by Ian Robertson
The MiG-3 was a high altitude Russian interceptor that became operational around May, 1941. Maneuverability and handling of this mixed wood/metal aircraft were generally considered poor, and the position of the cockpit relative to the trailing edge of the wing resulted in poor downward and forward visibility for the pilot.
Armament was relatively light, consisting of one 12.7 mm machine gun and two 7.6 mm machine guns mounted over the engine.
Final delivery of the MiG-3 came in late 1941, and soon thereafter the aircraft was diverted from front-line fighter duties in favor of the Yak series.
Based on a photograph and colour profile in Squadron/Signal's "Rumanian Air Force" by Dénes Bernád, I built ICM's 1/48 MiG-3 in the markings of an aircraft that was flown to Melitopol airfield (Ukraine) in December 1941 and turned over to Rumanian forces by a Ukrainian defector. The aircraft was repainted in Rumanian camouflage and markings before being evaluated in test flights. "E-19" on the vertical stabilizer refers to Escadrila 19 observatie (19th observation squadron) of the Rumanian Air Force. Soviet troops seized this aircraft from the Rumanians (their new allies) in 1944.
There are two distinct versions of the MiG-3, the "standard" form and the "lengthened" form. The latter had a 15 cm increase in length forward of the engine firewall, insertion of wing leading edge slats (which were also fitted on some standard MiG-3's) and modified exhaust stacks, among other minor changes (see Richard Caruana's article in Vol. 4(7) of Scale Aviation Modeller International for details). ICM's kit contains the "lengthened" MiG-3 design whereas Classic Airframes has produced the "standard" form.
My model is incorrect in that it should be the "standard" form rather than the "lengthened" form. However, availability and cost of the kits (ICM's MiG-3 is less than half the price of Classic Airframes' offering), as well as the relatively minor nature of the differences between versions (at least to me), made me overlook this inaccuracy. A review of Classic Airframes' Mig-3 is given in Scale Aviation Modeller International Vol 5(5).
Using Polly Scale acrylics I chose a scheme of RLM 83 (dark green) over light blue (75% RLM 76, 25% Russian light blue) for the camouflage, with the lower wingtips and fuselage band painted yellow. The cockpit and wheel wells were painted Soviet interior grey-green.
Exhaust stains were added with thinned black paint and chalk pastels.
The markings on this aircraft were unique in that the 'Michael's Cross' (national insignia) was smaller than on most Rumanian single-engine fighters and it lacked the usual white border. Luckily these details were represented in AeroMaster's decal sheet for another captured Russian aircraft, an I-16 Polikarpov. Perhaps the white border on the insignia was deleted on captured aircraft (?). The blue trim and centre on the Michael's Cross is light and did not show up well in the photographs.
ICM's kit produces a fine model of the MiG-3.
Substantial fiddling was required with wing fit (due to unecessarily complex engineering) and attachment of the undercarriage. The exaggerated "stretched fabric" texture on the control surfaces can be toned down with sanding.
Don't let these shortcomings deter you from building this model, especially given its affordable price.
Model, Text and Images Copyright © 2000 by Ian