Trumpeter 1/72 Su-24MR 'Fencer E'
The Sukhoi Su-24 (NATO reporting name: Fencer) is a supersonic, all-weather bomber aircraft developed in the Soviet Union. The aircraft features a variable-sweep wing, twin-engines and a side-by-side seating arrangement for its two crew. It was the first of the USSR's aircraft to carry an integrated digital navigation/attack system. It remains in service with the Russian Air Force, Ukrainian Air Force, and various air forces to which it was exported.
Many think that the Soviets took a look at the F-111 and thought "We can do that, too". So the Su-24 was born. The aircraft is basically able to perform the same sort of missions as the F-111s. However, it seems from recent operations that the aircraft is used more as a medium-high level bomber using both smart and dumb bombs.
The Su-24MR is a dedicated tactical reconnaissance variant. First flight 25 July 1980 as T-6MR-26, 13 April 1983 as Su-24MR. Entered service in 1983. Su-24MR retains much of the Su-24M's navigation suite, including the terrain-following radar, but deletes the Orion-A attack radar, the laser/TV system, and the cannon in favor of two panoramic camera installations, 'Aist-M' ('Stork') TV camera, RDS-BO 'Shtik' ('Bayonet') side-looking airborne radar (SLAR), and 'Zima' ('Winter') infrared reconnaissance system. Other sensors are carried in pod form. Manufactured 1983–1993.
The instructions have you starting out by assembling the nose gear and the nose gear well. Then one goes onto the cockpit, which has two nice seats and offers decals for the consoles and instrument panel. Like the 111, the plane has an overhead console, all in your favorite Russian interior blue green. One then attaches the nose gear well to the bottom of the cockpit and this goes into the forward fuselage halves. No weight is indicated so perhaps this doesn't need it.
The next major assembly is the fuselage. First one builds up the main gear well which is comprised of six pieces. Stubs for the main gear are installed at this time. Then comes decision time. You see, there are a myriad of holes to open up in the upper and lower fuselage sections. However, most of these holes are for weapons pylons andthe Su-24MR was unarmed. The rub comes in that the kit does not include the camera fairings, so you really cannot build a proper MR from the kit. Apparently the Zvezda boxing of the Dragon kit includes those, but then that is not a Trumpeter mold. You also cannot properly build a standard Su-24M as the panel lines on the nose section are incorrect and may even be the wrong shape. I have included a photo of the underside of the MR and you can see the missing camera fairings. One is on the centerline even with the intakes and the other is on the underside of the intake itself. Note also that the kit does not include the ECM pod as shown. There is something offered, but the shape is not correct.
Knowing all that, let me continue. Into the lower fuselage fit the main gear wells and a three piece exhaust assembly. Then one can close the upper and lower fuselage halves and attach the nose. Intakes are three pieces to a side and there is no ducting or compressor faces, simply a blank wall. On the back, an exhaust cap is placed and one glues in the separate horizontal stabs.
The wings are non-movable and can be built either fully swept or fully forward. In the forward option, you can have the flaps lowered, but not the wing slats as there are no provisions for having them forward. Once you have chosen, open the holes in the lower wing fairing as this plane did have the inner pylons and glue those in place. There are a number of additional bits to glue to the underside that includes the laser rangefinder not used on the MR so attach those only if doing the bomber version.
The rest of the build consists of attaching gear doors and pylons as well as the windscreen and canopy. There are speed brakes that can be posed open if you so wish and for this option there are separate hinge parts. The two canopy pieces can be posed open if one wishes. Several pages are taken up with various weapons and fuel tanks; Trumpeter supplying quite an arsenal for this plane. Included are 24 x FAB 100 bombs; 2 x KH-31 missiles; 2 x B-8M rocket pods; 2 x KAB-500L LGBs; 4 x R-60 AAMs; 1 x PTB-2000 drop tank; and 2 x PTB-3000 drop tanks. Again, the MR did not carry any of this stuff save the big drop tanks. A load-out diagram is provided for those of you who decide to forego the wrong nose and do a bomber version.
Instructions are well drawn and provide Gunze paint references. Both markings options are in the blue-grey and white scheme carried by these planes. One is the box art plane with a shark-mouth as flown by the Ukraine Air Force and the other is a Russian Navy plane. Lots of stencils are provided for both the airframe and weapons. The decal sheet is nicely printed and I'm betting there are aftermarket sheets out there. What probably isn't yet available as aftermarket are the camera bits the kit is missing.
In all, it is a very nice kit though flawed by not being able to be built as the variant boxed. Those who know state that this kit takes care of many of the errors of the older Dragon version, so perhaps not all is lost. The huge majority of those who see the finished product will have no clue that there is anything amiss so I'd say go ahead and build it, though without all the weapons and wait for the aftermarket crowd to provide a fix.
Thanks to www.hlj.com for the preview kit. You can get this kit todayat this link.
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