Kit: Lavochkin La-9 Scale: 1:72
Kit type: Injection moulded Decal options: (three) Soviet Union, North Korea, Peoples’ Republic of China UK price: £6.99 Website: www. [email protected] ru/
A seemingly simple kit, this offering from Gran has hidden depths, mostly as pitfalls, and is certainly not for the beginner, with an overall standard of moulding that is reminiscent of a product of the early 1960s. The parts come on two sets of the undercarriage and wheels, but on the Cosford and Duxford airframes they’re a very light grey for which I used Humbrol 194; the photograph taken at the Duxford roll-out of XR222 will also show you where the shiny metal is. These and other details are excellently illustrated in Aeroguide’s ‘Special’ on the TSR.2, and Anthony Thomborough’s text is equally illuminating. It could also help decide which weapon loads you should add to your service examples. I would also recommend the April 2006 issue of Model Aircraft Monthly (Vol. 5, No. 4), both for its photographs and for Paul Lucas’ painstaking research, as well as SAM’s issues 27/9 and 27/10 (November and December 2005, respectively).
The tailplane halves and the fin have spigots and small collars so that they can be moveable when the model is complete. This, and the provision of a pair of aircrew figures, is very reminiscent of the Airfix kits of the 1960s and 1970s, and makes me wonder whether this kit was based, at least in part, on original plans from that period. soft, off-white plastic, with the surface detail consisting of generally fine raised lines, and with aileron and rudder demarcation as inset detail. The transparencies, and I use that word loosely, form a third sprue.
The instruction sheet is good, being well set out, with an interesting history in both English and Russian, and there is an excellent decal sheet, of which more later.
Construction is conventional, starting with the cockpit area. This consists of a partial floor, rudimentary seat, control column and instrument panel. It is probably best to get rid of most of these kit parts, and scratch-build an interior, although there
The decal sheet gives markings and serials for XR219, ‘220 and ‘222 and a very complete set of stencilling in the pale blue and pale red appropriate to the all-white ‘anti-flash’ scheme of these three prototypes. The wing-walk lines call for jigsaw experience, but all laid down very well. Not mentioned on the instructions is the ‘bare metal’ appearance of the trailing edges of the flaps, and of the strip at their leading edge over which the flap-blowing bleed air was passed; mine is, I think, a little too shiny. I picked on XR220 as part of my memory of seeing this aircraft parked by the tower at Boscombe Down waiting for its first flight, and added the results of an overnight stop at Wittering from the old SAM Victor decals. Specific to this airframe, two recording camera bulges are included for the intake flanks, and an extra pair of struts (55 and 56) for the main undercarriage, presumably an attempt to cure the problems that were experienced on ‘219. I don’t know whether these would have appeared on sub-is always the hope of some enterprising aftermarket manufacturer coming up with something. Part fit on all the airframe components is generally not good, and there is a certain amount of flash to be cleaned up. The wing and tailplane trailing edges are way too thick, and the leading edge of the wing will need building up with filler if an aerofoil section is to be achieved after some further filing to shape. The wing/ fuselage joint also required a lot of filler, as did the forward fuselage and engine front. The latter also needed re-shaping to correct some moulding errors.
The undercarriage and wheels are crude by today’s standards, and the undercarriage doors, both for the main gear and tailwheel, way too thick. The propeller blades are too thick and incorrectly shaped. The cockpit transparency is slightly too wide, and suffers from poor tooling. Those of you who remember Veeday or Merlin models will know what I mean, a myriad of scratches and distortions both inside and out. I must confess to giving up on the kit item, and modifying a KP La-5FN canopy to fit. sequent and production aircraft. The black frame around the pilot’s and navigator’s transparencies is applicable to the three examples given, and the use of Humbrol 1322 for the ‘gold’ tinting of these windows was more effective than I had expected, though maybe next time I’ll apply it from the inside.
While it’s true that there was a small group of modellers who badgered Airfix to produce this kit, the company is to be highly commended for taking what I still believe was a considerable risk. I think I’m nearly as relieved as Airfix must be that the risk came off. This kit seems to have created almost as much stir in the British modelling community as the original did in 1964, and while it is by no means faultless, it is well within the competence of the average modeller to produce a good result. I’ve very much enjoyed building my first three, and have enough laid down to prolong the enjoyment for a little longer!
The colour scheme is simple, with the instructions indicating an overall light grey finish, but without keying this to any particular paint brand. Interestingly the box art indicates a light blue underside, at least for the Soviet aircraft depicted. The decal sheet is excellent, with schemes for three aircraft. Print register is good, the colours nicely opaque and application straightforward, with good adhesion to a satin finish without the use of setting solutions.
All the above would seem to indicate a below standard kit, and this is largely true, but you do in fact get the possibility of building either an La-9, or the high-altitude La-11, as alternative parts are included, and the decal sheet is appropriate. With a bit of low cunning and skill a passable replica will result, and this, despite the moulding shortcomings, is surprisingly accurate. It certainly looks the part when placed alongside the KP La-5. Not one for the beginner or fainthearted though.
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