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KIT REVIEW


AvantGarde Model Kits #86001
Aero L-29 Delfín
1:72 Scale

Over the last few years, AvantGarde Model Kits (AMK) has been establishing a well-earned reputation as the most prominent new manufacturer of plastic model airplane kits, particularly with their 1:48 scale MiG-31 series.  Now, they’re heading into 1:72 scale with an Aero L-29 Delfín.  This kit is based on their very successful and highly regarded 1:48 scale Delfín, and it joins only two other L-29 kits that have ever been produced in this scale.  In this review, we’ll sit down with AMK’s little L-29 for a detailed first look.

(Return to top of page)The Aero L-29 Delfín (or Dolphin; NATO reporting name “Maya”) was the first indigenously produced jet aircraft in Czechoslovakia, and it served as a mainstay jet trainer across the Warsaw Pact throughout the Cold War.  In this role, the L-29 was very stable, hard to spin, and forgiving.  It was also rugged, capable of operating from unimproved runways, grass landing strips, and a later version even saw combat owing to the design’s latent air-to-ground capabilities.  The L-29 was adopted by all of the Warsaw Pact nations and was exported to several Middle Eastern and African countries.  As the direct ancestor of the L-39 Albatross, it’s an interesting exercise to study just how much of the ‘DNA’ of the Delfín can be seen in the later L-39 design.

You can learn more about the L-29’s history and design in my review of the AMK’s 1:48 scale Delfín here: http://detailandscale.com/scale_model_review_amk_l-29_delfin.html.

(Return to top of page)AMK’s 1:72 L-29 comes attractively and efficiently packaged in small but sturdy box just as with all of their other kits.  The box art is a computer-generated rendering of the model, and the airplane on the box displays the colorful markings of a Ukrainian civil air L-29.  The kit consists of 108 grey injection molded parts on four sprues, one clear sprue with eight parts, and one photoetched metal fret containing 11 parts.  The kit features finely recessed panel lines and screw details.  Everything is packaged in re-sealable, self-adhesive clear plastic bags.  The build progresses over 15 steps, which are printed on a single, double-sided instruction sheet folded into the size of a small booklet.  Decals are provided for six L-29s, and cover natural metal to various camouflage schemes:

- L-29, Kharkiv Aero Club (Ukraine), 2010

- L-29, 07 Red, Soviet Air Force (no date)

- L-29 3244, Czechoslovakian Air Force, early-mid 1970s

- L-29 3244, Czechoslovakian Air Force, 1978

- L-29 1033, Egyptian Air Force Academy, Bilbeis

- L-29 338, East German Air Force, mid-late 1980s

Strengths:  As their first kit in 1:72 scale, AMK’s little L-29 adheres to the same standard and level of quality as their 1:48 scale releases.  This might be small model, but it is a high-quality injection molded kit.  Test fitting of the fuselage and the wings to fuselage revealed airtight fits and perfect panel line alignments between fuselage and wing halves.  As with the other AMK kits I have reviewed, I had to exercise a little restraint not to start building this kit as soon as my notes for the review were completed.  It’s genuinely a neat kit!  This kit again shows AMK’s sheer skill for molding very fine detail from the cockpit to the gear wells, and making very fine parts, from pitot tubes to antennas – particularly for a 1:72 scale model.

This kit is obviously a scaled-down version of the 1:48 AMK L-29 in some respects, and many of the neat features of that kit are represented here as well, such as the options to build an open nose nitrogen bay, drop the flaps, and deflect the rudder and elevators (the latter deflects upward on the L-29 [just like the L-39] when hydraulic pressure bleeds off).  The parts breakdown will make for a quick and easy build, and certainly gives some competition to Eduard’s concept of a “Weekend Edition” -style kit.

A few other details are clearly simplified for 1:72 scale, such as the 20 photoetch metal flap hinges.  In the 1:48 scale kit, each hinge is a separate metal part, but here, all the hinges are attached to a base plate that’s cleverly hidden inside the wing, and all the scale modeler must do is bend each hinge 90° into the vertical.  The proper angle for each hinge will be ensured as the photoetched hinges slide neatly into a set of grooves.

In past reviews of AMK’s first three kits in 1:48 scale (you can find them indexed here: http://detailandscale.com/scale_model_kit_reviews.html), I’ve been a little critical of what I consider to be indistinct or ‘soft’ details of their cockpit parts, especially regarding instrument panels.  AMK’s strategy seems to have been to let instrument panel decals take care of the job, leaving little for the detail painter.  However, with each new release, AMK is progressively improving the fidelity of these parts, and here, I think they’ve actually done their best cockpit yet with the exception of their 1:48 scale MiG-31s (see our review here: http://detailandscale.com/scale_model_review_avantgarde_model_kits_no._88008_mig-31b-bs_1.48_scale.html.  The 1:72 L-29 has very well defined instrument bezels and works for me.  Kudos, AMK!

Clear parts are crystal clear, and no mold seams are present.  Here, you’ll also finds some of the finest pour gates I’ve ever seen (these are the points of attachment between part and sprue) so that for even the smallest parts, removing them from the sprue should be clean and won’t mar the clear parts.  In nearly all cases, ejection pin markings are strategically hidden, out of sight and out of mind.

Weaknesses:  There are only a few minor drawbacks that can be considered for this kit.  First, the ejection seats lack shoulder harnesses and lap belts.  Second, a small seam will be visible where the curved intake trunks meet the internal surfaces of the upper and lower wing halves.  The space in there is so small that sanding the resultant seem would be very difficult.  When I build this kit, I’m going to approach these seams by filling in that area with a self-leveling filler and then painting over it.  Third, while the decals are technically well printed, the carrier film looks relatively thick when compared to Microsale or Cartograf decals, and I’ll be cutting the decals as close to the printed markings as I can.

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AMK’s 1:72 scale L-29 Delfín looks to be another hit from this emerging manufacturer.  It successfully capitalizes on all the strengths of their 1:48 Delfín kit and it is by far the best L-29 in 1:72 scale, going far beyond the KP/Kopro and Bilek kits that had been available previously.  Modelers such as myself who rarely build Soviet or Warsaw Pact subjects will find this kit very seriously appealing on many levels.

As might be expected, aftermarket detail sets for the 1:72 AMK L-29 are now appearing, with a gorgeous cockpit and external photoetch metal detail set by Eduard that includes those missing shoulder harnesses and a canopy masking set. Master Details also produces a set of subtly gorgeous brass wing pitot tubes. Whether you’re going to go out-of-the-box or plan to superdetail this kit, one thing is certain: you’ve got here the definitive Delfín in 1:72 scale.

Sincere thanks to AMK and Victory Models for the review sample. You can find AMK on the web at http://amkhobby.com/home/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/avantgardemodelkits.  Victory Models is the U.S. distributor for AMK kits, and you can get this the L-29 and all the other  kits in the AMK line from them at: https://www.victorymodels.com/

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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