The Aero L-39 Albatross is a Czech trainer/light attack aircraft now used
worldwide. In 2003 the U.S. Air Force's Air Force Flight Test Centre at Edwards
AFB obtained one on a six month lease to gauge it's suitability to replace the
retired T-39 Sabreliner. The intention was to use the L-39 for low-speed chase
missions for the CV-22 and RQ-4 programmes, as well as acting as a qualification
aircraft for test pilot students. In the long term, Edwards is also considering
using the L-39 for electronic warfare testing missions, a role once carried out
by the five-seat T-39, which is now in the Davis-Monthan "boneyard".
The L-39 was supplied by Teton Warbird Training of Driggs, Idaho.
I wanted to build a model of this aircraft when I first saw it in a copy of
International Air Review magazine. The two kits available were by Eduard and KP.
Since the Eduard kit was nearly 3 times the price of the KP kit, I went for the
KP version and also used a Pavla resin interior set. The KP kit itself proved
not to be the easiest model to build. The fit was not too good, especially the
wing-to-fuselage joins on both top and bottom of the fuselage. I had to modify
the interior of the fuselage to get the Pavla set to fit, and added a small
amount of additional interior detail, mainly behind the seats which were also
provided in the Pavla kit. I had major problems with these seats, as they
appeared to have been cast mismoulded, and both headrests snapped off during
Having got the fuselage and wings together, the canopy provided a major
source of irritation - it did not fit at all well and was pinched in. Trying to
spread this out whilst gluing it to the fuselage resulted in stress cracks along
the canopy which I've had to live with, as I was not aware of any aftermarket
replacement. It wasn't a brilliant fit but looks reasonably OK.
Turning to the colour scheme, I had originally decided to make the decals
myself using my Alps MD-1000 printer. However, I was lucky in that Vince Maddox
came to the rescue and provided a complete set of markings for L-39C 00-439
which saved me the trouble of doing it myself!
I started with a number of coats of gray automotive primer and followed up
with white primer. I then used Halfords Appliance White from a spraycan to paint
the bulk of the aircraft. I hand-painted the red panel on the nose and wing-tip
tanks and then sprayed the black anti-glare panel using black automotive primer.
Before you ask, I've had a lot of problems with dust and prefer to use
spray-cans wherever possible. Whilst not the most elegant of solutions, it does
A couple of coats of Future floor wax served as a base for the Vince Maddox
decals. I had to source the footstep markings from black decal striping and I
also replaced the VM stars'n'bars with those from a Bare-Metal sheet. I then
finished up with a couple more coats of Future to seat the decals.
Final details were the undercarriage from the kit - the L-39 is unusual in
that the gear doors are closed unless the gear is extending or retracting. I
used black and white plastic card for the various aerials and pins for the pitot
probes on each wing. Bare-metal foil polished with graphite was used to
represent the metal jet-pipe area.
All-in-all, I was quite pleased with the result. HOWEVER - I should have
started with the Eduard kit NOT the KP one!
Apologies are due for the quality of the photographs. I've just bought
a new digital SLR (Canon EOS300D) and am just starting to learn how to use it
... plus I don't have a good place to take photos either!