Replicast | Aero L-39 Albatross
Reviewed by Michael Benolkin
This welcome addition to the modeling world comes from Replicast of Slovakia. The subject is none other than the Aero L-39 Albatross, which has served as the high-performance jet trainer for the eastern European Air Forces for many years. Some versions of the L-39 were also set up to carry armament to serve as an inexpensive weapons employment training platform as well. What is especially interesting is that I saw an ad recently in one of the aircraft trade magazines for a low-time L-39 with a spare engine for sale at only $130,000! I don't know if you've priced aircraft lately, but a new Cessna 172 costs just as much!! Since I don't have the money for either full-scale aircraft, I'll settle for a model.
The fuselage is approximately 15 inches long and the wings span 11.6 inches. According to my references, the kit is spot-on at 1/32 scale. As you can see in the accompanying photos, Replicast's L-39 is resin rather than plastic. What is intriguing about this kit is that the resin castings are very thin, more like an injection molded plastic kit. Detailing is finely engraved throughout and there is virtually no flash or air bubbles on the major parts. The finer detail parts are kept intact with the flash, typical of all resin kits. The landing gear struts, gun barrels, and pitot booms are white metal. The canopy, inter-cockpit windscreen and tip-tank landing light covers are vacuformed plastic.
The cockpit is very nicely detailed. The ejection seats are nice representations of the actual seats used in the L-39 (though no seatbelts/harnesses are provided). The instrument panels are especially innovative. A resin panel is provided with a blank spot where an acetate instrument panel is laminated into place. Over the top of this goes another resin panel which has holes that reveal the acetate instrument faces and gives the panel nice scale depth.
The decal sheet is very nicely done! There are marking options for aircraft serving in the Czech Republic, a Slovakian trainer with a beautiful paint scheme, and an Iraqi Air Force example. Also included on the sheet are extensive maintenance stencils to give the completed model an authentic appearance.
The L-39 sports a wide variety of interesting and colorful paint schemes, more than virtually any other trainer in the world (the British Hawk would be the only competitor that I can think of). The kit is a hit in my book! While not for the beginning modeler, this kit is easily one of the nicest resin kits I have seen in any scale. The Replicast kit retails for $159.00 in the US and is available from TAC Scale Dynamics. Considering that I've seen 1/48 resin kits costing more, this is definitely a great price for a nice kit.
© Michael Benolkin
This review was published on Saturday, July 02 2011; Last modified on Wednesday, May 18 2016