The LaGG-3 was designed by S. A. Lavochkin, V. P. Gorbunov & M. I. Gudkov and was a refined version of the LaGG-1 fitted with a more powerful Klimov M-105P, 1050hp engine. The LaGG-3 entered service in the early months of 1941 and was produced until mid-1942. Although it was an improved design, the LaGG-3 proved immensely unpopular. The novel, wood-laminate construction of the aircraft continued to be poor quality and pilots joked that rather than being an acronym of the designers names "LaGG" stood for "la kirovanny garantirovanny grob" ("guaranteed varnished coffin"). To improve the aircraft's overall performance, several modifications were made during production of the 6,258 units, resulting in no less than 66 variants!
In combat, despite being generally rated as underpowered and not highly maneuverable, the LAGG-3 proved to be a durable fighter. The first fights of the LaGG-3 against the Bf 109E in June of 1941, demonstrated that it was a quite capable opponent, if somewhat over-weighted. It incorporated self-sealing fuel tanks and exhaust gas ducted into the fuel tanks as inert gas. During the early stages of German invasion Its resistance to combat damage was a large factor of its relative success.
Experiments with fitting a large radial engine to the LaGG-3 airframe eventually solved most of the problems and led to the superb Lavochkin La-5... but that's another story.
ICM's LaGG-3 Series 7-11 kit comes in their standard, somewhat flimsy, side opening cardboard box. On my sample, the printing on the box is misprinted but we don't buy model kits for the box, do we? On the back, there is a 3 view painting guide in color, which is a good starting point to do the camouflage painting.
It is to note that the kit is identical, as far as the plastic parts are concerned, to the initial LaGG-3 serie 1-4 release of which a review can be found here
. Therefore, the following text will be mostly the same. If you want to see detail shots of the plastic parts, I also encourage you to follow the above link.
The plastic sprues (transparent one included) are all located within the same resealable bag. However, no parts were damaged in my sample. The kit is composed of three sprues made of grey plastic (which appears to be quite soft), one transparent sprue, one decal sheet and the instructions. The quality of the moulding is good and representative of ICM latest releases. There is some flash here and there but nothing to worry about. I also found some sink marks on the fuselage sides, especially where the interior detail of the cockpit is heavier. However, it is not dramatic and some putty will solve the problem. The surface of the plastic is a bit grainy though.
Externally, the LaGG-3 isn't a complex aircraft. There are not many panel lines for example because the wings and most of the fuselage are made of wood. But where there are some details, ICM made a good job to represent them. The engraved panel lines and relief details are very nice, as well as the fabric representation of the movable surfaces. The separate engine upper cowlings parts and the metal skin of the forward fuselage area are particularly well rendered and should look realistic under a nice paint job.
The level of detail of the kit is also very good. Unless in their Bf 109 F, it seems that ICM made an effort to provide a decent cockpit interior this time. The sidewalls feature nice relief details and some wheels and levers will make them look even more busy. The pilot's bathtub is composed of a cockpit floor, a seat, a very nice pilot stick, a rear bulkhead, an armor plate with headrest, a radio compartment, an oxygen bottle and an instrument panel. The latter is made of clear plastic, which is a bit strange since it must be painted in interior grey!? The gunsight is present on the transparent sprue as well. I will let the photos speak, but overall I must say I'm quite impressed by the kit, even if the transparencies are somewhat distorted... but this was the case of many Soviet WWII planes.
On a side note I have to add that there is no engine provided in this kit. Quite often did ICM include one in their 1/48 aircraft, but it proved to be a disadvantage since it made the build more difficult and emphasized the fit issues. Therefore, the LaGG-3 should be a lot easier to build than the other kits made by the same manufacturer. I must also add that this kit has nothing in common with South Front's LaGG-3
in case you've asked yourself the question.
On the box, it is written that this kit represents a LaGG-3 of the 7-11 series. According to my references it seems ICM have made a good job on spotting the differences between the variants. The upper engine cowling comes as a separate piece and four different ones are provided of which two are not used in this kit. Some feature the typical gun bulges (two or one UBS machine guns), while the two others are flat. The rudder is fitted with two mass balances (the lower one must be deleted on the serie 11 aircraft) and has the early type shape. The area behind the exhausts is protected by an additional metal plate, also a feature of early LaGG-3s. The Wings don't have the leading edge slats and the spinner is pointier.
On the sprues, there are several optional parts which are labelled "not for use": two upper engine cowlings, one rounder spinner, three thinner propeller blades, two pairs of exhausts etc... One could imagine that with all these additional parts it is possible to do later variants with this kit? The answer is no! Several modifications would have to be done to convert the serie 7-11 variants to later styles. Obviously (and hopefully), the Ukrainian manufacturer will release other variants of the LaGG-3 in the future like they did with their Bf 109 F. It seems as if the molds of this kit are modular and that the early fuselages halves will be replaced by serie 35 or 66 fuselages in futur boxings. The wings will probably be new as well.
Instructions and decals
The black & white instructions are printed on one A4 sheet and one A5 sheet. The first one for the history, parts layout and 10 step assembly guide and the second one for the painting options. Colors are given for the Model Master range of paints. The decals are nicely printed and will allow you to do two color schemes:
1 - LaGG-3 series 11, Capt. V. Mironov, 609th IAP (Fighter Regiment),Afrikanda airfield (Mourmansk aera), Summer 1942.
2 - LaGG-3 series 7, 3th GvIAP (Guard Fighter Regiment) of Baltic Fleet Air Force, Leningrad aera, february 1942.
ICM's LaGG-3 series 7-11 is a nice kit and I would recommend it to every modeller who has some interest in Russian WWII fighters. The price is very competitive too, so it won't cost you too much to add the predecessor of the La-5 to your model collection.
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