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Aero L-159A/E Alca Special Markings (KPM0386) 1:72


Mike

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Aero L-159A/E Alca Special Markings (KPM0386)

1:72 Kovozávody Prostějov

 

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The L-39 was a fast jet trainer that was designed and manufactured in Czechoslovakia (as was) as a direct replacement for the earlier L-29 Delfin.  It had success in its roles, and received numerous upgrades that 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 following numerous upgrades by 1977 the ZA variant was put into service, 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 Boeing, using more modern avionics.  To differentiate, it was called the Alca and first flew in 1997, with an order for 150 from the Czech government, deliveries starting at the beginning of the new millennium.  The order was cut back due to budgetary issues, and the aircraft went into storage, eventually to be resold to Iraq where it has seen action against IS, and to Draken International, to be used for aggressor training.  Following success with its new owners, the production line was restarted with modified airframes in single and two-seater guises.

 

 

The Kit

This is a reboxing of a 2018 tooling of the two-seater that has had additional parts to create a single-seat variant in previous boxings, but this version includes new decal options to warrant the “Special Markings” suffix. The A variant is the single seat Alca, while the E designation refers to the export version of the A.  Like many of KP Models’ 1:72 kits, it arrives in a small end-opening box with a painting of the subject flying alongside a Spitfire in similar WWII livery, and on the rear are the profiles of the decal options in full colour.  Inside are two sprues in grey styrene, a small clear sprue in a Ziploc bag, decal sheet, and the instruction booklet, which is printed in colour on folded A4 paper.  Detail is good, with raised and recessed features throughout, including finely engraved panel lines and rivets, and a well-appointed cockpit.

 

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Construction begins with the landing gear for a change, starting with the nose gear leg, fitting the wheel between the legs of the yoke, and adding a detail part behind the pivot.  The main gear legs are angled to the rear and have their wheels applied over the brake discs, then these assemblies are put to the side for later use.  The ejection seat is next, adding sides to the seat, plus a bulky headbox, and an undocumented seatbelt decal to add extra interest.  The cockpit is standard across boxings, having space for two seats moulded into it, as well as the side consoles, and a location for the separate control column and a pair of bulkheads that fix at the back of the forward cockpit and at the very rear.  The seat and instrument panel are installed in the front, adding rudder pedals to the rear of the panel before you glue it in place, then building an avionics rack to fill the rear space, which is then mostly hidden by installing a three-sided cover over it, so judge for yourself how much will be seen.

 

The exhaust for the single Honeywell/ITEC F124 turbofan engine is made from two halves with a rendition of the rear of the engine covering the forward end, and this too is put to the side while the two fuel tanks are built from two halves each, and a gun pod is made from two vertically split halves plus the twin muzzles.  The fuselage halves are closed around the cockpit and exhaust, then the two intakes with separate splitter plates are fixed to the front of the sponsons on the sides of the fuselage, where a bit of dark paint will hide the dead-stop of the air-flow.  A spine part covers the top of the fuselage, and coaming plus HUD glazing is added to the front of the cockpit cut-out over the instrument panel.

 

The lower wings are full span and have the upper wing halves laid over the top before they are mated to the underside of the fuselage, adding the elevators to butt-joints either side of the moulded-in fin, which would benefit from pins to strengthen the joint.  The canopy is glued over the cockpit, and two clear domes are added to the wingtips, inserting a pitot in each wing’s leading-edge 10mm from the tip fairings to complete the upper portion of the model.  Underneath, the nose gear leg is inserted into a hole between the closed bay doors, and the main gear legs with additional captive doors fit into holes in the underside of the wings, adding three pylons outboard, the fuel tanks fitting to the innermost one.  The gun pod fits on a small pylon on the centreline behind the nose gear, then it’s a case of adding a blade antenna under the nose, and a blister under the tail to complete the model.

 

 

Markings

There are three options available on the decal sheet, with full profiles on the back of the box, surrounded by oval colour swatches that show the colour names in English and Czech.  From the box you can build one of the following:

 

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The decals appear to be printed using the same digital processes as Eduard are now using, and have good registration, sharpness, and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut loosely around the printed areas.  I mention Eduard because from 2021, the carrier film on their decals can be coaxed away from the printed part of the decal after they have been applied, effectively rendering them carrier film free, making the completed decals much thinner and more realistic, and obviating the need to apply successive coats of clear varnish to hide the edges of the carrier film.  It’s a great step further in realism from my point of view, and saves a good quantity of precious modelling time into the bargain.

 

 

Conclusion

A nicely detailed model with three interesting decal options, especially the retro WWII choice, but the aggressors are both attractive alternatives.  It’s a shame there’s no open canopy option, but not everyone likes those anyway.

 

Highly recommended.

 

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Review sample courtesy of

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