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Aero L-39C Albatros

MPM 1/48 Aero L-39C Albatros Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review July 2006 Manufacturer MPM
Subject Aero L-39C Albatros Scale 1/48
Kit Number 48051 Primary Media Styrene, Resin
Pros Great kit, lots of potential color schemes Cons No wheel wells
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $38.00

First Look

Aero L-39C Albatros
Aero L-39C Albatros
Aero L-39C Albatros
Aero L-39C Albatros
Aero L-39C Albatros
Aero L-39C Albatros
Aero L-39C Albatros

Aero Vodochody is the premiere aircraft works of the former Czechoslovakia. During that country's membership in the former Warsaw Pact, Aero produced the workhorse trainer used throughout the Warsaw Pact and exported to many other countries as well - the L-29 Delfin.

The 1970s rolled in with a variety of new trainers including the British Hawk, the joint French/German Alphajet, and the stillborn US T-46. While the Hawk has seen the greatest acceptance of the three listed, the clear winner by a landslide was the Czech L-39.

The L-39 Albatros was introduced in the mid 1970s and was adopted as the primary trainer throughout the Warsaw Pact, replacing the aging L-29, but unlike the L-29, the L-39 saw far more success in export sales, entering service well outside the Warsaw Pact. The aircraft is still in service today and has become the jet warbird of choice as well due to the same reasons it was adopted for the training role - low operating and maintenance costs.

MPM has produced several releases of this aircraft in 1/48 scale. In this review, we'll look at the pure trainer version, the L-39C.

The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on three parts trees. A few detail parts are provided in cast resin including the tailpipe fairing and the ejection seat headrests. The transparencies are vacuformed and two sets of canopies and windscreens are provided, just in case.

Construction begins in the cockpit (of course) and there is lots of detail in here. The front and rear cockpit side consoles are mounted to the cockpit floor, but before these set up, you'd better dry-fit the assembly into the fuselage halves while you can still make some adjustments.

The instrument panels mount to the cockpit sill (the ledge that the canopy frame rests on when closed). This is a novel approach to get the instrument panels and coming at the proper height, but once again, make sure that the instrument panel pedestals and the floor don't clash with some proper dry-fitting.

The downside of this kit is the lack of wheel wells. The landing gear is stuck into holes in the wings and fuselage like an old Aurora kit. The good news is that this is not difficult to correct with a little modeling skill. The better news is that those that are not inclined to do a little scratchbuilding are in luck. CMK has three detail sets for the L-39, one of which addresses the main wheel wells.

The kit cones with two sets of decals and markings for four examples:

  • L-39C, 0443, Czech AF, Cold Warrior, 1979
  • L-39C, 0111, Czech AF, Warsaw Pact, 1983
  • L-39C, 0113, 11 Ftr Regt, Czech AF, 1993, Tiger Meet colors
  • L-39C, 0448, Czech AF, 2000, NATO (boxart subject)

In addition to the distinctive aircraft markings, the kit also includes an EXTENSIVE set of maintenance stenciling.

Despite the minor gotcha with the lack of wheel wells, this kit offers those of us who love trainers with a very colorful and important member of the quarter scale community. To the best of my knowledge, the MPM L-39 is currently the only Albatros offered in this scale. The title of best L-39 in any scale still goes to Replicast for their magnificent 1/32 resin kit.