1/72 Eduard Lavochkin La-7

Gallery Article by Igor Svetlov (IS) on Dec 9 2009

 

Commander of the 156th  IAP Lt.Col. S.F. Dolgushin,
215th IAD, 8th IAK, 4th VA, Kluzow, Germany, April 1945

The kit

Despite being a modern kit and, without any doubt, still the best not only La-7, but a radial-engined Lavochkin fighter in 1/72nd scale at all, it still leaves a lot to be desired  in terms of both accuracy and detail.

The main problem areas of the kit (fixed in this build) are:

  • Wrong-shaped wing tips (actually beginning at approx. 1/3rd of the span from the tip) both in profile and frontal view.  While fixing this error, the aileron surface detail (being originally in "shrink-wrap" style) was lost and a new, more correct representation of doped fabric tautened over the frame with rib tapes added was done.
  • Almost empty main wheel-wells: very little detail was provided and the most of  what was available was wrong anyway. So, they had to be almost completely reworked. Some detail was scratch built of plastic and some corrections were done using Mr. Surfacer as well.  The correct “ceiling”  of the wheel bay area being originally just the inner surface of the upper main wing half was cut off, given the accurate profile and then positioned on its correct place.   
  • Inaccurate propeller spinner. It was corrected with Mr. Surfacer.
  • Very basic representation of the louvers mounted in front of the engine being originally just a disc with a relief detail, while there should actually be empty intervals between the separate blades as well as between the blade tips and the cowling inner surface visible. To achieve the desired result, the excess plastic was removed from the original part, the edges of the blades were sanded off and the part was positioned onto a plastic tube mounted in the cowling interior.
  • Gun ports being just holes in the cowling front ring, while their lower surface should actually go through the entire cowling. This was corrected by adding plastic inserts to the appropriate areas.
  • The same had to be done with the wing root air intakes.
  • Cockpit interior behind the pilot’s seat/radio compartment - again, almost empty  and what was available, was wrong. Eventually the entire interior was scratch built there.
  • The cockpit itself, despite some etched parts provided, could also benefit from some improvements as otherwise it still looks somewhat toy-like. Some cables and instruments were added there for more realism as well.
  • The cockpit borders were too thick and, in addition,  not exactly parallel, therefore, some sanding was required here as well.
  • Canopy. Although crystal-clear, it is (both 1-piece and 3-piece parts) unfortunately  thick enough to be unusable for displaying in open position. On the other hand, if displayed in closed position, due to the thickness,  the cockpit interior looks severely distorted. The kit part was eventually replaced with the vacu-canopy by Pavla.
  • The joint of the wing and the fuselage resulted in some sort of a small “peak” in the lower fuselage line. While correcting this, some moderate re-shaping of the fuselage in this area was required.
  • In addition, the landing gear flaps were thinned down, some missing access hatches were engraved and some small details (e.g., Venturi tube) were added.

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Camouflage and Markings

The model was finished with WEM enamels: AMT-7 for lower and AMT-11 for upper surfaces.

According to the description in the [2], where a photo and a colour profile of this particular  a/c was published probably for the first time, before the handing over to Dolgushin as its personal a/c,  the original paint was completely removed  and it was re-primed and re-painted. The stencil data weren’t re-applied.

The kit decals turned out to be the next major problem. Although of very good quality, the most proved to be unusable due to their wrong shape or dimensions. For instance, the white borders of the stars were too narrow and the number “93”  as well as the under-wing stars were just too small.  The star on the tail was corrected with white paint and the other stars were replaced by appropriate markings from other decal sheets. The tactical numbers were cut out from the solid white decals sheet.
 

References

  • 1. La-7 MBI

  • 2. Mir Aviatsii/Aviation World Magazine  No.1(1992)

  • 3. Classic Colours - Soviet Air Force Fighter Colours 1941-45 by Erik Pilawskii

  • 4. La-7 Walkaround (VVS Museum Monino)

Igor Svetlov (IS)

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Photos and text © by Igor Svetlov (IS)