MPM 1/48 Aero L-39 ZO Preview






three aircraft


Scott Van Aken


Resin bits and vac canopy


During the Cold War, many Soviet-controlled Warsaw Pactcountries had thriving aviation industries. While most of the aircraft built bythese countries were license built Soviet designs, many were also quite moderndesigns from the home country. Needless to say, these home designs were notcombat aircraft as the hold the Soviet Union had on some of these countriescould be tenuous at times so there was no desire to make them self sufficient inmodern combat aircraft.

Czechoslovakia has always had a history of a progressiveaviation industry, and despite the failed 1968 revolution, or perhaps because ofit, was given more leeway in its own affairs. This included aircraft. The Aerocompany had built quite a good reputation for producing quality traineraircraft; first for the Germans in WWII and later for the Soviets. The L-29 wasbuilt in large numbers and laid a foundation for the next generation oftrainers, the L-39.

First flying in 1977, the L-39 went on to gather a large numberof orders from the Soviet Union and Soviet 'partners' around the world. The L-39has been built in four major versions, the L-39C, V, ZA, and ZO. This lastversion is the most recent and most modern of the type. It has been anexport-only version and exported to Libya, Iraq, East Germany, and Syria. Thosethat were in the East German AF were taken out of service when the two Germaniesunited and some have been sold off to private warbird owners. Today, this latestversion is continually being marketed as a low cost trainer with some groundattack capabilities when various bombs, rockets, gun pods and even A-A missilesare attached.


MPM's kit is 'a typical Czech short-run kit'. Well actually it is better thanthe typical short run kit as it has very good panel detail, small spruegates, and no flash or sink marks. However it has vac canopies (one of which wascreased in my kit) and clear bits instead of injected plastic, large ejectorstubs on the bigger pieces, and the overall feel of a short run kit. MPM isgetting there, but has a bit farther to go to equal what Eduard hasaccomplished.

The only real option is whether to attach the underwing fuel tank or not. Thereare no weapons options at all, which is a bit of a shame as they would reallyadd to the kit. There are also no anti-sway braces from the pylons and nopositive locating pins or marks for the pylons themselves. This is no trouble ifyou are going to build your L-39 clean and is probably appreciated by those whodesire to do so.

Thecockpit is well appointed with 7 piece bang seats as well as full instrumentpanels and sidewalls. The head rests are cast in resin as are the jet exhaustand two 'lumps' that go under the fuselage. The interior also includes rudderpedals, side consoles, instrument panels, and control sticks. In all, very wellappointed. The instrument panels fit into a framework that also what the canopyattaches to. Guess this is to provide a flat surface for the canopy and as so itis much appreciated. The canopy sections are hinged on the right side for thoseof you who want to cut the canopy and pose it open. No canopy mechanism isprovided.

Instructionsare quite good and colors are offered as Humbrol (H) annotations. Exteriorcolors also get an FS 595 number. Where only a Humbrol number is given, there isno other color info. If you aren't using Humbrol paints or have a Humbrol colorchart, you are out of luck as to trying to figure out what color is being shown.Not a good idea and one that MPM should make all attempts to correct.

Thedecal sheet is quite extensive and includes the usual myriad of stencils thatare so common on modern jets. This sheet and the addendums is printed byCartograf in Italy instead of the usual Propagteam sheet that is so common.However, Cartograf sheets are just as good and this one is no exception withcrisp detail and registration. There are basically three planes offered. ALibyan version, an East German one and one that is labeled as Syrian, but hasCzech civil registration, so appears to be a demonstrator. I question thedarkness of the Libyan insignia as I had always thought it was a lighter greenas shown on the box art. The other two camo schemes are darker, consisting ofgreens and browns over blue.

Anyway, it is a kit that many have beenawaiting and appears to be a relatively easy build. I'll let you know!

Review kit courtesy of me and my wallet!

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