In the summer of 1941, Nazi Germany launched Operation Barbarossa, the full-scale invasion of the Soviet Union. While it’s not exactly true that the Soviets were caught with their pants down – they were already ramping up production of the legendary T-34 and Il-2 Sturmovik ground attack aircraft, among others – they were certainly caught unprepared and overwhelmed by Germany’s superior hardware and generalship.
The task of facing down the Luftwaffe fell to a cadre of outclassed fighters, including the diminutive I-16 and the woefully underpowered LaGG-3.
Constructed primarily out of wood, the LaGG-3’s airframe showed great promise, but its weak engine made it ponderous and unwieldy, and it soon earned the nickname lakirovanny garantirovanny grob – a play on the name that translates to “varnished guaranteed coffin”.
Hardly a vote of confidence.
The LaGG-3’s deficiencies against the Messerschmitt Bf-109 were obvious from the get-go, and the problems only grew worse with the onset of winter, which was hard on the water-cooled Klimov M-105 engine.
In all respects, the LaGG-3 was a dog of a plane, but a critical one in at least blunting the German advance to a degree. And it is historically noteworthy as the immediate predecessor to the Lavochkin La-5, the Lagg-3-with-a-big-boy-engine that has to rank among the very top tier of World War II fighters.
The ICM Kit
When I was a kid, I always gravitated toward the absolute pinnacle of a certain aircraft. The P-51D, the F4U-4 Corsair, the later marks of the Spitfire. Since my return to modeling, though, I’ve found myself drawn more and more toward their antecedents. I still love the late-model variants – nothing looks meaner than an F4U-4 kitted out with that four-blade paddle prop and brimming with rockets – but I have a major weak spot for those earlier baby steps. I guess that’s why I’ve got an F4U-1 “Birdcage” Corsair, P-51A Mustang, A-36 Apache (the ground attack version of the P-51A), and several P-47 Razorbacks in the stash.
It’s also what drew me to the LaGG-3. It never lived up to its potential, but it birthed a plane that did so and more. That and, despite its shortcomings, the LaGG-3 does cut a dashing figure.
I decided to build the ICM kit because, well, it’s the only 1/48 boxing of the LaGG-3 that I know of. Overall, it feels like a hybrid of the Eduard Yak-3 and Zvezda La-5. The low parts count and lack of locating pins evokes the Eduard kit, while the feel of the plastic and the level of detail are more reminiscent of Zvezda’s Lavochkin.
I’m also adding some Eduard photoetch, Quickboost exhausts, and aftermarket decals to round out the build.
Stay tuned for more!