Zvezda 1/48 La-5

KIT #: 4803
PRICE: $25.99 SRP
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Jonathan Prestidge
NOTES: Eduard p.e. belts added


 Paraphrased from the kit instructions: “The LaGG-3 Soviet Fighter used in the early stages of WWII had unsatisfactory flight performance due to its Klimov M-105 liquid cooled, V-12 engine. In the summer of 1942, a new variant with a powerful Shvetsov M-82 air-cooled radial motor went into series production. This change resulted in a different airframe profile and much improved performance. The La-5 was 28 mph faster than a Bf 109 G-2 below 20,000 ft”. Quality problems still dogged the Lavochkin fighters, and efforts were made to lighten the airframe and increase engine performance. Later developments of the La-5 were the La-5 FN and La-7 fighters, both of which were outstanding dogfighters.


I was really happy when this kit came out. I honestly did not think I would ever see a mainstream, injection-molded kit of this aircraft. When a friend sent me this kit direct from Russia, I started it immediately.

 Upon opening the box, I was a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of parts. Looking a little further, I noticed a prevalent mold seam on most of the parts (lots of cleanup!). The clear parts were thick, but well molded. The red color on the decals was very orangey. The instructions were well printed. This was good since the construction sequence was very involved for a small, single engine fighter in 1/48th scale. On the plus side, the surface detailing was very nice, the shape of the aircraft was accurate, and the interior lacked only seatbelts to make it top-notch.


On this build, I had to first decide whether to build the engine compartment open or closed. The decision became a non-issue when I attached the halves of the first row of radial cylinders. In order to clean up the seam on each cylinder head, I would destroy the detail of the head finning. Why did Zvezda include all of this detail only to have it unpresentable in the end? Needless to say, I built it closed up. I still had to assemble the engine and exhaust, since the exhaust was visible and the engine located the prop. The assembly process was as fiddly as it looked in the instructions – think Eduard Fw 190A with lax quality control!

 The construction of the rest of the interior was complicated enough that I had to be careful that painting did not interfere with construction and vice versa. I sprayed Poly Scale Israel Gray for the interior. I then brush painted the cockpit details and gave the interior a thin black wash. Once the wash had dried, I drybrushed the interior with a slightly lighter shade of gray. Next, I added the photoetched seatbelt for the pilot’s seat. I then closed up the fuselage. I had to do a lot of dry-fitting to get the fuselage closed up cleanly (too many stringers – each with a nasty mold-seam).

 I built the wing assembly without any issues. Patience and lots of dry-fitting yielded a nice fit. I then added the fuselage to the wing. I left off the nose-mounted guns, and carefully closed up the nose of the plane. Then the elevators, rudder, and oil cooler were added.

 As the final step in preparation for paint, I added the canopy. The kit canopy comes in four parts, allowing one to pose the canopy open or closed. The clear parts were dipped in Future prior to assembly. I used Tamiya tape to mask the clear parts.


I chose the boldest of the three kit-offered markings. It represents La-5 “White 04” flown by V.M. Dmitriev, 4th IAP, in the summer of 1943. The big-lipped mouth added some flash to the standard black/green/blue camouflage.

 All paints used in this build were Polly Scale acrylics. First, Israel Gray was sprayed on the canopy framing, landing gear doors, and landing gear. I then painted U.S.S.R. underside blue on the lower airframe and masked it off. Finally, I sprayed Aircraft Interior Black, and U.S. TAC Mid Green (FS34102) freehand in the standard La-5 camo pattern.

 At this point I used pastels to emphasize the panel lines and dirty the airframe up a bit. Since the wings were covered in plywood, there is minimal detail on them. I tried to keep things subtle, adding just enough shade variation to enhance detail. I then sealed everything with a coat of Future in preparation for decals.

 I used a variety of decals for this one, kit decals and ones from the spares box. I replaced the red stars on the fuselage and rudder with decals left over from a Classic Airframes MiG-3. Applying the kit supplied mouth decals took a lot of cutting, trimming, and Micro Sol. I also had to touch them up with paint since they were not in-register. I used the kit supplied stars underneath the wings where they are not as readily visible. After weathering the decals, I gave the plane a final flat clear coat.

The landing gear and other final bits were added at this time. Final detailing was then completed.


I’m left scratching my head over this one. I’m stoked about the subject, but the decals are junk, the kit is overly complex and fiddly, and the mold-seam on the parts in my example required extensive cleanup. I can see lots of modelers starting this kit only to get discouraged and quit at some point along the way. This is a shame because the finished kit really does capture the pudgy look of the La-5 fighter. On the plus side, the surface detailing is great and the interior is the best yet on any 1/48th scale Lavochkin. Overall, I think that Zvezda’s La-5 is representative of current Russian made model kits. It compares on equal terms with ICM’s LaGG-3 (similar pros & cons). I’m very happy to have the option of building an accurate La-5, and I can’t wait to build Zvezda’s La-5FN. Recommended for modelers with some experience.

Jonathan Prestidge

January 2014

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

Back to the Main Page

Back to the Previews Index Page