KP 1/72 Letov S.16




Approx $6.00


Czechoslovakian AF


Nick Briggs




Pre war models are always worth getting. Heller had some absolute gems out, and I don't half miss them. I was going to build a hangar just for rare and antique airframes until their demise.

So guess my surprise at finding a batch of bi planes in colours I didn't even recognize. KP are producing the interwar Czech air force! So far I have built a PO2, Avia B21 (The first fighter to be built for the Czech air force in the 1920s!) LA7 and MIG15. 

The Letov S16^, according to the rather unclear but very long history, was an all metal wooden (!) biplane first flew in 1928, the design having begun in 1931! A mistake of interpretation I think. Any way, its a big lady about the size of a Swordfish. Apparently they were popular performers at the Hendon air displays, beating up the turf. Does anyone have a picture of one? The aircraft was an army support and reconnaissance aeroplane with seats for pilot and gunner. My kit seems to have details for a trainer as under the gunners ring the seat seems to face forwards.

I have no idea about accuracy (Have you got one in your local museum?) but the interior is nicely detailed with even the bracing wires inside.  carefully painted these silver with the sides of a brush, they look very good., The gun turret is very fine and requires careful assembly. The parts go together quite well, until it comes to the wings. While Heller's old ladies were a joy to build as the parts went together fine, KP's plastic is a little crude, and the wing supports are absolutely awful! I would recommend anyone with the ability to scratch build them, as they spoil an otherwise lovely model.

Underwing stores house masses of bombs which are very fine looking although the small ones will be broken without due care.

Painting is not much excitement here, being silver doped under surfaces (I tend to think it was more likely a canvas and wood machine, as the Czechs were unlikely to have mastered all metal before the Germans and English!) and olive tops. Decals are not bad, a little undercoloured but go on fine. I chose a special "crack unit" - of all the top pilots in the air force. Other options are for the Czech central flying school, which is probably where the trainer parts come in. The instructions are pretty unclear.

So, a really rare old lady graces my tuft! I will certainly look into this range but recommend these kits only to builders with considerable patience. Mine very nearly became a wingless exhibit on trestles. I would certainly not recommend a mainstream aeroplane of this quality but can you imagine this being issued by Airfix?

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