When the reworked Unicraft Yak model hit my workbench, I eagerly pushed all of my other projects aside.
This was my first Unicraft model, and it depicts a subject not available from any other manufacturer. What I found
inside the box was certainly worth the price, but it is definitely a kit for experienced modellers.
The parts for the kit come in a single plastic baggie, heat-sealed to compartmentalize the components
into small groups. The components are made of high-quality caramel-colored resin, and there is
a single vacuform canopy. A fine web of resin flash surrounds many of the parts,
but most of this can be cut or snapped away without trouble. There is one A4 sheets providing assembly
instructions, 3-view drawings, and photos of the real aircraft.
Preparation is the name of the game when building this kit, as small amounts of time
applied early on will save a great deal of frustration later. First of all, the parts need to be
carefully separated from their pouring stubs. This is best done with a razor saw, as the resin is quite
brittle. Most of the parts also have a fine ridge of flash where the mould edges met that needs
sanding away - this is generally akin to working the edges of a vac-form. (Remember to wear
your filter mask, as resin dust is harmful.) The cockpit down-view window openings need to be
cleared of thin sheets of flash, and the interior surfaces of the cockpit area display a profusion of
bubbles, so the builder needs to come up with a suitable method of smoothing them over.
Construction begins with the fuselage halves. There are no interior parts for the cockpit,
and the only reference I know of for the cockpit layout comes as a drawing on the instruction
sheet. I installed a pair of seats and one set of flight controls scrounged from the spares box.
I also added a floor and a cockpit rear bulkhead from plastic sheet. I drilled holes into the
fuselage halves at the indicated points to accept the main gear strut-work and the engine exhaust pipes.
I joined the fuselage halves with a combination of CA glue and 5-minute epoxy; the CA for strength, and the
epoxy because there were some small gaps that required filling. Once the fuselage halves were
set, and the joints dressed down, I added the tailpiece of the fuselage with thick CA cement.
The next task was to work up the rotor system. The kit supplied rotor blades are nice, as
they are not too thick and have the correct plan-form, but the mounting points are at the
center-chord line, and this is incorrect. Instead of the kit parts I used a set of shortened and
reshaped KA-25 “Hormone” rotor blades from the Airfix kit. The “Yak” kit provides parts for
both the upper and lower rotorheads, but these are little more than T-shaped cylinders of resin.
From the illustrations provided in the kit it is obvious that the real Yak had complex, fully
articulated rotorheads, so I dove into the spares box and fished out an assortment of metal tubes
and wire bits. Using the rotorhead design of the Kamov helicopters as a reference, I constructed
a more detailed (but not absolutely authentic) set of rotorheads. I decided not to make the
rotors fully moveable, and fixed the angle of the rotors at 60 degrees to each other,
hoping to make the model appear a bit more life-like.
Next I turned to building up the undercarriage. All of the struts for the main gear must be fabricated, as only
the main gear wheels are supplied in the kit. I used small-diameter brass wire because it solders easily
and will support the model’s weight better than plastic stock. Thanks to the 3-view drawings supplied
with the kit I was able to fabricate a set of main gear legs in very little time. The V-shaped bracing arms
were bent to the correct angles first, then the uprights were soldered on. The wheels were attached to the
uprights with CA glue last, so they could be aligned to each other and the fuselage. The detail of the kit nose
wheel was a bit soft, so I replaced it with a plastic one from the spares box.
Installation of the canopy was fairly straightforward; after careful trimming and dry-fitting, I attached
it to the fuselage with a combination of 5-minute epoxy and PVA glue. The top rear edge of the canopy
stood proud of the fuselage, so I used a spot of epoxy to hold it down, then secured the remainder with
PVA. I made the down-view windows and car-style door panels from clear .005 Evergreen sheet.
For painting, I followed the example of the real aircraft, which photos show was bland unmarked airframe
of an indeterminate grey-ish color. I painted it in a mix of grey and aluminum, using the new
Tamiya spray cans. The rotor blades were painted Model Master RLM 70 Schwartzgrun on both upper
and lower surfaces, and the rotorheads were painted with various metallic enamels. No decals were applied.
I kept the weathering to a minimum, just a wash to bring out the panel lines, and a touch of
pastel dust to simulate exhaust staining.
Overall, I found this kit to be immensely satisfying. While it does require a measure of extra work
to come up with the finer details, it’s small size keeps things from getting out of hand. I’m sure there
are easier resin kits to build, but this one draws a lot of attention for its uniquity. I heartily recommend
Unicraft kits to anyone with a taste for exotic aircraft.