Roden 1/72 LaGG-3, Series 11
Although the forerunner of the excellent La-5 & La-7 fighters, the LaGG-3 was decidedly unpopular with VVS pilots and groundcrew. It was underpowered, underarmed, overweight and suffered from poor maneuverability, a temperamental hydraulic system and unreliable Klimov engine. Initial conversion caused such high attrition rates that VVS pilots were suggesting "LaGG" stood for lakirovanny garantirovanny grob - varnished guaranteed coffin. Very inspiring. Perhaps it is somewhat appropriate then that Roden's LaGG-3 is rather a dog as well, although to be fair I never actually feared for my life whilst building it.
This model was very kindly donated by my cyber-friend(?!) Todd Moore and was supposed to be a simultaneous project as he was building the same kit. Of course he finished his months ago and being the slowpoke I am I've only just finished mine now! So much for simultaneous....
I'll be the first to admit I know very little about Russian aircraft but this project has somewhat fired my interest in them, and a quick look through my books revealed I had more info on them than I thought. My two main references for this kit were "Soviet Air Force Fighters Part 1" by William Green and Gordon Swanborough (MacDonald and Jane's, 1977) and "Soviet Aces of World War 2" by Hugh Morgan (Osprey, 1997).
Roden's kit consists of reasonably well moulded parts in a soft gray plastic and includes a multitude of optional bits for various series of LaGGs, some of which are not used in this release. There is a lot of flash to clean up, in fact I had to literally carve the fuselage halves out of the flash to remove them from the sprues! Once cleaned up however they look quite nice and there is a fair bit of cockpit detail moulded in. That's pretty much where the niceties end I'm afraid as getting the parts to fit is an excercise in mind control that would test the abilities of the most devout Zen Buddhist. Rather than list the pieces that didn't fit I'll save time and space by listing the pieces that did: the seat. Yep, that's it. Everything else required vast amounts of filing, sanding, cursing, filling, grinding, cursing, wedging, replacing, cursing, shimming, cursing, cursing, and ummm.... cursing. The fit of the wings to the fuselage was particularly gruesome and no doubt had the CEO of Milliput laughing all the way to the bank. Wonder if they have a trade deal with Roden?
The rudder comes as a seperate part and I cut off the elevators and repositioned them as well.
Roden would have you install the exhausts before the upper cowling part but I prefer to add such items after painting so I cut off the mounting flange on the exhausts and blanked off the openings in the cowling from the inside with sheet plastic.
Exhaust stains and dirt on the tires are pastels and paint chipping is Humbrol Silver on the metal cowlings and propellor and Dark Yellow on the wood airframe. Antennas are good ol' stretched sprue.
Canopy frames are the usual painted decal strips as are the silver prop blade cuffs. I used a bit of the backing paper from one of these strips for the leather canopy handle which is just visible above the headrest. This is mainly to hide the seam in the fuselage that I neglected to fix. I struggled to find a solution for the curved frame on the windscreen and finally found a couple of drop tank halves in my spares box that had just the right shape. I used these as a template to cut the frame from painted decal stock.
I drilled out the machine gun, exhaust stacks and starter dog on the spinner as well as opening up the carb intakes in the wing roots.
The gear doors and landing gear legs are quite thick which made the wheels stick out way too far. I had to make do with the gear legs as I couldn't find suitable replacements so I dremeled grooves in the gear doors to try and get them a bit closer to the wheels. It's a definite improvement but I'm still not completely thrilled with it.
Underside paint is Revell Pale Blue/Green (55) with a couple of drops of Humbrol Midnight Blue (15) in to brighten it up a touch. Uppersurface camouflage is Polly Scale RLM 70 Black Green with a bit of black in so it wouldn't look like, well, RLM 70 Black Green. The dark green is a 50/50 mix of Humbrol Dark Green (30) and Army Green (102).
Decals aren't too bad although somewhat impervious to setting solutions. Fortunately there are few panel lines and few decals so it wasn't a problem. I chose N. Puzanov's Series 11 aircraft (incorrectly identified on the instructions as Galchenko's machine) from 145 GShAP.
Seatbelts are from Reheat's generic etched set and the rudder bar is scratchbuilt. The moulded on detail looks a bit soft but with a coat of paint and a dark wash it looks okay I think. I thinned down the seat pan and control stick grip so they wouldn't be quite as clunky.
A big motherf***ing piece of sprue had to be wedged between the fuselage halves in order to get the upper cowling part to fit properly. I used the instrument panel decal supplied and stuck a few Reheat instrument bezels on to give it a bit of life.
It was at this point that I should have installed the radio behind the seat but I didn't actually notice it until it was far too late. Oops. More for the spares box....
Below left & right: Aaaaaaggh!!! My pills, get me my pills! Remind me to invest in Milliput shares....
Left: I had to take the trusty Dremel to the inside of the radiator housing to get it to fit over the lump of plastic that passes for a radiator. The kit's thick splitter plate was replaced with .010" sheet and note the piece of fine stainless steel mesh I added to the front (and rear) of the radiator lump. Take a good look, because once the housing is on you'll need a 50,000 candlepower light and a microscope to see it again. D'oh!!
Right: The kit supplied pitot vs my scratchbuilt one, and if I have to tell you which is which I'm gonna reach out and virtually slap you. :-)
Right: The Falcon canopy is actually meant for the Red Star kit but with a bit of trimming here and there I actually got it to fit better than Roden's canopy. Of course that's not saying much since the kit canopy fit about as well as every other part in the box - it didn't, in other words. I used a thin strip of masking tape to hold the canopy in place while I made a few final adjustments and then glued it with gap filling super glue; the canopy that is, not the strip of tape. The landing light cover has been glued in, sanded and polished to blend it in with the leading edge and the carb intakes have been opened up. There's an MV Products lens behind that landing light cover but you can't really see it because of the poor quality clear plastic. D'oh again!

Below left: Ready for paint at last!! Note the copious amounts of Milliput in the wing/fuselage seam. The black paint just happened to be in my airbrush for some other project so I sprayed a bit on the wing roots to check my seam filling abilities. They need work apparently.
Above right: I couldn't get the kit oil cooler & radiator outlet pieces to fit at all (gee, what a surprise) and they were far too thick for my liking anyway so I replaced them with .005" sheet brass. The black line behind the oil cooler inlet is another piece of fine stainless mesh that can't be seen. I've discovered a new talent.
Back to 1/72 Aircraft Main