La-5FN


The La-5 was a further development in the Lavochkin line of aircraft dating back to the LaGG-1 in 1938. The LaGG-1 was followed by the LaGG-3 and with a change of engines from in line to radial became the La-5. By 1943 the La-5 had become the mainstay of the Soviet air force. Lavochkin and Shvetsov, the engine manufacturer, continued to refine and improve both the engine and airframe of the original La-5. Some of these improvements included cutting down the rear turtle deck and fully glazing the canopy to improve viability, tightly sealed cowling panels, a more streamlined oil cooler, improved supercharger intake, modifications to the exhaust manifold. To lessen the aircraft's weight the outer fuel cells were removed from the wings and the original composite wood main spars were replaced by duraluminum. The M-82 engine was modified with redesigned cylinder heads, the oil cooler pump was improved and the exhaust gas ducting improved. These changes resulted in the designation being changed to La-5F. When a further improved M-82FN motor, which included direct fuel injection that allowed it to reliably deliver 1,470 hp (1,850 hp for takeoff and emergency boost), was married to an airframe with all the fuel housed in a fuselage tank the resulting ultimate La-5 was designated the La-5FN.

The Kit


 

The La-5FN is the first 1/48 scale aircraft kit from Zvezda. It comes in a medium sized top open two part box with nice artwork on the top. The top is thin but the bottom half of the box is made from heavier stock. Inside the box there are four sprues of gray plastic and one in clear. Only the clear sprue was bagged in a zip lock bag. Surprisingly there was only one part loose in the box. The surface has a light texture to it, not like the orange peel effect seen on some limited run kits, and I don't think it will show under a coat of paint. The parts have a light amount of flash on them, some more so than others. The surface detail is recessed and very nicely done with some rivet and fastener detail. The panel lines are fine and consistent. I did find a couple of sink marks on the left hand fuselage half where interior detail is modeled and one of the tail planes had some pits in the under side. The inside walls of the fuselage have structural details molded in and there are a couple ejector pin marks in that area as well. The fabric detail is nicely done. The control surfaces are separate parts as are the leading edge slats. The fuselage interior is extensively detailed including the cockpit which should satisfy most modelers. The engine is well detailed with the exception that there is no cooling fin detail. A complete set of exhaust stacks are included. The wheel bays are closed in but feature no detail but do have a prominent ejector pin mark in the center. The kit includes a pilot figure that looks a little anemic to me. There are 132 parts in gray by my count, a goodly amount for a kit this size. See photos below.


The clear parts are are thin and clear with well defined frame lines and parts are supplied for both open and closed canopy. The other parts include an armored glass piece for the cockpit and navigation light lenses. There are ten clear parts for a kit total count of 142. See photo below.


The decals appear thin and are in register. Primary markings are supplied for two aircraft. No stenciling is supplied . See photo below.


The instructions are printed on a sheet that is folded forming six panels of A4 size. The first panel has history and basic "advice" in multiple languages, the second panel is a parts map, panels three through five are assembly diagrams with little or no text and the last panel covers painting and markings. Model Masters numbers are called out for paint colors.

After Market Goodies

Their really isn't much need for aftermarket on this kit unless you have AMS. I did opt for an Eduard Zoom photo etch set [FE386] as I am no good at painting up control panels and it adds a few addition parts to dress up the cockpit. See photo below.

Conclusions

With this kit as their first entry into 1/48 scale, Zvezda seems to be off to a great start. The kit is well above many short run kits and in fact seems to be closer to a mainstream kit that most other limited run kits. I do believe there are some fit issues so it's certainly not a shake and bake kit but don't see any challenges that most average modelers couldn't overcome. Highly recommended.

Links to kit build or reviews

Another in box review can be found here and build can be found here

References

Soviet Air Force Fighter Colours 1941 - 1945 by Erik Pilawskii

Soviet Aces of World War 2 by Hugh Morgan

Back to the Russians are Coming

Updated 1/12/08