1/72 RPM MiG-3

Gallery Article by Andrew Desautels (a.k.a. "Andrew D. the Jolly Rogers guy") on July 27 2021

 

      

The plane
The MiG-3 often has a bad reputation in the West, but recent interviews with surviving Soviet Air Force veterans paint a very different picture of this forerunner to legends like the MiG-15, MiG-21 and MiG-29. In one documented interview with a former MiG-3 pilot, he was asked "What is your opinion about the MiG? Many pilots thought that MiG was good only for the best pilots, and if pilot was of poor quality he would not be able to fly it at all?"

The veteran's answer: "Never heard of such opinions. It was a true beauty!" The MiG-3 was flown against the German Air Force by many aces and future aces, including ace and future Air Marshall Alexander Pokryshkin. The MiG had fine lines and excellent high-altitude performance, but its future was cut short from sharing the same engine as the more highly-prioritized Il-2 Sturmovik. A myriad of attempts to mate the MiG-3 airframe with a different engine all fell short, although much valuable experience was gained from this development work.

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The build
The RPM kit has been reboxed by Alpha as well as some Russian corporations lesser known to many westerners. It has its shortcomings but to a skilled builder it is still capable of producing a very accurate MiG-3. The most basic problem is a need to widen the front of the spine with an insert so as to better fit the canopy. Items such as the tires and armored seat back are surprisingly well done and can be used to improve other builds.

I pulled out all the stops on this build, including scratchbuilding the grill on the ventral radiator intake from .005" styrene. The cockpit tube frame was completely scratchbuilt along with all its associated details and equipment. The large cowling intakes were scratchbuilt, and the exhausts completely rebuilt. Aftermarket details include a Taurus vacuform canopy, resin RS-82 rockets by AML, and a photoetched instrument panel by Modell-Hobby. 

MiG-3 interior color research will drive one absolutely batty. Despite recommendations in recent years to paint the cockpit interior the same underside blue as the airframe, examination of MiG-3 wrecks and color photos of damaged MiGs missing panels and showing the interior clearly show the cockpit tube framing to be a dark color, possibly dark gray or green. 

The markings
I was absolutely taken with the existing photos of a MiG probably belonging to the 180 IAP at the Moscow front. It sported light-outlined stars, a red-tipped spinner and a script aft of the sliding canopy which reads "Death to German Aggressors". The two photos I've seen do not show it with underwing rockets, but I included them anyway. This also appears to possibly be one of the few MiG-3's fitted with a starter lug in the tip of the spinner. 

I finished the aircraft as heavily worn, with especially dirty undersides as depicting a desperately-used war mount operating from the worst of airfields.

Enjoy the photos!

Andrew Desautels (a.k.a. "Andrew D. the Jolly Rogers guy")

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Photos and text by Andrew Desautels (a.k.a. "Andrew D. the Jolly Rogers guy")