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Paul A H

Russian Su-33 Flanker D - 1:72 Trumpeter

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Russian Su-33 Flanker D

1:72 Trumpeter


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Instantly recognisable to enthusiasts of Cold War or modern jet aircraft, the Su-27 Flanker has formed the backbone of the Soviet Union/Russian Air Force's air superiority fighter force for much of the last thirty years. The design marked a departure from previous Soviet aircraft, with its podded engines, large wing and sophisticated avionics (it was the first fly-by-wire aircraft to enter service in the Soviet Union). Emerging in prototype form as the T-10 in 1977, the design showed great promise, and before long it had beaten the time-to-height records set by the modified Streak Eagle in 1975. Although originally designed as a long-range air superiority fighter, like many of its contemporaries the Su-27 has been developed to take on a variety of roles, including air-to-surface missions.

The multirole Sukhoi Su-33 Flanker D is the navalised variant of the successful all-weather interceptor. Around 35 examples of the type have been constructed for Russian Naval Aviation, all of which operate from the Aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznestov. The Su-33 differs from the Su-27 in a number of respects. Most noticeable are the canards, situated forward of the wing to provide additional lift and manoeuvrability. The Su-33 also features larger wings with a powered folding mechanism, folding horizontal stabilisers, in-flight refuelling capability and the ability to carry a range of air-to-surface weapons.

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Despite the relatively small number of aircraft produced, this is the latest in a steady trickle of kits of the Su-33 to emerge. Things got off to a less-than-promising start, with the old and not very accurate Italeri Su-27 Sea Flanker (re-boxed by Zvezda). A few years ago Hasegawa gave us a much more sophisticated kit which, while still not perfect, was very good indeed. Now Trumpeter have released an all-new kit along with a typically generous selection of ordnance. Inside the large top-opening box are 230 parts spread across fifteen sprues of grey plastic and a single clear sprue. In typical Trumpeter style, the plastic parts are exquisitely moulded, with engraved panel lines, rivet and fastener detail. Also in the box is a small fret of photo etched parts, two decal sheets (one for markings and one for stencils) and a colour painting diagram as well as instructions. In common with other Trumpeter kits, the parts are extremely well packed and all of the sprues are individually bagged. Certain parts, such as the clear sprue are wrapped in foam for extra protection.

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Trumpeter seem to be in something of a purple patch with their recent 1:72 releases, and happily this kit continues that run of good form. The overall shape and arrangement of parts appears to match photographs and plans of the real thing very well. The canopy has the correct profile, which means a seam down the middle, but this is a five minute job to clean up with the right tools. Trumpeter have even included the option to build the model with the wings and horizontal tails folded, which is very pleasing to see and exactly how I will finish mine. Construction begins with the cockpit. This is made up of five parts, including a crisply moulded K36 ejection seat, which slots into a cockpit tub adorned with convincing moulded details (although decals re also provided). Once completed, the whole sub-assembly fits inside the fuselage halves.

As with most kits of blended-wing aircraft, the fuselage is split vertically with the inner section of wing moulded in place. The outer sections of the wings are moulded separately so that the model can be built with the wings folded. Some modellers will find this a pain as it creates an extra joint to deal with, but I'm made up that Trumpeter included this option because it wasn't possible to finish the Hasegawa kit like this without major surgery. Do note, however, that you must drill a number of holes in order to fit the appropriate pylons to the outer wing sections before your cement the parts together. There are different parts to use for each option, as the outer flaps are dropped when the wings are folded. The same applies to the horizontal tail surfaces, with different versions provided for folded and unfolded options.

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The engine air intakes are next. These are slide moulded, which makes construction relatively pain free. Engine turbine faces are included, which will prevent the dreaded see-through effect, and parts such as the auxiliary air intake louvers are moulded separately in order to maximise the level of detail. The Su-33's rugged landing gear is next. Each main gear leg is moulded as a single part, which should translate into a degree of structural strength, while the more complex nose gear leg is made up of seven parts. In both cases the wheels are moulded separately. While the model is on its back, you have to add the Su-33's beefy tail hook a nicely detailed part is made up of four parts. The pylons have to be added at this stage too, so make sure you drill out the appropriate holes at the start of the build, or this is the point at which you'll really regret it. The canopy is nicely realised and, as mentioned above, accurate in profile. Because of the shape of the canopy and the way it has had to be moulded, there is a little distortion around the sides, but by way of compensation it can be finished in either open or closed positions.

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In typical Trumpeter style, a very extensive range of ordnance is included. Of course there is so much that you can't possibly use it all, but who doesn't like spare ordnance? All told, you get:
4 x KH-31 Krypton air-to-surface missiles;
4 x KH-35 Zvezda anti-ship missiles;
4 x KH-59M Ovod cruise missiles;
2 x B-8M rocket pods;
1 x APK-9 data link pod (for use with the KH-59 missiles);
2 x R-77 active radar homing air-to-air missiles;
4 x R-27ET extended range infrared homing air-to-air missiles;
4 x R-27ER extended range semi-active radar homing air-to-air missiles;
2 x R-73 infrared homing air-to-air missiles;

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A choice of two schemes is provided on the decal sheet - Su-33 Flanker D 'Red 67' and Su-33 Flanker D 'Red 80', both of the Russian Navy. The decal sheets are nicely printed and you get a full set of stencils too, which is a bonus.

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Conclusion

Trumpeter are definitely on a role with their 1:72 aircraft, having given us fans of Soviet/Russian aircraft a hat-trick of very decent kits in the shape of the MiG-29, Su-24 and now the Su-33. This is a very decent representation of an interesting variant of an important aircraft. The basic shape of the aircraft looks to be about spot on and, with the option to fold the wings, it has much to recommend it, even when compared to the Hasegawa kit. No doubt this kit will find its way into the collection of a great many modellers, and justifiably so. Recommended.

Review sample courtesy of
logo.gifUK Distributors for logo.jpg

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Thanks for the review!

I was about to buy it without thinking, but then I saw that Zvezda is also about to release their own Su-33 this year, so I think I'm going to wait and compare both...

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Nice review Paul - my I stick my oar in ????

Note that it is a straight re-boxing of their previous 'J-15 with carrier Deck' kit - but minus the deck, deck crew and parts for the drooped flaps.

It still contains some J-15 parts - such as the wingtip missile rails.

There are some subtle differences between the Su-33 and J-15 - the most visible of which is the RWR 'dimple' antenna on either side of the tailboom - this should be removed for a Su-33.

The antenna array on the trailing edge of the fins is also different - so study the same area on a Su-33 to be 100% accurate.

A welcome addition though - no doubt it will be re-issued with the flight deck? (and the deployed flaps for takeoff)

Ken

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Thanks for your nice review, Paul!

Hi, Ken.

It seems that not only the differences between real J-15 and real Su-33, but also the fuselage part itself are different from previous 'J-15 with carrier Deck' kit.

From the picture of Paul, It can be seen that Trumpeter has modified the shape at the position where canards are mounted, which was wrong in Trumpeter J-15 with carrier Deck kit but is right in Hasegawa Su-33 kit.

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I was about to reply with.... "No - Trumpeter would never correct an error on their kits"......

So I went and dug out my two versions - the J-15 and Su-33 ...... and you are correct - well spotted. :thumbsup:

J-15 With Carrier Deck version........

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Su-33 version - note the subtle difference in the chamferring of the curve.........

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The two together - J-15 at left, Su-33 at right....

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Nice one Trumpeter :worthy:

I'm now off to don sackcloth and ashes for not noticing.......

Ken

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I was about to reply with.... "No - Trumpeter would never correct an error on their kits"......

So I went and dug out my two versions - the J-15 and Su-33 ...... and you are correct - well spotted. :thumbsup:

J-15 With Carrier Deck version........

...

Su-33 version - note the subtle difference in the chamferring of the curve.........

...

The two together - J-15 at left, Su-33 at right....

...

Nice one Trumpeter :worthy:

Hi Ken!

Which plastic the deck less J-15 has?

Prosit,

AaCee

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I just double-checked - they haven't corrected the wingspan ......

j-15_032.jpg

The Trumpeter span is 3mm too great (1.5mm per side) - compared to the Hasegawa wing above.......

..... and their own Su-30MKK.....

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1.5mm is the width of the missile rail - so I suspect they took the published span as not including the missile rail - when it does!!! :doh:

If you don't tell anyone, I won't..... :whistle:

Ken

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Would any of you gentlemen, please, have a look and check if Trumpeter possibly amended the clear part also?

I mean, since they went the trouble of changing the upper fuselage maybe they thought about smoothing out the canopy shape!?... :)

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Hi AaCee.....

I don't know - I haven't purchased the deckless J-15 - is it available yet ??

Anyone ???

Ken

Hi Ken,

Looks like I took too much advance... Standing corrected :banghead:

Wing tip rail issue seems to be a bad habit at Trumpeteer. Just like the Hawk and was there also some other kit suffering the same? Although at leas in this case I can live with it!

Cheers,

AaCee

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Waiting for been saved by ZVEZDA!

You need to wait a long time.....)

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Great review Paul! :thumbsup:

Now I have an idea about this kit.

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Good to see they have at least made one correction.

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