Trumpeter 1/72 Tu-128M 'Fiddler'
KIT #: 01687
PRICE: $20.00 'used'
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 2018 release


Iosif Nezval of Tupolev Design Bureau led development of the new interceptor aircraft. The work began in 1958, based on an existing single prototype of the unsuccessful Tu-98 supersonic bomber. The military designation of the interceptor was at first Tu-28, but it was changed in 1963 to Tu-128, identical to the designation used by the OKB.

The Tu-128 had a broad, low/mid-mounted swept wing carrying the main landing gear in wing-mounted pods, and slab tailplanes. Two Lyulka AL-7F-2 turbojet engines were mounted in the fuselage. The two-man crew of pilot and navigator were seated in tandem.

The Tu-128, with its maximum weight of 43 tonnes, was the heaviest fighter to enter service. It was a interceptor with high wing loading, unsophisticated but reliable avionics and poor visibility. It was not an agile aircraft. It was intended to combat only NATO bombers like the B-52, not engage in dogfights with smaller aircraft.

The interceptor made its initial public appearance in the 1961 Tushino air parade. Western experts, unaware that the bulge on the belly carried testing instruments, mistook it for a large ventral radar for a mixed interceptor/AWACS role. The production version lacked the bulge and had a large nose radome housing a radar, known as RP-S Smerch, having a detection range of about 50 km (31 mi) and a lock-on range of about 40 km (25 mi).

Armament of the Tu-128 was four Bisnovat R-4 air-to-air missiles (known as K-80 during development; NATO reporting name AA-5 'Ash'). Usually two of them were R-4Rs with semi-active radar homing and two were R-4T infrared-homing missiles, with the former on the outer pylons and the latter on the inner underwing pylons. There was no internal weapons bay.

Production of the Tu-128 ended in 1970 with a total of 198 aircraft having been built.


Prior to this particular kit, the only other Tu-128 in 1/72 scale was by AModel. That one was very much a short run kit with a multiple piece fuselage, thick sprue gates and generally a lot of work to make a nice model from it. This one by Trumpeter is everything we have come to expect from them in terms of detailing and I'm willing to bet that it will build nicely as well.

One starts this kit by building up the nose gear well and nose landing gear. Unfortunately, the design is such that you cannot really install the gear after the airframe is painted so you'll need to provide some protection for it once installed. Then the cockpit, which has a pair of fairly nice seats along with the usual decals to fit over the instrument panels if you so desire.

Because Trumpeter also does a trainer version, you will have to deal with a separate nose section for this one. There is no indication of nose weight needed, but there is a lot of room for it if you decide to add some. The cockpit and nose gear fit into one side and the fuselage halves are closed. Then the transparencies are added. There does not appear to be an open canopy option. The aft section of the fuselage is then constructed along with the intakes. This is attached to the nose section.

Wings are next and like the nose gear, the main gear have to be installed when the wells are assembled. Thse fit into the lower wing section, which also includes part of the lower fuselage. The upper wings are attached followed by the ailerons and flaps. Wings are attached follwed by the exhaust sections. You have a choice of open or closed burner cans for this.

Next up is the assembly of the fin, attachment of the rudder and the fitting of this to the upper fuselage. This is followed by the tailplanes and wing fences. These latter items along with some antennas are on a photo etch fret. The airframe is flipped over and the rest of the main gear is built up. Gear doors and pylons are then attached. The last items are the four large air to air missiles and a number of photo etch antennas.

Instructions are standard Trumpeter landscape booklet form with Gunze paint references. Two options are provided for markings, both of them in overall bare metal. They differ only by the nose number. The decal sheet includes stencils for the airframe. 


Overall, it looks like a nice kit. Trumpeter kits are generally well engineered even if they occasionally have shape gaffes. One thing for sure, this one will take up a fair amount of shelf space when done.


September 2021

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