Kopro 1/72 L-4H Grasshopper Kit First Look
By Ray Mehlberger
|Date of Review||September 2007||Manufacturer||Kopro|
|Subject||Piper L-4H Grasshopper||Scale||1/72|
|Kit Number||031||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$8.98|
The Piper L-4H airplane, the prototype of which was first flown in 1930, entered permanently into aviation history and gained a significant position among the far more known aircraft of the pre-war era. 8,673 aircraft of all versions produced were a sporting or touring airplane. In the course of WWII< it was serving courier, observation, liaison, ambulance and other purposes by the U.S. Air Force and Navy. The aircraft served reliably on all WWII fronts, from Europe, through Africa, and also the Pacific battlefields.
Fitted with skis, it was operated on snow and was also fitted with floats in areas abounding in water surfaces. Popularity and reliability earned the airplane the nickname of “Flying Jeep”. The motorless version served as a glider for training and transport of smaller loads.
The Pipers returned to their original designation, i.e. to sport flying. These airplanes were operated perhaps in all European states, 246 of them were reliably serving Czechoslovakia with air clubs under the designation G-8 and designated H-68 with their air force.
The Piper L-4H was a single-engined, two-seater, strutted high-wing monoplane of mixed construction with fabric and supplemental metal panels. It was powered by a Continental A-65-8 four stroke, air-cooled boxer engine, rated at 48 kW. Which, as a rule was installed in all military versions. It had a 2-blade wooden prop.
The aircraft flew with very varied colors at times. However, the military versions of the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force were painted, as a rule, in olive drab on the upper side and light gray beneath.
KP or Kopro (short for Kovozavody Prostejov) marketed 2 kits of the Piper L-4H. The only difference in these kits is that kit no. 31 came with wheeled landing gear only and a different box art and decal sheet…and a slightly different instruction sheet than did their next kit of it, kit no. 32. This second kit comes with floats instead of the wheels.
Both kits come in end opening type boxes. The first marketed kit, no. 31, has the box art of a Piper L-4H in a olive drab and gray paint scheme with D-Day invasion stripes on the fuselage and wings and the fuselage code 39 (star and bar insignia) F. The serial no. 9676 is in stenciled lettering on the rudder in white. This same scheme is shown in profile on a side panel of the box.
The back of the box shows a full color illustration, as a 3-view, of a L-4H in Czech Air Force markings and the same camouflage colors as the U.S. one. It has the white fuselage number 26 on it. Another Czech Air Force aircraft can be done with the fuselage number 10 in black. It is in an overall aluminum finish. This scheme is shown as a black and white 3-view line drawing on the instruction sheet.
Inside the box of kit no. 31 is 2 white parts trees, a clear part tree, the decal sheet and the instructions.
The instructions in both kits are very much the same. They consist of a single large sheet of 16 ½” x 11 ½” format, printed on both sides.
In the no. 31 kit the first side shows at L-4H in a black and white photo. It is in Czech markings and has the fuselage no. 10 on it in black. (the same one in the 2-view drawing, mentioned above). This is followed by the history of the Piper L-4H in Czech, English and German. There are 10 black and white, line drawing profiles of different variants of Piper and Taylor aircraft similar to the L-4.
The other side of this sheet has three exploded drawings for assembly. There is also a scrap illustration of the landing gear with wheels, with skis and the cabin interior. The third assembly drawing shows how to assemble the wheeled landing gear for kit no. 31. At the bottom of the page is the parts tree drawings and a list of paint colors to use. This sheet is folded over, several times, to fit the small kit box.
The second Piper L-4H kit by Kopro, kit no. 32 comes in the same size end-opening box as its sister kit. It has the box art of two L-4H’s on floats flying over water. Both are painted in overall white scheme with a red rudder, red forward part of the horizontal tail surfaces and a red panel in the middle of the upper wing surface. Both have a star and bar on the fuselages and on the top of one wing and the black lettering USAF above the other wing. The aircraft in the forefront has the black tail number 9206 which spans both the horizontal tail surface and the rudder behind it. The L-4H in the background is on the surface of the water and the tail number cannot be made out. It has the same paint scheme. Both aircraft also have black cowlings.
On the back of the box for kit no. 32 is a full color 3-view of an L-4H in the markings of a Polish Air Force air ambulance. It is overall aluminum, with a black cowling. It has the fuselage code SP-AFY in black lettering, a small Polish national red and white checkerboard marking on the rudder, red crosses above and below the wings and the same code as on the fuselage sides above and below the wings in large black letters.
Inside the box of kit no. 32 is 3 trees of light gray parts. The first tree is identical to the one in Kopro’s first kit of the L-4H. However, Kopro chopped off the wheeled landing gear parts of the tree in this one at the factory. The second tree is also identical to the first kit. The third tree is new and holds the pontoons for the floated landing gear. The decal sheet,( markings already described above) and the instructions complete this second kits contents.
The instructions are the same identical size. The first side of the instructions is identical in content as the first kit, with the only exception being a black and white repeat of the box art.
The other side has 3 exploded drawings for assembly, like the first kit, but step 3 now shows how to install floats. The bottom of the page has the two scrap illustrations that the first sheet had, but has eliminated the drawing of wheeled gear, leaving only the drawing of skis and interior. The parts tree drawing is changed to show the new tree with the floats on it. There is a 3-view line drawing of the paint colors for the all aluminum bodied Polish ambulance, however the insignia and lettering is absent on these.
The largest parts tree in both kits holds: the wings, cabin floor, wing struts, horizontal tail surfaces. Prop, pilot seat etc. In the first kit this tree includes the main wheels and landing gear legs. In the second kit they are absent. (27 parts in kit no.32 and 32 parts in kit no. 31)
The second parts tree is smaller, and identical in both kits. It holds: the prop retaining washer, some cabin bracing and the fuselage halves (7 parts) In kit no. 32 this tree is co-joined to a new tree that holds a fin that goes under the tail and twin floats and their support arms (9 parts on this new tree).
The clear parts tree, in both kits, is identical and holds all the cabin windows. (4 parts)
Had Kopro not chopped the wheels off the identical large parts tree in the float plane version kit, we could have done either landing gear set up. There are no figures in the kits.
These are nice kits of an important U.S. liaison type aircraft, that saw a lot of use in WWII and rightly deserves a place in any WWII collection of aircraft.