L-39ZA Albatros Weekend Edition
The L-39 Albatros is a single engine, twin seat jet trainer built in Czechoslovakia as a replacement for the L-29 Delfin trainer. Over 2,800 L-39s have been built, serving with over 30 air forces around the world. Recently a number of L-39s have been acquired by private parties or companies, leading to a wide array of interesting marking choices.
Eduard’s kit has been around for a few years, but the kit was flash-free and I only had a couple of smaller parts where the molds did not quite line up right resulting in the two sides being slightly offset from each other. Fortunately, these were parts I was going to replace anyway such as the pitot tubes and the control sticks.
Construction is very straight forward starting with the cockpit. Eduard gives you a nice set of decals for the side consoles and the instrument panels, so you just need to paint the underlying parts grey. The color callouts in the instructions are all for Mr. Color paints, but as I am on a Tamiya paint kick right now, I used one of the paint matching websites to convert the colors to Tamiya paints. Next is painting and assembly of the engine face and the exhaust cone, along with painting the interior of the fuselage for both the cockpit and in front of the engine. As there is a lot of plastic aft of the main gear, I inserted a fair amount of lead weight in the fuselage in front of the cockpit, secured with superglue, prior to joining the fuselage halves together, trapping the cockpit, the engine face and the exhaust cone in between.
I next painted the interior of the intakes and the intake splitter plates and attached them to each side of the fuselage, taking care to get the correct intake on each side, as they are a little different if upside down. The fit of the intakes to the fuselage was OK, requiring just a little filler to blend them in. I also had to use a little filler on the fuselage seams to make them go away.
At this point you need to decide which version you are building as you will need to open up the holes for the underwing pylons before you glue the top of the wing to the bottom wing. Check you references as some aircraft have just the inner pylons, some just the outer ones, others have both and some even have no pylons at all. The wings are then attached to the bottom of the fuselage, hopefully aligning with the curved cutout in the bottom of the fuselage. Take your time with this joint as once the wing is attached, it is pretty near impossible to get in between the top of the wing and the bottom of the intake trunks to fill or sand this joint. I did a lot of sanding and test fitting before I committed to gluing these parts together to try and minimize the resulting seam as much as I could, and I was very pleased with how the joint came out in the end.
I did have to do a fair amount of filling and sanding to blend the bottom wing into the fuselage and as a result lost a little of the engraved detail on the bottom of the fuselage. The kit includes the GSh-23L 23mm gun pod for under the fuselage, which is not present on most of the civilian versions of the jet and some of the pure trainer versions.
One thing that surprised me about the kit is there are no gear wells. All three landing gear are simply glued into mounting holes in the kit. The kit includes the outer gear doors for the main gear, which are attached to the gear struts, but nothing for the nose gear.
The clear parts of the kit are very nice, however, the wingtip lens had a prominent mold seam down them that I sanded down once they were attached and blended in, then I masked them with masking fluid for painting.
The kit provides two markings options – a L-39 from the 1st Tiger Squadron of the Czech Air Force and a L-39 from the Algerian Air Force. As shown in the photos, I chose the Tiger motif of the Czech Air Force. Eduard’s decals are wonderful; they react extremely well to Micro Sol & Micro Set, snuggling right down over engraved or raised details. I will warn you – there are a whole lot of stencils on the sheet, so set aside a good block of time for decaling!
Even though the kit has a few faults, I really enjoyed building it and after doing some online research on other markings options, I have added a couple more to my stash for future projects. Recommended.
Thanks to Eduard for the review sample and to IMPS-USA for letting me build it.