Red Star 1/72 LAGG-3 Kit First Look
By Ray Mehlberger
|Date of Review||January 2009||Manufacturer||Red Star|
|Kit Number||102||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Nice model of Soviet fighter||Cons||Huge sink mark in chest of pilot figure. Cockpit transparancy thick. Flaps molded solid.|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||Out of Production|
The Lavochkin-Gorbunov-Goudkov LaGG-3 was a Soviet fighter aircraft of WWII. It was a refinement of the earlier LaGG-1, and was one of the most modern aircraft available to the Soviet Air Force at the time of Germany’s invasion of Russia in 1941.
The main deficiency of the LaGG-1 design was power. A more powerful version of it’s Klimov M-105 engine was needed. The improvement was poor and without an alternative powerplant, the only solution was to lighten the airframe. The LaGG team re-examined the design and pared down the structure as much as possible. Fixed slats were added to the wings to improve climb and maneuverability and further weight was saved by installing lighter armament. The LaGG-3 replaced the LaGG-1 immediately.
The result was still not good enough, although it came close to it’s rival, the Bf-109F, in performance and was superior in maneuverability. Still, even with the lighter airframe and supercharged engine, the LaGG-3 was underpowered and proved immensely unpopular with pilots. The novel, wood-laminate construction of the aircraft continued to be poor quality (as with it’s predecessor) and pilots joked that rather than being an acronym of the designer’s names LaGG stood for Lakirovanny garantirovanny grob (“guaranteed varnished coffin”). Some aircraft supplied to the front line were up to 25 mph slower than they should have been and some were not airworthy. In combat, LaGG-3’s main advantage was it’s strong airframe, although the laminated wood did not burn it shattered severely when hit by high-explosive rounds.
The LaGG-3 was improved during production, resulting in 66 minor variants in the 6,258 that were built. Experiments with fitting a large radial engine to the LaGG-3 airframe finally solved the power problem, and led to the superb Lavochkin La-5.
LaGG-3’s were operated by the Finish Air Force (3 captured examples), The Japanese Army Air Service (1 captured and used for tests only) and the Soviet Air Force.
Red Star was a model company based in Beckenham, Kent UK. It was distributed worldwide by CMS Marketing International, also in the UK. A search of the internet shows that both these companies no longer exist, nor can I found a hobby shop that stocks this brand. I purchased my kit almost 30 years ago.
The kit comes in a cello bag that is stapled to a header card. The cover art shows 2 LaGG-3’s attacking a formation of Ju-88’s. One has the white fuselage number 54 and the other has a white 71 on the rudder over a red star. Both are in green and brown wave pattern camouflage above and light blue below. 54 has a red star on its rudder, but none on the fuselage. 71 has a red star on the fuselage. The header card is folded over and the part that hangs over the back of the cello bag has color illustrations in profile of the two schemes shown on the front folded section of the card and a view of the top of a LaGG-3 that is the same for both schemes. Red stars were only carried above the wings. These two markings are what is on the kit’s decal sheet.
Inside the cello bag are 2 medium gray parts trees, a clear cockpit transparency and the decal sheet. The reverse side of the header card has the kits assembly instructions on it. This consists of 3 exploded drawings, followed by 8 step by step written instructions of how to assemble things. There are no parts tree drawings provided and no part numbers molded on the trees. This is strange, as the exploded drawings have the parts numbered there. What this means is identifying the parts by their shapes in the drawings and finding them on the two trees. Fortunately, there are few parts in the kit to wade through. Bad move Red Star.
The first medium gray parts tree holds: fuselage halves, propeller and it’s shaft, horizontal tail surfaces, pilot figure (who has a terrible sink in his chest) Joy stick, pitot tube, antenna and tail wheel doors etc. (13 parts)
The second medium gray parts tree holds: the wing upper and lower halves (lower wing is full span) landing gear (alternate folded or extended) main wheels, cockpit floor and seat. No instrument panel is provided, so the cockpit interior is going to be pretty sparse without some additional details added there. All flaps are molded solid and would take surgery to re-position.
The clear cockpit canopy is next and it is a thick as a Coke bottle bottom. Better to vacuform over it to make a thinner transparency or leave it as it comes in the kit to hide the near naked cockpit interior. The decal sheet completes the kits contents (already described above).
This is a nice little kit of the LaGG-3. The few panel lines on parts are of the raised variety. It is an easy build and definitely a WEEKEND project. Recommended to all modelers of various skills.