Trumpeter 1/72 Su 15 Flagon A

KIT #: 01624
PRICE: $35.95 MSRP, but can be found for less.
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Jim Pearsall
NOTES: Pavla upgrade sets, C72075 –Flagon-A - Canopies and Interior, U72094 – Flagon-A - Correct Vertical Tail U72095 – Flagon-A – Correct Nose

HISTORY

Recognizing the limitations of the earlier Su-9 and Su-11, the Sukhoi OKB quickly began the development of a heavily revised and more capable aircraft. A variety of development aircraft evolved, including the T-49, which shared the fuselage of the Su-9 (including its single engine), but used cheek-mounted intakes to leave the nose clear for a large radome for the 'Oriol-D' (Eagle) radar, and the T-5, essentially a heavily modified Su-11 with a widened rear fuselage containing two Tumansky R-11 engines.

These led to the T-58, which combined the twin engines with a modified version of the T-49's nose, but with side inlets further back, behind the cockpit. It was approved for production on 5 February 1962, as the Su-15, and the prototype first flew on 30 May, 1962. It entered service testing 5 August, 1963, but its service entry was delayed by political infighting with the Yakovlev OKB over production line capacity in Novosibirsk, which was also building the Yakovlev Yak-28P. The Su-15 proved to be superior in most respects other than range, and it was officially commissioned on 3 April 1965. Series production began the following year, and it entered service with the PVO in 1967, replacing Su-9s, Su-11s, and Yakovlev Yak-25s. The initial Su-15 received the NATO reporting name 'Flagon-A.' A simplified trainer version, the Su-15UT (NATO 'Flagon-C'), with no radar or combat capability, entered service in 1970.  

The improved Su-15T had an improved radar, the Taifun, and entered service in 1975, rapidly replacing the Flagon-A.

Trumpeter’s Flagon-A is the initial Su-15.  The “quick and dirty” way to tell a Flagon-A from the later Flagon-D is the wing form.  The Flagon-D has a cranked wing leading edge, giving a longer span for better handling.  The Flagon-A has a straight leading edge.

THE KIT

The 4 sprues in the sturdy box were quite nicely molded.  There’s a clear 2-part canopy provided, but since I’m using the Pavla add-ons, it won’t be used.  Other than overscale thickness, there’s no huge problem with the clear parts.  Also, there are 2 landing light lenses on that clear sprue, so don’t throw it away.

My first thoughts were that since there were 3 “corrections” included in the box, this was going to be one of those nightmare Trumpeter kits, like their F-105 that everyone complained about a while back.  Preparation of a large vat or tar and the procurement of several bags of feathers was probably in order.  Not so, Igor, this kit is not a box shaker, but it’s also not one that will have you throwing it at the wall. 

All parts were cleanly molded, with no “show stopper” ejector marks or mold part lines.  Parts mated nicely, with no warp in the edges.  The locating pins on large parts actually helped keep the parts aligned.  The panel lines were recessed, as is expected of a post-20th Century model kit.  The many fasteners on some of the panels originally looked to be overkill, but most of the photos I find show them very clearly. 

I can’t really comment on the accuracy of the model beyond basic shape.  There’s very little out there on the Flagon, and even less on the Flagon A.  When the aircraft was originally built, everything was a state secret, and except for fuzzy photos taken at the annual Tushino air show, there wasn’t much out there which was unclassified.  If Yefim Gordon could get around to doing a photo book on the Flagon, it will be a godsend.

CONSTRUCTION

THE COCKPIT

The Trumpeter kit does have an interesting method for handling the cockpit.  The upper deck of the fuselage is a separate part, with a rectangular opening almost big enough to get the seat in.  I suspect this is to allow production of a Flanker-C trainer version at a later date.  The Trumpeter cockpit is a single-piece tub, but the nose gear well is 4 parts.  I assembled the gear well and glued it into one of the fuselage halves, then tackled the Pavla cockpit.

The Pavla interior, particularly the seat and top deck are much better looking than the Trumpeter offering, with Pavla providing details which Trumpeter omits, like seat belts and consoles. 

I did some basic detail painting in the cockpit and the seat.  The Pavla instructions were very helpful here.  The Pavla instrument panel fit the fuselage part very well, and looked good.  With the small opening and the seat in there, it’s hard to see, though.  With that small opening, it’s necessary to complete the cockpit and fit it into the fuselage before adding the top deck.  I hit my first fit problem here.  As I was doing the test fit, the cockpit was just a bit too tall to fit between the nose gear well and the fuselage deck.  I had to sand the bottom of the cockpit part until it was translucent to get that top deck to fit. 

I then assembled the fuselage and interior, and prepared to put that top deck on.  Not all of these may have this problem, but mine was about 1 mm short.  The Trumpeter part was OK, but lacking in detail.  Filler putty to the rescue.

THE TAIL

Now that the fuselage was assembled, it was time to add that nice resin tail.  It fit the Trumpeter fuselage with no problem.  Because of the size of this part, it was necessary to fill in a little at the bottom, but that would be true of the original kit part.  The “correction” is the addition of what appears to be a tail warning receiver at the top of the fin, at the rear.  Some of the museum photos I find don’t have this addition, but then possibly someone removed a secret part before turning it over to public display?  I’d trust Pavla on this one, as they’re a lot closer to any Su-15 than I am.

THE NOSE

Then it was time to put on the Pavla corrected nose.  The difference between the kit nose and the resin replacement are pretty evident, as the original nose is an almost perfect cone, while the resin has a subtle but noticeable ogive curve.  The curved nose was a change which was made to Flagon-A’s when it was discovered that the straight nose interfered with the radar.  As such, the Trumpeter nose might be used for an early Flagon-A.  Both noses fit OK on the front of the fuselage, but the Pavla nose isn’t recessed like the Trumpeter version.  I suspect this has to do with the difficulty of getting resin to consistently flow into a small area like that.  Another round of putty and sanding made this part OK.

THE REST OF THE BUILD

There was a fit issue on the wings.  The 2-piece wings are divided upper and lower, and have the control surfaces molded only into the lower.  This provides a sharp trailing edge.  The upper wing sections were just a little too long front-to-rear, and some work with a sanding stick was necessary to get a good fit here. 

The intakes and splitter plates fit fairly cleanly.  I had to use a little putty where the intakes met the fuselage.  The exhausts are made up of 3 pieces.  There must be some engineering reason for this.  There are also 10 air scoops which are glued to the rear of the fuselage in various spots.  The landing gear is fairly simple, with the 2 main gear having a door which attaches to the leg.  The nose gear is another recognition feature.  All Flagon-A’s had a single nose wheel.  Later models had a double wheel setup, to better support the weight of the radar unit in the nose. 

CANOPY

The Pavla cockpit set also includes two vac canopies, one having a periscope on top at the center.  I found that the seat was too tall.  I had to remove that really nice resin seat, which was a tight fit through that small cockpit opening, and then to sand off about 1 mm at the bottom before the canopy could be installed.  I’m really glad I used craft glue instead of CA to put that seat in.

The canopy fit pretty well.  I had to use some white glue around the bottom because my skills for cutting a canopy to fit a round fuselage top are somewhat deficient. 

I am not sure that the Flagon-A carried 4 missiles, but the kit has those nice AA-8 “Aphid” missiles, so I put them on, rather than screw around with trying to fill those large slots on the bottom of the wing on an already painted aircraft.

COLORS & MARKINGS

Painting was fairly simple.  The Flagon-A was built with a chromate-like paint on all of the aircraft parts, and the exterior was then sprayed with an aluminum coating.  This gives an overall uniform look to all the panels, without the variation seen in a natural metal aircraft.  I used Testors Model Master Metalizer Aluminum for the exterior, and Model Master enamels for all other painted parts.  The interior was done in Soviet blue/green, as were the landing gear and gear legs.  The nose was done in a dark gray (actually 34118 gunship gray).  The exhaust area was done in Burnt Metal Metalizer.  I coated the entire aircraft with Future before and after decal application.

I used the kit decals.  The intake warnings went on OK, and all the Soviet stars came off the backing cleanly and I managed to get them all on straight and untorn.  There are about a bazillion little warning and informational markings on the Flagon, and Trumpeter provides more than enough.  Sometimes it was difficult to determine exactly where a marking went, as the drawings are approximately 1/144, or maybe just a bit smaller than that.

CONCLUSIONS

I have built the PM Su-15, several years ago (the top kit on the image below. Ed), and the Trumpeter kit shows the advance of the state of the art of producing plastic models.  Trumpeter has released a kit which is pretty much OK.  The plethora of scoops makes this a slightly more challenging project, but the basic parts, fuselage, wings, nose, engines, stabilizers, and landing gear all fit pretty well. 

The interesting thing about this build is that I had more trouble with the resin corrections than I did with the basic kit.  I would still recommend the Pavla corrections to any modeler with the slightest hint of AMS, as the corrections are pretty much worth the extra work. 

(A good reference would be Red Star #15: Su-9/11/15 by Yefim Gordon if you can locate it. Ed)

Jim Pearsall

March 2009

Thanks to your editor via GreatModelsfor the review kit and Pavla ModelsPavlamodels - logo  for the resin bits.

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

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