Mikro Mir 1/48 Lavochkin La-9
KIT #: 48-005
PRICE: $41.99 including shipping
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Short Run with photo etch parts.

HISTORY

La-9 represents further development of theLavochkin La-126 prototype. The first prototype, designated La-130 was finished in 1946. Similarity to the famous Lavochkin La-7 was only superficial the new fighter had all-metal construction and a laminar flow wing. Weight savings due to elimination of wood from the airframe allowed for greatly improved fuel capacity and four-cannon armament. Mock combat demonstrated that La-130 was evenly matched with La-7 but was inferior to Yakovlev Yak-3 in horizontal planes. The new fighter, officially designated La-9, entered production in August 1946. A total of 1,559 aircraft were built by the end of production in 1948.

The type was operated by the Soviet Union, People's Republic of China, North Korea, Romania, and East Germany, the latter two in small numbers.

THE KIT

I have always liked the La-9/11 series of fighters. These were probably the last operational post-war reciprocating fighter operated by the Soviets and took into consideration all of the latest technology, including all metal construction. To me, they just look cooler than the earlier La-5/7 series.

Mikr Mir is a company from Ukraine and while their catalogue is not extensive, the do several interesting aircraft and armor kits. They have also released an La-11. A wise move as the 9 and 11 are very similar aircraft. This is what one expects from a short run kit. The plastic is a bit thick and soft, detailing is fairly good though a bit 'soft', clear parts are cloudy though at least they are injected plastic, and there is a considerable amount of photo etch to make up for the smaller bits. Instrument faces are on an acetate sheet and the kit includes canopy masks.

Most of the photo etch is used for the cockpit in terms of the instrument panel, side consoles, varioius levers, rudder pedals, seat harness and such.  Behind the pilot's rear bulkhead are a pair of radios and their racks; both entirely p.e. Also in this material are exhaust shields, wheel centers, oleo scissors and a few other small pieces. It is a bit of a shame that there is so much detail in the cockpit as the transparencies are thick and cloudy, thoug perhaps a dip in clear gloss acrylic might improve things.

As implied, the cockpit is really well done with most of the major pieces injected plastic. There is sidewall structure detail though no boxes or anything else attached to them. There is no engine and the forward cowling is two side halves, a full front section and a fan piece. Like the FW-190, there is no need for an engine as none will be seen from the outside. The separate cowling allows for the La-11 to be done with minimal parts differences.

A couple of things to watch out for. One is that there is a clear piece that fits into the aft upper fuselage. It may be the smart thing to install this when mating the fuselage halves though it is shown attached later in the build. There is a ventral radiator assembly as well that consists of five pieces. The wing is pretty standard stuff with a one-piece lower wing and two upper wing sections. A wheel well insert is separate and there is an aft well spar that fits in place. I would imagine that one would need to do some work on the trailing edge to get it sharp.

Landing gear is fairly well molded and the p.e. adds more detail. The prop has separate blades that fit onto a backing plate. There are no alignment pins to help with getting the blade angles right. However, one should be able to build up the spinner, smooth the join and then add the blades.

Instructions are a folded standard size sheet of paper with a parts layout on one section and the rest taken up with the build. No color information is supplied during the build so one is on their own when it comes to interior or wheel well colors. I imagine that both are some shade of grey. The decal sheet is nicely printed and reminds me of a Begemont sheet in that the backing is near white and makes white decals difficult to see on the scan. The sheet is for both the La-9 and La-11 kits so there are markings not used. Four options are provided in this boxing. There is a separate half sheet with data markings placement on one side and four profiles on the other. All planes are in what is listed as an overall light blue grey. If anyone knows a ready-mixed paint of this shade, I'd like to hear from you as I painted my more recent La-9 in a very dark shade with a very light blue underside, similar to the warbird that has been flying recently. Markings are for two Soviet polanes, one with a yellow cowling, the box art North Korean plane, and a PRC aircraft with the red and white rudder stripes.

CONCLUSIONS

I am pleased to see this kit produced. It is not inexpensive as much due to shipping costs as anything, but a look on the net showed that even though there are a number of places selling the kit, the total price is about the same. This is a short run kit so those who do not like iffy fit and photo etch have been warned. I'm sure it will take a bit of skill to build it, but for those of us who like this aircraft and this scale it is the only game in town.

REFERENCES

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lavochkin_La-9

September 2016

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