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Mike

L-39ZA Albatros "Attack & Trainer" (48167) 1:48

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L-39ZA Albatros "Attack & Trainer" (48167)

1:48 Special Hobby

 

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The L-39 is a fast jet trainer that was designed and manufactured in Czechoslovakia (as was) as a direct replacement for the earlier L-29 Delfin.  It has been a success in its roles, and has received a number of upgrades that have resulted in new designations, and since the dismantling of the Soviet Union, some have found their way into private hands throughout the west, and they are often seen at airshows.  It first flew in 1971, and was hoped to become the standard trainer across the Union, and the in 1977 the ZA variant was flying, fitted with a cannon and four hard-points for mounting various weapons in the Light Attack role.

 

With the Soviet Union gone, the orders began to dry up, and an updated L-159 was produced in partnership with Rockwell, using more up-to-date avionics.  More recently, an L-39NG has begun development to begin deliveries of a thoroughly modern "Next Generation" of Albatros.

 

The Kit

This isn't a new tooling from Special Hobby, and was originally release before the new millennium under the MPM brand name.  It has plastic parts, resin and Photo-Etch (PE) brass parts, so any shortcomings of the original moulds are replaced by these new parts.  In the box you'll find just three sprues of mid-grey styrene, a separately bagged clear sprue, a bag of resin parts, and another bag containing two sheets of decals, a sheet of pre-printed clear acetate and a substantial sheet of PE.  It's quite a complete package, and as someone that's wanted an L-39 for a while, it's a pleasing prospect to see it re-released.  First impressions draw comparisons with the old Classic Airframes style of moulding, with quite highly polished flat areas, fine recessed panel lines and basic cockpit details in styrene, which as mentioned earlier are supplanted by some more up-to-date and handsome PE and resin parts.

 

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Construction begins with opening the instruction booklet that I forgot to mention, which is printed on glossy paper in A4 portrait form.  The cockpit is first on the menu, with seats augmented by PE belts and ejection handles before being attached to the cockpit floor and hemmed in at the sides by side consoles, with rudder pedals and control columns in the usual places.  The Instrument Panels can be built up as styrene only, or with the addition of a layered PE and acetate lamination, bringing more realism to the completed assembly, with the completed sections cemented to the cockpit sill part that encompasses the whole crew area.  With the addition of the resin exhaust tube and pen-nib fairing to the rear (with engine detail at the end) the cockpit with separate rear bulkhead are then secured between the fuselage halves, and optionally for one of the decal options, you need to cut off the tip of the tail fin to the panel line marked on the accompanying scrap diagram, to be replaced by a new tip later on.  The sill and instrument assembly is then dropped into the top of the cockpit aperture to complete that section.

 

The lower wing is full-span, while the upper wings are separate, and have alternative actuator fairings for a number of the decal options, which are provided in resin to be fitted after removing the standard moulded-in ones.  All the gear bay doors are depicted closed as if on the ground, with only small inserts visible for attaching the gear later, which would make an in-flight model very easy to achieve.  The wings are mated to the fuselage at the same time as the two-part engine intakes, which terminate at the blank wall of the fuselage, but with some careful painting you can fool the eye that you're looking down a gradually darkening tunnel.  The elevators fit with a tab and slot method, and a scrap diagram shows them perpendicular to the tail, so tape or blutak them in place while the glue is still wet.

 

The clear parts include a pair of lights for the end of the integrated tip-tanks, and the canopy is supplied as a four-part arrangement for posing the canopy open, with some small PE parts added to increase realism.  The windscreen and blast-shield between the seats are fixed, while the openers can be glued open or closed at your whim, or depending on how proud of the job you've made of the cockpit.  A number of PE and styrene parts are added around the airframe, and the landing gear, which are built from styrene parts with attractive resin wheels are then installed in their sockets, with a captive door on the strut, which has made me scratch my head a bit, as it looks like the door etched into the wing.  However after a little research, it seems the split door is to keep FOD out of the bay and folds inward when the captive door takes its place as it retracts.  Two tiny PE doors are added to the nose gear wheel, which is built up in the same manner as the mains.  A few optional PE and resin parts are then fitted depending on which decal option you have chosen, with captions assisting in your choice.

 

Weapons always make a model look good, and with the Albatros it's no exception.  The inner pylons have no pre-drilled holes in the wing, so you have to measure your own according to the instructions, and use the recesses for the outer pylons as a guide.  The single barrelled SSh-23 cannon is supplied as a two-part fairing that installs behind the nose gear leg, and has some rather nice detail moulded-in, and you have a choice of some rather nice resin rocket pods and styrene fuel tanks to hang off the pylons.

 

 

Markings

There are seven decal options from the box, and three stencil layouts that are subject to their own pages in the booklet, so take care to use the right stencils.  Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt/gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas.  The colourful decals are found on the smaller sheet, while the larger one is filled with black stencils and other markings.  From the box you can build one of the following:

 

  • L-39ZA 2436 (232436) Czechoslovak Air Force 2 Squadron, 5 Fighter Regiment, 1980s
  • L-39ZA 2436 (232436) Czechoslovak Air Force 222 Training Squadron, 22 Air Force Base, 2008-2013
  • L-39ZA 5107/NL-37 École Supérieure de L'air, Algerian Air Force, 1991-1995
  • L-39ZA 5107/NL-37 Algerian Air Force being repaired In the Czech Republic, April 1996
  • L-39ZA 5107/NL-37 École Supérieure de L'air, Algerian Air Force, 1996
  • L-39ZA 5119/208 Aero Factory Airfield, Czechoslovakia being test flown by Israeli pilots 1990
  • L-29ZA/ART Royal Thai Air Force (365504) in delivery livery 1994

 

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There isn't as much choice of air forces as there first looks, but plenty of interesting colours, and of course the minty green of the ART scheme to tickle your fancy.

 

 

Conclusion

I for one am glad to see this kit on re-release.  It's not a brand-new moulding, so take care during construction and exercise your modelling skills to produce an attractive model of the type.

 

 

Highly recommended.

 

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Review sample courtesy of

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Thankfully they have replaced the Vac Form canopy with an injection one now.

 

Julien

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22 hours ago, Julien said:

Thankfully they have replaced the Vac Form canopy with an injection one now.

That they have, and if you have an older kit and would like an injection canopy, they're available in a limited quantity from their website :)

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