La-15 Fantail | Mars Models 1:48

After the end of the war in 1945, Britain was the center of the world’s jet propulsion. At the end of 1946, a commission consisting of the chief aircraft builder Mikojan, the chief engine builder Klimov and the leading specialist in aerospace materials, Professor Kishkin traveled to Britain, where they managed to purchase the latest Rolls-Royce turbojet engines: Nene with a weight of up to 2270 kg and Derwent-V with a weight of 1590 kg.

In the shortest possible time, Russians copied both (what respect for intellectual property rights) and started mass production of engines that received the names RD-45 and RD-500. The government ordered the aircraft design offices to develop a new prototype aircraft for these engines by the end of December 1947.

It ended with Yak-23, MiG-15, and La-15 (in my opinion, the prettiest and probably the best of all three). First came the RD-45-engined 168, and when the delays came to light – a similar aircraft “174” with an RD-500 engine.

Prototypes of “174” and I-310 No.01 (later MiG-15) were completed almost simultaneously: the first flight of I-310 took place on 30 December 1947 and “174” on 8 January 1948.

May 1948, the prototype of “174” crashed, the pilot survived.

In terms of maximum speed, the MiG-15 and La-174 proved to be virtually equal. The top speed of the MiG-15 was 1042 km/h at an altitude of 2620 m. La-174 – 1040 km/h at an altitude of 3000 m. In terms of climb speed, the MiG-15, due to its slightly higher string-to-weight ratio, showed higher performance than the La-174: the climb time at 5,000 m was 2.3 minutes compared to 3 minutes. But horizontal maneuverability, acceleration, and braking characteristics proved to be better in the latter. Thanks to its good aerodynamics, the La-174 (now known as the La-15) surpassed the MiG-15 in stability and controllability, especially at high speeds.

The series production of both fighters started.

Unfortunately, on 3 February 1949, another prototype of Lavochkin from The La-15, the La-176, the first in the USSR to cross the sound barrier, crashed. This time the pilot (guilty of an accident) did not survive.

What was even worse for La-15, the new WK-1 engine, with much better parameters than its predecessors, also entered production. It could be mounted on the MiG-15, but not in the La-15 – due to its size. The Il-28 bomber was also supposed to use these engines. So there were voices in favor of unification, leaving fewer types of engines and aircraft in production. The MiG-15 was also cheaper and easier to produce. The decision was made to end the manufacture of the La-15. Informed literally at the last minute, Lavochkin immediately wrote an appeal to Stalin, in which he tried to challenge the choice of the MiG-15 for mass production at plant No. 21, which had so far produced the La-15. Knowing Stalin’s negative attitude towards aircraft affected by accidents or crashes, Ławoczkin did not mention the achievements of the La-176. He writes only about the prototype “168”, which has undergone state tests, which has many identical or similar elements to the La-15, that it would be more reasonable to switch to its production at plant 21… in vain.

The La-15 was withdrawn from the front line to air defense units, where they served until the mid-1950s. Later, some of them were used for nuclear weapons tests.

The model, according to the mars models manual, presents the first serial copy of the La-15. I hope that it has ever actually looked like this one because, as I realized after applying the decals, it looks different in the pictures.

Construction was almost seamless until it became apparent that the cockpit and air inlets to the engine did not fit in the fuselage. The diameters of the front and rear of the fuselage differed quite significantly. Somehow, I managed these problems by the strength and persuasion of the file.

Besides these issues, it was a pure pleasure; the kit has lovely details, the set is complete with photo-etched details and masks.

As for the painting, I used MRP for the interiors outside: AK Extreme Metal. The dark grey oil wash from Modellers World.

Barrels made of brass tubes.

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