Kitty Hawk 1/48 Su-34 "Fullback"
|KIT #:||KH 80141|
|PRICE:||Between $50-70 street prices|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The Sukhoi Su-34 (Russian: Сухой Су-34; NATO reporting name: Fullback) is a Russian twin-engine, twin-seat, all-weather supersonic medium-range fighter-bomber/strike aircraft. It first flew in 1990 and entered service in 2014 with the Russian Air Force.
Based on the Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker air superiority fighter, the Su-34 has an armored cockpit for side-by-side seating of its two-man crew. The Su-34 is designed primarily for tactical deployment against ground and naval targets (tactical bombing/attack/interdiction roles, including against small and mobile targets) on solo and group missions in daytime and at night, under favourable and adverse weather conditions and in a hostile environment with counter-fire and EW counter-measures deployed, as well as for aerial reconnaissance. The Su-34 will eventually replace the Su-24 tactical strike fighter and the Tu-22M3 long-distance bomber.
This kit has been much talked about, and I can see why. Kitty Hawk has pulled out all the stops on this one and you get a huge box chock full of sprues. One thing not lacking with this kit is weapons. There are six full sprues of bombs, rockets, missiles, gun pods, and their appropriate pylons. I dare say that this kit is worth picking up just for all the weapons it provides!
I have gotten used to Kitty Hawk's instructions not beginning with the cockpit and this one is no different as you start off by building up the two engines. Each has a three piece body onto which the fore and aft compressor faces and some additional items are added. Makes into a nice representation. Then we go to the cockpit. It is here that a goodly portion of the photo etch fret is used as seat harnesses, gun sight housing and on the rail for the fifteen piece ejection seat. These fit onto a cockpit floor that includes the side consoles and their raised detail. Decals are available for the consoles and the instrument panel if you so wish. I found it interesting that there is an access door in the back of the rear bulkhead, and perhaps this is how the crew enters the cockpit as the kit has a single piece canopy.
After that is built, we get down to business by building up the multi-piece main and nose gear wells. I like that there is some plumbing in the main wells. You also build up the gun bay. When those are done, all the previous subassemblies come together in the lower fuselage. One then attaches the canards and cements in place the upper fuselage section followed by the radar and nose cone. Note that this kit is designed to have things open, and that includes the refueling probe, though it does seem it could be trimmed and moldeled closed if you wish.
Construction heads for the back and the fins and rudders. The kit provides resin burner cans in both open and closed configuration. The tail boom gets some more of the photo etch before it is attached. A number of small scoops will need to be added at this time. Engine intakes take the rest of the photo etch and KH has also provided multi-piece trunking to the first compressor stage. The intake blow-by doors are separate and while modeled closed, could be done open as well to simulate the engine running.
Wings and tailplanes are pretty straight-forward with the wings having separate slats and flaps. These are molded in the lowered position, which is normal for the ramp. We expect Russian planes to have complex landing gear for unimproved landing strips and this one is no exception. Two full instruction pages are devoted to assembling the main and nose gear. There are some excellent drawings to help with proper installation and alignment of these parts. One then adds the gear doors and starts building up the pylons.
As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, the number of weapons is truly staggering. I've never seen such a complete offering in any other kit. There is no way you can mount them all. Kitty Hawk provides two load-out diagrams so you can make your choice of what the plane will carry. All the mounting holes for the pylons are pre-drilled so you will have to mount all of them anyway. Might as well load most of them up.
Instructions are excellent and provide color info throughout the build. There are four color options. All are Russian as there have been only a few more than a hundred of these planes built so I doubt there will be many, if any exports in the future. Two of the options are in the standard Flanker color scheme of blues and blue-greys. One is in the very dark grey over blue scheme while another is in yellow primer. There is a photo in the reference of a plane in the dark grey scheme with the insignia painted over based in Syria in 2015 that might be another option. One of these planes is also shown on the box art. Not surprisingly, the largest of the decal sheets is for the weapons. The decals are nicely printed and should prove to be very thin.
I have to admit that I'm impressed with this one. It has the right mixture of p.e. and resin bits for even those that don't like the medium. The kit won't be a short build, that's for sure, but thanks to the wealth of things to stick under the wings, it will make into a most impressive model when it is finished. Highly recommended to the Russian aviation enthusiast.
Thanks to Kitty Hawk for the review kit. You can find this kit at your favorite
hobby shop or on-line retailer.
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