VEB 1/72 Sukhoi Su-7 Fitter
|PRICE:||Someone wanted 99 bucks on ebay in January 2011!|
|DECALS:||Generic Soviet, Czech and Polish examples|
This sleek looking jet was one of the first practical
Soviet ground attack fighters. It was originally meant to be a dogfighter which
would take control of the airspace over a Soviet ground army. It was pretty
useless at that task, so in 1958 Sukhoi was asked to turn it into a tactical
strike plane, optimised for high speed, low level flight.
The new plane came into service in 1961. It scored the NATO reporting name "Fitter".
As you might expect from a second-generation fighter, the design left a lot to be desired. The Fitter was certainly fast - it was almost supersonic at sea level - but it was fast on take-off and landing too. It had no instrument landing system and despite the bubble canopy, visibility was reportedly poor. The speed was such a hindrance that Sukhoi eventually gave the plane a swing-wing design, so it could be flown at slower speeds. That jet was the Su-17, and later the Su-22.
It was notoriously short-ranged. Even with external fuel tanks, its range was tiny. It could carry 3.2 tonnes (7,100lb) of fuel internally and nearly 2 tonnes more in external tanks. Yet with just a couple of bombs, even this enormous fuel load would only give it a combat range of less than 1000 miles.
Still, it served widely and supposedly still struggles on in the North Korean Air Force. India had six squadrons of these jets in service during its 1971 war with Pakistan. Fourteen were lost, but they developed a bit of a reputation for surviving under punishing circumstances.
Apart from a range of Warsaw Pact air forces, the Su-7 found a home at air bases in Arab countries from Algeria to Yemen, as well as Vietnam.
This baby was big, too. Though similar in overall layout, a MiG-19 had the same wingspan (a bit over 9 metres or 30 feet) and yet the Sukhoi was a good metre taller and 4 metres (abour 15 feet) longer.
This kit is as basic as they come, yet strangely
charming. It has great box art - painted in a style reminiscent of
Communist-bloc propaganda posters, it shows a pretty heavily laden Su-7 with the
obligatory twin fuel tanks to extend its very short range.
The plastic is silver and a bit brittle. Panel lines are heavily raised, typical of VEB.
There's a two piece canopy which can probably be made to open and close; a slightly underscale pilot is included to sit on what looks like a sofa, rather than an ejection seat. There's a big instrument panel that looks like it came from a 1960 Caddy, rather than a jet fighter. Two bombs, two rocket pods and two fuel tanks let you load this Fitter up for a major airstrike.
The rudder and ailerons are moving parts. The undercarriage is very basic, with no detail at all in the wheel well areas. But the kit comes with a sturdy stand so I think it's a good candidate for a wheels-up build.
But for all that, it's a nice kit and it actually does look like an Su-7. While it may not be one hundred per cent accurate, it captures the general appearance quite nicely. We shall see if that's true after it's built!
Decals are very basic (and I wonder if they will still be useable). You get markings and a nose number for a Soviet, Polish or Czech aircraft.
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