Mike Posted February 20, 2021 Share Posted February 20, 2021 Su-33 Flanker-D (8001) Russian Navy Carrier-Borne Fighter 1:48 Minibase via Albion Alloys The SU-33 is a carrier-based development of the SU-27 that has suffered from the dearth of finances following the break-up of the Soviet Union at the end of the last millennium. Soon after it was taken into service by the Soviet Navy, funding was reduced to the military as a whole, and as a result only 24 airframes were built. Overseas sales were attempted, but none came to fruition for various reasons, and further sales to the Russian Navy weren't an option, as in 2009 they decided on the smaller navalised Mig-29K going forward. The Su-33 refuses to die however, and in 2016 they were optioned to be upgraded again to a higher standard in order to tempt offshore sales, although the airframe’s size has led to a loss of some potential orders. Beginning with the basic SU-27 airframe, the internal structure and landing gear were beefed up to cope with the additional stresses of hard carrier landings, the wings were enlarged to provide additional lift, small canards were added forward of the newly enlarged wings, and both the wings and stabs were fitted with folding mechanisms for storage below decks. The first aircraft embarked on the Admiral Kuznetsov in 1995 after substantial testing, but the cancellation of other carriers led to the projected buy of 72 airframes being cut back to the aforementioned 24. They were being drawn down in favour of the Mig-29K, and were refurbished to replace their outdated avionics for future use elsewhere, leading to an additional squadron consisting of Su-33s since being stood up in addition to the Migs to offer enhanced air power and airframe availability. The Kit This kit has arrived somewhat suddenly from new company Minibase out of the blue, and it has just started to turn up in the Far Eastern shops, with its arrival in the UK coming soon thanks to their importers Albion Alloys, who have thoughtfully supplied us with a finished kit to show to you lovely folks. It is a 100% new tool, and not to be confused with the offerings from other manufacturers. I have looked in the box and can confirm that this is entirely correct, as it has many different features to the other brands, plus lots of extras that aren’t included with others. The box is similar in size to the other Russian fighters in this scale, but it is jammed almost solid with sprues that are well-packaged for shipping with bubble-wrap, resealable clear foil bags and even sheets of card in some bags. The slide-moulded weapons are all enveloped in long narrow cardboard boxes that have the mini-sprues firmly secured by cardboard flaps to stop them rattling around. Over the top of the box is a full-size card insert that has glossy profiles on one side and a frivolous cartoon of an Su-33 being “sprayed” by little men on a cherry-picker while a bee takes pictures with a DSLR. A very unusual inclusion, but it raised a smile and some folks might like to keep it for their wall – either side of the page is attractive to be honest. OK, enough whittering about the packaging. What’s IN the box is a lot more exciting. All the plastic is a grey colour, and there are fourteen main sprues, two separate intakes wrapped in bubblewrap, twelve mini-sprues of weapons, three sheets of Photo-Etch (PE) of various sizes, a turned aluminium pilot probe, a tiny slip of coloured acetate sheet, four clear sprues on a cruciform frame (one of which fell off), three sheets of decals plus a tiny one I almost missed, a very thick instruction booklet with painting and decaling guide in colour, plus an addendum sheet to replace page 50 of the booklet. Going back to that little piece of coloured acetate, it was inside one of the PE bags on my sample, which was open to the air at one end but was being held in by static cling. It is only a few millimetres across so would be easy to lose, especially if you don’t notice it in your excitement. Put it somewhere safe immediately, or you’ll be scratching around for a replacement. Detail is bordering on the unbelievable, with a huge part count and detail everywhere thanks to intelligent use of slide-moulds throughout to produce vents, detailed pylon under-surfaces, all of it as crisp as a fresh packet of Walkers. The finesse of the exhausts and other parts are also impressive, as is the sheer volume of decals, a weighty quantity of PE parts and a metal pitot that would be aftermarket with the majority of the kits out there. This makes the price look very much more attractive to anyone sucking air through their teeth at the price tag. Let’s see some of that detail now, eh? Construction begins with the ejection seat, which is a K-36DM Series 2 and is incredibly well-detailed, taking up two pages of the instruction booklet to complete and beginning with a two-piece shell into which the cushions, PE parts and masses of small details are fitted. The belts will require your full attention, as they are somewhat akin to macramé, weaving through, under and over each other. The cockpit tub is relatively small, but is covered with highly detailed dual-faceted side consoles plus sidewall inserts, a rear bulkhead and a choice of two incredible instrument panels as you can see from the photos. Even the control column has two profiles for correct painting, and the detail there is just as good, with numerous small parts there and added to the sidewalls. This kit isn’t going to take 10 minutes. The nose gear bay is below the cockpit, and this too is made up from a multi-part shell with detail everywhere, some moulded-in, and others added from the masses of small parts included in this kit. Colour call-outs are given to allow you to pick out the details afterwards. The bay is capped at either end with more parts, which have small decals applied to improve the detail even further, then the nose strut is begun, and it too takes well over a page of the instructions, adding struts, landing light lenses and other complex shapes that would have been milled into the full-scale part, plus some PE parts, a multi-part oleo-scissor link, the typical slatted mudguard that is made up from PE slats fixed to a central former. The wheels are put together in an odd manner, fixing the rear hubs to the axles first, then layering the inner tyre surface, then the outer tyre, and finally the outer hub for each one. Incidentally, the tyres are also exceptionally well detailed with makers’ mark and statistics on the wall and a circumferential tread around the contat surface. Careful assembly should minimise any clean-up and allow you to preserve the detail on both wheels. There are more decals placed on the leg as well as some useful colour call-outs, all of which use Gunze paint codes. The engines are hung under the fuselage in separate compartments on most Soviet/Russian jets, and the Su-33 is one of those, with this kit having separate tunnels rather than the more common moulded-in trunks on other kits. Even these areas are detailed with additional parts of PE and styrene, plus either open or closed internal FOD guards, plus more details that will eventually form part of the main gear bays. The internal trunking is formed by a roof slotted into the forward sloped intake part of the nacelle, and a two-part trunk with sensor and gear bay former in the rear. It is closed over at the rear by a pair of engine face parts that have tiny sensors fixed to the outer rim, with a scrap diagram showing the correct location. Another bay insert and detail panel with PE parts is fitted around the half-way mark on the outer face, with the task repeated in mirror-image for the other nacelle. A teardrop fairing is glued to the outside with the mechanism for the landing gear lock at its heart, one added to each nacelle. The main gear legs run on a single large tyre each, which is made up similarly to the nose gear wheel, but with an additional brake housing part that has three tiny parts fitted to them. You also have a choice of weighted or unweighted tyres, whichever suits your mindset, but be careful to put the same type on both sides. The gear legs are sturdy vertical structures that have various lugs, eyes and struts installed along with separate oleo-scissor links and the steering linkage, as well as decals and painting call-outs. The opposing wheel gets the same high part-count in mirror-image, and all three legs are put to one side while their bays are made up. The lower fuselage begins as a cruciform(ish) flat(ish) shape, with the nose bay added inside, and the main bays made up in situ from individual walls, which have additional parts and copious colour call-outs along the way. The detail is again fabulous. Flipping over the underside allows the addition of the central pylon details, as well as a few small parts that might be better off left until after painting. An insert goes under the nose, and is supplied with a decal that is best left off until after painting too. The nacelles can then be mated with the newly joined airframe, securing on a number of lugs that snug down into holes in the underside. There now follows a brief interlude while we build the vertical stabilisers, both following a similar path and beginning with the two main fin halves to which a single rudder surface is fitted at an angle to suit yourself and/or your references. They diverge slightly with the addition of the sensors in the fin’s trailing edge, which aren’t symmetrical. These too are put to one side, so get yourself a tray or a Tupperware box or you’ll be losing things. With the interlude over, there are inserts added to either side of the underside that portray various grilles and panels that are peculiar to each side, then the main gear bays are detailed with the top of the main gear leg, which is made up from a number of parts, and more parts are fitted into the front of the side inserts, which also form part of the gear bay detail. Yet more detail is applied from the inside, including a large trunk and some other small pipes etc., leaving the competition in its wake when it comes to realism. Two more inserts are added inside the aft fuselage, and even those have an addition part within. The Su-33 is a carrier-based aircraft, so has folding wings that add a little complication to control surfaces. The flaps are the first aspects of the wings to be made up, and they are complex, with two sections to each flap segment that can either be built up retracted or “clean”, or in two modes of deployment with increased deflection in the latter option depicting a “dirty” airframe. Each of the two sections are linked by actuators, and the edges have PE inspection hatches glued in place as directed by a scrap diagram, and there are two flap segments per side, so plenty to do. Depicting the wings in their folded state requires the flaps to be clean, and the assembly is trapped between the top and bottom wing surfaces, with visible ribs and folding mechanisms at the inner edge, and more colour call-outs are present here. The leading-edge slats have actuators added if you are deploying those too, or are attached to the leading edge, with both options having a PE end-cap, and as you’d expect the folded wings have those too in the retracted position. Each wing has a tip sensor suite in a tubular fairing with a small wingtip light and a slot that keys into the wing. If you’re going for wings down, the same parts are used, but with straight pins inserted into the fold area, and omitting the rib details. Again, there’s a left and right wing, so it’s all done twice. At last the upper fuselage gets a look in. it is prepared with an insert at the rear of the cockpit, the cannon barrel with a tiny imaginary bay that holds the barrel in place, a bay for the in-flight refuelling probe, and a small bulkhead at the rear between the engine humps. The main bay roofs are moulded into the upper fuselage, and should be painted at the same time as the rest of the bay parts to avoid forgetting and feeling silly later. The cockpit coaming has its own page in the instructions, and is made up from a substantial number of parts, with a highly detailed HUD frame from PE, and the dark acetate piece inserted into the projector section of it. Two clear lenses slide inside the PE HUD frame, and other equipment is arrayed around it, far ahead of anything you’ll find in your usual kit box. The refuelling probe pops into its bay while in the neighbourhood, and there is an alternative coaming layout for one of the options. As you would probably expect by now, the canopy is similarly complex and detailed, with a separate set of glazing for open and closed options. A frame fits into the bottom of the canopy after being decked out with demisting pipes, stiffeners and the open/close mechanism, which is again detailed with decals and plenty of colour call-outs. The cockpit is inserted from below and the seat launch ramp, equipment and other details are applied behind the pilot, then the windscreen with clear hoop and PE side-details for the coaming are glued in place along with the big hemispherical sensor and its fairing on the right of the screen, plus a partial door on the fuel probe. The closed canopy option is similarly detailed, but small sections of some of the parts are removed as per the instructions to get a better fit, and of course the alternative clear parts. Both the canopies are of the modern blown type, so are made in a three-part mould that leaves a faint seamline down the centre on the outer face. This should be sanded off extremely carefully and polished back to clarity with successively finer grades of abrasive, then polish to a shine with some polishing compound. The upper fuselage houses the air brake bay in the spine behind the canopy, which has some detail parts added with a decal (add that after painting), and if you are folding the wings, some very detailed inserts are fitted to the wing stubs with dozens of small parts added along the way. The un-folded wings have a simplified insert and some hinge parts fitted before it is put to the side while the horizontal stabs are made up in either folded or deployed positions. The same parts are used for both forms, with detailed fairings, PE stiffening plates and fold details in PE too. The outer section is placed perpendicular to the inner for folded, and if deploying them, the very tips of the hinges need removing as per the diagram, and the PE fold ribs are omitted. The exhausts can be made in the open or closed positions, which gives you plenty of choice, and these two are… highly detailed! It’s no longer a surprise now, is it? The afterburner ring is a styrene part that has a delicate PE ring rolled and laminated to it, then it is slipped inside the forward trunking, which has some fine ribbing moulded into it. The aft face of the engine closes the forward trunk off, then the aft trunk and exhaust petals are made up from more trunk, outer petals and inner ring with PE detail within, then the two sub-assemblies are joined together. For the closed nozzles, different parts are used, and you should check your references for the most appropriate position for your proposed pose. The fuselage can finally be joined now, choosing one of the three inner flap positions, trapping those, the horizontal stabs and the canards in position before you begin gluing it together. You’ll need to be sensible with the quantity of glue around the moving parts if you want to keep them that way, that is. The inner wing’s slats are of similar construction to the outer pair, and can be posed open or closed, and you can even pose the parapack housing in the tail stinger by adding a bulkhead in the front of the slide-moulded tip, which has a triple antenna in PE added to the top, and a retraction jack to hold it in place. The “unfolded” fairing just glues straight into the rear of the stinger. An open airbrake is achieved by laminating an inner and outer panel and fleshing out the hinges with more parts, then attaching it with a jack holding it to the correct angle, and two tiny parts removed from the bay edge for the hinges. A closed brake uses a small spacer in the very rear of the bay to keep the outer skin flush with the rest of the surface and no extra parts. The exhausts are slotted into their tunnels, the vertical stabs slide onto their pegs, and if you are deploying the wings for flight, the straight pegs hold the wings to the correct angle. The gear can be fitted onto their bases in the bays, and the sturdy arrestor hook has two tiny PE bolts glued to the top before it too is attached to the underside. No gear bay is complete without bay doors, and these are on another level too, having detail parts and jacks fitted to each one for the main and nose gear bays. More painting instructions are included here too. The folded wings are a more complex matter to install, having the main hinges already glued into the outer wing, but a lot of extra connectors and cabling included, with scrap diagrams showing the correct location for these delicate parts. Your tweezer fu will need to be on-point for this. The ejection seat and a host of aerials, probes and antennae finish off the basic airframe, with the turned metal pitot probe used, or replaced by a styrene one if you prefer, or even a folded styrene one for those who choose the stowed option. Minibase have generously included a boarding ladder for your model, which is made up from two side rails and seven separate steps, plus a few more parts to complete the frame. Weapons Some companies include weapons with their kits, some don’t, and you can never please everyone. This kit provides you with slide-moulded weapons of two types, with two sub-types for the short-range missiles, and four for the longer range options, depending on its seeker head type and range. As mentioned, they are secured in a pair of card boxes, and each one has its own mini-sprue with the name of the weapon in raised letters to help you identify it. I’ve been mildly disappointed by slide-moulded weapons before, as they suffered a little from excessive seamlines that took about as long to remove as would a traditional “two-part plus fins” weapon. This kit is somewhat better, and has very fine seams to remove that shouldn’t take long at all. All the fins are moulded-in, and apart from exhausts and seriously small antennae in the noses of the R-73s, they’re ready to go once you’ve scraped the seams and sanded away the sprue gates. Detail is of course excellent throughout. Detail is also exceptional on the pylons, which have either slide-moulded mounting surfaces or separate inserts, depending on the size of the pylon. There are various pylons with adapter rails, and they have addition parts to fill the role of attachment points, which will be of use if you plan on a peacetime load-out with empty pylons for your model. A full-page diagram shows which pylon goes where, and another page gives you options for weapons locations, but if you want ultimate accuracy, check your references before you get too far. In the box are the following: 2 x R-73E AA-11 Archer export version 2 x R-73L AA-11 Archer with optical laser fuse 2 x R-27T AA-10 Alamo-B, infrared homing 2 x R-27R AA-10 Alamo-A, semi-active radar homing 2 x R-27ET AA-10 Alamo-D, infrared-homing extended-range version 2 x R-27ER AA-10 Alamo-C, semi-active-radar homing extended-range version There are extensive stencils for every missile and pylon included on the decal sheets. Markings The decals are designed by Galaxy Decals and printed in China, with three airframes included in the box, and the stencils alone take up seven pages of the instructions, with profiles of the top, bottom, both sides of the nacelles, all of the pylons on both sides, and of course the missiles themselves. The colour profiles for the individual airframes are large enough to be of use, and the replacement of pages 50/51 are to fix a printing issue that has placed a big chunk of pale blue up the side of the port vertical stab. From the box you can build one of the following: 279th Shipborne Fighter Aviation Regiment 1st Aviation Squadron, Bort #68 279th Shipborne Fighter Aviation Regiment 2nd Aviation Squadron, Bort #80 279th Shipborne Fighter Aviation Regiment 2nd Aviation Squadron, Bort #86 The decals have good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. One of my decals (one iteration of 154) was slightly smudged, but it is so small it shouldn’t notice, especially if you put it on the bottom of the missile it is intended for. Your sheet probably won’t even have this issue. Conclusion Phrases like “Oh Wow!” repeated several times over sprung to mind initially, but I’ll try to be a bit more erudite. This kit includes so much detail that it is difficult to take it all in initially, and poring over the instructions with the sprues in front of you is the only way to understand the level of plastic engineering that has gone into the creation of it. There will be some that feel it is over-engineered due to the high parts count, but it is exactly this high part count that brings the detail, along with slide-moulded parts and plain old-fashioned intelligent design. If it goes together half as well as it looks, it will merit inclusion at the top of kit of the year list, and we’ll find out pretty soon. The inclusion of three sheets of PE and a metal pitot probe, slide-moulded weapons, lashings of stencils to further detail the painted surface, and an instruction booklet that holds your hand through the complex sections of the build, and you have a package that is excellent value and worth every penny of the asking price, which we generally don’t talk about here, as we’re more interested in the kits in the boxes than anything else. We’ll break the rule this once though, and it has an RRP of £99 and change here in the UK, which when you add up the inclusions, the quality of the tooling and the amount of modelling time you’re going to expend on this treasure, makes it a very reasonable price. Exceptionally highly recommended. Available in the UK in most good model shops. Review sample courtesy of UK Distributors for the Brand 17 7 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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