Kitty Hawk 1/48 Su-30SM Flanker H

KIT #: KH80171
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2020 release


The Sukhoi Su-30 (Russian: Сухой Су-30; NATO reporting name: Flanker-C) is a twin-engine, two-seat supermaneuverable fighter aircraft developed in the Soviet Union by Russia's Sukhoi Aviation Corporation. It is a multirole fighter for all-weather, air-to-air and air-to-surface deep interdiction missions.

The Su-30 started out as an internal development project in the Sukhoi Su-27 family by Sukhoi. The design plan was revamped and the name was made official by the Russian Defense Ministry in 1996. Of the Flanker family, the Su-27, Su-30, Su-33, Su-34 and Su-35 have been ordered into limited or serial production by the Defense Ministry. The Su-30 has two distinct version branches, manufactured by competing organisations: KnAAPO and the Irkut Corporation, both of which come under the Sukhoi group's umbrella.

KnAAPO manufactures the Su-30MKK and the Su-30MK2, which were designed for and sold to China, and later Indonesia, Uganda, Venezuela, and Vietnam. Due to KnAAPO's involvement from the early stages of developing Su-35, these are basically a two-seat version of the mid-1990s Su-35. The Chinese chose an older but lighter radar so the canards could be omitted in return for increased payload. It is a fighter with both air supremacy and attack capabilities, generally similar to the U.S. F-15E Strike Eagle.

Irkut traditionally served the Soviet Air Defense and, in the early years of Flanker development, was given the responsibility of manufacturing the Su-27UB, the two-seat trainer version. When India showed interests in the Su-30, Irkut offered the multirole Su-30MKI, which originated as the Su-27UB modified with avionics appropriate for fighters. Along with its ground-attack capabilities, the series adds features for the air-superiority role, such as canards, thrust-vectoring, and a long-range phased-array radar. Its derivatives include the Su-30MKM, MKA, and SM for Malaysia, Algeria, and Russia, respectively. The Russian Air Force operates several Su-30s and has ordered the Su-30SM version.

This kit represents the Su-30SM variant of the Flanker. This is the later version of the Su-30 with thrust vectoring and also the version that does have canards. 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 three options and an appropriate photo etch fret. This fret provides the crew's seat harness, rudder pedal straps, and the flare/chaff dispensers carried on the aft fuselage as well as a few antennas. As you might expect, the majority of the kit's sprues are identical to the Su-27 and Su-30 versions previously previewed. New to this boxing are some superbly molded variable exhaust in resin. These are aimed down.

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 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 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. A dual rack pylon for each wing is provided, but the kit is devoid of any weapons at all, which I found an odd omission. It could be due to there not being any room in the box for them.

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 three nice decal options for Russian aircraft. One is a demonstrator and that is what most of the markings on the sheet are for. The others are a plane in the earlier greys and blues as shown on the box art and one in the new overall dark grey scheme.


Once again, an excellent kit from Kitty Hawk and another nice addition to their growing catalogue of Flanker kits. It will be interesting to see if they come out with other members of this family. Perhaps they will also provide a separate weapons kit for the various ordnance, though one could glean weapons needed from aftermarket sources.  If you like big Russian planes, then this one is perfect for you.


November 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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