by: Drabslab [ ]
Sukhoi SU-33 Flanker D
IntroductionThe SU-33 is one of the derivatives of the SU-27.
That original SU-27 resulted from a cooperation between Sukhoi and the Russian Aerodynamic Institute TsAGI that contributed to the aerodynamic design. The SU-27 resembles the much smaller MIG-29 for which the aerodynamic design was also done in cooperation with TsAGI. Together these planes formed the Soviet version of what is called the high-low mix, or, the combination of a large, very capable but also very expensive plane, with a cheaper version produced in larger numbers.
That large SU-27, an excellent plane, has itself been regularly modified and upgraded creating a range of different fighter aircraft. I throw in a few pictures of my SU-27 in a similar paint scheme of the SU-33 to give an idea how the family line of the SU-33 looks like.
The SU-33 sports extra canards, stronger engines and folding wings. The collapse of the Soviet Union limited the success of this carrier-borne version and only a few (estimates around 40) were built between 1987 and 1999. Many of these planes are still very active today.
The boxThis box tells me that it contains one SU-33 Flanker-D model with a length of 457 mm and a wingspan of 306 mm. For assembling this huge kit, I must glue 320 parts together. This should, when all goes well, lead to a SU-33 active on the Admiral Kuznetsov, the only Russian aircraft carrier.
Opening that box shows how packed it really is. I find two smaller boxes, a number of plastic bags with grey plastic parts, a sprue with transparent parts, a photo-etch sheet and a large 34 pages’ instruction sheet.
Wow… and this is all 1/48 scale.
The plastic partsWell, there are many of them. And the sprues look like they have been designed with ease of assembly, and protection of the individual parts in mind.
The sprues often follow the shape of the parts to protect these from damage. Maybe, with each sprue coming in its own plastic bag, this is overkill but it surely demonstrates that the designers of this kit have given all aspects a very good thought.
The main fuselage parts join horizontally following the actual lines of the plane; This will avoid having those ugly and difficult to remove seams on top and below the fuselage.
Kinetic also paid attention to the positioning of the connections between sprue and part; Where sometimes one needs to sand, or use putty to repair the damage after cutting parts loose, we find here very well positioned connections.
There are quite a few ejection marks but as far as I can judge, these are all in places that will be invisible on the final model. I could not find any flash except on the sprue with the vertical stabilizers.
Overall, the surface detail is very good with finely engraved details and a smooth surface. The kit contains a highly-detailed cockpit and landing gear bays, and most of the control surfaces can be positioned open or closed.
Some of the pieces are quite tiny and I expect some trouble cutting them away from the sprue and in manipulating them during assembly.
Altogether, this level of detail would not be bad for a 1/32 scale kit. The question remains whether it all fits. As a first test I dry-fitted the main fuselage halves and at least here it all looks fine.
The extra cardboard boxesThe smallest cardboard box contains the exhaust cans. In short, I’ve never seen this kind of packaging in a 1/48 scale kit, and probably never seen such detailed burner cans either, except for aftermarket offerings.
The cans can probably stay on that well-designed sprue during painting.
The second, cardboard box contains 2 one-piece R-27 and 4 one-piece R-73 missiles. This is the only weaponry provided with the Kit. Considering that the real-life model has 12 hardpoints and can carry an assortment of rockets and bombs for air-to-ground missions, this ordnance choice looks a bit thin.
Hooray, I finally found something to complain about.
The transparent parts…… are perfectly transparent. The canopy can be positioned open or closed.
But there is a small seam on top of the canopy that must be removed. This will require some very careful sanding and polishing.
Photo-etchThe photo etch sheet gives small details to be added left and right on the kit, and parts to super detail the engine air intake and exhaust. The finish of this photo-etch is splendid but the sheet as a whole looks very thin and “tender”.
This sheets adds value but requires very careful handling to avoid ruining these fragile pieces.
The decalsThe decals are printed by Cartograph which in my experience kills every possible doubt about their quality.
The decal sheet contains 2 emblems for the tail, an eagle and a tiger, and a whole range of numbers that should allow making different airplanes. As only /- 40 Flanker-D have been built this is a nice gesture.
I guess that both emblems are related to planes active on the Kuznetzov but this seems not apparent from the instruction sheet.
Instruction sheetWhich brings me to the instruction sheet. A 34-page black copy magazine that, instead of containing the usual line drawings brings 3D style rendered images showing how the kit should be assembled. As usual, the proposed order of assembly doesn’t consider airbrushing or painting of small parts.
Except for the relatively small colour graphs on the box, it is from the instruction sheet difficult to determine the correct colour combination, certainly for the small details on the airframe. Maybe I am just nick picking here because the kit is otherwise so good that anything less than perfect looks like a major shortcoming.
One big plus is that Kinetic gives a very complete paint index with Vallejo, MIG, Italeri acrylic, Mr Color Humbrol enamel and acrylic, Tamiya and Akan paints.
ConclusionThis is a marvelous kit. Maybe it is the most challenging kit that I have personally seen in 1/48 scale. The kits attraction is not only consequence of its size and technical quality but also to the subject itself; a carrier borne fighter of which one a few dozen have been produced.
All that is testimony to all those claims that we live in “the golden age of modelling”.
However, it is not a kit for the inpatient, or the unskilled. It will require a substantial amount of building time, and research on the internet and in books, to make a model on par with the kits potential. Most likely, some people will find a reason to add additional aftermarket stuff or scratched parts to this kit, but I will certainly stick to an Out Of Box approach.
What surprises me enormously is that this kit did not get a lot more buzz on the net. Are we getting spoiled? Kinetic must be congratulated for bringing such kit on the market. On that market, that kit is for sale (Lucky Model) for USD 55. A bargain!
Koekoe Kinetic, what about a SU-34 of the same quality?
Please remember to mention to vendors and retailers that you saw this model here - on AEROSCALE.