Zvezda 1/72 Sukhoi Su-39
|Scott Van Aken
The Sukhoi Su-25 Grach (Russian: Грач (rook); NATO reporting name: Frogfoot) is a subsonic, single-seat, twin-engine jet aircraft developed in the Soviet Union by Sukhoi. It was designed to provide close air support for Soviet Ground Forces. The first prototype made its maiden flight on 22 February 1975. After testing, the aircraft went into series production in 1978 in Tbilisi in the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic.
Early variants included the Su-25UB two-seat trainer, the Su-25BM for target-towing, and the Su-25K for export customers. Some aircraft were upgraded to the Su-25SM standard in 2012. The Su-25T and the Su-25TM (also known as the Su-39) were further developments, not produced in significant numbers. The Su-25, and the Su-34, were the only armoured, fixed-wing aircraft in production in 2007. Su-25s are in service with Russia, other CIS members, and export customers. Production of the Su-25 ended in 2017 in Russia and 2010 in Georgia. Attempts continue to be made to restart production in Georgia using partially completed airframes, but as of June 2022 no new deliveries have been reported.
Since entering service more than 42 years ago, the Su-25 has seen combat in several conflicts. The type was heavily involved in the Soviet–Afghan War, flying counter-insurgency missions against the Afghan Mujahideen. The Iraqi Air Force employed it against Iran during the 1980–88 Iran–Iraq War. Most Iraqi examples were later destroyed or flown to Iran in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The Georgian Air Force used Su-25s during the Abkhazian war from 1992 to 1993. The Macedonian Air Force used Su-25s against Albanian insurgents in the 2001 Macedonian conflict and, in 2008, Georgia and Russia both used Su-25s in the Russo-Georgian War. African states, including the Ivory Coast, Chad, and Sudan have used the Su-25 in local insurgencies and civil wars. Recently, the Su-25 has seen service in the Russian intervention in the Syrian Civil War, the clashes of the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War, and on both sides in the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.
A second-generation Su-25T, the Su-25TM (also designated Su-39), has been developed with improved navigation and attack systems, and better survivability. While retaining the built-in Shkval of Su-25T, it may carry Kopyo (rus. "Spear") radar in an under fuselage container, which is used for engaging air targets (with RVV-AE/R-77 missiles) as well as ships (with Kh-31 and Kh-35 antiship missiles). The Russian Air Force has received 8 aircraft as of 2008. Some of the improved avionics systems designed for T and TM variants have been included in the Su-25SM, an interim upgrade of the operational Russian Air Force Su-25, for improved survivability and combat capability. The Su-25TM, as an all-inclusive upgrade programme has been replaced with the "affordable" Su-25SM programme.
Tooled in 2014, Zvezda's kit is quite modern in all respects. The cockpit tub includes a four piece seat, control stick, and an instrument panel that uses decals. Before closing the fuselage halves, at least 7 g of weight is needed to prevent tail sitting. There is a lot of room for this fairly small amount. In fact, other than some additional weapons, the fuselage halves are the only difference between this version and the standard Su-25 kit. Wing lower halves already have holes opened for the various weapons pylons. Wing tip speed brakes can be modeled open or closed.
Each of the engine pods has a first and last compressor stage piece along with an intake lip that is a single piece. Also a single piece is the fin/rudder and the tailplanes. Various scoops and other items fit atop the engine pods. I'd leave off the nose probes until after painting as they'd be easy to break.
With the airframe complete, the landing gear are built up. Again, I'd leave these off until after painting. Gear doors are butt joined. For things under wings you are provided missiles, rocket pods, fuel tanks and bombs. The kit can be built with the canopy open or closed and a boarding ladder is provided if you wish to use it.
Instructions are basically a large folded sheet with construction on one side and camo/markings and history on the other. There are a number of detail drawings to assist with getting things properly aligned. A single markings option is provided for the box art plane. This variant is painted two blue-greys upper and a light blu-grey underside. The instructions reference Model Master paints. As another note, Zvezda has produced a four color paint set specifically for this kit. What's not shown in the instructions are inside colors. Cockpit is that blue-green shade while intakes and inner gear wells/doors are a medium grey. Note that there was really no set pattern for the camouflage and often the colors were not identical from one plane to the other though the shades mentioned were those used. Do a web search if you want something different as there are/were planes painted in browns. Zvezda decals are nicely printed and fairly matte.
Not a whole lot of 1/72 Su-25s have been produced and this is the only Su-39 kit of which I'm aware. It should make into a very nice model for your shelf.
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