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Zvezda 1/48 scale Lavochkin La-5FN

Kit: No. 4801
Scale: 1/48
Manufacturer: Zvezda, from Dragon Models USA, 626-968-0322,
Price: $21.95
Comments: Injection-molded, 144 parts, decals
Pros: Detailed engine, airframe, and cockpit
Cons: No spark plug wires; fit issues; errors on instructions; vague color references
Zvezda's new La-5FN features a detailed engine bay and cockpit with intake and exhaust tubes, cannon armament, airframe, and a pilot figure. To show off this detail, all the engine covers are molded as separate pieces. The control surfaces and landing gear are poseable. Markings are supplied for three aircraft.

Test-fitting the upper wing panels to the lower wing showed a step at the separation line between the inner and outer upper panels. I fixed this by gluing the inner panels in place, then the joint between the inner and outer wing. I let this cure overnight , then glued down the outer edge.

The molded-on wheel wells do not line up with the lower wing. Also, there is a gap between the leading edge slats and the lower wing.

The engine banks are made up from halves with the rocker arms as a separate ring. However, spark plug wires and fuel lines are omitted. You can scratchbuild this detail with wire or wait for an aftermarket detail set.

I painted the banks Testors Metalizer burnt metal, the intake tubes Tamiya X-18 semigloss black, and the exhaust tubes Tamiya XF-10 brown.

The intake tubes were a bit fiddly. The fit of the exhaust tubes was poor and, to make matters worse, some of the exhaust tubes are not marked correctly; parts E9 and E10 are shown on the wrong side. Unless an aftermarket replacement set comes out, scratchbuilding the tubes with lead wire is one way to correct this.

Included are all the airframe and support ribs you can see, from the engine mount back to the tail wheel. This is built up from 20 pieces. The small surface area available to glue the engine to the mount does not make for a solid assembly; you need to handle it carefully. I painted this assembly Testors RLM gray.

The fit of the fuselage to wing was good. But after test-fitting the engine access panels, I could see the lower edge that mates with the leading edge of the wing had a large gap that needed filling. The right engine panel (part C8) was incompletely molded on the top edge. This I filled and blended out.

I painted the plane Testors Model Master RAF dark gray and neutral gray over Russian underside blue and chose the markings of the 5th Guard Fighter Regiment. The decals went down OK over the flat coat. Some of the markings have a yellow tint.

With its vices, I can only recommend this kit to experienced modelers. However, fixing the faults and scratchbuilding the omitted detail can make this a great model for those willing to put the effort into it. - Tom Foti


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