Pioneer 2 1/72 Su-21G (Su-15 UM)
KIT #:  
PRICE:  £4.50
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Carmel J. Attard
NOTES: Added Pavla Models resin set


The Su-15 Flagon was of enormous importance serving as the standard interceptor at bases across the length and breadth of the former USSR. It was no surprise that when the Korean Airlines Boeing 747 (Flight KE 007) was shot down back in September 1983 after flying at Kamchatka Peninsula the fighter involved was the Su-15. The Su-15 was a larger aircraft than its predecessors Su-9 and Su-11 of similar configuration. These delta wing Sukhoi interceptors were always over shadowed by other Soviet aircraft and were used only in the USSR by the Air Defence Forces, a service shrouded in utmost secrecy. These designs underwent a number of problems involving the radar/ weapon systems, poor handling in flight, problems arising from heavy engine layout when twin engine was introduced which all caused delays until the Su-15 delta wing interceptor could start production in 1966 at the Novosibirsk factory. The Su-15 also had to compete with the Yak 28Ps where at one time, production line had to be cleared of Yak 28Ps to make way for production of the Sukhoi interceptor. The first pre-series Su-15 took off at Novosibirsk on 6th March 1968.

In 1967 the Su-15 entered service with the Soviet Air Defence Troops and gradually replaced the Su-9, Su-11 as well as Yak-25Ms and Yak-28Ps. The first Su-15 landed at the 148th Pilot Combat Training Centre at Savasleyka, which is 93 miles South east of Gorky, Nizhniy Novgorod. The first unit with the Su-15 was the 611th Fighter Regiment of the Air Defence Forces at Dorokhova, 43 miles west of Moscow. The Su-15s were used only by the Soviet Air Defence and did not serve with the Air Force. It was never exported. The only known instance of Foreign Service of the Su-15 was a small group used for the air defence of Egypt in the early 1970s, which were flown by Soviet crews. Series production came to an end in 1979 after 1,290 aircraft of all versions have been produced.

Pilots liked the aircraft for its safety, resulting from the use of 2 engines and an automatic approach system and for its light agreeable handling. Statistical data regarding the first 10 years of the Su-15 in service were published. Of the 547,055 hours in the air, some 37 aircraft were lost during the time, giving loss index of 6.76 per 100,000 hours. During the whole of Su-15 service until 1992 the loss index amounted to 6.2. This may be compared with almost 10 for the Mig-25, 11.5 for the Mig-31, 6 for the Boeing F-15 and 10 for the Lockheed Martin F-16.

Enters the 2-seat version.

Although handling was regarded as good by Soviet standard the Su-15 was quite a ‘hot ship’ and the provision of a two-seat trainer for conversion was necessary. The first generation of Su-15UT carried no armament or combat systems, although dummy missiles were often fitted. Design on the trainer version started in 1965. Due to disputes connected with choice of radar this delayed its construction work. In 1967 decision was in favour of Taifun radar. The prototype flew in August 1968 and completion of state acceptance tests on 3rd July 1970. Series production began in Novosibirsk in 1970 and this continued until 1972. To accommodate an instructor the fuselage was lengthened by 17.1” and some avionics devices were removed including radar. The capacity of the front fuel tank was reduced by 198 Imp Gallons and with an additional 42 Imp gallon fuel tank installed at the rear fuselage. The two-seat version served its purpose of training new crew and enough pilots were prepared to man the whole Su-15 fleet.

The Su-15 UM was a tandem two-seat trainer version of the basic fighter with the instructor’s cockpit at the rear and the front cockpit accommodate a pupil. They had a common canopy with separate rear-hinged panels, and communication was via an SPU-19 intercom system. KS-4 ejector seats were installed. With lack of radar and weapons the Su-15UT was suitable only for pilot training and its performance was not as good as the single-seat Su-15. It was common to see them carrying missile mock-ups under the wings.



This kit has been stored in my stash for a number of years but in spite of its popularity among modern jet fighter only recently I got the opportunity to build it especially now that Pavla Models released a number of resin kit update devoted to the Su-15. Strictly speaking the Pavla resin detail parts sets are intended to update the more recently released kit of the Su-15UT and Su-15UM by Trumpeter. However, I also found that a very satisfactory kit build will result even if one resort to using the Pioneer 2 Su-21 (Su-15). The Pioneer 2 Sukhoi comes under the title Su-21G Flagon, a two-seat trainer version. This in fact was the Su-15UM.

The Pioneer series now includes the Flagon A, G, F and C. The kit was very welcomed when released having good surface finish. Moulded in light blue grey plastic with raised and engraved panel lines with cockpit detail very sparse consisting of an office floor and two simple ejection seats. The fuselage is split vertically and having a separate single piece fin and rudder. Main planes are split top and bottom parts, the lower one being a single piece. Tail planes are single solid pieces, which come on the thick section side. I did not find the undercarriage as adequately detailed but nothing much one can do considering the size of the items. The doors are on the thick side and it is imperative to sand this down to half their thickness. The pylons provided are of the wrong shape and detail and again needs to attend to. Two missiles are provided and decorate the aircraft when fitted. These had the fin section thickness reduced to half its thickness by sanding. Assembly instructions show exploded views, which clearly displays placing of all parts. Decals are simple, consisting of six red stars and individual aircraft numbers to go on either side of the fuselage positioned on the air intakes. All in all the kit is rather easy to put together, the basic parts are there but even at this scale the kit yearns for more detail. The kit has a total of 34 parts and a single clear canopy of rather thick section. No mention is made of the actual colours but all Su-15 trainers were finished in natural metal.


 Building the model to a more accurate standard involved the use of Pavla kit resin sets U72-92 and U-93 Su-15TM and 72-081.and also 72-105 Su-15UM. The combination of the Pioneer 2 kit with these Pavla Models offerings results in the ideal representation of a Su-15UM. Set 72-93 provided the correct nose radome, 72-92 consisted of fin and rudder part while the set C72-081 contained cockpit interior detail parts. The detailed cockpit assembly comprised two sets of ejection seats, side panels front and mid cockpit coamings and aiming sight to fit to wind shield. All these parts were trimmed from their resin blocks. The one-piece cockpit top also required to be parted in three sections (considering that this was intended for the Trumpeter model in which case it conforms in one piece). It is a pity that no one produced a clear two-seat canopy to replace the thick canopy that comes with the kit.  This caused much of the detail to be hidden.

The resin parts were painted in accordance to Pavla instructions and were gently inserted in the cockpit. The ejection seats were complete in every respect as also were the side console parts that required little sanding at the back to allow enough space for inserting the seats. The new true shape of the resin radome was wider in diameter and this was mainly due to the fact that the Pioneer kit was too narrow at the nose area as compared with scale plans I have available. To correct this difference I have inserted a fillet, 1.5 mm in thickness, between the forward areas of the fuselage halves. This got closer to the resin diameter and little filler faired the area as required. I found difficulty in locating the exact position of the kit canopy as there was no reference indication on the kit itself but had to resort to outside scale plans to ensure the right placing. I did not fit the resin intakes which come with one of the sets but could manage rearrange the same kit intakes, reducing them in size.

 Other additional work carried out was as follows.

1        Replace the two air intake scopes at rear fuselage sides and add three smaller ones to both sides. Note that the Su-15 UM had the additional large intakes at top of rear engines.

2        Fit new kit nose cone from pack U72-105.

3        Add fairings to nose wheel doors

4        Antennae at tail planes were replaced with metal pins and bent upwards.

5        Thin down the leading and trailing edges

 6        Pitot tubes at wing tips were replaced with metal ones. 

7        Wing fences were thinned down to half their thickness by scraping.

8        Thin down section thickness of wheel well doors

9        Outboard and inner missile pylons were rebuilt to a different shape and section.

10   Add a set of three short aerials under the fuselage forward section and repeat at rear of wings.

11   Long plastic pipes added to engine outlet interiors.

12   Wheel wells were detailed ref to drawings.

13   Nose wheel leg increased by 2 mm in height so that the model has the correct inclined sit. 

14   The ‘L’ shaped nose antenna was left out on this version.

I added another pair of missiles to the inboard pylons type P-60M x 2 besides the Pair of P-98MP all of which were dummy missiles. These came from modern Soviet weapons air to air missile set 2504-02.


The Su-15 trainers were metal finish and a mix of different grades or shades of silver was applied to the whole of aircraft. The missiles carried are finished in semi gloss white having a tan coloured nose cone. Cockpit interior was deep light blue. The remaining of interior detail was as per Pavla instructions.

 Nose radome was semi gloss medium green and wheel centre were in standard bright green. Areas around cockpit were painted black. Exhaust area was shaded with a darker mix of silver and engine grey.

 The now almost complete Sukhoi merited a decent set of markings and I went for a Ukrainian AF scheme that I picked from Begemot 7204 decal sheet. This sheet had decals for both types of two seat version, i.e. UT and UM. I opted for Su-15 UM. This sheet also contained full set of tiny instructions decals. The model was given a coat of Klear before and after the decal application and finally the completed model was given a coat of Model Master semi gloss lacquer.


 Completed Sukhoi was quite pleasing and looking more the type considering so many updates. It is a Su-15UM supposedly, belonging to 62nd Fighter Aviation Regiment of Ukrainian Air Defence, Belbek AB in the Sevastopol vicinity circa mid 1990s. The kit with the accessories is recommended to all those who want to keep their model collection up to date with modern combat types.


International Air Power Review

Carmel J. Attard

May 2012

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