A-model 1/72 Tu-128M 'Fiddler'
|PRICE:||around $30.00 when available|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Short run kit. 2002 release|
The Tupolev Tu-28 (NATO reporting name Fiddler) was a long-range interceptor aircraft introduced by the Soviet Union in the 1960s. The official designation was Tu-128, but this designation was less commonly used in the West. It was the largest and heaviest fighter ever in service.
The interceptor made its initial public appearance in the 1961 Tushino air parade. Western experts, unaware that the bulge on the belly carried testing instruments, mistook it for a large ventral radar for a mixed interceptor/AWACS role. The production version lacked the bulge and had a large nose radome housing a radar, known as RP-S Smerch, having a detection range of about 50 km (31 mi) and a lock-on range of about 40 km (25 mi).
Armament of the Tu-128 was four Bisnovat R-4 air-to-air missiles (known as K-80 during development; NATO reporting name AA-5 'Ash'). Usually two of them were R-4Rs with semi-active radar homing and two were R-4T infrared-homing missiles, with the former on the outer pylons and the latter on the inner underwing pylons. There was no internal weapons bay.
Production of the Tu-128 ended in 1970 with a total of 198 aircraft having been built.
The Tu-128's only publicly reported combat operation was the destruction of NATO reconnaissance balloons. The aircraft remained in service until 1990. Through the 1980s, units armed with the Tu-128 converted to the Mikoyan MiG-31.
AModel is a very prolific short run kit manufacturer that has brought all sorts of interesting types to modelers. Most of them are Soviet/Russian and none of them are particularly easy to build. This one seems to be no exception.
The parts are all provided in zip bags with the sprues just casually inserted into the bags. The result is that quite a few of them have scratches on the surface that will need to be polished out. I also found that parts had bits of junk on the surface, something that usually is found when the molds have started to pit. Flash is also not unknown. All of this means that there will be a goodly amount of time spent in parts clean up. The actual surface detailing is, however, quite good, though a bit more shallow than on some other kits.
The cockpits are made up of a lot of separate flat pieces glued together to form tubs. Side consoles and bulkheads are separate while the seats are a single center piece with small sections added to the lower portion. You really won't see all that much through the transparencies, but you may want to add tape harnesses.
AModel has you assemble the five piece nose gear well and 6 piece nose gear assembly prior to installing it in the forward fuselage. Due to the size of the kit, the fuselage is in two major pieces. No indication of nose weight is provided so I'd leave off the nose cone until near the end of the build.
Wings are also somewhat complex and have separate, non-positionable control surfaces. There is a piece that attaches the two wings together and this will fit into the lower fuselage, helping to attach the forward and after fuselage pieces. The aft fuselage will contain full intake trunks and the exhaust sections. Once all that is together, the upper half of the rear fuselage is attached. Fin and horizontal stabs also have separate, non-positionable control surfaces.
As you'd expect from a plane of this size, the main landing gear is pretty complex, but should be good and sturdy when done. The last bits are the four wing pylons and the huge R-4 missiles. There are holes in the lower wings for the pylons, though you'll have to drill out some of them that have plastic filling them.
Instructions are straight-forward and adequate. There is no color information provided for the inside, but I'm assuming it is that bright turquoise you see in other Soviet aircraft. A decal sheet designed for two kits is included with a single Tu-128M option. However, one can simply dig around for another nose number as that was pretty much it in terms of uniqueness for these planes. Decals are by Begemont and should work without any real issues.
This is not a model for the inexperienced or those wanting something rather quick. It will take up a lot of space on your display shelf as well, but if you have the time and the talent, you'll have a pretty cool model.
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