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Lavochkin La-5 
model kit of Gremlinmodels, 1/48
by Massimo Tessitori
Updated on December 10, 2004
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The only existing model kit of Lavochkin La-5 in 1/48 is the resin kit made in limited series by Gremlinmodels.
I have to admit that I haven't a review sample for the Gremlinmodels kit; this is because, at present time, the kit is not available due to a damage to the rigid resin mould, but it's likely that it will be reissued in an updated form.
Please see Gremlinmodels site at .
I'll write something on the base of the review of  Brett Green at , of the photos of the model built by Aleksej Ilic of Gremlinmodels himself, on his informations and images and on the base of my observations on other kits of the same firm that I have bought.

The kit is made by:

6 large epoxy resin pieces:

  • fuselage halves,
  • wings in one piece,
  • two tail horizontal surfaces;
  • spinner;
a small "sprue" with :
  • main gear legs (internally reinforced with metal rod),
  • wheels,
  • tail wheel,
  • gear doors,
  • 3 separate prop blades,
  • spinner,
  • oil cooler,
  • cooling air inlet shutter,
  • two cooling air outlet flaps,
  • seat,
  • control column,
  • instruments panel, pedals,
  • tail wheel doors,
  • pitot,
  • radio mast,
  • compasses.

two clean vacuformed canopies 
(the rear windows glasses have to be scratchbuilt).

All pieces will require a careful work to be cleaned, but they don't show many bubbles; take in account that the epoxy resin used for this kit is rather brittle.
The reproduction of fabric-covered surfaces is very convincing, while the panel lines on the nose are a bit too light.
The wing trailing edges are rather thick.
Good seat, fair instruments panel, control column and pedals and some details of the cockpit sides are provided, but this is a bit poor for an 1/48 kit.
One should add some details of the sides, the seat belts, the gunsight and the oxygen bottle behind the seat, well visible through the rear windows.
The kit includes two copies of a very thin and transparent vacuformed canopy; no problems if one wans to build an open canopy.
The kit instructions suggest to use epoxy 2-components cement for large pieces, and cyanoacrilate glue for smaller ones.
Cyanoacrilate should not be used for trasparent parts.
The decals sheet is matt and in register. 
Each marking will have to be cut carefully from the sheet, because the carrier film covers the whole sheet.
The decals are provided for three examples:
  • "White 91" is finished (according to the instructions sheet) in light earth, dark green and light blue, with white spinner and rudder;
  • "White 24" is finished (according to the instructions sheet) in grass green, black green and light blue;
  • "Eskadrilya Aleksandr Chekalin" slogan  is finished (according to the instructions sheet) in white distemper over the summer painting.

The color indications could be discussed; in my opinion, all aircrafts should have a AMT-4 green/AMT-6 black/AMT-7 light blue base camouflage.
As an alternative to the use of decals, self-adhesive masks are provided for stars and numbers, butnot for the slogan.
Another mask sheet is provided for the clear parts.

The exhaust stacks under the outlet flaps on the nose sides are missing, they should be reproduced by some plastic tube of about 1,5 mm diameter, pushed to be ovalized.
The wheels look fairly good, including accurate disks and tyres, but they could be replaced by True Details  or Equipage La-5 wheels.
The overall impression is that the kit will require some work to fill gaps between the main pieces.
Some work will be required paricularly to joint and fill the front of the engine cowling to ensure that it is perfectly circular, and gun slots will need to be drilled.
Some thin stuctures could be added to the internal side of the main gear doors, while the wheel wells are well reproduced, without visible struts exactly as on the real aircraft.
Some sanding work could be done on the internal faces of the fuselage halves to make the rudder thinner.
A small antenna mast and the rear position light fuse haveto be added to the tail.
Overall the kit is rather basic, even if accurate, and will require an amount of work to be built.
In addition to the decals of the kit, Aeromaster produced two sheets,  48009 and 48086 (left), with decals for this type. 
Unfortunately, both ot them result unavailable now.

I've read about Eduard's two photoetched sets for Hobbycraft La-5FN (details and extended flaps) but I didn't found them on their site, perhaps they are sold out.

An early type LaGG-3 1/48 vacuformed canopy is available in the Falcon Clear-vac set n. 037 (right); it could allow to convert the Gremlinmodel kit into an early type La-5; the scratchbuilding of bulged tail wheel doors (as on late LaGG-3) will be required too. 

Here are some images of the model built by Aleksej Ilic himself on the base of his own kit.
The overall look of the  model is of good accuracy, and reflects well the existing drawings and photos.
The panel lines were put in evidence with dark paint.
Since the kit reproduces the cooling air inlet shutters in close position, none internal detail of the engine is provided.
A view from above shows the only known contour error, due to the reference drawings, that however are the best available till now.
The cowling shape should not be rastremated, and a reduction in fuselage width should be in correspondance of the air outlet flaps, that should be curved.
It's likely that a future edition of the kit will be improved on this point.
All the views show the excellent trasparence of the vacuformed canopy, that allows to see well the internal details even with closed canopy.
The real aircraft was made with Alpha Wood, and panels are nearly absent on the wings and on mid-rear fuselage. 
The panels of the kit reproduce accurately those of the real thing.
This image shows the La-5 model in good company of another rare model of Aleksej Ilic: a Weiss Manfred WM-23, an Hungarian fighter prototype of 1941. 
Basically that is wooden version of He-112 with redesigned fuselage, built around a Piaggio engine.
It never saw series production.
WM-23 is scratch-built in 1/50 scale. It has been built around 1/50 old "Smer" Reggiane Re-2000 engine and some other parts.

The Gremlinmodels kit is not the only La-5 one ever made. There was a "Karo-As" (Mr. Karl P. Karafiat from Germany) vacform kit but it was pretty inaccurate (too short front fuselage, wrong spinner, wrong windshield and canopy shape).

An alternative to the Gremlinmodels kit  is to obtain the model La-5 by conversion of a La-5FN of Hobbycraft.

Unfortunately, this kit is only a La-7 roughly converted into a La-5FN simply replacing the air intakes of oil cooler and supercharger, leaving as they are the main gear wheels and doors, the cowling and sides shape, the wingroots, the spinner and every other thing that should make a La-5FN different from a La-7. 
Besides, this way requires the rebuilding of the rear fuselage, of some details of the cowling, of the canopy.
I can't deny that one could obtain a good result in this way, but it's long and difficult .
To make things a bit easier, there exists a Medallion conversion set that includes 11 seamless resin parts and a crisp vacuformed canopy. 
The image on the right, from a work by Scott M. Head, gives an idea of the conversion work, but, despite the ability of the author, the aircrafts shows still his derivation from a La-7.

As an alternative to the Hobbycraft kit, an accurate La-5FN was offered in vacform by Falcon.
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