KP Models 1/48 Su-22M4
One of the most interesting late model Soviet Air-to-Mud workhorses has finally been done in 1/48 by the modeling elves deep in the forests of the Czech Republic. KP (ex-OEZ) has produced, IMHO, a very nice, accurate representation of the M4 swing wing Fitter. The 1/48th Fitter is a fairly large model, about the size of Monogram's Thud. Four grey parts trees, one clear parts tree and a comprehensive decal sheet comprise the assembly. Included is a twelve-page, no-text (other than the intro.) instruction booklet and a fine glossy color insert picturing Czech and Soviet color schemes.
Molding quality resembles OEZ Soviet kits of the past, that is, engraved, with Ertl B-52-like, slightly "soft", or rounded details that Monogram or Tamiya would do in exquisite sharpness. It's a molding style that takes some getting used to but, when properly detailed and finished, can run with the "big dogs."
Although the panel and large fastener engraving is slightly overbearing, it seems not as deep as in previous OEZ efforts and not even close to the "trench warfare" exacted upon modelers by Matchbox. The slight heaviness of engraved lines is most noticeable on small parts such as weapons pylons. On large surfaces such as wings the panel lines are fairly acceptable, especially since the color schemes are virtually all dark Warsaw Pact camouflage shades, and the airframes are almost always "busy" (speed brakes, wing fences, flare launchers, ordnance, tanks and pods) and somewhat dirty, to boot. Plus, for those who choose to lay on the ink to define panels, there's much less chance of the pen jumping out of the groove!
Clear parts are very, very good. They're significantly thinner than in the past and exceptionally clear; I rate them right up there with Monogram. Painted areas on the canopies (open and closed versions furnished) are "dulled" by glass beading the molds. Included in clear is the raised-line instrument panel with a separate clear CRT display to be glued on. No decals here; it's paint-it-yourself time.
Fidelity to the real Su-22M4 is very good. I used the 4 + Czech color monograph as a reference. As with most of OEZ efforts in the past, cockpit detail is restrained, although all the main components are there. Don't bother with the seat when you can add the excellent True Details K-36 resin seat. The side consoles have rudimentary raised detail which, with proper paint colors and dry brushing, may appear busy enough to suffice. Using the 4+ reference pub will enable proper detailing....or you may want to invest in Cutting Edge's resin cockpit set which, I understand from the rec.models.scale Internet newsgroup, will go on sale at the Nats. The landing gear suffers from the same relative lack of detail as the cockpit. All the struts and links are there, but Monogram they ain't! The main gear wheel wells have no side wall detail, although the characteristic Sukhoi stamped pattern in the "roof" of the well is accurately reproduced. Ditto for details on the gear doors, speedbrakes and wells: none on the inner surface of the gear doors, some semblance of stamped panels on the inner surface of all four speed brakes and some engraving in the wells, leaving additional detailing to individual preference, using the excellent 4+ pub detail pix.
The wings have pivots, and may be individually moved to the position of choice. Flaps, slats and ailerons are engraved, unfortunately not separate. The four large wing fences and aft wing strakes are very well done, properly thin for 1/48. The many fuselage bumps and small air intakes characteristic of Sukhoi designs are all included, to be separately glued on. KP has included lots of good externals (nomenclature from the 4+ monograph) to hang on the seven available stations: Two PTB-1150 fuel tanks; two UB-32M/57 rocket pods; a KKR recce pod; an SPS ECM pod; and two of what appear to be AS-10 Karen air-to-ground missiles. Correct pylons for each store are provided.
The kit decals by Propagteam are very thin, ala Superscale, with excellent color registration. Czech and Soviet schemes are included, with over fifty red and yellow stencils, the placement of which is shown by two large diagrams--Superscale please note-- in the instruction booklet. The modeler might also consider using the "panel matching" colored dots furnished on the Cutting Edge 1/48 Fencer sheet. Cutting Edge has also released two 1/48 Fitter decal sheets which include, but are not limited to, West German, Angolan, Iraqi, Polish and gaudy East German "farewell" schemes.
KP's fine effort is a most welcome addition to the modeler's 1/48 Soviet/Warsaw Pact Air Order of Battle. Perhaps they'll consider an injected 1/48 Flagon to complete the Sukhoi line. My kit was obtained via mail order from Ace Hobbies in NYC for $35.50 including shipping. I understand that Squadron/Signal by now may also have received a shipment. BTW, have just installed the Cutting Edge resin/etch cockpit set--outstanding!
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