by: Paul Cotcher [ ]
The Aero L-29 Delfin
The Aero L-29 Delfin is a jet powered training aircraft. It was the primary trainer for most of the Warsaw Pact nations in the 1960s (only Poland deviated with their indigenous TS-11 Iskra). The basic concept put forward by the Soviet Union was to produce a straight forward, and simple to build and fly aircraft. Rugedness and simplicity were to be hallmarks of the type. The L-29 was evaluated against the TS-11 and Yak-30 in 1961 with the L-29 emerging the winner.
The L-29 served as a basic and advanced trainer, including weapons training duties. For the weapons training duties hard points were added to carry gun packs, bombs and rocket pods. Armed Egyptian L-29s were used in the Yom Kippur war.
The L-29 continues in service to this day, operated by third world and similar small air forces. It has been surpassed in service by the L-39 and similarly more advanced trainers for many of the former eastern bloc air forces.
This is the second release from AMK, and the first impression is much like looking into the box of the Kfir, only smaller and less complex. In real life the prototype is a very simple aircraft, and the model reflects this simplicity. Like the Kfir, the plastic is smooth and free of defects. AMK has taken their time to place pin marks in out of the way places. The polish of the parts is on par with releases from GWH. The panel lines are engraved, crisp and even. However, also like the Kfir, the panel lines are a bit heavy. Additional surface detail, such as rivets are also relatively sparse. If there was ONE improvement that I would have asked for in this kit it would have been expanded/refined surface detail.
The box contains just over 110 injection molded polystyrene parts. Save for the nine clear parts, the rest are molded in gray. As noted in the first impressions, the parts are well polished and free of notable defects. Also included are a small fret of 25 photo-etched parts, a colorful set of water slide decals and the instruction booklet. Breaking down the contents of the kit:
Sprue A: Fuselage halves, cockpit components, landing gear parts, intakes
Sprue B: Stabilizer, landing gear doors, smaller details
Sprue C (two included): Ejection seats, fuel tanks, wheel hubs, exhaust can
Sprue D: Wings and control surfaces
Sprue E: Clear parts
If ever there was a 1:48 jet kit that wouldn't be "intimidating" upon looking in the box, this would be that kit!
Building the Delfin
Instructions for the kit are printed in a nicely printed 12 page booklet. This includes the pictogram building instructions, as well as color diagrams for painting and decal application.
As with some other kits, the construction sequence doesn't match with what I think of as "building conventions" so I will call out some suggested alternatives as I move through the instructions.
Step One: Build the ejection seats - each seat is a five part affair. The seam running down the back of the seat will be covered by the cushion details. No provisions are included for harness detail.
Step Two: Build the cockpit - the kit cockpit is a fairly simple affair. Consoles are nicely detailed, although some of the switch/control details look a tad oversized. A quick look at a Google image search for L-29 cockpit shows, however, that the console details are correctly placed. About beyond the seat harness detail, the only other item that I notice as missing is a prominent switch panel on the stbd sidewall.
Step Three: Paint and decal the instrument panels - the kit instrument panels provide basic details. The instrument faces are designed to be represented by decals. The decals are printed with the decal faces over a clear background. This is a nice touch, as you can then paint your instrument panel to match your interior, and then the individual instrument face decals line up with the instrument face impressions on the molded part.
Step Four: Assemble the nose gear well and exhaust can - the nose gear well sits far forward on the aircraft both the top and bottom of the gear roof are detailed. This allows the front access panel to be opened exposing the mechanicals for the landing gear. Painting callouts are shown at this point, but if you're going to close the access hatch, then just focus on the nose well.
Step Five: Assemble the fuselage halves - cockpit, exhaust and nose well subassemblies are trapped between the fuselage halves. Additional details are added in this stage as well such as the intake splitters and rear canopy slider. Check the placement of the intake splitters and make sure of any need to pre-paint before the parts are attached. Bording steps are also attached at this point (2x parts C10). I would leave these off until final assembly as these parts will almost certainly be broken off during the build.
Step Six: Main wing assembly - upper and lower wing halves are joined. Ten photo-etch parts are required for each wing assembly. These are the wing frame sections that protrude into the flap wells. Flap pieces are also shown added to the wing assemblies. I would leave these off until final assembly as well.
Step Seven: Attach wings to fuselage - pretty straight forward each wing is attached to the fuselage.
Step Eight: Tail and rudder - the parts for the stabilizer and rudder are built and added to the main airframe.
At this point your main assembly is completed except for the canopy. Which is shown added in step 15. I would attach the fixed portion of the canopy here and paint and decal the model at this point.
Step Nine: Main landing gear - build the main landing gear sub assemblies. These call for some of the door details to be added to the main strut. These are sub-assemblies to complete right before you add them to the finished model, as they will be delicate.
Step Ten: Attach landing gear doors - for some reason the instructions show the landing gear doors added at this point, prior to the addition of the MLG struts. Swap this step with Step 11!
Step Eleven: Add the gear struts to the model - Once the model is painted and "finished" add the smaller details. As noted in the notes for step ten, the gear doors should be added after the gear struts. Swap with step ten for a more normal construction sequence.
Step Twelve: Add the air brakes - air brake pieces are added here. Instructions are shown for attaching the parts in an open position with PE hinge details as well as the piston actuator. Nothing is shown for placing them in the close position, but presumably the main parts can be just glued in this position.
Step Thirteen: Attach external fuel tanks - Each fuel tank is built from halves and then the sub-assemblies are attached to the wings. One point that would have been nice to see here are empty pylons. While the weapons employed by the type (whether in trainer or active role) can be easily sources from the spares box, a set of pylons would have been nice to see in the kit should you want to build a weapons trainer or an actual combatant.
Step Fourteen: Attach the nose bay cover - optional instructions are shown for both open and closed attachment. If you go with closed, attach and smooth this in before painting and finishing the model.
Step Fifteen: Attach the canopies - as previously noted the front canopy should be attached prior to painting, but otherwise this is the last step of building the model. Pay some attention here as the front canopy swings to the side, while the rear canopy slides back, a somewhat unusual approach.
Colors and Markings
As you may expect, the majority of the markings for this type during the prime of it's career were natural metal. The kit, however, provides a couple of interesting alternatives among the EIGHT markings selections:
1. USSR - Blue 36, Natural Metal
2. USSR - Red 07, Natural Metal
3. Czech Republic - Black 3401, Light Aircraft Gray
4. Czechoslovakia - Black 1420, Natural Metal
5. Slovakia - Black 2846, Tan/Brown/Green over Gray camouflage
6. GDR - Black 3384, Brown/Green over Light Blue camouflage
7. Iraq - Natural Metal finish with red striping and badges
8. Indonesia - Black 2982, Natural Metal with red trim
The decals are well printed and look to be quite usable. Only a handful of any stenciling is included, so if the subject you model features extensive stenciling, that will have to be sourced elsewhere.
See the final verdict below, but overall this looks to be a very nice and buildable model of an important, but little known subject. This fills a big gap in trainers, and will be an excellent counterpart to the US T-37 in your display. This release, however, makes us all the more aware of the lack of the L-29s younger, and perhaps even more common brother, the L-39. If you're looking for a simple jet model to get you started in the world of jets then look no further than this jet trainer! Low parts count and conventional assembly make this an idea kit for beginners, but advanced modelers will find it to be an excellent basis for modification and detailing!