by: Tim Hatton [ ]
The rapid advancement of jet propelled combat aircraft in the 1950ís necessitated the use of jet powered trainers. The Czechoslovak Ministry of National Defense (MNO) realised the importance and started a specification for a aircraft to be designed around the M710 turbojet engine. Another specification of the MNO is that the new design was also capable of serving in a tactical role. Aero Vodochody with the lead designer being Zdeněk Rublič along with Karel TomŠö designed the C-29. Jan Vlček joined the team in 1960 and his experience on the C-29 project would stand him in good stead for the later L-39 Albatros. During the pre-development of the C-29 the Soviet Union became aware of the project and started to collaborate with the specification. Performance would be improved fitting the M701 engine with radial-flow compressor was utilised, but this wouldnít be ready until after the first test flights. The wing was increased in size from 17.5 m2 to 19.8 m2. The original split flaps were replaced by more efficient slotted flaps. Flight endurance was increased from 70 mins to 120 mins. At the beginning of 1957 production of the first five prototypes of L-29 (as the project was newly designated), was approved. Three of these were to be used for flight tests, one for structural tests and an uncompleted airframe, served as technological demonstrator.
Before flight testing could commence a suitable engine needed to be found as the M701 engine was not ready. Two British Armstrong Siddely Viper engines were smuggled in via Switzerland. Prototype No. 3 took off for the first time on April 5th, 1959 and by the time prototype no.1 and no.2 took to the air the M701 engine was ready for use. During testing there was problems with tail vibrations and aileron flutter. Despite the problems it was found that the L-29 had great promise and by the end of 1960 the MNO approved production of 10 L-29ís on the provision that the problems could be ironed out.
At the same time the L-29 was being developed two other designs were also work in progress: the Polish TS-11 Iskra and the Soviet Jak-30. In the interest of simplicity, it was decided that a competition between the three types would be undertaken to select which one would go on to be the Soviet Unions primary jet trainer. The trial was done at Monino Air Force base although the L-29 proved to be inferior to the competitors in terms of performance, it demonstrated the best flying characteristics and also had upper hand in operational reliability. Aero Vodochody L-29 might have won the trial, but the increased demand to build the trainer was immense. From the original order of around 100 airframes for the Czechoslovakian Air Force now included around 2500 for the USSR over five years, not to mention orders from the rest of the Warsaw pact and worldwide. The trade name DelfŪn (Dolphin) was adopted in 1963, NATO assigned the L-29 with code name Maya. The Delfin served with many Air Forces providing students with basic, intermediate and weapons training.
The L-29R, a reconnaissance version, was developed as well as the L-29, a light weight version intended for aerobatics. A single seat L-29 RS was also produced and used for advanced training.
L-29ís are now to be found in public ownership many ironically powered by the British Armstrong Siddeley Viper turbojet engine that were smuggled into Czechoslovakia to power the prototypes.
On 2 October 2007, an unmodified L-29 was used for the world's first jet flight powered solely by 100 per cent biodiesel fuel.
Eduard has utilised the moulds of Avant Model Kits [AMK] for this release. AMK released the L-29 as a new tool in 2016 [Scalemates]. Inside Eduard's ProfiPACK Edition you will find:
●4 x Grey plastic sprues
●1 x Clear plastic sprue
●1 x pre-coloured photo etched fret
●1 x Acetate sheet
●1 x Set of paint masks
●2 x Decal sheets
●1 x A5 instruction booklet
Surface detail looks excellent, particularly detail such as the panel lines and quilting on the inside of the cockpit. Some care is needed not to damage some parts when removing from the sprues. The frame between the canopies and the flap runners are examples, in fact the frame on both sides has snapped on my sample. Its looks fixable and probably best done before separating the parts from the sprue. There is a little flash here and there, but nothing serious. Thankfully the first option has decals included to create the eye-catching Tiger striped Delfin.
The cockpit is typical Eduard ProfiPACK with three ways to detail the cockpit:
●Paint and highlight the excellent raised detail of the plastic cockpit parts.
●Use the pre-painted photo etched [PPPE] parts.
●Apply the decals for the instrument panel and side consoles.
Of course, you can combine all three methods to suite your own way of treating this important area of any aircraft.
Each ejector seat is made up of five plastic parts. The back seat is a little different from the front as you need to remove the hand hold/canopy breaker. The cushioning detail on the lumbar and head rest is nicely done on the plastic. There is a pre-coloured photo etched [PPPE] for the lumbar cushioning incorporating one of the harnesses. The instrument panel [IP] and side consoles have very good raised detail on the plastic. If you want to detail the instruments with the PPPE then you need to remove the raised detail. There is a variation in parts for the console below the IP, so be aware of that. There is a photo etched part that needs bending and a clear acetate piece to create the HUD for the forward cockpit. Eduard has also included photo etched handles and levers for the side consoles as well as a hood for the IPís. The bulk of the cockpit is made up of a one-piece tub. Detail includes control sticks, photo etched rudder pedals [no plastic ones], seats and of course the IPís. The seats have separate runner rails to add to the tub and there is a clear blast screen between the two occupant positions. Included is a couple of paint masks for both sides of the screen. A part featuring excellent cable/pipes detail fits in the dorsal position behind the rear seater. There are seven PPPE pieces to add to the side of the cockpit walls. The moulding on the inside has excellent representation of the quilted sound proofing.
The windscreen and two canopies are beautifully clear and can be displayed open or closed. There are paint masks for the windscreen, canopies and blast screen.
The fuselage is split left and right. There is a four-piece jet pipe to fit, a two part forward compartment including the front undercarriage bay and the cockpit tub. The rear of the jet pipe is one piece and the lip is pretty thin. Eduard has included the rear of the turbine, but I doubt you will see it once the jet pipe is built up. The upper forward compartment has some detail including pressurised bottles and cable/pipes, the hatch can be left open to reveal the detail. Two hatch covers are provided one for closed and the other open, the open one has a longer tab that creates a stronger join. The air brakes on the side of the fuselage can be displayed open. There is no bay that the air brakes sit in, they just rest on the outer surface of the fuselage skin. The inside of the air brake doors is perforated and thereís an actuating arm to fit. The fuselage is further detailed by a number of photo etched panels. These sit on top of the plastic so lay proud of the surface. The IFF aerials are located just aft of the jet pipe. The two-part rudder looks as if its positionable before gluing.
The four-piece wings allow you to display the flaps in the dropped or neutral position. There are photo etched parts replicating the internal framework which will need careful folding and gluing. A couple of intake ducts for the engine need to be installed before joining the wings to the fuselage. The T-tail is two piece with a single piece elevator that is positionable before gluing. The detail in the roof of the main undercarriage bay is impressive, thankfully there is no sign of any sink marks in the wings upper surface as a consequence.
The forward undercarriage leg is made up from three parts, with a one-piece wheel. The main undercarriage legs are two piece each. The wheels have separate hubs so you can paint them without the need for masks. The inside of the undercarriage bay doors is nicely detailed. The outer and middle doors attach to the leg while the inner doors are mounted on the wing and there is an actuator to attach. There are two paint masks for the hubs of the main wheels, so you will have to lift and reapply the masks to paint both sides of the wheels.
The only ordnance with this release is a couple of underwing fuel tanks. The pylon is attached to one half of the tank. The holes forming the attachment point to the wing is pre-formed.
Eduard provide five marking options with this release:
A. a/c No. 2853, 1st Flight, 11th Fighter Regiment, éatec, Czech Republic, 1993
B. 3250, International Fighter Pilots Academy, Koöice, Slovak Republic, 1993
C. 378, 101st Fighter Reconaissance Wing, Szolnok Air Base, Hungary, Summer 1978
D. N179EP, Reno AFB, United States of America, 2009
E. 3246, 3rd Flight, 1st Fighter Regiment, PlanŠ Air Base, Czechoslovakia, 1969-1970
The most striking is the tiger stripped option. Eduard provide decals for the black stripes and four pages of the instructions is devoted to their placement. Option ĎBí of the Slovak Republic has striking looking red, white and blue painted wings. Option ĎDí of US based Tactical Air Service looks as if itís based on the Flanker disruptive three colour scheme of blue, grey and white
The decals look well printed with good depth of colour and minimum carrier film. There are 185 tiger stripes to apply, no I didnít count them, they are all numbered. They are even applied to the fuel tanks. There are a lot of stencils to apply.
The A5 format instructions booklet has 28 pages half of them are devoted to the marking options and decal placements.
This looks like a great release from Eduard. Itís not a subject that would normally bisect my zone of interest, but after a little research and reflection its really grown on me. The detail on the plastic from the AMK moulds looks very good. Not the prettiest of aircraft, but itís a striking looking one with the T-tail arrangement. The design of the kit is pretty simplified, but in a good way as there are no open hatches or modular considerations. The excellent detail on the plastic is supplemented by photo etched parts and the five marking options are distinctive. This release will add a lot of interest to your model shelf flightline.