1/72 Eduard L-39C Albatros

Gallery Article by Jared Hooper

 

      

L-39C Albatros in Lithuanian markings

My Albatros journey began in High School when my friends and I went to see the James Bond film “Tomorrow Never Dies.” Overall an entertaining film, but as I walked out of the theatre I was more captivated by the sleek two seat jet featured at the very beginning than anything else. I’d never seen this aircraft before, and was determined to find out what it was. As soon as I got home, I pulled out the Jane’s Aircraft Identification Handbook, and poured over it until I found it was an “Aero L-39 Albatros.”

Shortly thereafter I ordered a model of the Albatros by KP, and eagerly opened the box to see what lay before me. I must admit that I was not especially impressed, even at that early stage of my model building career. There was an Albatros in the box for sure, but I decided that I definitely didn’t have the skills to really bring to the standard I desired. I beat on the kit a little bit, but didn’t pursue it very far, and it eventually fell by the wayside never to be finished.

Fast forward about five years, I’d since discovered online modeling magazines and discussion groups. I’d learned a lot more about modeling and about aircraft out there in general. As time had passed I saw MPM release an L-39 in 1/48, but that wasn’t my scale, so it didn’t really pique my curiosity. Eduard later released their own L-39 in my 1/72 scale, but for some reason it didn't immediately pique my curiosity.

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This fall I picked up the International Air Power Review #8 for the feature article on the Flankers. A short article right after that one covered Lithuania’s small Air Force. Halfway through the article there was a wonderful picture of a Lithuanian L-39 that took up half of the page. It was like the picture reached out and slapped me, I knew that I had to build this particular aircraft.

I went to Eduard’s website to look for specific information about their kit, and saw that one of the boxings had markings for a Lithuanian bird. It also so happened that the local hobby shop happened to have that very boxing sitting on its shelves (I’d noticed it before). It was like the siren’s song trying to draw me in, but I looked at the size of my “to build” pile and I could not justify getting another kit to myself. So it waited there, taunting me.

My girlfriend had come to visit for a couple of weeks about this time, and while she was here I needed to stop and get a couple of bottles of paint from the hobby shop. Barbara doesn’t mind going along with me, because I look like a little boy in a candy store, and she enjoys that a lot. While we were there, she saw how gingerly I turned the Albatros box over in my hands and the look in my eyes when I held it. Barbara waited until I wasn’t looking snuck up to the cash register to get it, knowing that I would not buy it for myself.

I needed a break from some more involved projects, so I built this kit as a quick one to relax a bit. I focused on the camouflage and markings more than trying to detail the kit. However, I did add a little bit of detail to the ejection seats, including photo etch seat belts. I broke one of the pitot tubes when I was separating it from the sprue, so I made replacements out of round stock, but other than that, the kit was built out of the box. The markings are from the kit as well, except for the bort numbers, which were partly sourced from my spares box. The model was painted with a mixture of Testors Acryl and Enamels. I mixed the brown myself, Dark Tan with a drop of Black and a drop of Dark Green to get close to get the desired color. The rest of the top is Light Gray (FS 36495), and the underside is Flanker Medium Blue.

The kit went together with little trouble, only needing a little bit of filler in a couple of places. Those pictures of Lithuanian L-39s that I’ve found all look very clean, so I gave the aircraft only a light wash to pick out the panel lines. It was a very quick build, owing mostly to the simplicity and small size of the aircraft. I enjoyed it enough that I think I will build another at some point in time, probably a Thai L-39ZA.

This model is dedicated to my wonderful girlfriend, Barbara Schmidt,
Ich Liebe Dich.

Jared Hooper

Photos and text © by Jared Hooper