposes
and in no way pretends to be an academic research in history that would
eat up 40Gb of your disk space and more. What we try to do is to put together
all several bits of info available on the Yaks, and to present the way
to proceed for those wishing to accomplish a pair or two of the famous
Yakovlev WWII fighter models.
Of 36,000 planes turned out those days, only few survived,
among those we find one Yak-1b, three Yak-3’s, one Yak-9 and three Yak-9P’s.
These aircraft are scattered over the world and
it is quite a job to get access to those.
Speaking of restored aircraft or such in process
of restoration, it is worth mentioning a Yak-9U of Champlin Fighter Aircraft
Museum (which is by far not a perfect restoration but at least the world’s
only original 9U model), as well as a Yak-1
of Hawker Restorations LTD
that is being rebuilt strictly under
the original technology and information.
A thorough search in the Internet will produce a
number of photos of other museum aircraft that will grossly be of little
genuine benefit to a modeler.
Yak family has been represented in drawings a lot of times.
The Russian “Modelist-Konstruktor” (M-K) modeling magazine published
the following scale drawings,
Yak-1b in 1/1975
Yak-3 in 4/1975
Yak-9 in 5/1976
Yak-7 in 5/1983
The Yak-9R drawings published in the same magazine
a bit later were only a minor modification of the earlier work.
Anything printed before is probably not worth mentioning
due to their primitiveness and errors.
It must also be said that a whole lot of scale drawings
published at a later date were based on the M-K work.
Of newer efforts, the Yak-1 drawings from the Sergey
Kuznetsov’s “Pervyi Yak” (Yak the First) book can arguably qualify for
the best Yak drawings ever published, although they do have their share
of errors too.
Sketches from Dmitriy Leipnik’s ”Yak-9: Ryadovye
nebes” (Yak-9: Soldiers in the Sky) deserve attention for useful detail
information although the blurry “handmade” way they are finished make me
wonder if these can be called scale drawings at all.
I will revert to these publications below in order
to suggest the way to use them in the modeling process.
The announced scale is the one I operate in. It is
believed any Yak kits in larger scales are hardly probable, and never existed
Pity but the choice of Yak kits in the quarter scale is not a broad
one. It includes Accurate Miniatures’ Yak-1 and -1b, ICM’s Yak-9T and K,
once again ICM’s Yak-7A/B/V/DI, LTD’s Yak-9T, and, finally, Eduard’s Yak-3.
Once upon a time there also lived a Yak-9 of an unnamed manufacturer from
Donetsk(Ukraine), but this one is impossible to find and really unwanted
due to its awful quality.
Accurate Miniatures Yak-1 is most detailed and most expensive
of all. The kits is obviously based on the drawings from ‘Pervyi Yak’ but
does not correspond to those well enough, for some reason. The fuselage
is the most flawed thing in this kit, being too short and a bit out of
proportion it gives the model a weirdly stumpy look. What roused the ‘accurate’
engineers to reproduce the fuselages framework by tubes with a square cross-section
escapes me. Speaking of the transparent details, we discussed it with my
friend and he asked if the window is open to throw them out right away.
Transparencies, however, is a weak point for all Yak kits except Eduard’s
Yak-3 that features a decent canopy part.
Accurate Miniatures really fell victim to multi-variant
effort with their Yak-1b, it retained all shape and outline errors of its
elder brother and got a number of new parts that are not at all better
than the old ones. I do not feel too much comfortable to do surgery of
the kit that is quite pricey, although this kit seems to be the easiest
of all to correct.
raised a wave of delight among VVS modelers – well,
you bet, they said the kit was based on the M-K drawings! Well, the kit
proved to be inaccurate when compared to the said artwork, virtually all
details have hard-to-fix inaccuracies. The fuselage is much longer and
rather corresponds to the Yak-9U length.
What’s worse, all fuselage sections are gone, which is not easy to
fix and might well be compared to scratchbuilding.
The wing profile reminds the one of the TB-3 vintage bomber, the ailerons
are not Frize type, and have a chord of some 33 percent excessive length.
|Well, the kit does resemble a Yak-9, but only to a certain extent as
seen from this drawing.
The upper drawing is an outline of the kit, the lower one is the target
Controversially, The Yak-7 done by the same company
is much better. It corresponds to the M-K drawings well enough, save for
the front upper part sections, the XXL-size spinner, and the canopy. The
fuselage is a bit too short. The upper cowl has elliptical section whereas
the original one had a flattened top, similarly to the Spitfire or Mustang,
a “prerequisite” for the V-engine with tight equipment installation around
it. Such details are well noticeable on the photographs.
The wing has a true Clark YH profile. Ailerons,
once again, are not of Frize type but at least they are correct for the
top view. Imitation of the fuselage framework in the cockpit is fair but
the rest of detailing is good for nothing. Not unexpected, eh?..
LTD’s Yak-9 screams with every line that
is has been based on the M-K drawings, Right, all outlines are spot on,
but the kit is a bit overscale and its length is adequate for the Yak-9U.
Its assembly is time- and effort-consuming, no surprise for a short run
kit. The parts are fragile, in spite of their considerable thickness, and
glue together poorly. The vacu canopy is opaque and cannot be used. This
kit is now hard to find as its production apparently stopped.
is an ideal representation of the M-K drawings of
the subject – it’s a shame these drawings are not correct!! Gosh, the Yaks
never had those beautiful curves in the fuselage outlines, all lines are
straight with a restricted number of single curvature surfaces. Plywood
is plywood, after all… So, it is about time we spoke about the outlines
What we need to know on outlines and sections
An entire Yak fighter tree with the whole lot of its
branches takes its birth from the I-26 and the forefathers of the Yak-1/3
and 7/9 families differ in a minimum of details dictated by the purpose
of the respective planes, the Yak-1 being the fighter and the Yak-7 being
its trainer version. Family members went ahead and acquired their specific
features such as new armament, cowling etc. However all these changes failed
to change the airframe’s outline to any considerable extent.The drawings
below illustrate the fact that the outlines of all models remained unchanged
throughout the Yak production.
||It is the VK-107 engine introduction that caused any remarkable charges
in the fuselage construction.
For the modeling purposes, we have to bear in mind
that all M-105-engined Yak-1/3/7/9s had absolutely identically outlined
fuselages, except for a few details shown on the drawing below.
Yak-1/7/9 had nearly identical wings.
It is only the Yak-3 development that yielded a new substantially redesigned
The difference in wings of the Yak-1 and -7 lies
in the location of the undercarriage wells and is explained by differences
in the u/c design for these types. External difference between the Yak-7
and 9 wings lies in the wingtip and the shape of fuel cell covers.
Wooden and metal stabilizers and elevators were a bit different, depending
on the version and series of a particular aircraft.
|Differences in external details of different Yaks can be seen on these
These ones show typical radiator shapes for main series of the ‘nines’
Canopies need special attention. All kits have them
done in a different way and all of them are wrong in outlines and cross-sections,
which cannot be fixed. Squadron vacu canopies can improve the model’s look,
however, these are neither accurate enough as they tend to be made to fit
the cutout made on the kit part for the canopy. In reality, Yak canopies
are quite identical too, and always have a cross-section with flat sloping
sides and flat top with heavily rounded upper “corners”. Speaking of windshields,
the ones for the Yak-1 and early Yak-7 were identical but you will find
nothing in common if you compare the respective kit parts from the Accurate
Miniatures and the ICM kits. Same story is about the late-type round-vision
canopies. The purpose of the said above is to provoke a universal solution
to obtain the needed correct canopies. My suggestion is to prepare two
templates, one for the early canopy type with rounded windshield, and the
other for the bubbletop canopy with flat windshield sides. Having these
two in place, you will be able to obtain any needed combination of windshield
and glazing aft of it.
Noticeable is the shape of the front glass detail,
with sloping sides. Not at all a square detail, as represented by Accurate
How to use the scale drawings
All listed drawings have been compared to numerous
photos, which allowed to conclude the most adequate drawings that could
be used to build any Yak are the ones from the “Pervyi Yak” book and the
M-K 5’83 magazine. Cross-sections on “Pervyi Yak” are preferable. All drawings
and sketches (and it is nearly imperative that you make them) for other
versions have to be based on these drawings and photographs, while the
details can be borrowed from other sets of drawings.
For instance, for all Yak-1 and Yak-7, we take the
fuel tank panels from M-K 5/83; the bomb rack lock located on the rib between
the tanks from MK 1/75; canopies from “Pervyi Yak”; wing shift has to be
borne in mind; and so on.
For the Yak-3, fuselage outline and cross-sections
come from “Pervyi Yak” while detail comes from M-K 4/75.
Yak-9 detail can come from Leipnik’s drawings carefully
pre-checked against photos.
Here is an example of the side views obtained for
the late-series Yak-7B.
These drawings probably have their share of errors
but they appear to be fairly close to the original shape. Note the stabilizer
shape peculiar for the late-series Yak-7/9.
This work does not pretend to provide drawings of utmost accuracy as
work to improve them is still in progress, but even at this stage they
will help you understand my idea. Any input and exchange of opinions and
thoughts on this subject will be more than appreciated.
The kit I chose was Yak-7B by ICM, easiest to get. The subject for
my model was a late-series Yak-7B tactical number 925 probably flown by
Lt. Simashev of 976 IAP. I say “probably” because the traditional knowledge
that these widely published three-digit numbered Yaks belonged to 976IAP
is now under serious dispute and may require more time to confirm or disprove.
Not too important for the model, though; a quality photo is much more critical.
So let’s look at what the photo tells us.
This is a late series Yak-7B, with a round vision canopy, Yak-9-style
radiator cowls, fixed aileron and rudder trim tabs, flat windscreen sides.
An interestingfinding is the fact there is no armor glass in the canopy
– front armor not installed, quite typically, as photos show, and the armor
headrest of metal is used instead of a transparent one. The plane is in
black/green camo and carries an interesting variation of an insignia, early-type
stars that had their black trimming overpained with broader white, thus
exceeding any standard insignia size.
Man, a hell lot of work it was! Of the aftermarket
bits for the type, I only used main u/c leg covers from the Part PE sheet,
although those were worth scratchbuilding as well. The volume of extra
work can be seen on the pictures. I must say I am happy with the result
as my Yak looks quite an angry warplane near the 109s on my shelf, not
as miserable as a ‘humiliating counterfeit’ of Accurate Miniatures or an
ICM out-of-the box assembly attempt
Images of the completed model
1) Stepanets A.T. Yak fighters of Great Patriotic War - ÑòåïàíåöÀ.Ò.
Èñòðåáèòåëè «ßê» ïåðèîäàÂÎÂ.Ñïðàâî÷íèê. –Ì.: Ìàøèíîñòðîåíèå, 1992.
2) Kuznetsov S. “Yak the First” - Êóçíåöîâ Ñ. Ïåðâûé ßê. –Ì.:
Ëþáèìàÿ êíèãà, 1995.
3) Stankov A V. Piston-engined Fighters of 1941-1945 in VVS units
- Ïîðøíåâûå èñòðåáèòåëè «ßê» ïåðèîäà 1941-1945ãã â ïîëêàõ ÂÂÑ. Ê. Óêðàèíà
è Ìèð, 1999.
4) Liepnik D. Yak-9: Soldiers in the Sky –Ëåéïíèê Ä.Ë. ßê-9:
ðÿäîâûå íåáåñ. Ê.:Àðõèâ-Ïðåññ, 2000.
5) Yak fighters in action. Squadron Signal publication.
6) Geust, Keskinen, Stenman. Red Stars vol.1. Apali Oy, 1995.
7) Robert Bock. Jak-1/3, Jak-7/9. Monografie Lotnicze. AJ-Press,
8) Yak-9U. Peregrine Photo Essay by Steve Muth, 2000.
9) Modelist – Konstruktor magazine: various issues, articles
in press and the Internet.
(c) Alexey Matvienko, 2005.
All drawings, sketches and photos on this page have been done by the