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Vector’s 1/48 scale resin
Lavochkin La-5F

by Ian Robertson


Lavochkin La-5F


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Russia’s Lavochkin La-5F was essentially an La-5 with a more powerful engine (the F stands for Forsirovanny = boosted) and an improved canopy with a cut down rear fuselage decking that provided the pilot better visibility to the rear.  Introduced in March 1943, only a few months before the La-5FN, the first La-5Fs retained the green and black camouflage found on La-5s.  However, most La-5Fs off the assembly line wore the familiar dark grey (AMT-12) and medium grey (AMT-11) camouflage seen on later Russian fighters.  The La-5F performed well but was upstaged by the superior La-5FN and later the La-7. 

Here I present “White 73”, an La-5F piloted by Petr Maminov, 193 IAP, spring 1944.  The scheme I selected was based on a profile by Chris Banyai-Riepl in the August 2003 issue of Internet Modeler.  I couldn’t find any reference photographs of the actual aircraft.

Vector’s La-5F 

The La-5F is the second complete aircraft kit from Vector, arriving on the heels of their beautiful La-5.  An in-box review of the La-5F kit can be found at http://kits.kitreview.com/vector48002reviewbg_1.htm.  Vector products are distributed in North America by Buffie’s Best (http://www.buffiesbest.com/) and in the UK by Neomega Resin (http://www.neomega-resin.com/)

The La-5F kit more-or-less identical to the La-5 kit, apart from the modified fuselage halves and new canopy.  As with the La-5 kit, rubber wheels (by Avia Equipage) are supplied, but they do not match the quality of the rest of the kit.  I replaced the kit’s main wheels with True Details resin La-5 wheels, available at Squadron.   



Only one vacuform canopy is included in the kit, and it is designed in such a way that all three sections must be attached separately to the model.   For me this created a problem because I found that the center section was a touch too small to fit comfortably over the rear canopy when positioned open, and I did not like the look when I tried to position the three pieces as a closed canopy (there were small gaps between the frames that would have been tricky to correct, and with only one canopy at my disposal I didn’t want to take the risk).  I would have preferred it if Vector had supplied two canopies, one designed for displaying the canopy open (with the center piece just a touch larger so it would fit comfortably over the rear section), and the other as a single piece for displaying the canopy closed.  I prefer the closed look on the La-5F because it preserves the aircraft’s unusual lines.  Note: For those thinking of using Squadron’s La-5 vacuform canopy (designed for the Hobbycraft kit), it is too narrow for the Vector kit.  Gavia’s La-7 injection molded canopy is narrower still.





As with the Vector La-5, construction was straight forward and simple.   The fit is excellent and rivals or exceeds many injection molded kits.  Nevertheless, it is essential to dry fit because CA glue is unforgiving when it comes to repositioning parts. 

The cockpit is well detailed yet spartan, as one would expect in a Russian fighter of this era.  I painted the cockpit bluish grey in an effort to approximate “Wood Aerolak” as indicated in Pilawskii’s “Soviet Air Force Fighter Colours 1941-1945” (pp 14, 64).



The Vector kit does not include a pitot tube or antenna mast.  I made a pitot tube by inserting a piece of syringe tubing into a small plastic fairing that I then attached to the underside of the starboard wing.   A suitable antenna mast was found in my spares box.  The antenna wires were made from stretched sprue.



Painting and Markings


Prior to painting I primed the model with Tamiya fine grey primer from a rattle can.  Once the primer was dry I buffed the surfaces lightly with a micromesh sanding cloth.  The red on the cowl was then sprayed and masked until the rest of painting was complete. 

The scheme I chose for my model is not available in decals.  To make the numbers on the fuselage I painted the rear fuselage white and then cut and applied masks made from Tamiya tape.  The star on the spinner was a decal from Accurate Miniatures’ Yak-1b kit, whereas the remainder of the markings, including the badge beneath the cockpit, were scavenged from various Aeromaster decal sheets. 

The camouflage scheme was standard AMT-11/12 (medium grey/dark grey) over AMT-7 (blue).  I used the White Ensign Models’ Russian aircraft colors as references for mixing my own colors using Polly Scale Acrylic (I prefer acrylics over enamels).  For AMT-11 I mixed British Medium Sea Grey with RLM75 (grey violet), and for AMT-12 I mixed German Uniform Grey (grey-green) with a touch of RLM66 (dark grey).  For AMT-7 I used USSR underside blue mixed with white.   I was pleased with the close match to White Ensign’s paints; I particularly like the greenish tinge to the AMT-12 compared to the more frequently seen dark grey on models. 

The panel behind each exhaust was painted with Alclad II duraluminum.  The exhaust stains were made by spraying highly thinned black paint.





The two figures in some of the images are from Aires’ “Russian Aces” set (item 4002).






As with Vector’s La-5 kit, I really enjoyed building the Vector La-5F.  While construction was straightforward, I would not recommend this kit to modelers lacking experience with resin or vacuform canopies.  The kit is expensive, so mistakes resulting from inexperience would be tough to swallow.  However, if you have a few resin cockpits under your belt you should have no difficulty with this kit.   I would like to build another Vector La-5F, but I will need to figure out a more satisfying solution for the canopy so I can display it closed.  Perhaps I should just get better working with vacuform canopies.



Additional Images


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Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2006 by Ian Robertson
Page Created 05 June, 2006
Last Updated 04 June, 2006

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