This is the first 1/72 scale aircraft that I have built in about 15 years. I am normally used to 1/32 and 1/48 scale aircraft. I must admit I was really excited at the prospect of constructing something in this scale, but I was a bit shocked at how small the thing was when I opened the box. I must admit I did not know much about the L-39C, before starting this build, but I have found a wealth of material on the subject and the type has really grown on me. You can find the in-box review of the kit here
The kit is superbly moulded, with very fine recessed panel lines, see review here. The beige coloured plastic is fairly soft, so it is important to cut the parts leaving some of the sprue so it can be filed down to avoid damage. I found filing the plastic was better than trying to trim the excess plastic with a sharp blade.
As with most aircraft kits I started with the cockpit. Eduard have thoughtfully given the modeler three options here:
- Using plastic with slightly raised detail. This can be painted and dry brushed to highlight the instrument panel and side console if you wish.
- There is a decal for each of the control panels, but not for the side consoles.
- The pre painted PE parts, which look amazing and a bit daunting! Some of the tiny parts will probably be beyond the skills of some.
I decided to go for the latter. The cockpit is built up in 12 plastic pieces one of which, the rear pilot's blast screen, is transparent. There are numerous PE parts to create the detailing. The two instrument panels are made up of two pieces. A special mention for the PE HUD, it's a nightmare to fold, but looks fantastic. The ejector seats are built up from 5 parts and again detailed with PE. The cockpit does look impressive when completed, but is a hell of a strain on the eyes. Before applying the PE bits for the instrument, I sanded down the low relief details moulded on the plastic. I also left a little piece of the plastic that the attaches the joysticks to the sprue. This acted as a locating point to the cockpit floor, which I drilled to accept the sticks. The instructions are a little vague on the location of these and suggests butt gluing. I air brushed the interior with a couple of different shades of light grey. I did have a little trouble persuading the cockpit assembly to fit properly into the forward fuselage. The front ejector seat seems to sit too high, obscuring the vision of the pilot behind. It could be a combination of the way the base of the cockpit is formed and me not assembling the ejector seats properly. I also ended up ignoring the little notches that the floor of the cockpit is supposed to rest on. I attached the floor of the cockpit to the floor of the fuselage. I also had a little trouble fitting the front instrument panel into the cockpit. The shape of the fairing [A10] is not quite right in shape, so a little bit of re-shaping was necessary with a file. The ejector seats can be fitted after the fuselage halves are joined. While we are in the nose don't forget to put in some weight before gluing the fuselage together, something not mentioned in the instructions.<
Air intakes are very finely moulded, with very fine edges. The plates that the intakes are attached to are equally thin giving a very good effect. There is a very slight step and a tiny gap when joining to the fuselage, but easily taken care off with plasti-zap and a bit of a light sanding. There is no attempt at any trunking up to the fan blades of the single engine, but you would have to do some serious probing to notice.
The two part wings have two locating pins to help aligning, although one was broken on my sample. There is some flash on the mating surfaces, which needed a light sanding before joining. Wings go together very well. A word of caution though, don't go too mad with the glue particularly on the trailing edge. Normally I apply plenty of glue so that when the two surfaces are joined there is some oozing of adhesive, which is later sanded down eliminating any sign of the join. In this case the plastic is quite soft and there was a couple of places where the outer surface of the plastic melted. Nothing serious, but worth noting.
The jet pipe block is a nice touch. In my 'in box review', I noticed a couple of sink marks. No need to fill these because the whole part fits in into the tail and gives the rear end real stability. There is nothing worse than picking up a model and hearing the crack of unsupported plastic. There are a couple of tiny sink marks either side of the vertical tail to fill.
No problems after a few adjustments fitting the two fuselage halves together. After allowing to dry I tried the fit of the wings. Again a bit more filing as the length of the centre section of the wing is a tad too long. Once dry fitted I noticed that there was a very slight gap between wing and the fuselage. This was solved by filing the plastic in the centre of the upper wing, reducing the thickness [see photo]. After a few minutes the gap was gone. The joint is very good, but take your time with this part of construction and some good clamps will help.
The horizontal tail planes were carefully applied, when I was sure that there was no more substantial sanding to do. I did not bother altering the position of the elevators. The elevators are usually pointing upwards when the plane is at power off. Why did I not change them? Because I did not want to spoil the lovely detail on the tail and it looks better!
After rubbing down the joints I tried the three piece cockpit canopies. They fit really well, but be careful you find out which part goes where before gluing, there are no parts numbers on the sprue. I used Kristal Klear to attach them. You can have the canopies open or closed up. If you have them open you can show of the delicate PE mirrors, handles and things around the canopy frames. Before applying any primer I used the canopy masks included with the kit. It's the first time I have used these and I thought they were excellent and relatively easy to apply. There are masks also for the wheels.
Primed the whole thing with decanted Halfords white primer, before applying any of the camouflage. Here I came to the only frustrating part of this build, the paint references. Mr Eduard please use some of the other well known brands of paint and not just Gunze Sangyo! After applying the primer the fine recessed panel line become a little more distinct and you are aware how well they have been done. I finished the kit as the 1st Tiger Squadron, 11th fighter regiment, Czech Air Force. The tiger stripes on the wing, tail planes and tail tips is a nice contrast to the camouflage. I don't think I have got the colours quite right, I used the Tamiya acrylics throughout. I think the olive green is a little too dark. The natural metal finish around the air intakes is Alclad ll Chrome. A coat of Kleer was brushed on before applying the decals and a second coat after applying the decals.
There is a large number of stencils to apply [approx 130 ]. Decals look good, but I noticed when applying the Czech national insignia on the wings there is a slight register problem [see photo]. When applying the national insigna make sure it's the correct way around. I tried to apply the whole of the decal for the tiger stripes on the upper wing tips first to see what the fit is like. It's not bad, but the complex shape around the wing tip fuel tanks makes it difficult for the decals to conform. When doing the lower surface I cut the decal chord wise just where the tank meets the wing tip [see photo], creating two separate decals. This proved to be much easier to apply the decal. I used a fair bit of microsol to help the decal conform to the shape. The black star on the nose was also cut to enable it to fit better.
Finally I fitted the rest of the PE bits. This is a real test of eye sight, skill, patience and possibly luck. With some of the very fine parts I cannot see them lasting too long if the model is handled a lot. The very delicate undercarriage was the last thing to be added.
Well there you have it. For me it is almost a perfect kit. An attractive aircraft, Eduard gives you plenty of options for detailing, or you can just turn it into a nice easy weekend project. It is a really enjoyable build that took me ten days to do. Lots of positives, too many to list. Niggles, well the cockpit took a little effort to install. I am dubious about the attachment of the horizontal tail planes. I think I might buy two or three more for all the lovely schemes you can see on the privately owned C-39's. Oh and Mr Eduard can we have one in 1/48 or better 1/32 please, pretty please! As you can tell I highly recommend this kit, but not one for absolute beginners.
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