The L.E.T. company has a long history of building aircraft in Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic), and some of its vast product line include Blanik gliders, the L 29 jet trainer, and the L 410 and L 610 commuter turboprop airliners. The L 410 is the subject of this 1/72 Gavia kit, and it is a very well done kit indeed.
The kit is broken down into the usual parts, with left and right fuselage halves, split tailplanes and wings, and separate engine nacelles. Delving deeper into the box you discover something that is becoming a rarity these days: a fully detailed cockpit AND cabin area. That's right, the entire cabin area is represented. And this isn't a partial interior,either. Starting with the cockpit, you have a nicely detailed instrument panel, a forwardbulkhead and a rear bulkhead. The pilot and co-pilot seats are made up from four pieces, and the control yokes are etched brass.
Moving behind the cockpit, you come to the cabin area. There are a total of 15 seats present, split with ten on one side of the center isle and five on the other. The seats are mounted on the floor, with a bottom side panel on one side and a separate floor mount on the other. A rear bulkhead closes off the back, and there is a three-piece roof to put on top of this cabin assembly. When finished, you will have a complete interior for a commuter airline. All that's missing isthe inflight magazines. While giving us this interior adds quite a few fiddly bits to work with, it is a pleasure to see a company going this extra step and providing the parts for something that would be tedious to scratchbuild.
While we're still looking at that wonderful cockpit/cabin treatment, it should be noted that all of this detail can be seen, as all the windows are presented on a vacuform sheet. Very clear and very thin, these windows promise little or no distortion, so all those seats will be very visible. The only thing that's really missing is an open door.
The rest of the kit is just as nice as the interior. A choice is given for either a three-bladed or five-bladed prop, and optional wingtip tanks are provided as well. The landing gear sponsons are well thought out and look to be very well fitting. Even if they aren't, they are designed so that it will be easy to fill and sand the joint to the fuselage, with a minimum of damage to the surrounding surface detail, which is very finely recessed. In fact, the surface detail rivals that of the Hasegawa Spitfire VIII and Academy Hurricane IIc currently on my desk.
The photoetch parts include windshield wipers, antenna vanes, aileron and flap actuators, and wheel hubs in addition to the cockpit parts. The PE parts were done by Extratech and are very well done.
Once all of those plastic and metal parts are thrown together, it's time to paint it up and slap the decals on it, and here comes some more tough decisions, as the kit comes with three choices of markings. Even though this is a commuter airliner, several L 410s have found their way into military service. One of the decal choices reflects this, providing markings for a Czech Air Force L 410 T. This one is camouflaged and carries the standard Czech markings in all six places. It is also depicted on the boxtop. Somehow, though, it just seems wrong to build a kit with such a great airliner interior and paint it up in military markings. It seems that Gavia thought similarly, as in addition to the one military version they provide two civilian options.
The first one is for an L 410 UVP from Aeroflot, decked out in red, white and gray. I don't know where this one was flying, but it is finished up like it might get lost in the arctic or something. The wings are red from the wingtips to the engine nacelles, fuselage top is white, and the bottom is gray. Coupled with the red USSR flag (this is a pre-breakup L 410) and the red cheatline, this one will really stand out.
The second one is an L 410 UVP-E20 flown by LET itself, most likely as a corporate hack. More muted than the Aeroflot one, this option is mostly white, with blue andblue green accents. Just think of this one as a big turboprop learjet, and you're probably pretty close to the mark.
When I got this kit in the mail, I thought of the other airliners and business-class planes in my closet. The two that came immediately to mind were the Bandai YS-11 and the Hasegawa Mu-2J. By building all three of these kits, you could have great examples of small, medium, and large twin-engined commuter planes. The Gavia LET L 410 looks to be a very promising kit to build, and will surely look great when it's done.