|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-39ZA is a significantly upgraded L-39ZO for armed training and light attack, employing sturdier landing gear, a higher payload (total 1,290 kg (2,844 lb)) and notably provision for a GSh-23L 23-millimeter twin-barreled cannon attached in a conformal pod under the pilots' compartment, having a 150-round magazine within the airframe. Outer pylons wired to carry K-13 or R-60 air-to-air missiles. Two prototypes, with first flying on 29 September 1976. 208 aircraft delivered.
The earlier L-39C trainer aircraft were widely sold as surplus and a considerable number have found homes in the jet war bird market.
Many years back, I built the MPM L-39 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 the gun-toting L-39ZA from Trumpeter. As this kit is also being provided in the standard trainer version, you will need to open up 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.
The wing is a single lower piece with separate upper halves. 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.
There are four pyons provided for the aircraft. Your choices for things under wings are fuel tanks, rocket pods, bombs, or missiles so you have a variety of options.
Instructions provide a full color painting guide with a variety of paint company options. The only one that fills all the colors is Mr.Hobby. Two Czech Air Force options are on the decals. One is the box art plane with the white tail number. It is listed as yellow, light green and interior green over light gull. The other is light green and interior green over light gull. I am sure there is a paint set that will provide the colors needed for these options and a bit of sleuthing will provide something available where you live. The decals are standard Trumpeter stuff and should work without any issues. There are also aftermarket decals available for the L-39 and you will need them as Trumpeter forgot to hand the insignia. The white should always be outboard or up. Seems to me that if you just leave off the gun pod and weapons you can do a standard trainer. This may require some hole filling as Trumpeter has opened the pylon attachment holes for you.
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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