The B-13L rocket launcher was developed out of the Soviet experience in Afghanistan because the existing rocket systems lacked the punch to take-down stone houses, rock walls or cave openings. The ubiquitous 122mm rocket had the requisite explosive weight to do the job. So necessity being the mother of invention, the B-13L was developed to air launch to the 122mm rocket. The system was fielded in 1988, the final year of the conflict and it remains in the inventories of Russia and its current and former patron states.
Aires has released the B-13L as an aftermarket accessory. This is not the first one on the market, but it is distinctly different in several ways. The launcher is well tooled and cleanly cast in two halves, front and back, with nice surface detail. It includes a comprehensive decal sheet of stenciling as well. Assembly was straight forward, with the only trick being to ensure a clean and uniform cut to remove the launcher halves from their pour blocks. The reason, these surfaces are the mating surfaces and if not done right can throw off the alignment between the two halves. I found gap filling CA did the trick during assembly, allowing me time to adjust the fit with a straight edge as the glue set. The mounting points along the top were sufficient to ensure that the pods with aligned front to back.
I sprayed mine with MM Metalizer, buffable aluminum and sealed it with Metalizer sealer before applying the decals. The decals were delicate and often curled upon themselves, but once in place reacted well to Microsol. After another sealing coat, I used a black wash detailer.
I really like this set, but find the details to be a bit exaggerated, especially the step at the rear of the launcher. These details are more subtle on the real thing and on a competitors set. Still, this is a very nice product and highly recommended to give your Soviet/Russian aircraft some attitude.
Thank-you to Aires Hobby Models and IPMS/USA for this review sample.
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