Special Hobby 1/48 Pe-3






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Terry Miesle




 The Soviet Air Force was a bit different from other air forces during WWII.  Relatively little fighting occurred above 12,000 feet, instead most air sortees supported ground operations or disrupted German ground operations.  This shouldn’t disregard the vital air-to-air combat performed by the Soviet fighter pilots, defending their cities from the German invaders.  Without advanced radar, however, the Soviets often had little early warning, and poor vectoring.  The National Defense Committee ordered Vladimir Petlyakov to design an aircraft capable of carrying an airborne radar in August 1941.

 The Soviets early radar units were so heavy, a twin-engined heavy fighter was required, as many German, British and American radar-equipped fighters were similarly based on medium bombers and attack planes.  The Pe-2 dive-bomber proved a suitable airframe.  It was re-engined with more power, and the airframe lightened.  The Pe-3 also lacked the dive-brakes of the Pe-2, but added leading-edge slats.  It retained the capability to carry bombs and rockets, like its stable mate.  It was, in essence, the fighter version of the Pe-2.  The two types were produced throughout the war, and many Pe-3s served as support aircraft.


I’ve always been a fan of Russian aircraft, so when I saw this offering I purchased it – without knowing it was even scheduled for release.  It is a conversion of MPM’s Pe-2 kit, with additional bits needed to make the Pe-3 version.

 What you get is standard limited-run fare these days.  The injection molding quality is pretty good, with minimal flash but with noticeably rough surfaces.  These shouldn’t be much problem with a bit of sanding, but it is a little surprising when compared with, say, Classic Airframes new releases.  Also included are resin detail parts, packed in two smaller heat-sealed bags – one of which had opened in transit, but with no apparent damage.  You get two sets of vacuformed windscreens (something I always appreciate), plus the original well-cast Pe-2 clear parts.  You also get a small set of photo-etched radar antennae, and a small decal sheet.

 You will notice the replacement sprue for lower wing and engine nacelles.  These require cutting the Pe-2 naceles off, and replacing with the appropriate engines.  This is the most difficult part of the required conversion.  Other minor conversions are necessary, but the instructions appear adequate.  The radar fighter has a blunt nose, which alone should draw attention to the completed model.


I haven’t gathered research materials needed to judge how accurate the conversion will be.  The kit seems well engineered, and the subject matter is historically significant.  You can build either radar-fighter or ground-attack versions of the Pe-3, which should be an interesting subject at a model show.  The project is yet another on my “short list” which probably won’t be built anytime soon.

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