Kitty Hawk 1/48 Su-27SM Flanker B

KIT #: KH80163
DECALS: Five options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2020 tooling


The Sukhoi Su-27 (Russian: Сухой Су-27; NATO reporting name: Flanker) is a Soviet-origin twin-engine supermaneuverable fighter aircraft designed by Sukhoi. It was intended as a direct competitor for the large United States fourth-generation fighters such as the Grumman F-14 Tomcat and F-15 Eagle, with 3,530-kilometre (1,910 nmi) range, heavy aircraft ordnance, sophisticated avionics and high maneuverability. The Su-27 was designed for air superiority missions, and subsequent variants are able to perform almost all aerial warfare operations. It was designed with the Mikoyan MiG-29 as its complement.

The Su-27 entered service with the Soviet Air Forces in 1985. The primary role was long range air defence against American SAC B-1B and B-52G/H bombers, protecting the Soviet coast from aircraft carriers and flying long range fighter escort for Soviet heavy bombers such as the Tu-95 "Bear", Tu-22M "Backfire" and Tu-160 "Blackjack".

There are several related developments of the Su-27 design. The Su-30 is a two-seat, dual-role fighter for all-weather, air-to-air and air-to-surface deep interdiction missions. The Su-33 'Flanker-D' is a naval fleet defense interceptor for use on aircraft carriers. Further versions include the side-by-side two-seat Su-34 'Fullback' strike/fighter-bomber variant, and the Su-35 'Flanker-E' improved air superiority and multi-role fighter. The Shenyang J-11 is a Chinese licence-built version of the Su-27.

Starting in 2004, the Russian Air Force began a major update of the original Soviet Su-27 ('Flanker-B') fleet. The upgraded variants were designated Su-27SM (Russian for "Seriyniy Modernizovanniy" - literally "Serial Modernized"). This included upgrades in air-to-air capability with the R-77 missile with an active radar homing head. The modernized Su-27SM fighters belong to the 4+ generation. The strike capability was enhanced with the addition of the Kh-29T/TE/L and Kh-31P/Kh-31A ASM and KAB-500KR/KAB-1500KR smart bombs. The avionics were also upgraded. The Russian Air Force is currently receiving aircraft modernized to the SM3 standard.


This kit represents the Su-27SM variant of the Flanker. It is superbly molded with all the detailing required of a modern kit. There is a lot of plastic in the kit as the Flanker is a big airplane no matter how you look at it. There are decals for five options and an appropriate photo etch fret. This fret provides a pilot's harness and the flare/chaff dispensers carried on the aft fuselage as well as a few antennas.

A nicely equipped cockpit is provided along with raised detailing on all the instrument panel/console faces. Decals are provided if you wish to use them. You get both the analog and digital instrument panels. The nose gear well is built up at this time along with the radar assembly and the immediate engine intake ducting. KH provides two complete engines and while this probably means you'll need to find places to pack nose weight. Main gear wells are built up before all the previously assembled subassemblies are then fit into the the lower fuselage half.

There is more to fit and that includes building up the main instrument anti-glare panel along with the installation of the speedbrake well, and the gun. The speedbrake can be posed up if one wishes. There are also covers to go over the gun bay and engine access panels. If you want to show the plane in heavy maintenance, you can leave these covers off to show detail. One then builds and installs the nose gear and starts on the intakes. These have the option of having the intake covers either open or closed. This assembly is then attached and the tail 'stinger' is built up and glued in place. You can have the parabrake door open if you wish. Burner cans and main gear are next before construction moves to the wings and stabs. Wings have separate flaps and slats though they appear to be molded in the neutral position. I looked at a lot of photos of Flankers on the deck and they had these items deployed as often as not.

Next are gear doors and pylons. Moving to the nose the radome and the antenna are built up. You can pose the radome open if you so wish. If having it closed, I'd not install any of the radar equipment and use the space for any possible weight that could be needed. A lot of your small p.e. antennas fit around the nose area. Canopy and windscreen are next and you can pose the canopy open. The last items are missiles and you are provided a variety of R-27s along with R-73, R-77, and R-60 missiles. There are bombs on the sprues, along with a lot of other weapons,  but these are not shown as being used. A dual rack pylon for each wing is provided, but without the load out diagram showing anything to fit on it. I'd do some additional research on this.

The instructions are in a nice booklet with the color schemes provided as large diagrams. You have to remove these from the booklet to get full diagrams. A separate sheet for stencils is provided in with these diagrams. There are five options. One is a Chinese J-11 in overall dark grey. The others are various Russian planes in variations on the standard Flanker paint scheme. The decal sheet is very nicely done and includes both airframe and missile stencil sheets.


Once again, an excellent kit from Kitty Hawk and another nice addition to their growing catalogue of Flanker kits. This is a great subject from the point of view of both the manufacturer as well as the modeler. The Flanker family is one that has a plethora of variations on the same basic scheme, something that engenders multiple kits, all of which can use the same basic airframe bits. If you like big Russian planes, then this one is perfect for you.


July 2020

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Thanks to Glen Coleman and Kitty Hawk models for the preview kit. You can find this kit at your favorite hobby shop or on-line retailer.

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