The Czechoslovakian L-39 was built as the successor to their earlier trainer, the L-29 Delpin. Design work began in 1966, and the first prototype made its initial flight on 4 November 1968. The idea of the design was to marry an efficient, powerful turbofan engine to a sleek, streamlined fuselage, resulting in a strong, economical performer which would become the next standard jet trainer for the Warsaw Pact. Three main variants were produced. The L-39C was built as a pure trainer and was used by numerous air forces throughout Eastern Europe beginning in 1974 and continuing through today. The armed weapons-trainer variant is called the L-39ZA, and a close-support and ground-attack version is called the L-39ZO. In addition to those mentioned above, the L-39 has been exported to numerous countries, including Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Iraq, Libya, Estonia, and Kyrgyzstan. As of this writing, the L-39 is the most popular jet war bird in the world, with over 220 believed to be actively flying in the USA alone.
Dave Riggs of Los Angeles and Jeff Acord of San Diego recently set a pair of world aviation records. Flying in the L-39C jet fighter “Wild Child” owned by Riggs on March 20, 2005, they flew a course from L.A. to Phoenix in just 39 minutes 58 seconds, claiming a record for Speed over a Recognized Course at 561.2 miles per hour on the trip. The L-39C they flew is a former Soviet fighter. Unfortunately, the American "Wild Child" was lost in a February 25th crash with the loss of life of Terry Fregly and Skip Robertson.
The packaging is worth mentioning as it is beautifully packaged in a lift top box. The photo etch and Express Masks are all separately bagged and are stapled to a small, raised card advertising other Eduard kits. The clear parts are on two sprues which are individually bagged and sit above the two kits which are in another bag. Underneath you find the instructions, a parts list, paint guide and masking instructions and the decals. The only company which are close to this good in terms of packaging are the newer Dragon kits.
The kit contains 114 plastic parts on four sprues, twelve clear parts on two sprues, two sets of colour photo etched and one set of paint masks. The kit sprues are originally from the now discontinued L-39 kit, # 7042.
The tan coloured plastic parts are very well moulded and injector marks seem to be in unobtrusive positions and no flash appears present at all. There are two sprues per aircraft and the detail is quite superb, the panel lines are all crisply recessed throughout, maybe a little bit heavy, and some nice rivet details on the panels.
The cockpit instrumentation is mostly raised details, but most of it is replaced with the photo etch. The one thing I believe lets down the cockpit is the seats. These are built from five plastic parts and only the inclusion of the P.E seat belts and pull cords really add to them.
At no point in the instructions are you told to put any weight in the nose, so testing it before you close up the fuselage would be a good idea. The turbofan is a moulded one piece affair which has fairly good detail, but whether you will be able to see it once the fuselage halves are together is debatable.
The wings are a two piece construction and on initial inspection seem to fit together quite well.
The undercarriage is an extremely simple arrangement, with just the legs and wheels to assemble. There are no landing gear wells, as the L-39's gear doors snap completely shut with the gear down, so the only time you'll see inside its landing gear wells is when the gear is transitioning, or during maintenance.
The kit also contains twenty six unused parts. These parts are for the military version and contain, gun pods, drop tanks and rocket pods.
The clear parts for the canopy and wing tip pods are very crisp and crystal clear.
THE PHOTO ETCH
This is where this kit starts to excel itself; the detail is superb and to top it all most of it is pre-painted. The instrument panels are of an exceptional quality and you would have a lot of difficulty in painting details this small yourself. The kit contains one sheet of P.E for each aircraft and holds parts for the cockpit, canopies and exterior details. Eduard are on a sure fire winner with the inclusion of these sets.
The instructions comprise of an 8 page booklet printed in the usual step by step guide. They are well laid out and easy to read. Parts that need to be glued are highlighted in blue, which does add a nice touch. P.E parts are numbered and are included in the build sequence. Parts that need to be painted are shaded and given the appropriate paint number.
Eduard also include two insert sheets. One contains the paint listings, (Gunze Aqueous and Mr Color, cross referenced with Tamiya, Humbrol, Revell and Testors) and which has the sprue diagrams and canopy masking instructions on the reverse. The other sheet is a full colour drawing of the painting and decal guide. This sheet also includes the various masking for the painting pattern.
There is one sheet of masks which covers both aircraft. The masks are for the canopies, wheels and painting guide. The painting guide masks are only for the one aircraft as the paint scheme on this aircraft is quite tricky. The inclusion of these masks does make it a lot easier to paint this scheme, even though you do have to try and work out which paint to apply first and then in what order.
Both sets of decals are on one sheet and are extremely well printed. There doesn't seem to be a lot of carrier film round the edges so silvering should not be much of a problem. I would recommend using a setting solution as some of the decals cover quite large areas. The dragon decal is a two part piece and the detail is quite superb. The decaling procedure does look quite daunting at first glance but with careful studying it should prove fairly easy.
This really is an excellent kit and very good value for money, and is easily as good as any other 1/72 jet on the market. OK it’s not your usual run of the mill military jet, but with markings this colourful and the superb detail added to these kits it is definitely worth buying.
Those who haven't ever bought an Eduard kit should do themselves a favour and give one a try. It's easy to fall into the trap of only building models from certain manufacturers, but you can miss out on some wonderful kits doing so.
Thank you to Eduard for kindly supplying the review sample.