|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The Aero L-39 Albatros is a high-performance jet trainer developed in Czechoslovakia by Aero Vodochody. It was designed during the 1960s as a replacement for the Aero L-29 Delfín as a principal training aircraft. The L-39 Albatros has the distinction of being the first of the second-generation jet trainers to be produced, as well as being the first trainer aircraft to be equipped with a turbofan powerplant. The type was exported to a wide range of countries as a military trainer.
The L-39 Albatros later served as the basis for the updated L-59 Super Albatros, as well as the L-139 (prototype L-39 with Garrett TFE731 engine). A further development of the design, designated as the L-159 ALCA, entered production in 1997. To date, more than 2,800 L-39s have served with over 30 air forces around the world. The Albatros is the most widely used jet trainer in the world; in addition to performing basic and advanced pilot training, it has also flown combat missions in a light-attack role. The design never received a NATO reporting name.
At the Farnborough Airshow in July 2014, Aero Vodochody announced the launch of the L-39NG, an upgraded and modernised version of the L-39. The L-39C trainer aircraft were widely sold as surplus and a considerable number have found homes in the jet war bird market.
This is the initial release of this aircraft from two years back. Prior to this we have had, in this scale, the MPM L-39 kit and more recently a version from Special Hobby, this one differing in having an injected plastic clear sprue instead of vacuforme parts. I built the MPM kit and while the end result turned out fairly well, it was a lot of work to reach that point. In fact, it spent some time on the 'shelf of doom' before being completed. Fast forward to the present and we have a modern, non-short run kit of this aircraft from Trumpeter. Typical of 'one mold meets all variants' kits, you will need to open up or close a few holes during construction. It also comes with a photo etch fret as it seems that you cannot get kits nowadays without it. The fret is not all that extensive proving bang seat pull handles, the VOR antennas for the fin, a rudder hinge plate, and some other small bits.
The cockpit has two bang seats with belts molded in place. Side consoles have inserts and there are decals to fit atop these and the instrument panels. Rudder pedals and control sticks complete this assembly. There are small side panel pieces for inside the fuselage halves and once you build up and attach the exhaust and glue in the nose gear well, you can add 10 grams of nose weight and close up the halves. There is absolutely no color information provided for the cockpit or the seat frame. Even the instrument panel has no painting information. A bit of time on the net showed three cockpit colors. One is the blue-green Soviet style, or a dark grey or even one close to the shade of British interior green. Seats were either black or dark grey.
The wing is a single lower piece with separate upper halves. There are holes opened in the bottom wing piece for pylons, but no pylons are in the kit so you'll have to fill those. The main gear well fits into the lower half. The kit provides separate flaps and ailerons as well as a separate rudder. Additional cockpit pieces along with the windscreen and canopies are glued on after the airframe is fairly complete. You can pose the canopy sections open if you so wish. Landing gear is well molded and the gear doors have positive locators. You can also model the speed brakes open or closed, though you'll have some trimming to do for the closed position.
This is a standard 'learn to fly jets' trainer so the pylons and weapons that come with the L-39ZA kit are not present.
Instructions provide a full color painting guide with a variety of paint company options. There is only one scheme but with nine options. The huge decal sheet provides the markings for any one of the Breitling team jets. Most of this plane is in dark blue with silver wing undersides and silver around the cockpit and the top of the jet intakes. The silver areas will also need to be painted as will the black areas around the cockpit. Interestingly, the painting guide shows two aluminum painted tanks, but there are no additional tanks included in the kit and certainly no pylons on which to attach them. The giant decal sheet fills the box and should be fairly straight forwardto apply. I've not shown it as we are talking about light yellow and silver markings on a light blue backing. It won't scan worth a hoot.
I am not sure how much of a trainer fan you are, but I like them and this one gives me a good excuse to retire my old MPM kit.
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