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early version - 4th series

South Front, 1/48 scale

S u m m a r y

Catalogue Number: Southern Front 48001 - LaGG-3, 4th Series
Scale: 1/48
Contents and Media: 66 parts in white styrene; 5 parts in clear; 2 parts in resin and 2 in vinyl; decal sheet and painting guide for five aircraft.
Price: Available online from Hannants for GBP10.20
Review Type: FirstLook
Advantages: Very fine surface detail, decent quality moulding; good engineering; separate control surfaces; relatively free of gaps and steps after preparation and test-fitting.
Disadvantages: Modelling experience required; flash present on most parts; extra time required for alignment and perfect fit; instructions entirely in Russian (especially hard for colour callouts)
Recommendation: Recommended to experienced modellers


Reviewed by Brett Green

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The LaGG-3 was born of the urgent requirement to build a fighter from non-essential materials such as wood. Within a remarkably short period, the design team of Lavochkin, Gorbunov, and Goudkov (hence the LaGG acronym) delivered a prototype which was immediately ordered into production.

The first LaGG-3s to enter service suffered from being overweight and underpowered, poor manufacturing standards and slow climb performance. Its pilots were also endangered by a deadly high stall speed. The first versions of the LaGG-3 were inferior to the Messerschmitt Bf 109 F in every aspect of dogfighting except in the horizontal plane, and even then the Bf 109 could simply break off combat and climb to safety. The LaGG was so mistrusted that its pilots dubbed it the "lakirovanny garantirovanny grob ("guaranteed varnished coffin").

Despite these shortcomings, the LaGG-3 showed promise thanks to its very heavy armament and robust survivability. Even after being shot to pieces, a LaGG could often limp away to its airfield.

Later versions of the LaGG-3 were far superior machines with more more powerful engines, leading edge slats (eliminating the high stall speed), lighter weight and overall performance superior to a Messerschmitt Bf 109 G. Perhaps more significantly, the LaGG-3 was the direct ancestor of the superb La-5 and La-7 fighter designs.

Although the LaGG-3 was an important Soviet fighter, this is only the second injection moulded kit of the type in 1/48 scale.

South Front's 1/48 scale LaGG-3 comprises 66 parts in white styrene; 5 parts in clear; 2 parts in resin and 2 in vinyl; decal sheet and painting guide for four aircraft.

The soft, white plastic parts are reminiscent of earlier ICM releases. Moulding quality is quite good, with only minimal sink marks in visible locations, but there is fine flash on virtually every part demanding a significant amount of time for cleanup.


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Being a largely wooden aircraft, surface detail is minimal but it is subtle and appropriate where present. The recessed rivet detail on the engine cowl is incredibly fine. Fabric detail on control surfaces is restrained to the point of invisibility, and repairing sink marks on the ailerons will eliminate any evidence of surface texture.

This kit is limited run in nature, as evidenced by the lack of locating pins. Fortunately, this is largely compensated by thoughtful engineering such as the full-span wing with a saddle for positive installation of the fuselage, and tabs for the horizontal tailplanes.

Detail is pretty good, although the cockpit is a bit half-hearted with no real attempt to populate the large sidewalls. You might want to detail the front office with parts from the old True Details La-5 cockpit set. With minor modifications, you can use the sidewalls, seat, control column and instrument panel in this cockpit. If you were lucky enough to pick up a resin Cooper Details (Good Stuff) seat when they were available, you could use that here too.

Clear parts are reasonably thin but a little pebbly. A bath in Future will improve the transparency. Perhaps this is a kit design feature though, as the Perspex on the real LaGG-3 was opaque to the extent that many pilots removed the canopy!



Options include rockets (although my references suggest that these were not fitted to this early version), positionable control surfaces and separate vents. Resin wheel hubs and vinyl tyres are also supplement the plastic versions on the sprues.

Five markings options are supplied, with a selection of summer and winter schemes.



Decals are printed in perfect register, and colours look good.





South Front's debut offering is a nicely detailed rendering of this landmark Soviet fighter.

However, it is not a quick build, mainly due to the level of preparation required before assembly. I have already cleaned up the plastic parts and assembled the main components. All the parts required sanding around the edges, with some parts (notably the rudder hinge line on the fuselage halves, the elevators and the wings) needing some fairly heavy-duty treatment with a hobby knife. Many other parts required trimming and several rounds of test-fitting prior to committing to glue. The instructions are also a bit vague in areas too. For example, I am still trying to figure out exactly how the nose intake will fit to the bottom of the cowl.

The good news is that, after this extra time and test-fitting, the main assemblies went together well with very few gaps and steps. Please note that I have not applied any filler, nor sanded any seams or steps, in the photos below.


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

I have also included a few photos of the extra work I did in the cockpit. I used the sidewalls, control column and instrument panel from True Details' La-5 cockpit set, the "Good Stuff" LaGG-3 seat, and scratchbuilt a rear shelf, radio (of imaginary design) and oxygen bottle behind the rear cockpit bulkhead. I also detailed the kit's cockpit floor with plastic, fuse wire and a few items sliced off the True Details cockpit floor.


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

If you do not like cleaning up plastic, modifying parts and repeatedly test fitting, then you probably will not appreciate this kit. On the other hand, if you enjoy a stretch, then South Front's 1/48 scale LaGG-3 should prove to be a satisfying project.

I do hope that South Front continues with later series LaGGs and Lavochkins!

Recommended to experienced modellers.

Purchased with reviewer's funds

Review and Images Copyright 2006 by Brett Green
Page Created 04 September, 2006
Last updated 21 February, 2007

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