Aero l-39, blue 112, Myghorod

Aero L-39C Albatros, 831st BrTA

By Bohdan Shkliarskyi, Ukraine
Special Hobby, 1/48

Bohdan's Facebook

L-39: Spontaneous Choice

After completing the latest project, it was time to choose the next model. I can't quite recall why, but at one point, I felt drawn to the L-39. Perhaps because I had often witnessed the flights of these aircraft firsthand. There's something special about it. Until the last moment, I couldn't decide on the prototype; there were doubts about the camouflage scheme (green or grey pixel) and the bureau number (the final decision was made during the painting stage).

Model: Heavy kit from Special Hobby

When choosing the model, there were 2 options: Trumpeter or Special Hobby. After consulting with colleagues, I settled on the latter. This manufacturer is known for its challenging assembly, but in this case, this kit corresponded more closely to the prototype in terms of detail.

L-39C nato Trainer Special Hobby
Box art of the Special Hobby's L-39 scale model kit.

Additionally, wheels from Reskit, PE Master, resin pilot seats, decals, and masks from Foxbot and Danmodels were purchased.

Aftermarket parts for an L-39 kit
Various aftermarket parts purchased for this build.
FOXBOT aftermarket decals for an L-39 kit
FOXBOT aftermarket decals for Ukraininan L-39s.

Model Construction

First, the cockpit with seats was assembled and painted. I added levers in the cockpit, crafted seatbelts, and added red triangles to the headrests.

L-39 ejection seats
L-39's ejection seat assembly.
L-39 cockpit details
Cockpit details of the L-39 model.

And of course, the instrument panels.

L-39 instrument panels
Etched instrument panels of the L-39.

The next step was refining the fuselage.

The small air intakes on it were represented by the manufacturer as shallow recesses, which I didn't like. It was decided to rework them, also adding an exhaust pipe for the APU.

L-39 intake details
Air intake details on the engine nacelle of the L-39.
L-39 Auxilary power unit details
Auxiliary power unit exhaust added as well.

To facilitate the assembly of the fuselage, I added guides from sheet plastic since the manufacturer did not provide anything for the proper positioning of the parts, just a smooth joint without any pins.

L-39 model fuselage assembly
Fuselage assembly. Plastic pins were added for better positioning.

For some reason, the manufacturer decided not to include a sight in the kit, but it is present on the prototype. It was decided to make it from scratch.

L-39 gun sight
Scratch-built gun sight.
L-39 pilot's gun sight

This is not the only oversight by the manufacturer regarding details. Also, at this stage, vortex generators were added under the stabilizers and a strobe light on the tail.

L-39 vortex generators
Brass vortex generators were added onto the stabilizer lower surfaces.
L-39 tail lights
Tail formation light from the clear sterene was added to the tail fin.

And here came the turning point in the model-building process. The kit included 2 pieces of vacuum-formed canopies, which were problematic to fit, with gaps and misalignments. Ultimately, the model was shelved for a long time, and there was a desire to throw it away. After some time, after careful consideration and gathering strength, I decided to order a canopy from the manufacturer and continue the work. However, even behind the canopy, there was a gap a few millimeters wide, so I had to cut and insert a piece of plastic. Before installing the canopy, I added a blind flying curtain and a cable (spring) for the ejection seat handle.

L-39 canopy assembly
Canopy assembly of the front cokpit.
L-39 canopy masking
Vinyl painting masks were applied on the canopies.

With that, the model assembly was completed. The next step was priming and painting.


Initially, the model was primed to detect gaps and flaws, and after correcting them, another layer of primer was applied to improve paint adhesion.

Primering of the L-39 model
A coat of gray primer was applied on the model.

The next step was applying the pixel camouflage. It was quite a challenging task. I was mostly worried about the masks not lifting the paint. For painting, a thematic set of enamel paints from Arcus was chosen. These test paints held up excellently. There was only a lift in one place on the keel, but there the paint peeled off together with the primer, probably when degreasing the model, I missed that spot, or some other factor influenced it. I'll add that initially, the model was supposed to be painted with paints from another manufacturer, but there was a mismatch, at least in the main light color, so I ordered Arcus's Ghost of Kyiv set and didn't regret it.

L-39 paintwork starboard
And the pixel paintwork itself.
L-39 paintwork port
L-39 paintwork lower surfaces

Each layer of paint was allowed to dry for at least a day. Then a layer of gloss lacquer was applied, and the decals were transferred.

L-39 decal application starboard side
It's a decal time. Ukraininan insignia, markings and stencils were carefully applied.
L-39 decal application port side
L-39 decal application on the lower surfaces

Since the air intakes and nozzle on the model are bare, it was decided to make plugs for them.

L-39 port intake plug
Since the engine tunnels were barely empty, I decided to make the plugs from scratch.
L-39 starboard intake plug
A plug was added to the starboard intake as well. The "Альбатрос" (Albatros in Ukrainian), the name of this type of aircraft is clearly seen on the nacelle.
L-39 exhaust plug
The plug was also added to the jet engine exhaust.

After applying the decals, a wash was made. Light gray on top, medium gray underneath. The control elements were highlighted more contrastingly.

L-39 wash application on the upper surfaces
Light gray wash was applyied on the upper surfaces.
L-39 wash application on the lower surfaces
On the lower surfaces, a wash of the darker shade was applied for better contrast.

And to prevent the pylons from being empty, handles were added to them, and P-50T from Reskit was hung there.

L-39 P-50T on the bomb racks
Reskit's aftermarket P-50T were hung on the bomb racks.
Reskit's P-50T on the L-39 bomb racks
A close-up of the bomb.

Results and Conclusion

So, this project was difficult and time-consuming. But despite the difficulties, the model was completed and took its place on the shelf. Not everything succeeded, not everything turned out exactly as desired. The final output you can see in the photos.

(Edited and translated by Mykhailo Orlov)

L-39 1
L-39 2
L-39 3
L-39 4
L-39 5
L-39 6
L-39 7
L-39 8
L-39 9
L-39 10
L-39 11
L-39 12
L-39 13
L-39 13
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