Steelwork 1/72 Lavochkin La-9

KIT #: SK7214
PRICE: 39 Euros from www.steelwork-models.de
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Resin with metal, photo etch and vacuformed parts.

HISTORY

La-9 represents further development of the Lavochkin 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 both horizontal and vertical 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.

Only one La-9 remains in airworthy condition today, owned by Jerry Yagen of Virginia Beach, Va, restored by Pioneer Aero Restorations between 2001 and 2003. A handful of others remain in museums in China, Korea and one in Romania.

THE KIT

Sent in Steelwork's usual hard cardboard box, the contents are several zip bags with various bits. The fuselage was wrapped in bubble wrap while the wings and tailplanes were in one bag, the metal gear in another, and the smaller pieces in yet another. The photo etch is quite thin and was packaged with the decals and a warning slip about the decals. The kit resin is actually tan instead of the grey shown in the image from the kit instructions.

Acetate sheets are provided for the instruments that are sandwiched between the three levels of instrument panel. The cockpit provides a seat, rudder pedals, stick and side consoles along with a harness for the pilot. Since the fuselage is a single casting, one simply installs these pieces into the opening. There are various bulges that fit onto the fuselage as well as some photo etch pieces.

The engine fan/grille is a section of photo etch. This material is also used to enhance the inner gear door detail. I like that the landing gear legs are cast metal and they appear to be bronze. This will eliminate any issues with long time sagging due to the weight of the resin. Most of the resin parts have the sprue stubs already removed so only minor clean up is required. This extends to the clear bits as well. They are pre-trimmed leaving on the final trim to the builder. Two sets of vac pieces are included. In addition to the canopies, there are two smaller square sections. These are for the landing light lens. The prop is a hub with separate blades that slot into holes in the spinner.

Instructions are quite well done and in full color. They includes photos of the kit while under construction with images showing colors used as well as where the parts go. Decals are for the two North Korean planes shown on the box art. One is engine grey over light blue-grey while the other is overall blue-grey. The two tone option is a plane currently in a museum in North Korea. The decals are very nicely printed and have a continuous clear coat. I suspect these are ALPS printed as there is a warning sheet about being too rough with them. I would suggest a light clear coat before cutting them as it just seems prudent.

CONCLUSIONS

AI am very pleased to see this new kit on the market. I have always liked the La-9 and now we have a decent kit of it available to us. Of course, it is not the only La-9 ever produced as there have been short run and vacuformed kits done in the past, but to my eyes, this looks like the best of them so far. Steelworks also produces this kit in Soviet markings.

REFERENCES

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

February 2013

Thanks to www.steelwork-models.de for the preview kit. You can get this kit from the link and while it is pretty much in German, it is easy to navigate. Just check under the 'resin kit' link.

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

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