L-39 Albatros by Eduard

1/72 scale
Kit No. 7043
Cost: $28.00
Decals: Eight versions, including a prototype Russian test aircraft, markings for two Thai aircraft; two Czech aircraft, one West German, one Romanian, and one Libyan
Comments: Engraved panel lines; highly detailed Profi-Pack kit including canopy masks and photo-etch detail parts

History

The L-39 Albatros is a single-engine two-seat jet training aircraft, primarily designed for basic and advanced training, including weapon delivery practicing, with secondary light combat capability. It first flew on November 4, 1968, serial production began in 1971, and it entered service with the Czech and Soviet Air Forces in 1974. The design is Czechoslovak (Czech) – the construction of Aero’s chief designer Jan Vlcek.. The L-39 Albatros is a widely used trainer/light attack aircraft similar in mission to the Italian MB 339. It has seen service with the former Soviet Union, a number of its former Warsaw Pact allies, Afghanistan, Libya,and even a few Western allies such as Thailand and West Germany.

The low, slightly swept wing has a double-taper planform, 2½-degree dihedral from the roots, a relatively low aspect ratio, and 100 liter (26½ US gallon) fuel tanks permanently attached to the wingtips. The trailing edge has double-slotted flaps inboard of mass-balanced ailerons; the flaps are separated from the ailerons by small wing fences.

The tall, swept vertical tail has an inset rudder. Variable-incidence horizontal stabilizers with inset elevators are mounted at the base of the rudder and over the exhaust nozzle. Side-by-side airbrakes are located under the fuselage ahead of the wing’s leading edge. Flaps, landing gear, wheel brakes and air brakes are powered by a hydraulic system. Controls are pushrod-actuated and have electrically powered servo tabs on the ailerons and rudder. Operational g-force limits at 4,200 kg (9,259 lb) are +8/-4 g.

The powerplant, a single turbofan engine, an Ivchenko AI-25TL (made in the Soviet Union) is fed through shoulder-mounted, semi-circular air intakes (fitted with splitter plates) just behind the cockpit; the engine exhausts below the tailplane. Five rubber bag fuel tanks are located in the fuselage behind the cockpit. The main landing gear retract inward into wing bays; the nose gear retracts forward. The tandem cockpits are pressurized, and feature dual controls and individual canopies that are hinged on the right. The rear seat is raised slightly; both ejection seats are made by Aero.

The basic trainer is unarmed, but has two underwing pylons for drop tanks and practice weapons. The L-39D light-attack variants have four underwing hardpoints for ground attack stores; the ZA also carries a gun pod beneath the fuselage. The L-39 still serves in many air forces, including the Czech Republic.

Specifications

Length: 40 ft., 5 in.
Wingspan: 31 ft., 0.5 in.
Height: 15 ft., 5.5 in.
Maximum speed: 435 mph at sea level, 485 mph at 19,685 ft.
Range on internal fuel: 528 miles (unarmed trainer); 485 miles with rocket pods;
Maximum Range with drop tanks and no weapons: 994 miles
Maximum rate of climb at sea level: 4,335 feet per minute
Service ceiling: 37,730 ft. (unarmed trainer); 29,525 ft (armed L-39D)
Powerplant: One Walter Titan turbofan of 3,792 lbs. thrust (Russian-designed Ivchenko AI-25-TL, license-built by Motorlet in Czechoslovakia)
Armament: (L-39D) Up to 2,425 lbs. (1100 kg) of weapons on four underwing hard points, including bombs of up to 1,102 lbs. (500 kg), 57mm or 130mm rocket pods, a single five-camera reconnaissance pack, and an option for a centerline gun pod, believed to hold a 23mm Soviet Gsh-23 cannon)

The Kit

Eduard’s L-39 Albatros comes in a series of clear resealable plastic bags, the first of which contains the two main sprues which are the heart of the kit. The L-39 is injection molded in beige and consists of 63 parts, six of which are clear plastic. It bears engraved panel lines and both flush and raised rivet detail, textured sidewalls in the well appointed cockpit, whose tandem and side instrument panels bear engraved and raised detail, and can be augmented by decals provided in the kit. There are photo-etched parts providing detail for the ejection seats, sidewall instrumentation and control yokes, as well as for a gunsight atop the forward instrument panel hood and what appear to be throttle controls on the port side instument panel in both cockpits. A single turbofan engine face is cemented into the fuselage aft of the cockpit, and may just be visible through the air intakes.

Parts are provided for the L-39D, the armed version of the Albatros, in form of a gun pod to be cemented beneath the nose, as well as two bombs fitted to the underside of the wing by means of pylons. Auxiliary fuel tanks are also provided. Photo-etch parts provide additional exterior details on an already well-detailed airframe exterior, as well as antennae and grab handles for the two cockpit canopies, and for canopy supports should the modeler depict them in the open position. In addition to a photo-etch fret, this Profi-Pack version provides masks not merely for the canopy and wheels, but for designated parts of the airframe in the event the paint schemes for the German, Romanian or Russian test versions are chosen. There is a detailed paint chart providing color matches for the Tamiya, Humbrol, Revell, Testors, Aqueuos and Mr. Color lines.

Decals

The kit decal sheet comes in its own resealable clear plastic bag and is fairly large, covering eight different aircraft. The markings are sharply in register, are thin, and have realistic color. There are detailed four-view drawings for each of the eight versions for which markings are provided: one of two L-39ZA’s of the 102nd Squadron of the Royal Thai Air Force in 2000; and L-39ZA of the Czech Air Force, based at Zatec Air Base, 1991; an L-39C of the Czech Air Force, based at Pardubice, 1991; an L-39ZO of the Libyan Air Force Academy, based at Az Zawiyah Air Base, 1985; an L-39ZO of the Air Force of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) 1988; an L-39ZA of the Air Force Application School, Boboc Air Base, Romanian Air Force, 1999; and finally an L-39C prototype, flight tested in the former Soviet Union in 1974.

Conclusion

This is an exceptionally detailed kit — perhaps the best in this scale — of an important Cold War trainer that was a mainstay for the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies during the final two decades of the Cold War. Its excellent design and ongoing utility are proven by the fact that it continues in service with many of the world’s air forces today. Highly recommended.

References

  • www.atacusa.com
  • The Encyclopedia of World Aircraft, published by Crescent Books, New York: 1980

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