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Mike

Sukhoi Su-17M3 Fitter-G 1:48

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Sukhoi Su-17M3 Fitter-G

1:48 Hobby Boss via Creative Models Ltd

 

 

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The Su-17, with its NATO reporting name Fitter was derived from the earlier Su-7 as a project to improve its low speed handling, particularly during take-off and landing.  It was Sukhoi's first attempt at variable geometry wings, and when it reached service was the Soviet Union's first swing-wing aircraft in service.  To keep the project costs down, the centre section of the wing remained fixed, with the outer able to swing back for high-speed flight, and forward for slow.  A pronounced spine was also added to the rear of the cockpit to carry additional fuel and avionics that were necessary with the advances in aviation.  The first airframes reached service in the early 70s, and were soon replaced by more advanced models with the designation M3 and M4, designated Fitter-H and –K respectively by the Allies.

 

The M3 was based on a larger fuselage with two seats from the UM trainer variant and had additional weapons options, developed further and was considered to be the pinnacle of the two-seat Fitter line with a heavily upgraded avionics suite including improved targeting, navigation, and yet more weapons options, as well as improved engines.  A downgraded version of the M4 was marketed as the Su-22M3, and was in production until the early 80s.  Although the Su-17 was withdrawn from Soviet service in the late 1990s, it remained in service much longer in its export guise, where it was used by both Iran and Iraq, Libya and Angola to name but a few, where it had variable success, which likely had as much to do with pilot skill and training as the merits of the airframe.

 

 

The Kit

This is a tooling variation on the original M4 boxing that was released earlier in the year, and reviewed here at the time.  There are a number of shared sprues in the box, with new ones interleaved where appropriate.  The boxtop artwork downplays the two-seat nature of the kit, with the aircraft heading toward the "camera", foreshortening the fuselage and extra glazing.  That said however, there are definitely two seats in the box, and the newly tooled fuselage has those openings ready to accept the cockpits, with the fixed frame between them moulded into the fuselage halves.  The box contains sixteen sprues in grey styrene, two in clear, a small sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, three "rubbery" wheels, decal sheet, instruction booklet and painting/decaling guide.  It seems that someone made a bit of a boo-boo with the instructions, as the sprue guide shows only one seat sprue, with the legend "x2" written in with biro.  There is also a loose leaf of corrections to the cockpit instructions, where some of the part numbers have been incorrectly prefixed by a J.  A label has been affixed to the page, and the spare leaf is clearly marked "Correction" in English and Mandarin.

 

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Construction follows very closely the original boxing, with the large full-length fuselage halves showing the main difference, and accompanied by the two seat cockpit, which is also moulded as one tub with matching seats and bulkheads, instrument panels and side-consoles/walls added.  Decals are applied to the consoles and panels to improve detail, and the completed assembly is inserted into the new fuselage along with the nose gear box that is identical to the earlier kit.  There's no avoiding installing the nose gear before painting, so take care you don't bend or break it during handling.  The nose cone and wedge-shaped splitter-plate are assembled, as is the exhaust with rear engine face and afterburner ring, following which the fuselage can be closed up, taking care to install the glazing panels between the cockpits, which would be very tricky to fiddle into position later, especially as the area is quite fine and prone to damage.

 

Adding the tail and elevators early in the build gives the assembly a lawn-dart look that is spoiled only by the blunted nose.  The swing-wings are built up in the same manner as before, with the gloves/inner panels first, which are festooned with fences and pylons, and you are incited to add the main landing gear legs at this point too.  The outer panels with separate slats and clear wingtip lights are clipped into the gloves on two lugs, requiring you to make a choice of open or closed configuration at outset, as they don't rotate.

 

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The rear-seater's coaming was installed along with the cockpit due to its location, but the pilot's is fitted late in the build with a two-part clear HUD assembly as well as other details.  The canopy is supplied with options for open or closed in a fairly confusing profusion of diagrams, and the rear canopy is fitted with the retractable rear-view mirror that is seen on many two-seat Soviet era jets.  As per the original boxing, there is the complex pitot probe on the nose, which has a number of small PE parts added to it and a few to the front of the fuselage to depict other sensors.  An additional assembly is provided that builds up into a towing bar for the aircraft, which can often be seen either attached to the nose wheel, or lurking nearby for impromptu tractor hook-up.

 

The generous weapons sprues contain the same options as the single-seater, as follows:

 

12 x AB-100 Iron bombs on 2 x MER

2 x AB-250 Iron bombs

2 x FAB-500 Iron bombs

2 x S-24B on adapter rails

2 x R-60MK on adapter rails

2 x B-13L rocket pods

2 x B-8M rocket pods

4 x Fuel Tanks

 

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The back page of the instruction booklet shows the pylon positions of the various options, but as above, check things over before you proceed.  Stencil locations are shown on a separate colour page, with positions and colours all called out.

 

 

Markings

Unusually for a Hobby Boss kit, there are four decal options, and all bar one are documented!  The stencil count for the airframe seems a little light however, so check your references and pick up some additional stencils from an aftermarket producer.  While the schemes are all camouflaged, there is sufficient difference between them to vary appeal.  From the box you can build one of the following:

 

  • Su-17M3 Yellow 87
  • Su-17M3 Blue 09, Soviet Naval Air Force, Soviet Union, 1980-1990
  • Su-17M3 Red 13, 1st AE, 168th APIB, Bolshye Shiraki Air base, Soviet Union, 1982
  • Su-17M3 Blue 21, 101st ORAP (Independent Reconnaissance Regiment), Soviet Union, late 80s

 

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Decal quality is typical Hobby Boss, with good register, colour density and reasonable sharpness, although there is a slight offset between the red and white in the numerals 13 on my copy, which is happily invisible elsewhere on the sheet.  The misregistration is thankfully small, so shouldn't cause too much heartache.  I do however wish that HB would raise their overall game with decals, so that they feel like less of an afterthought and more of an integral part to the package.

 

 

Conclusion

The two-seat Su-17 is quite a handsome aircraft IMHO, and I know I'm not alone in thinking so.  It's another decent addition to their large and still growing line of Soviet/Russian aircraft in 1:48, and I'm looking forward to building it some day.  Speaking of "large", it builds up to almost 400mm long, with a wingspan of 285mm, which is not insubstantial.

 

Very highly recommended.

 

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Review sample courtesy of

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Thanks Mike,

Let's hope Linden Hill will step in, as there's room for a few foreign users decals, like Azerbaijan (With a splendid camo).

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Thanks for the review. Looks relatively simple (compared to the KH offering) as the original release was. I'll definitely get one if I find a good deal on it (i.e. noticeably cheaper than the more detailed KH kit).

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