by: Andy Brazier [ ]
History The Czechoslovakian L-39 was built as the successor to their earlier trainer, the L-29 Delpin. Design work began in 1966, and the first prototype made its initial flight on 4 November 1968. The idea of the design was to marry an efficient, powerful turbofan engine to a sleek, streamlined fuselage, resulting in a strong, economical performer which would become the next standard jet trainer for the Warsaw Pact.
Three main variants were produced. The L-39C was built as a pure trainer and was used by numerous air forces throughout Eastern Europe beginning in 1974 and continuing through today.
The armed weapons-trainer variant is called the L-39ZA, and a close-support and ground-attack version is called the L-39ZO.
In addition to those mentioned above, the L-39 has been exported to numerous countries, including Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Iraq, Libya, Estonia, and Kyrgyzstan. As of this writing, the L-39 is the most popular jet war bird in the world, with over 220 believed to be actively flying in the USA alone.
In the box Eduard's Evolution boxing is Special Hobby's which was a re-box of MPM's L-39 Albatros plastic 1/48th kit, with added extras including a colour photo etch sheet, quite a few resin parts, a colourful decal sheet and some handy masks for the canopy, and wheels.
So in the box we have three grey sprues holding 91 parts, of which 12 are not used, one clear sprue, 2 not used, 27 resin parts, 11 parts not used, one colour photo etch set, a set of masks, one sheet of decals, and an instruction booklet.
The sprues are bagged together with the clear sprue in a separate bag, but unfortunately the clear parts have all come off the sprue tree, with the resin parts in another separate bag.
All the contents are in a box which is a bit too big, causing the contents to rattle around.
External detail is very good with some very fine panel lines on the fuselage and wings.
All the control surfaces are moulded in the neutral position.
There are no landing gear wells, as the L-39's gear doors snap completely shut with the gear down, so the only time you'll see inside its landing gear wells is when the gear is transitioning, or during maintenance.
The undercarriage legs are a mix of plastic and resin and is a pretty simple looking but detailed affair.
The air intakes don't have any fan blades inside but the fuselage sides blanks out the inside. The intakes are pretty deep though, so unless someone gets a torch out, you wouldn't notice.
The exhaust is taken care of with a nice looking and detailed tube in resin, along with the pen nib fairing.
Most of the cockpit is replaced by photo etch parts, with the instrument panels sporting the multi piece plastic and P.E affair. Like wise the side consoles are also replaced with P.E parts, with some of the throttles and levers added as extra P.E parts.
Rudder pedals are augmented with P.E pedals, and the HUD is a mix of plastic, P.E and the small film for the glass.
The two bang seats use the plastic parts as the base then P.E seat pans, harness's, ejection pull handles and some side details for the seats are all added. The seats require 13 parts each.
The majority of the photo etch sheet is pre-coloured and destined for the interior.
Two external fuel tanks are supplied, but as one of the marking options is civilian, there is no need for them for that particular aircraft.
Four pylons for the wings are supplied, but don't have any swing braces for them. There are no pre-drilled holes for the pylons, so good old measuring needs to be done for the correct placement, so I would probably just leave them off and have a "clean" aircraft.
The clear parts are thin and pretty much distortion free, but the major parts have fallen off the sprue. The two canopies can be modelled open or closed as they are separate parts, but the instructions only show them fitted closed.
There are 27 resin parts of which 11 are not used with this boxing.
Casting is superb with no visible imperfections in the resin, and each part attached to a pour plug. Most look very easy to remove with the exception of the exhaust which will probably require a mini saw.
Most of the smaller parts are for the various antenna adorning the aircraft as well as a couple of navigation lights.
Two parts are for the undercarriage legs for attaching the wheels.
The main resin parts in this boxing, are two main and one nose wheel.
Detail is exceptional and really are superior to the plastic offerings in the kit.
Each main wheel has some lovely spoke detail for the hubs, and the tyres have a basic tread pattern.
The nose wheel has some subtle detail for the hub and also sports a tread pattern.
The two other main resin parts are the exhaust tube, with built in fan, and the pen nib fairing.
The exhaust tube as already mentioned has the fan moulded into the tube, so painting might be a little tricky. Being one piece there is no worries of having to deal with an awkward seam line.
All the resin parts are found in the Special Hobby boxing, so these are not Eduard Brassin parts.
With all the Eduard Limited Edition kits, they supply a set of pre cut Kabuki style masks.
This set has the masks for the outer edges of the canopies and windscreen, so you still have to fill the middle part. A mask for the partition glass in the cockpit is very handy.
The nose and main wheels have masks for either the hubs or the tyres, depending on your preference for painting.
There is a couple of other masks on the sheet but no where in the instructions are you told what they are for.
But looking at the painting instructions, I figured out they are for the edging on the decal/paint line below the cockpit on marking option B.
Instructions, markings and decals
The instructions is a A4 size glossy booklet with 12 pages.
The first page is the parts guide, followed by the build, which starts with the cockpit and follows the usual pattern we are all used to. Each section has blue areas where P.E parts will need to go, and interior colours for Gunze Aqueous and Mr Color paints are given throughout.
The last three pages are the paint and decal guides, along with the stencil guide on the last page. All are full colour profiles of each aircraft.
The instructions don't show whether any weight should be added to the nose. As the aircraft has tricycle undercarriage, I would err on the side of caution and add some weight in the nose before closing up the fuselage.
The decals are printed by Cartograph, so should be trouble free.
Some of the decals are pretty large with the Dragon decal split into two parts. The Hungarian flag for the tail is one piece, so setting solutions will probably be needed.
Two colourful aircraft schemes are supplied in this boxing and are -
A L-39C, RA1039K, Aero Jet Club, Myachkovo Aerodrome, Moscow, Russian Federation, May 2005.
Between the years 1973 and 1991, the Soviet Union accepted a total of 2081 C version L-39s which served for the training of military pilots. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, 1202 L-39s remained in the Russian Federation, while the remaining aircraft were distributed among the newly formed nations. One aircraft was purchased by Aero Jet Club, based at Myachkovo Aerodrome. Here, the aircraft flew under a civil registry and received a striking colour scheme, including the artwork of a dragon. It is said that Russian president V. V. Putin flew this aircraft.
B L-39ZO, s/ n 831135, flown by. Lt. Laszló Goron, 59th Szentgyörgyi Dezsö Airbase, Kecskemet, Hungary, 2005.
On the request of foreign clients, the L-39C was developed into the L-39ZO between 1973 and 1976. Among other modifications, the ZO version was given four wing pylons with a strengthened structure and landing gear. In 1994 Hungary received 24 aircraft from Germany for the symbolic price of one DM. The last of these aircraft arrived in the fall of 2009. Aircraft coded 135 was camouflaged on the upper and side surfaces in shades of brown and green while the undersides were in light blue. Under the guidance of Crew Chief MSgt. Lajos Molnar, the aircraft acquired an attractive sharkmouth design and the vertical tail surfaces received the Hungarian national colours. The airport from which this aircraft flew was named after Dezso Szentgyorgyi, the most successful Second World War Hungarian pilot with thirty confirmed kills.
Conclusion Having built the 1/72nd version of the L-39, which was quite small and delicate, I was very surprised at how big the 1/48th kit is. I actually checked the box to make sure it wasn't 1/32nd lol.
Although this is basically the Special Hobby/MPM kit, Eduard have added a coloured P.E fret and two interesting decal schemes, for only a couple of pounds more the original SH boxing, so its quite a bargain really.
The kit is well detailed espaically in the twin cockpits, and with the inclusion of the resin parts for the wheels and exhaust, this is probably the most detailed L-39 available in 1/48th.
The one gripe is the amount of space in the box, so everything rattled around inside.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.