1/72 Kovozavody LET Z-37TM "What If Turbo Military"

Gallery Article by Gerd Wilcken



The Z-37 (Bumbelbee) was created in the early 1960s as the first purely agricultural aircraft. After the first flight in 1963, around 630 machines were built from 1965. 27 of them are two-seater. In the former GDR, Interflug used 243 aircraft over the years, 15 of which were two-seater Z-37-2 and A2.

Some of the robust aircraft are still in flightworthy and operational condition, although they were to be replaced by their successor, the PZL-106, in the late 1970s and early 1980s.The Z-37 was never able to replace this pattern, so its service life has been extended again and again through exemplary maintenance and improvement. The machine was used in a number of other countries.

Now the company Kovozavody has launched a model series of these machines in 1:72, the latest version of which is almost a pure "What If" model. The TM (Turbo Militar) version is the prototype of a military version of the Z-37. The first flight of the "OK-078" took place on June 13, 1985 in Czechoslovakia.

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The ability of the machine to land on unpaved field airports made it ideal for the Air Force and Army. At the request of the then military leadership of the GDR, a variant of the aircraft for special purposes was developed in 1984. The structure for the transport of weapons and other military equipment has been strengthened. Various uses have been considered such as communication and observation, photo and radiation reconnaissance, weapon carriers, aircraft for ground attack and bombing. A test drop with live bombs in the presence of a general of the GDR army was to take place at the military shooting range in Malacky, Slovakia, in September 1985, but in the end the entire test was canceled. Despite the fact that the results of tests and demonstrations were successful, the order for production from the GDR was not made for unknown reasons and the entire program was discontinued.

Currently, after several sales and restoration, the "OK-078
" is now exhibited in the Kunovice Airfield Museum, Czech Republic. Good to see there on Google Maps.

Kovozavody has included an interesting "What If" version of the Z-37 TM for the former GDR border troops, which piqued my particular interest. As a former member of the then West German Federal Border Guards, I observed countless flights by GDR helicopters on the inner-German border in the 1970s and 1980s. Since a fixed-wing aircraft has a lower maintenance requirement than a helicopter and is therefore much cheaper, it could be used for border observation and as a liaison aircraft.

The version specified by Kovozavody LET Z-37TM "red 813", Grenzschutzstaffel 7 "Walter Ulbricht", Zossen, GDR 1988 is pure fantasy. The squadron never existed and the airfield closest to Zossen was Sperenberg. But it was used by the Russian Forces.

The helicopters used at the GDR border had black board numbers and belonged to the NVA-Lsk (National People's Army, Air Force).

The specified colors are correct for aircraft of the NVA-Lsk and so I have adopted them. The black board number comes from the spare box. I will probably build a camera reconnaissance container and attach it under the left wing.

The kit is quite successful, especially since some errors in the original version have been fixed here. The entry bars on the wings are still missing. I have added on the left. It would also be nice if the pulpit glazing was curved like the original. The filling work is limited.

A good kit for lovers of unusual models ... something different!

Gerd Wilcken

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Photos and text by Gerd Wilcken