Wednesday, October 2, 2013


A detailed 1:48 scale kit of the one-man Soviet LK Lunar Lander, built to beat NASA to the Moon in the heady Space Race days of the 1960s.

US company Fantastic Plastic offers this first-ever 1:48 scale model kit of the Soviet LK Moon Lander. The kit was designed in CAD by resident aerospace expert, Scott Lowther, who has combined key components of the three known LK lander designs.

In Fantastic Plastic's words, "It was printed in high resolution stereolithography by Scicon Industries and cast by Mana Studios. Our kit includes more than 150 pieces, including a sheet of photo-etch brass details by ParaGrafix, a moonscape display base and an in-scale Soviet Cosmonaut figure. Decals are by JBOT. The original cover illustration is by professional box art designer Denis Podgorniy.

"Due to the kit's complexity, we eschewed traditional printed instructions in favor of a CD-ROM that contains a step-by-step building guide using the same CAD model used to produce the kit.

"We began offering the Soviet LK Moon Lander kit to our reservation holders last week and the first run of 50 castings sold out within 24 hours. We have another 50 castings in the works and expect to receive them in two to three weeks."

For diorama fans, FP has included a 140mm (5.5) square moonscape display base, a 1:48 scale cosmonaut figure, plus a Soviet flag to stand in the simulated lunar regolith.

About the real thing
Soviet rocket designer Sergei Korolev conceived a twin-spacecraft lunar-lander system, similar to the Apollo concept, albeit carrying only one cosmonaut to the Moon's surface instead of the two that flew in the US  Lunar Module.

The main LOK (Lunny Orbitalny Korabl) spacecraft would ferry 2-3 cosmonauts to lunar orbit. Once there, a cosmonaut would spacewalk from the LOK to the docked LK (Lunny Korabl) lunar lander.

The LK used a single engine for both landing and takeoff, the LK's landing gear serving as a launch pad, while the upper section returned to the orbiting LOK. The pilot-cosmonaut would then have spacewalked back into the LOK for the return flight to Earth.

Several LK prototypes were built, and three were tested in Earth orbit in the mid-1960s. However, the giant N-1 booster built for the Moon mission failed repeatedly, the entire N-1 program being abandoned in the early 1970s. With that decision, LOK and LK development also stopped, and so did all plans for Soviet cosmonauts on the Moon.

Looks like a terrific kit, and would make a natural partner for a combined Apollo-LK double-diorama, maybe even a what-if scenario, with crews from both the US and Soviet Union shaking hands!

Pix courtesy Fantastic Plastic, kit decals by JBOT, original box art by Denis Podgorniy.

For kit availability, please click here.