Special Hobby | SH32067: 1/32 Yakovlev Yak-3 "Normandie-Niemen"

Reviewed by Nicolas Renoult

There were a few nice releases from Special Hobby recently, like the long-awaited Tempest Mk V. A few days ago, they released the Yak-3, which was missing from the LSP community for ages.

Let's see what's in the box now!

First, the box art. Note that they changed their presentation from the former white and green boxes. It's written "Hi Tech kit", usually meaning a special edition with extra-resin parts. However, I don't know if they really plan to release a "standard" version, as this one was already quite cheap, basically the same range of price than the other SH kits (I paid it about 42€ which is a very good price for such a nice kit).

Then, what's inside:

There are a main bag with the injected plastic parts, a small CMK blister pack with a small PE fret, a mask sheet and various resin detail parts, 2 small sheets of decals and a small bag with the clear parts. And of course the instruction booklet.

This instruction booklet is now printed in color on a quality thick glossy paper, and there are 5 different color profiles for the various supplied schemes (though they are all Normandie-Niemen schemes, so all are French pilots).

Then the decals. They looks nicely printed and perfectly aligned. Note that the instrument are supplied one by one on the decal sheet, à la Airscale or MDC instrument decals. It's quite new for me in Special Hobby kits, but it's a good choice as it's usually the best way to get the most realistic instrument panel.

Unfortunately one of the red stars was a bit damaged on my example, and I think it was before being packed as the bag was undamaged. But I think it can be easily corrected once the decal will be applied, but a bit of red paint.

And this mysterious CMK blister pack. Honestly I don't know why it's in a CMK pack as these parts cannot be used with any other kit than the Yak-3 so they cannot be sold separately. What's inside?

There is a small PE fret with the seat belts and various other small details like instrument panel levers. They look very fine and I'm sure that after a coat of paint they would look very realistic.

There is also a mask sheet. It's also something new for me in a Special Hobby kit, but it's a very nice addition! There are even masks for the wheels, great! I don't know which material it is, but the cutting looks very sharp and clean.

And finally the small bag with the resin parts. Not a lot of resin here but very nice small details. The wheels are gorgeous, with markings in Cyrillic on the sides.

Unfortunately, one of the tiniest parts was broken, but they are very very small. I don't know which part it is, but the other part is still in the bag, so I may be able to repair it.

Resin exhausts are also a nice addition as they are very thin and of course, hollow (at least at the end!). They are so thin that one will also need a small repair... But we are modellers, it's our job to repair things.

The clear parts are very nice, too. I never had any bad clear parts in a Special Hobby kit, and there is nothing negative to say about this one, too. There is a bit of distortion, but I think it's inevitable with such curvy parts. The transparency is just perfect.

Now the main part of the kit: the injected plastic parts. I have almost every Special Hobby kit in my stash from the earlier one, and I already built a few of them, including the very early P-36. And I have to say that this kit is a huge step forward in quality. The surface details are just amazing, with very fine and sharp panel lines (way better than the soft lines that one can sometime see on some mass production kits...). OK there are not a lot of panel lines as this aircraft was mostly made of wood, but thee few present one looks great. Otherwise the surface is smooth, which is a good thing compared once again with some mass production kits which have a granular surface, even if it's not really a problem for camouflaged aircraft (but a PITA for natural metal finishes!).

Here are a few close-ups to show the nice surface details:

Next, let's have a look at the smaller parts sprues. Here again, I was gladly surprised buy the quality of the moulding, very crispy for injected plastic parts. Should we still talk about "short runs"? I don't think so...

The sprues supplied plastic wheels, maybe for a future pack without the resin parts. They look quite quite, though way less detailed than their resin sisters.

You can see here the great moulding quality, with very precise parts:

The control stick just amazed me...

The instrument panels are plastic, too, but they look definitely nice, and I'm sure that with the decal instruments, one can get something very good.

Even this small spring looks good, and the rivets are very crispy, too:

Then the gear bay doors:

And the separated control surfaces:

And the propeller, which will need a bit of clean up:


To sum up, I was thrilled by this new Special Hobby release. Firstly, the Yak-3 is an iconic aircraft of WW2 and someone finally bring one to the LSP community. Secondly, though I can't talk about accuracy or fit at the moment, this kit seems very promising, and I was very pleased by what I saw in the box. I was already a Special Hobby enthusiast, but when one look at this one, one can just think they are still progressing in quality. And for a very friendly price. I highly recommend that kit for any soviet aircraft enthusiast, though Special Hobby kits are not for beginners, but this one definitely does not look difficult to build.

© Nicolas Renoult 2016

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This review was published on Tuesday, September 13 2016; Last modified on Tuesday, September 13 2016