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  1. Mike

    Su-35 Flanker E 1:48

    Su-35 Flanker E 1:48 KittyHawk Simply put, the Su-35 is an updated Su-27, but as is often the case with Soviet/Russian aircraft development, the gestation wasn't linear, and included a still-born Su-35 with canards of which only a few examples were built. Second time around the design was changed to remove the canards as they were no longer needed due to advances in aerodynamics, which also allowed the designers to reduce the radar cross-section of the airframe into the bargain, leading to claims of the design being gen 4++. The aircraft also took advantage of thrust vectored versions to improve its manoeuvrability, and as such sits in the gap between the Su-27 and the forthcoming fifth generation Pak-Fa, or T-50 as it is also known. A complete overhaul of the avionics was included in the re-vamp, and more modern materials were used in construction to provide enhanced capabilities as well as more durability in service. Its engines are similar to those of the Pak-Fa, and have an extended service life and significantly higher thrust that should allow it to supercruise, which seems to be de rigeur with modern jets, and will certainly lead to better fuel efficiency. Around 50 aircraft were ordered initially, ramping up production as the years went by, and another 50 were ordered later to bring the total up to almost 100 once deliveries have completed. China has also ordered a number for testing and development to gain experience in operating thrust-vectoring airframes before their own 5th gen project reaches fruition. Other buyers are in negotiations, which could result in the Su-35 being quite a success. The Kit A brand new tooling from KittyHawk, who have done their best to make it the best Su-35 in 1:48, taking on board criticism and support from the modelling community through its gestation period. The kit arrives in a traditional top-opening box, and you guessed it, it's full of plastic. Not brim full, but you'll struggle storing much aftermarket in there. The sprues are all bagged separately to protect them, with the two main fuselage parts together on the top of the rest. The styrene is all the usual KH pale grey and there are another eight in the same colour, a clear sprue, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass, and three decal sheets of varying size. The booklet is sub A4 with colour painting and decaling guide folding out from the centre pages. As with a lot of modern fast jets, the construction begins with the ejection seat, which is very nicely detailed straight from the box with an ejection seat that is made up from a substantial number of parts, includes some rather better seatbelts than previous kits, with decals for the side consoles and instrument panel. The complex HUD has two clear panes, and a PE hood over the top, which should result in a great focal point with careful painting. There is some confusion as to whether the seat is the correct one for the mark, but I will endeavour to take some close-ups of the parts, so that those that know can check. This and the gun insert are added into the upper fuselage along the refuelling probe bay, while in the lower fuselage the main bays are built-in using individual panels for added detail. The nose gear bay is constructed into a curved roofed box, and that fits into the nose of the lower fuselage, held in place by some quality bracing Ls in the corners. The exhausts are next to be installed, after being built and painted. The aft sections are made up from two detailed cylinders, with commendably thin lips, while the forward section is built from two halves, into which the rear engine face and afterburner assembly are fitted. Once both are assembled, each exhaust is surrounded by a shorter set of petals and then dropped into the lower fuselage before being enclosed by adding the upper. The Su-27 family all have pronounced stingers between the engines, and the -35 is no different, made up of two separate parts that fit into the rear fuselage and are joined later by an open or closed parabrake fairing. The gun trough is also completed by an insert with the busy mesh venting well depicted. With a blended fuselage, the wings are always smaller than conventional arrangements, and the wings here are made up from top and bottom halves, plus separate leading edges and flaperons. The wingtip rails aren't added until much later in the build, leaving the tabs visible in the meantime. Two more tabs at the root ensure a good strong joint with the fuselage, but as always test-fit before you apply the glue to get the best joint you can in this prominent area. The elevators are of the all-moving type, and are slim enough to be moulded as one piece, with only the hinge cowling a separate part, fitting into the aft of the wing-blend on a single peg for each one. The stabs are single-thickness for most of their height, with an additional layer below the separate rudder at the root. A number of tiny sensors are embedded in the trailing edge above the rudders, with small optional parts supplied for each one. Unusually, the canopy is shown installed with its interior detail parts and big IRST bulge in front of the windscreen, plus a choice of stowed or deployed refuelling probe, with the tiny AoA probes on each side of the single piece nose cone, which hides a full radar assembly, so perhaps you might want to leave it open? I said unusually, as the airframe doesn't yet have its engines finished, so there's a lot of work to do with the model flipped on its back, which never bodes well for the "fiddlies". The Flanker's intakes are widely spaced under the fuselage, and before they are installed, there is an amount of preparation, including placing the front engine faces inside, some detail parts for the main gear bay, a roof to each nacelle, a choice of open or closed auxiliary intake louvers, plus aerodynamically shaped "bumpers" for the gear legs. Again, check fit against the fuselage before you glue things in, as lining up cylindrical shapes always has an element of risk involved. Now for some wheels to allow her to stand on her own three (4 actually) shoes. The nose gear leg has a twin stack of tyres, plus the typical mudguard so often seen on these types, while the main gear legs are dressed with single wheels that have a simple single strut with smaller retraction struts. The two part main wheels have PE centres added, and have wall detail moulded-in, although the tread promised in the instruction diagrams isn't present on the plastic, but having seen more than a few Russian tyres, you probably won't worry unduly. Changing out part-worn tyres doesn't seem to be a priority for most squadrons! Each bay has its bay doors included, after which the pylons are added to the wing undersides, with PE sway-braces on each of the ten mounting points (excluding the wintips). Weapons. The Flanker D has a substantial carrying capacity, and following the avionics upgrade is cleared, or will be cleared to deliver a wide variety of munitions, and KittHawk have supplied four sprues for just such purposes. Take note, Hasegawa! It's list time: 2 x KAB-500KR smart bomb 2 x KAB-500SE/L smart bomb 2 x KH-29L/T Kedge Air-to-Surface missile 2 x R-73 Archer AtoA missile 2 x R-77 Adder AtoA Missile 2 x KAB-1500L/KR/SE laser Guided Bomb 2 x KH-31 Krypton Air-to-Surface missile 2 x KH-25-MT Karen Air-to-Surface missile 2 x R27ER/ET Alamo A-to-A missile 2 x R27-R/T Alamo A-to-A missile 2 x KH-58ME Kilter Anti-Radiation missile 4 x R-60 Aphid short-range A-to-A missile There are also a whole host of other weapons included on the sprues from iron bombs to sensor pods, which should be very useful if you're a frequent builder of Soviet/Russian aircraft. We're bound to see these used in a few more kits from KH for sure. As well as the missiles/bombs, all the required pylon adapter rails and carrier are included on the sprues, with the rear page devoted to showing you where the various munitions options fit. Check your references for real-world load-outs if you're going for accuracy though. Markings With three individual decal sheets provided in the box, and six painting options offered in the central glossy pages, you can bet there are some colourful choices, and you'd be right. Three of the options are dark grey over light blue, which includes two Chinese options, while the rest are all shades of blue in either freehand or splinter patterns, which can look superb when carefully done, so let's see what the options are. From the box you can build one of the following: Russian Air Force Su-35S Red 05 – dark grey over light blue. Russian Air Force Su-35 Red 31 – mid, light and pale blue came over light blue, with dark grey on the leading edges of the elevators. Russian Air Force Su-35BM 902 – Light blue all over with dark blue and white splinter camo. Chinese Air Force Su-35 – light blue all over with mid and pale blue wavy-edged camo. Chinese Air Force Su-35 – dark grey over light blue, with Chinese flag on the fuselage sides. Chinese Air Force Su-35, Cang Zhou Flight Tes & Training Centre - dark grey over light blue, with Eagle wreath motif on the fuselage sides and tail fins. There are a further four pages devoted to the painting and decaling of the weapons, their adapter rails and pylons, which takes up the larger of the three sheets. The rest of the decals are supplied on the mid-sized sheet, including a great many of the sensor patches, while the badges and instrument panel decals are printed separately by a different method on the small sheet. The decals are printed in-house, and on first inspection are of good quality, but under magnification there is a slight misalignment of the white base, which will show up most in the red numerals with white borders on main markings sheet. Check your box before you start, as some spare numerals may be required, depending on whether it bothers you or not. Otherwise, registration on the other sheets is good, the decals appear crisp and have good colour density. Conclusion A comprehensive box of Su-35 goodness that will doubtless find its way into many stashes. Given the sales already made and the possibility of more in the future, coupled with the consensus that it is a very capable aircraft, we're going to see a lot more of the Flanker E in the years to come. The kit shows a lot of promise in terms of detail, and as long as you test-fit the assemblies together before you get glue-happy, it should build up into a fine looking model with a little paint-and-patience. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of and available soon from major hobby shops