Hasegawa 1/72 Su-35S Flanker

KIT #: 01574 (E44)
PRICE: 3240 yen (about $30 at current exchange rates) plus shipping from Japan
DECALS: Two options shown but more can be done
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2014 tooling. Base kit


In 2003, even as Russia aimed to export the Su-27M, Sukhoi launched a project to produce a fighter to bridge the gap between upgraded variants of the Su-27 and Su-30MK, and Russia's fifth-generation Sukhoi PAK FA. The project's aim was a second modernization of the Su-27 airframe (hence its classification as a "4++ generation fighter") by incorporating several characteristics that would be implemented on the PAK FA. Additionally, the aircraft was to be an alternative to the Su-30 family on the export market. The design phase was to take place until 2007, when it would be available for sale. It was later reported that the programme was launched due to concerns that the PAK FA project would encounter funding shortages. The project's in-house designation is T-10BM (Bolshaya Modernizatsiya, "Big Modernization") while the aircraft is marketed as the Su-35.

While the aircraft maintains a strong superficial resemblance to the Su-27, the airframe, avionics, propulsion and weapons systems of the Su-35 have been thoroughly overhauled. Technological advancements have produced more compact and lighter hardware, such as the radar, shifting the centre of gravity to the aircraft's rear. These improvements removed the need for canards and saw the abandonment of the "tandem triplane" featured on several Su-27 derivatives. Also omitted was the Su-27's dorsal airbrake, which was replaced by differential deflection of the vertical stabilizers. Other aerodynamic refinements include a height reduction of the vertical stabilizers, a smaller aft-cockpit hump, and shorter rearward-projecting "sting".

The reinforced airframe sees extensive use of titanium alloys, increasing its durability to some 30 years or 6,000 service hours, and raising the maximum takeoff weight to 34.5 tonnes. Internal fuel capacity was increased by more than 20% to 11.5 tonnes, and could be raised to 14.5 tonnes with the addition of drop tanks; in-flight refueling can also be used to extend missions.

Sukhoi has overhauled the avionics suite, at the heart of which is the information management system that enhances man-machine interaction. The system, which has two digital computers, collects and processes data from various tactical and flight-control systems and presents the relevant information to the pilot through the two main multi-function displays, which, together with three secondary MFDs, form the glass cockpit. The aircraft features many other upgrades to its avionics and electronic systems, including digital fly-by-wire flight-control system, and the pilot is equipped with a head-up display and night-vision goggles.

The Su-35 employs an Irbis-E passive electronically scanned array radar that constitutes an essential component of the aircraft's fire-control system. The radar is capable of detecting a 3-square-metre (32 sq ft) aerial target at a distance of 400 km (250 mi), and can track 30 airborne targets and engage eight of them at the same time. Su-35S uses the N135 Irbis passive antenna array with electronic scanning radar for improved locating. The radar can also map the ground using a variety of modes, including the synthetic aperture mode. The Irbis-E is complemented by an OLS-35 optoelectronic targeting system that provides laser ranging, TV, Infra-red search and track (IRST) functionality. The Su-35 is compatible with a multitude of long- and short-range air-to-air missiles, precision and unguided air-to-ground weaponry that include missiles, fuel-air bombs and rockets. A maximum weapon payload of 8 tonnes can be carried on the fourteen hardpoints. The fighter may use missiles with a range of up to 300 km.

The Su-35 is powered by a pair of izdeliye (Product) 117S (AL-41F1S) turbofan engines. Developed jointly by Sukhoi, NPO Saturn and UMPO, the engine is a heavily upgraded AL-31F variant, and draws on the design of the fifth-generation PAK FA's Saturn 117 (AL-41F1) engines. Its thrust output is estimated at 142 kN (31,900 lbf), 20 kN (4,500 lbf) more than the Su-27M's AL-31F. It has a service life of 4,000 hours, compared to the AL-31F's 1,500; the two engines feature thrust-vectoring capability. Each thrust vectoring (TVC) nozzle has its rotational axis canted at an angle, similar to the configuration on the Su-30MKI. The thrust vectoring nozzles operate in one plane for pitch, but the canting allows the aircraft to produce both roll and yaw by vectoring each engine nozzle differently. A similar thrust vectoring system is also implemented on the PAK FA.

The engine may give the Su-35 limited supercruise capability, or sustained supersonic speed without the use of afterburners. Radar-absorbent material is applied to the engine inlets and the front stages of the engine compressor to halve the Su-35's frontal radar cross-section (RCS); the canopy was also modified to deflect radar waves.


First of all, I apologize to some for the long introduction to this, but I thought it would be useful to show that there are a considerable number of differences between this and the earlier Flankers. Now I'll be the first to state that I don't know if Hasegawa got everything right or not, but it does look like it. Aside from the E  & G sprues (which are weapons, wheels and exhaust) along with the clear sprue, all the others are marked Su-35. The others are marked Su-33. A & B sprues are not marked at all as to what version they are for, but the upper fuselage section does not have a speed brake well nor mounting areas for canards.

You probably gathered from the sprues layout that there are a lot of parts and that is a fact. Much of this is because you get a ton of weapons, something we are all glad to see as it means we don't have to fork out for a weapons set. Just to give you an idea of what is provided, you have four each of R-27Rs, R-27ETs, R-73s, Kh-31s, KAB 1500s, B-8s and two R-77s. Since there are eleven hard points, you will not only have a very loaded plane, but will have spares for other projects. A load-out diagram is provided.

Getting back to basics, there is a diagram from the start that shows what holes need to be opened to mount the various pylons.  and sensors. The cockpit tub is standard Hasegawa 1/72 with a four piece seat, a four piece pilot to place in it, instrument panel and control stick. There is detail on the consoles and instrument panel along with decals to put there. No indication of nose weight is provided and this one probably doesn't need it. The kit has you build up the engine intakes fully before attaching them to the lower fuselage. You do have the option of open or closed lower intake doors. On the back of the aircraft, the vector nozzles can be molded straight out or pointed slightly inward and down. There are separate bits to attach to the burner cans for your choice.

Hasegawa supplies separate gear door options for in flight or gear down. It seems that including a display stand is becoming standard for many of their kits and one is provided in case you wish to model your Su-35 in flight. This stand will replace the centerline pylon. Those who want their plane on its gear with the canopy open will have that option, the landing gear being nicely done as you expect from Hasegawa.

Instructions are standard fare from this company with a long map-like fold out and Gunze paint references. Two marking options are provided. One is the box art plane in standard Flanker colors. Most of the colors shown for the camo scheme will need to be mixed, but there are many companies who market accurate Flanker colors. The other option is a very dark blue upper with light blue undersides. No unit information is provided, but there are a number of markings on the sheet that are not specified; the markings instructions stating 'Decals without placement instructions may be used freely'. The 'net will provide some alternates, I'm sure. Decals are nicely printed and should work without problems.

I pulled this from the stacks near the end of last year wanting to build an Su-33. However, after a few inquiries and a re-reading of the background info, I realized it had to be built as it is so I got underway. First thing I did was the glue the control stick into the cockpit tub then paint all the cockpit bits and surrounding inner fuselage with Testors Model Master Russian interior blue-green. I have read that this shade is not bright enough, but it looks OK to me and isn't grey. There are decals for the side consoles and the instrument panel. Be sure to cut the decals that will need to go around things or they won't fit.

With that done, I made sure to open up all the holes for antennas and pylons before going any farther. Some of these will not be accessible once the cockpit is in place. I also chose to only use about half the pylons. Next, the cockpit was cemented into the upper fuselage half and the fuselage halves glued together. I started with the wings and then worked around the rest. While that was drying, I assembled the nose cone then started assembling some of the missiles. I find it best to do the weapons as the build goes on as it always provides something to work on. One thing for sure, I'll have a lot of 1/72 Russian weapons left after the build for other kits.

The intakes on kits like this are always a concern. These are not a perfect fit, but are really not all that bad. While dealing with the minor fit issues on these, I filled the fuselage seams and sanded those down. You'll find these seams just aft of the wing and on the forward nose. I built up the radome but did not install it. That will be one of the last steps. Skipping around a bit, I also assembled the pylons and missile rails I would be using. I also attached some of the smaller scoops and bits that would not be easily knocked off by handling. The windscreen and canopy were masked and installed.

This is a kit that one sort of paints as one goes on. In this case, prepainted the inside of all the exhaust pieces prior to gluing them together. The kit gives you the option of straight or deflected exhaust nozzles and I picked the deflected option. These also had the outside painted in several metallic shades to add interest. I also painted the steel portions of the rear fuselage. These were later masked and the medium grey between them painted and masked.

I made a bit of an error in gluing on the ventral strakes before doing this painting. It would have make masking a bit easier had I waited. Several areas get painted a dark grey (instructions call out Neutral Grey) and I used Colorcoats paint for this as I'd run out of Testors. The landing gear, gear wells and antenna areas get this paint. There are sections on the leading edge of the tailplanes and wings which also are painted this shade. If you haven't guessed already, you'll do an incredible amount of masking to get these areas properly done. I'm not steady enough with a brush to do some of the really delicate bits. Also needing painted are the forward half of the tailplanes. These get a coat of Alclad II steel. The area forward of the gun port is aluminum.

Once most of that is done (and I did some of this after the main camo colors were applied), it is time for the overall airframe. I chose to freehand this though I guess it could be masked as well as it is a pretty tight pattern. The three shades used are Testors  Flanker pale blue, Flanker blue, and a grey that I mixed. It is nice that Hasegawa provides closed gear door options as I used those to cover the gear wells when painting. Painting the camo was relatively time consuming. I painted the fins and tailplanes off the rest of the airframe and it just seemed to make things easier.

With the main painting done I did some more masking for the dark grey antennas along the forward strake. Then I realized that I'd painted the inside of the gear doors the wrong color (they should be red) and so dealt with that. I also did the black area around the cockpit and forward nose.

At this time I installed the main landing gear and the nose gear. This gave the kit something to stand on while I added the fins and gear doors. Then I gave the airframe a coat of gloss clear to get ready for decals. Despite not using all the teeny markings, it took me about a week to apply what I had. I used Mr. Mark Softer to ensure that the kit decals snuggled down well and had no real issues with them. Everything was later given a coat of clear semi-matte. 

I then continued the build by attaching the gear doors, wheels, wing pylons, a bunch of antennas, exhaust, nose cone and landing lights. The last things attached were the IR sensor, missiles and the tailplanes. The masking was removed and that was it.


I have wanted to build a Flanker for a number of years and have several in both 1/72 and 1/48. I'm not sure why I decided to do this one, but I felt it was about time to add one to the collection. The build took longer than I'd anticipated, not because it was difficult, but just because of the way it turned out with all the masking and painting needed. It didn't help that there are a lot of decals, either, but such is the case with modern military aircraft. The end result is quite pleasing and though it won't be soon, I'll definitely do another.

One other thing. Add some nose weight. While it sits on its gear OK, it will also tail sit if the nose is raised more than about an inch.



20 January 2017

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