Prop & Jet 1/72 La-5 Series Vacuforms

I just received the complete set of Prop & Jet 1/72 La-5 series vacuforms, courtesy of Musa at Prop & Jet in Russia. In a nutshell,
these are beautiful kits, as anyone who has seen previous releases from P&J will know. In order to cover the whole range of subtypes in this series, the manufacturer has chosen to design a generic kit with optional parts to produce these subtypes. The four individual releases are:
#7217 - La-5F/UTI and La-5FN/UTI #7218 - Early La-5 #7219 - Late La-5 #7220 - La-5F and La-5FN
The only differences among the four kits are the canopies and the very professional-looking instruction sheets. Even the decal sheets (printed by Begemot) are identical, with each kit having decals for all versions. Parts breakdown is as follows: Vacuformed: 35, plus 1 canopy White metal: 13, including two joysticks for the UTI (trainer) versions Two clear acetate instrument panels (again, two to cover the UTI's) Decal options: 7 (1 early La-5, 1 late La-5, 1 La-5F, 2 La-5FN, 1 La-5F/UTI, and 1 La-5FN/UTI)
The white metal components deserve special mention - they're probably the most finely-moulded white metal I've seen. These include main landing gear struts and retractors, tailwheel (including retraction mechanism!), optional aerial masts, joysticks, and prop.
One minor difficulty with P&J's generic approach to modelling the whole La-5 family with a common set of main parts is that the builder is left to incorporate the more subtle variations among types; for example, the stiffeners that were introduced on the La-5FN on the wing roots and fuselage sides.
A more serious concern arises from the use of one fuselage pattern for both full-depth (La-5, La-5UTI) and reduced-depth (La-5F, La-5FN) bodied aircraft. In order to assess this, I first sanded out two fuselage halves from one of the kits, then cut out the La-5F/FN canopy and tried it in place on the joined halves. Compared to photos, the appearance was excellent. Next I cut out the early La-5 canopy, and made the same test. From what I see, I'd suggest when building the early or late La-5, or either of the UTI versions, that you trim the canopy to be just a couple of millimetres higher than the fuselage at the rear edge, and use a bit of filler to blend it in back to the fin root.
In general, the quality of these kits rivals or exceeds the best among any manufacturer of vacuforms. The La-5, in its several variants, is my personal favourite among all World War Two aircraft. I'm extremely grateful to Prop & Jet for producing these kits, particularly since no injection moulder has satisfactorily covered the La-5 family to date. Unfortunately, word has it that only 40 of each of these kits will be made, and all of them have been spoken for. I expect that some will go to hobby shops (Legato in the Czech Republic may be one; Aviapress may possibly be another) and will be available for ordering, so if the subject appeals to you, and you see the chance, don't hesitate!
John Thompson
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Intriguing kit assessment but 40 is way too low a production number for even a vac. I would hope the producers would see fit to make their endeavor a profitable one. Cheers,
Keeper (of too much crap)
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