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AML 1/72nd Lavochkin La-5 and La-5F
Party on Lavochkin Avenue

By Ilya Grinberg

Introduction

Finally it happened!

After more than 20 years after release of KP La-5FN and more than 15 years after appearance of VES La-5 kits we are getting a whole new family of Lavochkin fighters in 72nd scale: La-5, La-5F, La-5FN, and La-5UTI.

This time they come from AML of Czech Republic, the company who specializes on limited run models and excellent decals.

I am reviewing two kits: La-5 (AML 72 038) and La-5F (AML 72 039). Both kits come in typical AML boxes with blue trim. Box art is attractive and well executed.

The Kits

Let’s open boxes and see what is inside. There are two sprues of light gray plastic, one containing fuselage halves and cowling details while the other sprue is common to all versions and contains the rest of the parts. Two types of wings’ upper parts are included – one pair for La-5/5F and another for La-5FN. The same is true for exhaust louvers and carburetor intake parts. Two more cowlings are included. Plastic parts have virtually no flash on larger details but more of it on small parts. Some parts have sink marks. On my samples the rudder in La-5F kit has rather significant sink mark while in La-5 set it is just fine (the sprues are identical as I mentioned before). On the other hand fuselage of La-5F in the area of vertical stabilizer is slightly deformed. Nothing dramatic here and most likely it will not happen on a different sample. Wings have nice and crisp engraving but engraving on the fuselage is less than perfect with rather deep and wide panel lines. Since there are not many of these lines it will be no big deal to improve their appearance.

The most important question is about accuracy and general appearance of the models. First look reveals that cowling shape and diameter of the front opening look good, in fact they look much better than incorrectly shaped cowlings of KP and VES ki.

Superimposing the fuselage halves with drawings from MBI book on La-5 by Milos Vestsik show spot-on match (at least to my eyes) and if someone will find it not to be true, the difference might be no more than the thickness of the drawing line.

Distance between wheel wells is also correct unlike old KP and VES kits. General shape is pretty good and it passed another test: I put together fuselage halves of AML La-5F and Eduard La-7. They match in terms of outlines.

Wingspan measures at 133mm, while it should be 136mm to represent 9.8m of the real thing.

Further inspection of the boxes reveals very nice resin set and photo-etched fret. These parts make significant improvement in detailing and general appearance of the models.

Resin parts are made from light-cream polyurethane resin and provide the following details: M-82 (ASh-82) engine, cockpit floor details, cockpit side walls, very well executed pilot seat and interior details, gun blisters, wheel wells, which provides for accurate depth, exhaust stacks and doors, and carburetor intake details. Sure, many of these details are provided in plastic but resin parts provide for crisper and cleaner representation.

Canopy (2 included just in case) is provided in vacuumform and allows two versions of installation: one is traditional – cut it to the shape and fit to the fuselage,while another method is to cut it with a base as a rectangular “package”, cut plastic on the fuselage and fit the “package” to plastic (such solution could be seen on High Planes Yak-9U and Neomega vacuumform canopies for Pe-2).

Photo-etched fret contains instrument panel, some cockpit details, and engine louvers.

Decals for La-5 contain 4 versions and for La-5F – 6 versions. They are very nice as is typical for this manufacturer. Additional decal sets available from AML and discussed by me in a separate review will greatly add to possible markings options.

Instructions are simple to follow. Few inconsistencies were detected in the instruction. Resin parts for antenna mast and antenna post on the stabilizer are shown and labeled (PUR parts 32 and 33) but these parts are not included and these part numbers are assigned to cockpit details parts. Some other PUR parts are misnumbered. But hey, real men do not need instructions anyway!

My prior experience with AML models (P-40B Tomahawk) shows that it requires patience and honest modeling (perhaps forgotten by many) to achieve fantastic results.
I am sure this will be similar case here.

Conclusion

Do not expect shake and bake type of assembly. These are limited run kits after all and AML never pretended it will be a walk in the park.

Considering its limited run nature, good number of resin details and PE parts and vacuumform canopy, I will recommend these kits to experienced modelers who are willing to invest their time and effort in these challenging but rewarding projects.

My thanks to AML and Ing. Ladislav Hladik for review samples.