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ICM 1/48 MiG-3 120th IAP PVO - Air Defense of Moscow, 1942 Build Review

By Michael Neradkov

Date of Review April 2006 Manufacturer ICM
Subject MiG-3 Scale 1/48
Kit Number 48051 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Best MiG-3 in this scale Cons Still needs lots of work
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $15.00


Editor's Note: Michael Neradkov is not only an accomplished modeler and writer, he is also webmaster of

I’ve had the desire to build the MiG-3 for a long time and I began to compile detailed information. A subject was selected practically immediately - that most questionable aircraft "Red 02", disputes about which continued until now.

The selection of plastic was obvious – the ICM/Alanger kit is the best available MiG-3 in 1/48 scale. Unfortunately, very little detailed information is available on the MiG-3 itself. There are two books, several publications (with the most detailed drawings by Voronin) and the Internet. As I started to dig for information on the aircraft, I stumbled on the resources of I will not be afraid to say that at the given moment this is BASIC information source on this destroyer.

Once I felt that there was sufficiently enough information for a state of nirvana, it was time to get to work.


This famous MiG-3 photograph was taken on 7 March 1942, when 120th Independent Aviation Regiment (IAP) became 12th Guards IAP.

There was an ongoing debate about the color of the upper surfaces of the wings of the MiG-3. After reading color analysis of the Massimo photograph, and having also become acquainted with the recollections of V.V. Rybalko, published on site, the answer became clear that they were precisely green.

Quotation from the conversation with Rybalko:

What color are the upper surfaces of the wings? – Only green, not red, but the noses were sometimes colored with red or yellow paint.

What we do see in the photograph? - This aircraft is very interesting - it is assembled from at least two different MiG-3s - an early and late series:

  • The fuselage of a late series, this is obvious with respect to the form and the details on the cowling
  • The wing from an aircraft of an early series - without the slats. Specifically, this fact and another color (sooner anything green AII) makes it possible to make the conclusion that simply they screwed together them from another broken aircraft or took from somewhere from storage. Who dealt concerning the army ensigns - supply workers it will immediately understand the high probability of this assumption, than the red color, which persistently spread by foreigners and computer game "Il-2"
  • There is an antenna mast from the radio equipment evident
  • Aircraft is painted in the white color, cowling - in the gray color. Possibly - metal
  • Lower surfaces - light blue
  • Identification number 02 - is red
  • Star on the fuselage possibly has the thin black edging
  • Tail wheel is fixed in the extended position and is covered by the cloth of dark color - by the way, this detail is sufficiently interesting - not on one of the accessible drawings MiG-3 is this variant of landing gear is found - everyone shows retractable with the different types of folds. This is evident in the photograph; standing behind Red 02 is another machine with number 12, with the common tail wheel. It is possible Red 02 received a field modification
  • The spinner of black color, blade metallic to the front, black lusterless color facing the rear
  • Inscription "reduction of the xxxx" from the right side of cowling, probably - the red color
  • Pitot tube - white with aluminum tip
  • Under the wing are suspended the RS rocket rails

The reviews for the ICM kit had been favorable, but as I started this project, it became clear rather quickly that many challenges lay ahead. The project ended up taking almost half a year of intensive work.

The kit has a number of deficiencies that are not visible to the casual viewer:

  • The control surfaces, which I can describe as the stuff from modeling nightmares. They are discarded for the waste bin and are replaced by the resin surfaces of Neomega. The latter are certainly not ideal, but with the aid of the cyanoacrylate and soda, acceptable result can be achieved
  • The boxy irregular shape of coolant radiator is similar to the ICM Yak-9 rather than the rounded streamlined shape of the MiG-3 radiator Fortunately, this is easily dealt with using putty
  • Rough raised detailing is removed by simple grinding, although it can deliver several unpleasant minutes while working in those almost inaccessible places

The native cockpit is comparatively not bad; however, there is no limit to perfection. With the aid of details from the Ukrainian company Ace as well as pieces of plastic is fabricated. Using two sets of details from Ace, one thing became apparent – Ace details are different for example from Eduard. Special features of ACE’s details:

  • It is made from brass, respectively there is no need for it annealing - it excellently bends and thus
  • Itemization is precise and is accurate
  • It is much thinner than western analogs. This simultaneously plus and minus - minus because thin details to more complexly glue at the edge

The pilot’s seat from the kit requires modification – the back must be ground off to acceptable thickness, and to press mold a new seat pan from the thin plastic using native as pattern.

MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3

By the way, in the process of working on the cockpit, I found a new and interesting information source – the computer game "Il-2: Forgotten Battles." The cockpit on MiG-3 in the game is sufficiently correct, and the layout of placards proved to be simply irreplaceable.

Despite the fact that on the ground that rarely do aircraft leave their flaps extended, I love when it they are extended on the model. My MiG was prepared precisely this way, especially taking into account that I used the ACE photo-etched details for the flap wells.

Here is where I ran into problems – trimming and grinding the wing surfaces, dry-fitting parts, and rescribing details took much time. Because each wing of the model is assembled of five parts, this process started to become a nightmare. Finally the human reason overcame the results of the Ukrainian designers (ICM), but putty was definitely required.

MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3

The slat hinges are cut off, slats are puttied, and the fine details for fastening of the guides of RS and inspection holes are cleaned up. The landing light, reflector is a piece of thick foil of hemispherical form, lamp is made from the transparent plastic. Glass- - Scotch tape, is superimposed on metal foil, the inspection holes and tie tapes are made from it. Nav lights from the colored plastic are glued in and trimmed into the form of wing. Ailerons - resin of Neomega.


A little photo-etch and home-made details.


After assembling the fuselage halves it began apparent that there was more work to do with those wings. The wing-fuselage joint did not match up and this required still more time to fill and correct.

The one word that describes the ICM engine – excellent. There is only one problem - if we assemble model with the engine installed, the cowling cover will not fit into place. The answer was to leave the engine out and plug the exhaust slots to facilitate the engine exhaust stacks. Additional putty was required to blend the assembled cowling to the airframe. All protruding details on the cowling were sanded down and made anew from the metal foil, thin tin, putty, and other common materials.

MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3

After looking over the Neomega parts, I decided to build the horizontal stabilizer in two parts - plastic stab itself from the kit and resin elevator.

Plastic details from the kit were carefully removed, the end was grooved semicircular form, with strips of plastic for the hinges. Then the resin elevators were attached using thin wire inserted into predrilled holes in the stabs and elevators.

MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3

Inspection of the stabilizer fairings in photographs showed that they were executed erroneously on the model - the fairing on the actual aircraft does not end in the region of elevator, it continues smoothly onto the tail. This was replicated using foil and putty.

After trying to use foil for the simulation of different inspection covers on several previous models, I decided to complicate process and to make not only fine details, but also fairings on the wings and the stabilizers from it.

The foil is shaped into a cylinder with the adhesive layer out, then laid into position. Volodya Nazar taught me this technique (for which, by the way, to him enormous thanks!). This made it possible to address these details quickly and inexpensively. In reality this is interesting material for modeling. The foil very thin and adheres well. Only nuances - that that the glue layer on it never dries and you will not succeed in detaching it away from the model without damaging detail from the foil. Any remaining adhesive left from the excess foil removed can be cleaned up using mineral spirits.

I use three basic tools – a scriber based on a sewing needle, a chopping knife from a scalpel, and a saw from the blade for the rounded surfaces. Riveting is rolled classical using a gear wheel and the drawing pen. The rolling of riveting along the foil works especially well - whereas plastic is necessary to re-smooth the surface after the rivet wheel, foil only requires a slight smoothing of the surface.

MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3

Stars are painted on using stencils, only numbers and the inscription on the cowling are done with decals. It is incomprehensible that the aircraft didn’t have a variety of technical inscriptions, but these were not evident in the photograph. Given the likely reconstruction of the aircraft in the field and the winter camouflage overpainted on the fuselage, these were not replicated.

The model is painted with AKAN enamels, St. Petersburg artistic acryls and Tamiya Smoke. The first experiment with this material in my view, came out successful.

The painting is finished with a fine thin coat of AKAN gray for weathering and a dull coat. The result is flat though some of the photos still show some reflectivity

MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3

According to old law, when the work on the model is completed, more information comes to light. Victor Chulkov (sent the scan of a MiG-3 from Interavia. The ICM MiG-3 has the incorrect shape of the cowling to the propeller spinner, and also the not entirely precise landing light. These errors were confirmed under close examination of the photo and also of drawings, but it was already late to correct the model.

MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3 MiG-3


  • To Volodya Nazar (Nazar) for the moral support, the foil and the source of inspiration and also, for the survey of finished model
  • To Massimo Tessitor for the priceless well of information and several good archive photographs
  • To Jura Kazakevich and to Victor Chulkov for the moral support
  • To all comrades from RuModels and DiSh for the support, the criticism and the prompts.