Lavochkin-Gorbunov-Goudkov LaGG-3 (Лавочкин-Горбунов-Гудков ЛаГГ-3) was a
Soviet fighter aircraft of World War II. It was a refinement of the earlier
LaGG-1, and was one of the most modern aircraft available to the Soviet Air
Force at the time of
invasion in 1941.
deficiency of the LaGG-1 design was power. A more powerful version of its
Klimov M-105 engine was tried. The improvement was poor and without an
alternative powerplant, the only solution was to lighten the airframe. The
LaGG team re-examined the design and pared down the structure as much as
possible. Fixed slats were added to the wings to improve climb and
manoeuvrability and further weight was saved by installing lighter armament.
The LaGG-3 replaced the LaGG-1 immediately.
result was still not good enough although it came close to its rival Bf-109F
in performance and was superior in maneuverability. Still, even with the
lighter airframe and supercharged engine, the LaGG-3 was underpowered and
proved immensely unpopular with pilots. The novel, wood-laminate
construction of the aircraft continued to be poor quality (as with its
predecessor) and pilots joked that rather than being an acronym of the
designers' names (Lavochkin, Gorbunov, and Goudkov) "LaGG" stood for
lakirovanny garantirovanny grob ("guaranteed varnished coffin" -
лакированный гарантированный гроб). Some aircraft supplied to the front line
were up to 40 km/h (25 mph) slower than they should have been and some were
not airworthy. In combat, LaGG-3's main advantage was its strong airframe.
Although the laminated wood did not burn it shattered severely when hit by
high explosive rounds.
The LaGG-3 was
improved during production, resulting in 66 minor variants in the 6,258 that
were built. Experiments with fitting a large radial engine to the LaGG-3
airframe finally solved the power problem, and led to the superb Lavochkin
La-5, though it also initially was fraught with problems.
you once again
for producing a mainstream kit of an important WWII aircraft! Though the
LaGG-3 was previously kitted in 1/48th by
and South Front,
LaGG-3 puts those kits to shame.
Released fairly recently, the
LaGG-3 Series 1-4 comes in a small, end-opening box. Are these really
that much cheaper than top
opening boxes???? While transferring the model to a sensible, top-opening
box, one finds 3 sprues of soft, slightly grainy, gray plastic, a sprue of
beautiful clear parts, and a decal sheet with markings for four aircraft.
My particular kit had only a few mold
glitches (an improvement over some
kits of the past). The major flaw was that the fuselage halves were short
shot where they meet the rear of the upper wings. There is a little flash,
but nothing that won’t clean up easily. This kit has engraved panel lines
that are a bit heavy in places, and a nice interior. There are also some
very delicate details such as rocket rails, pitot tube and antenna mast.
I started this one by doing a little
research. On a visit to
www.sovietwarplanes.com I found a great series of photos of Captain
Leonid Galchenko’s LaGG-3 in the Spring/Summer of 1942. A LaGG-3 ace,
Captain Galchenko was the most famous pilot of the 145 IAP based in
Though the plane in the pictures did not match the one in the instructions
exactly, I had all the decals needed to model it. Having chosen a specific
plane, I was then able to choose exhaust and cowling options accordingly.
began construction by removing the fuselage halves and engine/gun covers
from the sprue and cleaning them up. I spent a lot of time dry fitting the
parts but still had to shim a gap behind the starboard gun bulge. The
interiors of the fuselage halves were painted, detailed and given a wash/drybrush
to bring out the detail. There is a lot of detail behind the pilot’s seat
that is almost impossible to see once the model is complete but I detailed
I assembled and painted the rest of the interior and radiator
that will be trapped by the fuselage halves. This area requires patience and
dry-fitting as it is a bit fiddly. At this time I also painted the
instrument panel and attempted to use the kit decal for the instrument
faces. I say attempted because it shattered hopelessly when I removed it
from its backing! This was a warning concerning the rest of the kit decals.
I then hand painted the instrument panel, added a set of Eduard’s
pre-painted VVS seatbelts and installed the interior into the fuselage
halves. As a note, the throttle levers are some of the best plastic molded
ones I have seen. I fitted the two small rear windows to the fuselage halves
and attached them with white glue prior to closing up the fuselage.
The rest of the airframe builds quickly. The engine cowl and gun
bulges were installed next. The three piece wing was glued together and then
installed under the fuselage without a problem. As previously mentioned,
there is a nasty section of missing plastic at the wing trailing edge where
the wing and fuselage meet. I cut a triangle of plastic sheet to fit each
side and then glued them in place. I only used putty here and on a few of
the seams on the fuselage. The rudder and tail planes went on without a
hitch. Finally, I sanded the airframe down with 1500 grit wet or dry sand
Now time to attach the rest of the clear bits. After dipping the
clear parts into Future floor polish and letting them dry, I dry-fitted them
to the cockpit. I attached the front windscreen with white glue and tacked
the sliding section in place with a few small drops of white glue. I used
Tamiya tape and a sharp #11 Exacto blade to mask the windows and she was
ready for paint.
chosen to model Galchenko’s LaGG-3, I studied the photographs of his plane
to get the paint job as accurate as possible. Several things stand out on
this particular aircraft. First, there are no red stars on the wings or
fuselage. Second, there is a three color camo scheme – Medium Green
(FS34102), Dark Green (I used RAF Foliage Green) and Black that was painted
over the white winter camouflage. During this time period, the only markings
on the plane were the two black cats on the tail and the red star on the
spinner. Now that I had a good idea of what I was doing, I broke out my
Badger Anthem airbrush and began.
I first sprayed Poly Scale acrylic RLM 02
(a great match for Soviet interior green) on the window framing and wheel
wells. I filled the wheel wells with kneadable eraser and sprayed Poly
Scale’s Russian Underside Blue on the lower surfaces of the plane. When this
had dried, I masked off the underside and sprayed the entire upper surface
with Poly Scale’s Semi Gloss Black. I used a combination of masking tape and
kneadable eraser to mask off the black areas. By rolling the eraser into
thin snakes and sticking it to the airplane along the edge of the
camouflage, I was able to get a softer demarcation line than with tape
alone. I painted the Foliage Green next and masked it using the same method.
Finally, the Medium Green was applied and all the masking came off!
let the plane dry overnight and then I applied various powdered artist
pastels to bring out panel lines, exhaust stains, etc. I applied the pastels
with a soft, closely cropped paintbrush, removing the excess with kneadable
eraser. I then sealed the pastels with an airbrushed coat of Future floor
polish diluted slightly with water.
The kit decals were used but disaster was only narrowly avoided.
As with the instrument decal, as soon as I started to gently slide the first
black cat decal on its backing it shattered! At this point I panicked. I
drafted an e-mail asking for a new set of decals and was about to hit send
when I had an idea. I placed the shattered decal back into the lukewarm
water to free it from the
again. Once it was ready, I very
carefully realigned all the pieces while it was still on the backing. I then
set aside to dry for several hours. When it was dry, I brush-painted a coat
of Future floor polish over this and the other decals. After letting the
Future dry, I gave it another go and the decals behaved just fine! I applied
a little Champ setting solution to get them settled into the panel lines. I
had to touch up the front star decal with paint where it wrapped around the
Finally, I airbrushed a satin clear coat mixed from Future and
just a little Tamiya Flat Base. Soviet warplanes during WWII used a thick
coat of wax and were not nearly so flat looking as their German
counterparts. I then used a very fine paintbrush to give the plane an
oil-based dark brown wash. The satin coat allowed the wash to flow freely in
the panel lines and it was easy to clean up any excess with a Q-tip dampened
with mineral spirits.
I did a final application of pastels, and brush painted the
guns, landing lights, etc. Then, I glued on the landing gear and other final
bits. I used Testors silver (oil-based) to simulate chipping around
maintenance panels and scuffing on areas walked on by pilots and ground
crew. I used the photos of the actual plane as reference for this step.
Having built several
kits previously, this kit was exactly what I expected! While it is more work
than some mainstream kits, if you take your time and dry fit the parts
you’ll have no major troubles with construction. My only real gripe is with
the kit decals. Not everyone has reported this problem so I think it may be
hit or miss. I would recommend trying out one of the decals that you are not
planning to use to see if you’ll have issues. Also, if you want a LaGG-3
there are no better alternatives! I would recommend this kit to all but the