Smer 1/48 Piper L-4


    The first Piper Cub J.2 was built in 1936 followed by J.3 version in 1938 equipped with 48kW / 65 hp Continental engine. This was the most successful version with 3000 aircraft built a year in early forties.

    Military version, designed L.4 "Grasshopper" had modified canopy and instruments. This version saw the first action during the invasion to North Africa and served as courier, reconnaissance and observation aircraft. From then served on all fronts well through the war years. Altogether some 5500 L.4 were built.

    After war the aircraft was in service of many countries and some are still in it until nowadays.

    More about Piper L-4 on wikipedia


    The Smer kit was first release in early eighties, I believe. The box contains some 40 gray plastic parts, injected 4-parts canopy and decal sheet for two aircraft. There are no PE parts. The plastic frames are, in spite of the age of the forms, free of flash and no disturbing pins. The instruction sheet with quite clear drawings and with some references for the details there is no problem with assembly.

    I don't check against the plans the correctness of the size and shape but there are few problematic things you notice straightaway. Some details are too rough and the fabric pattern, otherwise quite nice, is missing on the top and bottom sides of the fuselage.

The cockpit contains sticks, seats, instrument panel with the tank and internal support structure of the canopy. The canopy itself is of four nicely clear parts with the frame, some of it inside.


    I make the kits in Out-of-Box style with few added detailing and corrections. This time I started with the cockpit adding the fuselage metal structure (just to find later it was mostly covered, but left it there anyway) made of plastic frame bits. Then glued the fuselage together to be able to install the seats, sticks and the front pedals (that you cannot see really through the glassing anyway).

    Next step was to complete the engine. There s need to thin the cylinder covers and both bottom exhaust pipes. After that I assemble the engine parts except the screw and glue it to the fuselage. I sprayed the interior and the sticking places with the green enamel to check the errors. I found out that the engine needs some correction of the top lid, that looked smaller, I used some thick glue that was sanded to the correct shape. Then I sprayed the cockpit with the Gunze H80 Khaki green and glued the instrument panel to the place. This I painted Humbrol Flat Black and scraped the instrument edges with scalpel. Next the elevators were glued to the fuselage. I masked the interior and sprayed the fuselage with the Surfacer 1000. I drilled little hole at the bottom. fuselage just above of the tail wheel for the only rigging that the model needs. The last step was to assemble and glue to the place the structure of the cabin that was painted.

    The wings, have classic top/bottom parts, were glued together, sprayed with Surfacer and left aside. Later I glued the supports to it, as I thought it would helped me to hold the correct angles.

    Now I painted the main assembled parts and after they dried up, I continued with the details. The canopy is a bit challenge as there are 4 parts, sides, top and front shield to be assembled. I finally used the trick of stinking the side to the fuselage in correct manner and glue the top on them. Then the front shield was glued too. I painted the internal frames (yes, there are internal frames interpreting some inner structure), masked the outside frames of the canopy and glue it to the fuselage. The main leg parts were glued to the fuselage (it needs to look after the correct angle) and sprayed.

    At the last the wings were glued to the places, the painted screw and the tires were installed. The rigging was made of 0,8 fishing rod painted Humbrol Gunmetal enamel.

Colours and markings

    I choose the "Torch" aircraft, that seemed to me a bit more attractive with the yellow front and insignias.

    First I sprayed the fuselage and wings with Surfacer 1000 to find and correct some sanding marks.

    The parts of canopy were painted separately, inside frames using H 80 Khaki green and outside frames with H 78 Olive drab. After assemble of it I masked it again and sprayed outside again with Olive drab.

    The upper sides of the fuselage and wings were done with H78 Olive drab and bottom with H53 Neutral gray. The engine cover was sprayed with few layers of H3 Yellow, the rest of which I used to brake solidness of the Olive. I sprayed the whole model with gloss Humbrol varnish and applied decals. Then came another level of gloss. I made some marks of the dust/sand near the wheels and tail using Gunze H66 Sandy Brown. After that I sprayed the model with Gunze Matt varnish.

    After the final assembly of the kit (wings, wheels, screw) I made some scratches on the metal parts with Revell 90 silver and added some marks of brushed of Olive on the fabric, using the Gunze Sandy Brown and Yellow. On the engine cover I added a bit of oil stains and that was it.


    As I mentioned, the kit is quite old and therefore doesn't seem to meet nowadays standards. I don't check the 100% correctness of every detail so I found this kit entertaining enough to buy another one. And as there is only one other possibility for this scale, if you are interested in this kind of aircraft, it is a good choice, because it is very cheap and provides good base for nice model.

Little walkaround

Piper L-4 Cub in Air muzeum Kbely, Czech republic

June 2009

Martin Dolejsi

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