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Gavia 1/48th La-7

By Kai Roether

During the Lavochkin OKB, along with TsAGI (Central institute for Hydrodynamics and Aerodynamics), conducted research options to improve the sucesfull fighter La-5FN. The essential method was reduce weight and improve aerodynamic quality. Many improvments were made, these merging into production of the new La-7 fighter. The visible changes included a new position for the oil cooler and supercharger intake. The result was a higher top speed of 660km/h (La-5FN 620km/h). The front line units got their first La-7s in the autumn, 1944. There were fluctuations of engine and airframe quality, and the new rear oil cooler position made the mechanics not so happy with the new plane, but the pilots loved their new fighter.

After the end of war, the La-7s were quickly retired. The La-7 was a product of war - cheap and quick in production and not built for a long lifetime. The manufacturer issued a guarantee for only 2 years. The situation was similar for the other frontline fighters of Soviet production - Yak-9U, Yak-3.

The 1. Czechoslovak Fighter Regiment was also equiped with fighters from Lavochkin. Firstly with the La-5FN, which saw active service during the war. Later (28.04.1945), the La-7 was introduced. The fighters were newly built and came from the production line in Gorki. Together with some Spitfire Mk. IXs and S.99s (Czech built Bf-109), the La-7 were the basis of Czech fighter aviation. Czech fighter aviation was unique for flying these three types. In this regard the comparative reports from Czech pilots regarding these aircraft are very interesting (check publication from MBI, see below). Czechoslovakia was the sole foreign user of the La-7, the last example of which was written off in 1950.

The Model

The project was inspired by the La-7 publication from MBI, and the La CD of Pilawski/Banyai-Riepl (see references). After the war, the original stars were overpainted and the Czech roundels were applied.

The model was built using the Gavia kit. The parts are very well detailed and the outline captures very nicely the original, except the fuselage behind the cockpit from above - it is too narrow. I decided to leave it as it is.

I began the project by building the wheel wells. Adding wires gave a more realistic look. The intakes around the wheel well are provided in the kit and "snapped" in place. The next things to tackle were the flaps. I used photo etched parts from Eduard and glued and filled with CA glue (superglue).

After this, the wing-halfs were glued together.
The slats were completely scratch-built. First, I removed the original part for the slats. Then, I filled the gap with a 2-component moulding compound,  "Magic Sculp". Wet fingers were used to shape the compound before it hardened. After drying, the exact forms where scraped and sanded. The bottom section of thwe wing was then finished. Now I applied bare metal foil as separation layer, and over that came another application of "Magic Sculp", again using the wet finger moulding technique. After sanding down to the level of wing, I removed the part very carefully and voilá - perfect slats. The slats were mounted on the model later, after the painting. NB: A specific faeture is noteworthly here - the slats of La-7 swayed outwards, not linear like the Bf-109.
Next came the cockpit. I used NeOmega's resin parts for the wheels, and little details from Eduard PE for various wires with different diameters. The instrument panel came from the Eduard PE-set in combination with acetate-film. In the bottom of the cockpit, a pair of stringers were added with thin strips of styrene. To display the canopy in the open position, the middle (sliding) part has to be replaced with a thinner alternative. I used the filled kit part as a stamp for making a new one by heating material from some transparent packaging.

I wanted to display the motor's louvres in the open position. The kit has only a closed part in styrene, and so consequently no further details behind the louvre. I used a motor from the Tamyia Fw-190 kit. In front of this I mounted an exactly trimmed 1:72 scale MiG-23 radom in the opposite direction. This allowed for the positioning of the motor deep enough in the fuselage. In front of this assembly was mounted the correct piece for an open louvre. I picked it out from the Part (of Poland) PE-set. Eduard's PE-part for the open louvres is completely wrong.

After painting the motor section (steel) and the cockpit, and slightly washing these with oil-paints, the fuselage was put together. Thereafter the fuselage was joined with the wings. Some filling and rescribing (with CA glue again - because of the rescribing) made the bird ready for painting.

For painting I used colours from "White Ensign". They have the most Soviet WWII colours in their portfolio. First I sprayed the lighter gray (AMT-11). Then I mxed the darker Greengray (AMT-12) with a little bit of AMT-11 and sprayed the darker areas. Afterwards, I used un-mixed AMT-12 for painting the camouflage pattern. I painted the lower surfaces in the same manner-- first with ligthened AMT-7 (light blue), then unmixed AMT-7 for overpainted areas.

After a very decent weathering with pastel chalk and colour chipping with silver enamel from Revell, the bird could be finally assembled. The wheels were adjusted (to square), the navigation lights (from CMK) and antenna mounted, the pitot tube (copper tube) was soldered into place and the last the middle section of canopy positioned.


A very entertaining build of an outstanding aircraft. I believe it will not be the last one I make.


Lavockin La-7
Milos Vestsik
ISBN 80-902238-7-7
Lavochkins Piston Engined Fighters
Yefim Gordon
Red Star Volume 10
Midland Publishing
ISBN 1-85780-151-2
Soviet Air Force Fighter Colours 1941-1945
Erik Pilawski
Classic Publications
ISBN 1-903223-30-X
Radial Enginewd Lavochkins of WW2
Erik Pilawski & Chris Banyai-Riepl