The Russian Knights (Russkiye Vityaze) is the latest boxing of ICM’s Flanker B so superbly reviewed by Sean Langley elswhere here
. Having had the chance to 'live' with this kit for a week or so I do have to say that I feel Sean's rating is a tad on the low side at 65%. To my mind ICM’s ‘Crane’ is probably still one of the best Flankers out there in this scale and if you've missed it thus far, now is the time to grab this kit. As far as I can tell it is essentially the same plastic in the box as ICM's previous single seat Flanker release - total number of parts is a pretty impressive 211 - and the Russian Knights release differs only from the earlier kit in the provision of a small decal sheet for the famous aerobatic team that has been displaying this huge and impressive 'fighter' for well over fifteen years now.
Inside the rather large box is a mass of beautifully engraved parts. The fuselage is split top and bottom and the halves are very large pieces of plastic indeed - length is 305 mm and wingspan 204 mm. The wings are single pieces which butt-join (there is a small locating tab which may or may not be adequate) to the wing stubs on the fuselage parts. Mould quality is good – panel lines are finely engraved - and there is little or no flash. Fit would appear to be spot on too. The large fuselage parts line up easily enough, even though at first sight on opening the box they appear warped. They will need taping up and have to be put aside to dry thoroughly before proceeding. The nose radome will need some filler around the tip of the cone (not a separate part), but generally speaking a dry-fit shows the parts come together very well.
Although the three-part K-36 bang seat is neatly sculpted and only needs a foil belt to set it off, the cockpit tub is still the poorest part of this kit, being as bare as a 70's Airfix production. There is no side console or instrument panel detail whatsoever – or cockpit decals. Construction though would appear to be straight forward. Once the cockpit is in place and the huge fuselage halves mated, it is time to tackle the intakes. These are very prominent assemblies under the fuselage, and they will require some care to get them to fit and line up. These parts are pretty well thought out, and there are alignment bars/ intake screens to help ensure the parts line up. While there is no internal fan detail, at the other end the exhausts and reheat chambers are very nicely done. The Flanker has a huge boat tail that comes out past the exhausts moulded integrally with the fuselage halves. The flame holders for the afterburner are superbly engineered although removing them from the sprues will be tricky since the gates come into the detail. When installed and painted, it will be hard to tell them from a photo-etched part.
The wings and vertical stabilisers have locating tabs and slots, but the horizontal stabilisers and the vertical fins under the tail have no location points. The kit instructions are vague to say the least – rather than the usual exploded parts diagram you get a very murky photo build montage which is sufficient to identify the parts (which are not numbered on the sprues) but difficult to tell with the low contrast where exactly they should end up.
A test fit showed that filler would be required at the wing roots, the intakes, as well as the nose already mentioned, but generally everything should fit without too much hassle. Wings and tail fins are single parts, finely moulded to scale thinness. The fins featured the air intakes for the oil coolers but these will need to be carefully hollowed out. Both airbrake and cockpit canopy can be posed open with hydraulic jacks. The landing gear is exquisitely moulded, the mudguard even features the rib detail and triangular aperture and I was also impressed with the engraved detail on the nose gear door - the wheel bulge and glycol bottle are there, while the main gear doors and the wheel wells are also nicely engraved. The prominent fuselage pitot tube is also included. Also in the box are two complete sprues for weapons and pylons ; if building the ‘kit’ version most of these will go straight into the spares box !
The acid test of this kit will be the decals - certainly ICM decals have had some issues in the past. Provision is made on the sheet for the tailfin sunburst decorations, and the wing red/white cheat lines are supplied in manageable lengths, while the larger blocks of colour in the Knights scheme will have to be painted and masked with a certain degree of accuracy. There appears to be only one Sukhoi logo on the sheet, whereas the Russian Knights machines carry the logo on both sides of the nose. The colours are all referenced to Testors Model Master colours. Fortunately I still have a stock of Xtracolour Russian AF enamels in Flanker Light Blue, Flanker Medium Blue and Flanker Blue-Grey. While there is only the single scheme on the sheet it has to be said that the colour layouts suffer from the same lack of contrast that the assembly instructions do.
The Flanker pics (not Russian Knights) were taken at Le Bourget in 2009. Photos courtesy Nico Charpentier for Aeroscale.