The La-5FN is the ultimate version of the La-5, which in turn was developed from the LaGG-3.
As far as I know there are two 1/144 La-5FN kits: one by KP and one by Zvezda. KP released several variants of their La-5FN kit, it is a well detailed and accurate kit that also comes with detailed decals, but I was too late with trying to find one.
The Zvezda kit dates from 2016 and appears to share some of its parts with the LaGG-3 kit in the same Art-of-Tactic wargaming series, which may explain the missing leading edge slats on the wings.
Meant for wargaming the model is a rather basic snap-together kit, however it is accurate although quite a few details are missing.
The kit consists of 13 parts, including three parts for optional retracted landing gear.
The main parts consist of a solid single part fuselage, a solid single part wing and a solid clear canopy, so construction is straightforward.
As with the Zvezda Il-2 Shturmovik kit, the green plastic used for the main parts looks like ABS to me, but with the La-5FN kit it is softer and more brittle (the box reads: "new material: easy to glue, easy to paint"). It still frays when sanded and there are some blisters below the surface of the wings and fuselage.
Even milder types of plastic cement cause the plastic to dissolve rapidly, so care has to be used when gluing parts. Oddly pure acetone will dissolve the plastic less than Tamiya Extra Thin Cement or MekPak do.
Similarly some types of filler and surface primer just do not adhere to the plastic: Mr.Surfacer and all of the plastic fillers I tried adhere poorly (will chip off after curing), however solvent-based Tamiya Surface Primer (cat.nr.87075) does adhere well and can be used as a base for fillers. Cyano Acrylate glue and enamel paints also present no problems.
Unlike the Il-2 kit, the La-5FN kit has some noticable sink marks, in particular on the sides of the fuselage and on the center section of the wing.
The kit comes with a radio mast molded on the fuselage spine and with a pitot tube molded to the underside of the wing leading edge.
The shaft for the propeller is fixed to the fuselage, the propeller needs to be push-fitted to the shaft so it can not rotate.
|La-5 FN dimensions||actual|
So the model is very close to 1/144 scale.
As with the Il-2 kit, I decided to hollow out the canopy and drill a hole for the cockpit bay before committing to building this model.
The La-5FN canopy is considerably smaller than that of an Il-2, so more tricky to hollow out.
Cutting out a cockpit bay looked reasonably straightforward and the grade of plastic of this model proved much easier to drill, cut and file than that of the Il-2 kit.
All planned modifications to the model:
The clear plastic used for the canopy is slightly milky, so I applied some clear varnish to a part of the clear sprue to see if that would improve clarity, which it did.
The solid canopy has a mounting hole that spoils its clarity, so I carefully hollowed out the canopy using a motor tool fitted with a miniature cutter head.
First thing I did was filling the sink marks on the sides of the fuselage. My favorite Green Stuff putty failed to adhere to the plastic (it simply flaked off after curing) so I used CA glue instead.
After curing I carefully sanded the fuselage sides into the proper, slightly bulbous, shape but could not avoid making scratches in the surrounding plastic.
I later found that Green Stuff putty would adhere properly after applying a coat of Tamiya Surface Primer.
To cut a hole in the fuselage for the cockpit bay, I started by drilling small holes where the corners of the cockpit should end up, then drilled some larger holes to remove as much material as I could and finally I used a small file to create a square hole.
At the front of the cockpit I took care to create a flat 'instrument panel' and leave a rim at the top to form a coaming.
Behind the cockpit bay an oval shaped void is visible, so I drilled this out as well.
To fit the single piece horizontal tail fin, the fuselage below the fin was made as a separate part (nr.A4).
This part needs some trimming to fit properly, otherwise a gap below the fin and a step in the lower fuselage contour remain. As its shape is rather complex I ended up applying liquid cement to both the edges of the part and of the fuselage and firmly pressing the part into its position, resulting in excess softened plastic getting squeezed out along the seam.
The top part of the hinge line of the rudder is missing (angle 50°, 2.0mm below tip of tail to just behind post).
The picture shows the rudder before (left) and after scribing the missing part of the line.
Using the tip of an X-Acto nr.11 blade I scribed a groove along the 'open' edge at the rear of the gill flaps that cover the engine exhausts.
The front of the cowling is a single piece and fits the fuselage seamlessly, apart from a gap behind the intake on top. This gap can be filled with a piece of plasticard.
The nice fit allows the front to be painted separately before installing.
To fill the cockpit I made an armour plate and a seat from scratch and added a radio on a tray behind the seat.
The La-5FN wing should have leading edge slats, but these are missing from the kits wing. I used the tip of a JLC saw to scribe the outlines of the slats.
The center section of the wing doubles as cockpit floor, the rear mounting hole coincides with the position of the control stick, so I made a control stick out of thin metal wire and trimmed the mounting pin that I cut off of the fuselage and used that as a plug to mount the stick.
Due to the shrunken plastic, the wing-fuselage fit is somewhat poor.
I trimmed the part below the exhausts to make the curved forward section fit tightly against the fuselage, the seam over the center of the wing needed to be filled.
To make sure the wing was firmly mounted I applied some thin CA to the seam first.
After the CA had cured I filled the seam using some Vallejo Plastic Putty.
In the lower side of the center section is a 2mm deep 2x1mm hole for the stand, to fill it a 2x2mm piece cut from a number tab can be used.
The oil cooler intake is molded as part of the wing center section, its edges are rather thick and need to be trimmed.
The front edge needs to be trimmed on both the inside and outside to make the cooler look more bulbous in plan view.
The rear edges need to be trimmed on the inside, the straight vertical edges should be made curved and a flap needs to be added to fill the notch in the rear edge.
The picture shows the cooler intake before (top) and after trimming.
Also missing from the wings are the trailing edge flaps and the small flap at the rear of the oil cooler.
The outlines of the trailing edge flaps were measured from a scaled-down set of Scale Models drawings, then scribed using the tip of a JLC saw.
The oil cooler flap was cut from a piece of the thinnest plasticcard I could find, size 1x2mm, then trimmed to fit.
The picture shows the wing before (top) and after scribing the flaps and adding the oil cooler flap.
The main landing gear legs, wheels and doors are molded as a single item. Two things to improve the looks: cut a v-shaped groove between the wheels and the doors and add a pneumatic ram to each leg.
The picture shows the wheels before (left) and after cutting the groove.
Note that the hollow shape of the wheel hubs is accurate, these are not sink marks.
I made the pneumatic rams out of thin solid-core electricity wire so these should add some strength to the fragile legs.
Full length of each ram is 4.0mm, with half of the length stripped.
The kits propeller looks nice once you have managed to remove the awkwardly placed sprue attachments from the spinner.
Removing the seams from the spinner behind the edges of the blades and sanding down the rear of the rather fat blade tips should improve its looks even more.
The starter dog at the tip of the spinner is just too small to drill a hole in, so I used the tip of a new X-Acto Nr.11 blade to make a tiny hole.
To trim the sprue attachments without damaging the blades I ended up slipping some protective sleeves, out of shrinkable tubing, around the blades.
There appears to be quite some discussion about the exact shades of VVS WW2 colors. On top of that it is reported that the colors were very prone to fading, so I took some 'educated guesses' when picking the paints for this scheme.
Cockpit interior and instrument panel were painted in a medium grey primer, wheels, wheel bays and undercarriage were also painted in grey primer.
Kit decals consist of six stars with red and white borders and four full sets of white digits, no details and no decals for the 'yellow 01' aircraft on the box art.
The vertical silver lines on the nose are curved steel strips that are clipped into the seams along the panels over the engine bay, keeping the panels shut. I made these out of thin strips of aluminium foil.
Instead of using the decals in the Zvezda kit, I managed to get hold of a spare set of decals from KP La-5FN kit 14402, which does offer a lot of details.
One of the options on the KP decal sheet depicts the aircraft flown by ace and two times Hero of the Soviet Union Guard Captain K.A. Yevstigneyev of the 178th Guards Fighter Regiment (GIAP, formerly 240 IAP), 14th Guards Fighter Division (GIAD), 3rd Guards Figther Corps (GIAK), 5th Air Army.
There are many color schemes for this particular aircraft, with the nose and spinner in either red, white, blue or AMT-7 greyish blue. I picked the blue nosed version as it flew in 1944.
Four details make this scheme particularly interesting:
Some sources suggest that this aircraft was actually 'White 45', repainted to look like the aircraft of fellow 178 GIAP ace Guard Major I.N. Kozhedub after
Major Kozhedub was promoted to deputy commander of 176 GIAP in August 1944.
Whilst flying with 178 GIAP, Major Kozhedub flew a grey La-5F 'White 14' that was also donated by V.V. Konev.
|Paints (to be) used|
|upper fuselage||AMT-12 matt dark grey||Humbrol|
|AMT-11 matt blue grey||Humbrol|
|lower fuselage||AMT-7 greyish blue||Model Master II 2033 (FS.35414)|
|spinner and engine cowl||(A-10 gloss Azure ?)||Vallejo 70.844 Deep Sky Blue|| |
|cockpit, landing gear, wheel bays||DD-118 grey||Model Master II 2035 (FS.36173)|
|accentuated recesses||--||Revell Airbrush 31582 transparent Sepia|