Novo 1/72 La-7 Kit First Look
By Ray Mehlberger
|Date of Review||October 2007||Manufacturer||Novo|
|Kit Number||F404||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||Out of Production|
The Lavochkin La-7 was a Soviet fighter aircraft of WWII. It was a development and refinement of the Lavochkin La-5, and the best in a family of aircraft that had begun with the LaGG-1 in 1938.
By 1943, the La-5 had become the mainstay of the Soviet Air Force, yet both it’s head designer, Semyon Lavochkin, as well as the engineers at TsAGI (Central Aerohydrodynamics Institute) felt that it could be improved upon. The LaGG-1 had been designed at a time when it was felt necessary to conserve strategic materials such as aircraft alloys, and had a structure built almost entirely of plywood. With Soviet strategists now confident that supplies of these alloys were unlikely to become a problem, Lavochkin began replacing large parts of the airframe (including the wing spars) with alloy components. Various other streamlining changes were made as well, increasing performance further. The prototype, internally designated La-120 by Lavochkin, flew in November, and was quickly put into production, entering service the following spring.
The La-7 earned itself a superb combat record by the end of the war, and was flown by the top two Soviet aces of the conflict. One of these was Ivan Nikitovich Kozhedub. Turning a full circle took 19-21 seconds. The aircraft was also used as a testbed to explore advanced propulsion systems, including tail-mounted liquid-fuelled rocket engine (La-7R), two under-wing pulsejets (La-7D), and two under-wing ramjets (La-7S). None of these variants proved worth pursuing, and turbojet technology quickly overtook them.
The La-7 was the only Soviet fighter to shoot down a Messerschmitt Me-262 jet, by Ivan Nikitovich Kozhedub on one occasion over Germany on February 15, 1945.
Total production of the La-7 amounted to 5,753 aircraft, including a number of La-7UTI trainers. Those aircraft still in service after the end of the war were given the NATO reporting name “Fin”. The follow-up model, La-9 despite its outward similarity was a complete reworking of the design. There was a total of 4 variants.
La-7s were used by the Soviet Air Force, Czechoslovakia, Romania and North Korea.
When Frog went out of business they sold their molds to Novo of St. Petersburg, Russia. This kit is the Novo re-pop of the Frog kit in an original Frog box, but with the Frog logos removed from it.
The kit comes in a tray and lid type box. The box art shows a La-7 in the markings of Ivan Kohzedub. It is in a wave camouflage of matt dark green and matt earth brown above and matt light blue below. His fuselage number is white 27 and the tip of the tail has a diagonal area in yellow. The prop spinner is white and there is a red triangle on the sides of the cowling. He is dropping bombs on a German armor column. (this is one of the markings provided in the kit.
The back of the box has two painting and marking schemes. One is for Kohzedub again and it shows all his kill marks this time. There is the comment that these markings were not carried by him in combat, but only added after the war to his aircraft. You do get them on the decal sheet. He flew on the 1st Byelorussian Front, 1944-45.
I could not get my scanner to brighten up the white lettering on the decal sheet, but believe me…they are there.
The second scheme shown is for a S-97 (Czech designation for the La-7) of the Czech Mixed Air Division, Czech Air Force, Slovakia, 1945. (mark also on the decal sheet). It is in overall matt dark brownish green above and matt light blue below. It carries the fuselage number 33 in white and a red arrow on the side of the nose. The prop spinner is tipped in white.
There are color illustrations of the box arts of 7 other aircraft kits that Frog once produced (and now with NOVO) around the sides of the bottom tray.
Inside the box is a cello bag with 3 medium gray parts trees in it, and the clear cockpit canopy part. The decal sheet and instructions complete the kit’s contents.
The instruction sheet consists of a single sheet that accordion folds out into 8 pages.
Page one begins with the Novo logo and words saying that this is the instruction leaflet in 8 languages including English.
Pages 2 through 5 give us 8 assembly step drawings, some international assembly symbol explanations and “Special instructions” in the same 8 languages. You can opt, in step 6, to drill out location holes in the bottom wings for the bombs or not.
Page 6 has some general instructions in the 8 languages.
Page 7 has ten illustrations showing how to glue and paint things.
Page 8 has a very short history of the La-7 in the 8 languages.
The first medium gray parts tree holds: one half of the fuselage, the upper wing halves, landing gear doors that have to be cut apart for wheels down model, the cowling, pilot seat and pilot figure (7 parts)
The second medium gray parts tree holds: the other fuselage half, the bottom wing half (full span), the horizontal tail surfaces, the tail wheel and main gear doors (7 parts)
The third medium gray parts tree holds: the propeller (which has quite a bit of flash on one of it’s blades in my kit), landing gear covers, landing gear legs, main wheels, bombs with separate fin pieces and their racks, cockpit floor, propeller axle, pitot tube, radio mast and the ventral air intake scoop (18 parts)
The single clear cockpit canopy part and the decal sheet complete the contents.
The decal sheet is solid carrier film. This means that you will have to trim the marks very closely and use Future to make them blend in good. I also wonder about how good these are. I bought a NOVO reboxing of the old Frog British Blackburn Skua kit. When I put the decals in water they RAN like Easter egg dye!! So be forewarned if you can find one of these Frog kits. I believe that Novo is now out of business as well as Frog though.
So, the subject is easily found. There are tons of aftermarket items for the two scales of the aircraft mentioned around too.
The detail on the NOVO (ex-Frog) kit is of the raised panel line variety. The cockpit interior detail is sparse, with only the pilot, pilot seat and cockpit floor offered. There is no joy stick or dashboard. Purists will want to add some more in here.
The kit is nice, considering it is state of the art for over 20 years ago. An alternate decal sheet might be in order for it though however.