Academy 1/48 Su-27 Flanker




$65.00 (Aussie Bucks)


Russian Knights display team


Grenville Davies


Excellent detail and decals



  The Flanker began life as the problematic Sukhoi T-10 and after a long and difficult development became Russia’s premier aircraft that wowed air show audiences in the west. Originally conceived in 1969 as a long-range interceptor, the Su-27 was to have a limited role as an escort for strike aircraft like the Su-24 ‘Fencer’ and as a compliment to the Mig-29 ‘Fulcrum’.

  The original prototype first flew at Zhukhovsky on 20 May 1977 and was powered by AL-21F-3 engines as used by the Su-17, with the afterburners completely enclosed in the rear fuselage, like those of the Su-24 ‘Fencer’. Little was seen of this aircraft by the west until 1985 when the prototype was shown on a series of stills from a documentary about the Sukhoi OKB. The general western public was treated to a view of the Su-27 at the 1989 Paris Air Show, where the ‘Flanker’ performed the “Cobra” maneuver, and suddenly the west realized that this aircraft was very probably the finest fighter plane in the world!

  Between October 1986 and December 1988 a specially modified T-10, known as the P-42 was used to establish 27 performance records that were submitted to the FIA for certification. This effectively wiped out all previous records held by the F-15 Strike Eagle. The aircraft instantly became regarded by western powers as a serious threat.

  Much of the Su-27’s performance must be credited to the AL-31F engines, which are rated at 12,500Kg (27,550lb) thrust in afterburner stage. These engines are easy to maintain and are interchangeable between left and right. They are also very tolerant to severe airflow disturbances and this feature allows the aircraft’s engines to function smoothly and allow the performance of the unusual maneuvers.

  The Russian Knights (Russkiye Vityzi) made their western debut during September 1991, when the team visited RAF Scampton, home of the Red Arrows. This was followed by displays at Leuchars in Scotland and Finningley.

  The scheme is red, white and blue to represent the Russian flag, which covers the basic camouflage. The Russian Knights aerobatic display team has since upgraded the paint scheme, in early 1997 with all three-tone blue-grey camouflage areas being replaced with an overall mid-blue.


   The first impression of this kit is that it is a big model with the upper and lower fuselage and wing halves. The detail is quite fantastic with raised rivets and recessed panel lines, all very fine. There are five sprues in separate plastic bags and moulded in a blue grey colour.  There is a separate bag for the clear parts. On closer observation there is a seam on both canopy pieces that requires removal. The kit also includes metal etch parts for the FOD screens inside the engines, wheel door trim, canopy mirrors and internal front wheel well detail. The instruction sheet is comprehensive and with enough detail to build a presentable model.  

The paint scheme for this kit is quite specific with only one model being presented. The colours are shown in FS numbers and appear to be accurate, although not easy for the modeler to find in your local hobby shop, as I was to discover. Instructions are clear as to when the various parts are to be painted prior to installation.  


The Cockpit 

The cockpit is the usual place to start so:

  Cutting Edge produces a resin Super Detail Cockpit Set, No. CEC48060 and I elected to substitute this for the basic kit offering. The detail in the kit is adequate, but is no comparison to the resin set, which contains 16 photo brass etch and 8 resin parts. Checking references and following the kit instructions the interior was painted in Model Master Flanker Blue Grey. The kit calls for FS 35526. The instrument panel and side consoles were painted in Model Master FS 37038, Flat Black with switches and throttles being painted white/silver with a dry brush of silver to highlight the details. The instrument dials were painted Flat Black and the detail was highlighted with dry-brushed white. The tub was assembled prior to fitting into the fuselage and this required a fair amount of resin to be removed to allow the top and bottom halves to be connected. This is due to the front wheel well extending upwards and comes into contact with the base of the cockpit tub. I used a half rounded file to hollow out the resin, with the majority being removed from the back of the tub.  

The K-36DM (Type II), large head box, ejection seat is very detailed and Cutting Edge gives a good description of the required painting.  I left this until the aircraft was almost completed before fitting into the cockpit. Similarly the HUD, which is metal etch and requires a small piece of acetate (I used the clear box in which the bits came) was added prior to the front cockpit being fitted.  

The Fuselage and Wings

  This kit has the fuselage as two separate halves, top and bottom, which makes for a very easy join – no middle seam to negotiate. This is a great thing especially for someone who has a tough time getting rid of the center seam. The whole fuselage contains the main wings and quickly builds into a recognizable shape. The only requirement prior to gluing the halves is to install the GSh-30-1 30mm autocannon on the starboard side aft of the cockpit and the twin fan blades of the engines. The twin rudders have the elevators as separate parts as are the main flaps. In addition the front flaps are built separate to the main wing. It is also necessary to drill out the holes in the lower fuselage for the weapons pylons, if they are to be used. As the Russian Knights aerobatic team flies military ready aircraft the holes were drilled out for later placement of the pylons.  

The tailerons are connected to the rear of the fuselage and the rudder and, although the stationary Su-27 shows these as drooping, I elected to leave them as if the aircraft was powered. The main flaps are deployed as drooped. A little quirk of the builder!  

The front portions of the engines are attached to the fuselage and you get two choices of slotted air intakes under the air intake tunnels, open or closed. I chose the closed position and used the photo etch kit parts to install the FOD screens inside the nacelles. These screens prevent the ingestion of foreign objects, alive or inanimate, during operation.  


  Although the kit supplies all rubber wheels and a very detailed set of undercarriage struts I elected to use Cutting Edge Bulged Tires, set number CEC48062. The front wheel strut is very detailed with a FOD (Foreign Object Damage) protector covering the tyre. The lower portion of the strut is moveable and the oleo was covered with Bare Metal Foil, Ultra Bright Chrome. The forward wheel well gets some metal etch treatment, courtesy of the kit, in the form of a zigzag section at the top of the well. The front wheel carries three landing lights that were also covered in Bare Metal Foil and, once this had settled a bead of clear PVA glue was added to simulate each lens.  

The interior of the wheel wells was painted Model Master FS 16473, Aircraft Grey. Although the kit calls for the front and rear wheel struts to be painted the same colour – Dark Blue, close examination of photos show the forward wheel strut the same colour as the tri-blue underside colour of the earlier paint scheme used by the aerobatic team, i.e., Model Master FS 25450, Light Blue. I had found Flanker Light Blue, also by Model Master, so painted the forward wheel strut that colour to match the photographs. The front wheel hub was likewise painted Light Blue, a departure from standard Military aircraft that has the hubs usually painted dark green.  

The rear wheel struts and wheel hubs were painted with a mixed paint to match Dark Blue FS 25187. I matched the colour by visiting my local hobby shop and checked out the colours from Xtracolour, which had FS 15183 and FS 15190. The last three digits refer to the reflectance diffusion that effectively means that the paint becomes progressively darker over this range. Using FS 15183 as a starting point I added white (yes, it is a lighter colour) that gradually made the Bright Blue colour greyer. I then added some dark blue to retain the bluish hue and checked this against the box art to match the desired paint. The final colour is close enough.  

I have taken to using super glue to attach the wheel struts as it bonds very quickly and the whole thing stays where it was intended. I managed to snap one of the rear struts off during test fitting and ended up drilling a small hole in both the piece left in the hole and the strut and gluing a small plastic rod to give some strength to the assembly.  

Gear actuating levers were attached at this point but the wheel well doors were left until the model was almost complete – paranoia sets in when you start snapping off little plastic bits and spend more time on the floor looking for them than actually constructing the kit!  


The Spray Painting Phase

  The air brake is a major piece that sits behind the cockpit as found on the F-15 Eagle. I elected to display it closed. I attached the port and starboard wing pylons and then sprayed the whole airframe in Model Master, Flanker Light Blue. A word of caution here, the kit paint scheme is incorrect. It shows the forward colour as Blue Grey FS 25526, followed by Light Blue FS 25450 and finally Dark Blue FS 25187. In reality the Blue Grey and Light Blue areas are reversed. Check out the photos on the kit box and you will see that the underside colors grade from light to dark blue. This also impacts on the upper colour scheme.  

I sprayed the front fuselage, outer sides of the rudders and the elevators Model Master FS 17925, Gloss White. I followed the paint scheme a little too close and should have masked the upper wing area, later to be covered by the red white and blue decals, and painted that Gloss White as well. It certainly would have saved me having to re-spray the red decal to retain the brightness and not have the blue colours bleed through the thin decals!

Successive blues were sprayed using Parafilm to mask off the areas. Other areas such as the engines and shielding around the GSh-30-1 cannon were hand painted. 

The nose cone was sprayed with Model Master FS 17875 Insignia White and then attached to the model. This was done as a last resort as I was concerned about the aircraft being a tail-sitter. It isn’t but I added a small lead weight just to be sure. 

The Decals

  Not a great deal to say about them other than they are nice and thin and go on quite well, although they don’t stick that well. You should cover them with your preferred medium as soon as possible; I used Humbrol Clear Satin Finish, but only after some of the decals started to come away.  

My advice is to make sure that all areas to be covered by the red decals are undercoated with a light colour, preferably white as discussed above. The red will then look very pristine.  

The final touches were completion of the main canopy and attachment of Cutting Edge metal etch parts, attaching the distinctive instrumented landing system antenna at the top of the port rudder and gluing the elevators onto the rudders. The canopy was then attached in the open position.                    


  World Aircraft Information Files    Bright Star Aerospace Publishing – A weekly series still in progress

Modern Soviet Warplanes – Fighters & Interceptors   Steven J. Zaloga Concord Publications Compa

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Grenville Davies


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