Zvezda have followed up their excellent 1:48 scale La-5FN
with a kit of its real-life "razorback" predecessor, the La-5.
The kit is well presented in a sturdy conventional box. The clear sprue is bagged separately from the main parts and the decals are protected under the instructions. I was a little worried when I reviewed the La-5F that some of the more delicate parts might be overstressed or prone to damage in transit as they arrived damaged; whatever happened that time, everything was perfectly intact with the new version. The kit comprises:
141 x grey styrene parts
9 x clear styrene parts
Decals for 3 x colour schemes
Although Zvezda aren't counted among the "major league" manufacturers, this is anything but a short-run kit. The parts are very crisply high-pressure moulded and feature delicate surface details that would put many of the "big boys" to shame. With a largely wooden airframe, the La-5 doesn't have much by way of panel lines, but those that there are are lightly engraved on the kit and backed up with really subtle riveting on the metal areas. The fabric covered control surfaces are also nicely represented. I found a couple of small sink marks at the wing roots, but very little by way of flash.
Construction is basically unchanged from the first release, with a highly detailed interior, including an engine / nose guns bay that can be displayed with the cowls removed. A test fit is very encouraging; the parts do need to be aligned with a little care, but despite the added complexity needed to accommodate the interior sub-assemblies, the fit is actually pretty neat.
Modelling the La-5 is much more involved than simply replacing the rear fuselage with a "razorback", and Zvezda seem to have tackled all the points highlighted in "Lovočkin La-5" by Miloš Veštšík and Jiří Vraný (MBI, 2006). So, along with the new fuselage halves and accompanying canopy, there are new cowling side panels with different-style latches, a top panel and front cowl with the earlier supercharger intake, different exhausts, and fresh wing root panels.
While the interior is pretty much unchanged, it's really nice to see that the one major weak point of the first kit has been addressed; the instrument panels have been completely redesigned with much better bezel details. In fact, blank versions are also included, should you wish to use the decal panels provided. The best of all worlds is to use a punch and die to add the decal dials to the moulded bezels.
Along with the razorback canopy comes a new windscreen. It's the type introduced in the light of combat experience with an optically flat centre panel. This, along with the absence of a port wing landing lamp, places the kit as representing the 9th production series or later.
Instructions & Decals
The assembly diagrams are clearly drawn and do a good job of depicting the quite complex assembly. There are a number of sub-assemblies involved and it's worth taking a moment or two to get a clear idea of what goes where. Model Master paint matches are keyed to details at each stage and seem to tie in with the MBI book and Erick Pilawskii's "Soviet Air Force Fighter Colours 1941-1945" (Classic Colours, 2003), but I'll use WEM's excellent VVS Colourcoat enamels for my build.
3 colour schemes are featured:
1. La-5 "White 60", 3rd IAK, May 1943
2. La-5 "White 23" flown by Lt. Patoka, 240th IAP, August 1942 (note: Steffen Arntd has suggested that this a/c could be the mount of Alexander Michailovitsh Lukyanov)
3. La-5 "White 04", flown by V.M. Dmitriev, 4th IAP, summer 1943.
The decals appear to be printed by Begemot, and are a distinct improvement over previous sheets I've seen; the register is very good and these also have a silky sheen with a very clear carrier film. I'll certainly be happy to give them an outing on the kit.
I've just begun building Zvezda's earlier La-5FN for a UK magazine and it's proving very enjoyable. The new kit looks equally good, if not even better with the improved instrument panels and decals. The complexity provides a little extra challenge, but the overall good design makes the kit suitable for all modellers of average ability. In my opinion, it represents exceptional value for money for the level of detail included and is another "must" from Zvezda for VVS enthusiasts. Highly recommended.
I bought my La-5 at Model Hobbies
who offer a very useful discount over standard UK prices.
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