KP 1/72 Aero L-29 Delfin
KIT #: 1
PRICE: 3 Euros
DECALS: Two Options
REVIEWER: Spiros Pendedekas


The Aero L-29 Delfín is a military jet trainer developed and manufactured by Czechoslovakian aviation manufacturer Aero Vodochody. It was the country's first locally designed and constructed jet aircraft, as well as likely being the biggest aircraft industrial programme to take place in any of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON) countries except the Soviet Union.

The L-29 was selected to become the standard jet trainer for the air forces of Warsaw Pact nations, for which it was delivered from the 1960s onwards. During the early 1970s, the type was succeeded in the principal trainer role by another Aero-built aircraft, the L-39 Albatros, heavily contributing to a decline in demand for the earlier L-29 and the end of its production during 1974.

Of the 3665 produced, around 2,000 were reported to have been delivered to the Soviet Union, where it was used as the standard trainer for the Soviet Air Force. Of the others, which included both armed and unarmed models, many aircraft were delivered to the various COMECON countries while others were exported to various overseas nations, including Egypt, Syria, Indonesia, Nigeria and Uganda. Reportedly, the L-29 has been used in active combat during several instances, perhaps the most high-profile being the use of Nigerian aircraft during the Nigerian Civil War of the late 1960s and of Egyptian L-29s against Israeli tanks during the brief Yom Kippur War of 1973.

The Uganda Army Air Force (UAAF) was established in 1964. They possessed a number of L-29 Delfins (5 to 12, with sources varying), that were  put into use during the air campaign of Uganda–Tanzania War of 1978–79.

Introduced in 1970, this looks to be the first kit KP produced (with the Avia B-534, IL-10 and Mig-19 following…). Definitely “old style”, providing only basic external details and minimal internal ones, this venerable kit is regularly reboxed, totally unchanged (only different decal schemes), with the 2010 and onwards reissues performed by the Polish Mistercraft, who have obviously acquired the KP molds.

My specific kit is the fourth (late 90’s) reissue, that I was lucky enough to discover back in 2011, forgotten in a toy shop, at a symbolic price of only 3 euros! Upon opening the box, I was greeted with the nostalgic look of separate 9 basic elements (fuselage halves and aerodynamic surfaces), two small trees containing the “detail” parts and a clear fret containing the canopy and a base for the assembled model.

The kit is very simple, with external detail mostly heavily raised, full of rivets, not up to modern standards (would not look out of place back in the 70s, though). There’s no cockpit to speak of, just two seat backs  lookalike plates, where two mummy pilot figures are supposed to be glued and fill the total emptiness. All “detail” parts are basic looking and crude, toy-ish like, especially the landing gear struts that have a thick, rectangular, unrealistic cross section. Wheel wells are plain looking and shallow. Canopy is thick with heavy framing, but reasonably clear. The provided stand is a nice touch.

Instructions are old school, with two major construction steps and a detailed text including a comprehensive history of the type, construction guidelines and color callouts, all nice and clear. Two camo schemes are provided: a “silver” Czech and (surprisingly) an “exotic” Uganda one. Decals are printed by Propacteam, meaning good initial impressions, but cautiously thin.

Having a soft spot on exotic schemes and an even softer on tackling old molds, the decision to build this kit as a Uganda bird came as no surprise!

Whereas “simple” may not always seem “easy”, this was not the case here: the kit can easily be assembled in no time . I started by gluing the two fuselage halves together, followed by the pair of inner wing halves that were consequently attached at the fuselage sides, with the one piece outer wings and horizontal stabilizer soon after. Airbrakes were attached “retracted” and the two wing tanks were assembled, but not attached. Fit was nice and solid, with the occasional mini seams requiring filling and sanding, which came immediately after. To add some realism, I drilled out the four air inlets at the fuselage top.  
And hat was it! Major construction done and off to the paint shop!

Instructions called for a brown/blue gray over turquoise blue camo. After some net research, I came across two color pics of Ugandan L-29, sporting kind of “chocolate”/neutral gray tops and light-to-medium blue gray bottoms. To replicate the camo, I first sprayed the undersides (including the wing tanks) with Hu145 Medium Gray (which has a blue gray hue) and, upon masking, I gave the top a freehand camo of Hu98 Chocolate and Hu126 Medium Gray, all done with my Revell Vario airbrush.

After a protective coat of Future, I painted the nose, fin top cone, wing and tail plane tips red. Instructions wanted you to paint four of a kind red tiny strips at each side of the cone and wingtips, 24 in total.  Hating painting lines (and insignia in general, I admit), I resorted to my decal dungeon, found suitable pieces and attached them. I did not have sufficient red stripes pieces, so I first attached three stripes at each position. Then, I could not live with it, so I added a (slightly different) extra piece at each line pattern, with the hue difference being noticeable; oh well, it’s a “simple – nostalgic” build, anyway!  

The rest of the decals came from the decal sheet. Propacteam decals are among the thinnest ones, let alone the fact that they were some 25 years old. Despite treating them very carefully, some black codes disintegrated and I resorted to retouching them by hand, doing at places a less than average job.

I busied up the empty cockpit area a tad, by adding a few of styrene sheets here and there, as a means of floor and side consoles, then added the half seats, with the pilots glued at them. Basic cockpit color was a medium gray, with black instrument panel, consoles and headrests. The pilots had green uniforms, white helmets with black visors and linen seat belts. Cockpit looked less empty then, hoping to be passable under the thick canopy.

I then attached the landing gear components and the wing tanks. Instructions advised to secure the main wheels at their axles and heat the axle tips, so they can rotate. I just glued them and cut the protruding bit (I know a number of “nostalgic” modelers would go for the rotating main wheels option). All landing gear components, including the wheel wells, received the same cockpit medium gray, silver painted oleos, with the tires painted black. The shallow air intakes had their innards painted Testors Steel with black rear wall, as to give an illusion of depth.

The two wing pitots, the rear facing top fuselage antenna tip and the characteristic crew steps at the port fuselage side were replicated using stretched sprue, as the kit parts not only were crude, but disintegrated upon attempting to detach them from the sprue tree. No exhaust cone was supplied, so my sons’ straws came to the rescue, in the form of choosing a suitable diameter one, cutting it at an angle, painting it Testors Burned Metal and attaching it from the rear. Those small improvements aimed to add some interest to the viewer’s eye, hoping to convince him he is not looking at a toy.

Photo evidence showed the Uganda birds in pristine condition, so minimal “here and there” weathering was added, followed by the final almost matt (70/30 matt/gloss) coating. A small acetate piece was affixed to replicate the gunsight and the canopy was easily hand painted and attached in position, with the gaps (especially the rear one) faired with white glue and retouched.

I then called this Uganda beauty done!

AMK (later reboxed by Veselý Lepič and finally Eduard) came with a definitive 1/72 mainstream 
L-29 in 2016, offered at very reasonable prices. Originating from their equally definitive quarter scale one, it will require some careful work, but will surely result in a beautiful model and is the way to go if you want to build a good 1/72 Delfin.

The KP, even at its latest frequent reissues, is the same basic kit of the early 70s: simple, easy to build, good general shape but with crude and toy-ish details, the absence of cockpit definitely included among them! With some extra work and decent painting, an acceptable, basic, toy looking model might result. Due to its simplicity, parts rigidity and low price offered, it can also be recommended as an introduction to very young modelers, spending their afternoon putting it together, with glue oozing here and there, and possibly trying basic hand painting, like many of us have done in the past, maybe with the same kit!

As usual, I had a great time putting this oldie together, which would otherwise have disappeared with time, thrown away from that toy shop…

Happy modeling!

Spiros Pendedekas

22 October 2021

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