1/48 Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker B Limited Edition from Eduard

1/48 Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker B Limited Edition
Eduard
Catalogue # 1167
Available direct from Eduard for 99.95 Єuros

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Of all of the post-war Soviet jet fighters, two have always physically looked the most attractive to me: the early, snub-nosed Mikoyan Mig-15 Fagot and the sweeping curves of the Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker. I've always thought the Flanker has something of a giant insect about it, with its humped back and aggressive, somehow predatory, stance. Strangely, I have been involved in a number of Mig-15 modelling projects over the years, but never one yet for a Flanker.

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The Su-27 entered service in 1984, planned as the direct Soviet answer to the American F-15 Eagle. Somewhat larger than the Mig-29 it operated alongside, it became the major Soviet Air Superiority aircraft. Having seen action with the Russian, Ethiopian and Angolan air forces, it has proved a highly popular, successful, long lived and, above all, manoeuvrable fighter with the air forces of a dozen nations; 2 were even bought by the USAF in 1995, the highest accolade that the airframe can be paid!

The aircraft has been developed over the years into many different variants, including a specialist naval fighter, the Su-27K (or Su-33) with extra frontal canards; it also has given rise to successors in the form of the Su-35 and Su-37.

However, one thing will always stand out in my mind; an aerial manoeuvre called Pugachev's Cobra which was first carried out in the Su-27 which has become a firm favourite at airshows and a useful addition to the fighter pilot's combat repertoire. However, even in normal flight, the Flanker certainly still carries an air of menace (below).

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Credit and copyright: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/90/Su-27_05.jpg

The standard kit of the Flanker in 1/48th scale, from Academy, has been around for a few years now. It does, unfortunately, have several major faults which I have summarised at the end of this review. A few companies have licensed-in this kit for their own issues in the last couple of years but the standard of moulding has dropped on each occasion. However, in the latest of a small number of licensing exercises, Eduard has produced its own version of the Flanker based on the Academy mouldings. It is a limited edition release of only 1500 kits; market noise has initially suggested that its price is too high for what has been included but I hopefully will show the true facts about the inclusions and changes made, leaving the modeller to make their own mind up on this issue.

Again, Eduard have made good use of the QR Code on the box exterior, which means that if you scan this into a smartphone with the QR Code app installed, you will be taken directly to the product page, and you can make your purchase!

Su27Squiggle

Within the box are several pale grey sprues, 2 fuselage halves, a transparency sprue, 2 etched frets, a masking set, large decal sheet for 5 very different Flankers and a BRASSIN set for the cockpit. The usual well-produced 16-page instruction booklet is also provided, but as you will see, this was not without a major issue this time around.

When you review a major release such as this, the last thing you want (or indeed expect) is confusion to start off the process. However, it must be stated up front that Eduard has somehow made a major mistake with the first major sprue in the kit, Sprue A (below) along with their instruction sheet. For a start, the illustration of parts on Sprue A only partially resembles what is actually on the sprue; next, there are separate wheels shown on the instruction sheet (sprue H) along with wheel hubs on Sprue A, both of which were missing from my kit; thirdly, the actual construction details show these missing parts being fully used; and, finally, no mention in the instruction sheet or construction details is made of the highly detailed plastic wheels appearing in actuality on my Sprue A.

Of course, any review sample has the potential to have missing or broken parts, but this seemed more major in nature. I therefore contacted a modelling friend who I know had bought this kit and also a major stockist of Eduard kits in the UK, who had 2 kits in stock and kindly checked their kits for me. All of the kits are the same; wheels and hubs are missing, sprues do not match the illustrations and the instructions are incorrect.

Basically, Eduard's quality control has made one of two major mistakes: either

there are the same parts missing from several kits examined orthe instructions and construction details are completely wrong.

I actually believe the latter supposition is correct and the modeller will slowly have to review the correct procedure for themselves. What is puzzling is that no other reviewer I have seen in print or on the internet has picked up on this error to date, even though at least one reviewer showed a full box contents photograph without noticing or commenting on the missing pieces.

Returning to the provided sprue A, these new wheels are actually rather good! Many parts are now redundant, including everything for the cockpit.

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Another slight anomaly arises with the next sprue. It is shown in the instructions as single piece (sprue B) but is, in fact, provided as two separate smaller sprues in the box. The first part (above) holds parts for the tailplane and leading edge slats along with the major parts of the large engine intakes. The detail on the intakes is a little suspect but replacement parts, such as grills, are provided later on the etched frets to correct this. The second part of this sprue (below) holds more parts for the tailplane and leading edge slats, together with the lower fin extensions that are situated under the tailplane. The leading and trailing edges of all of the flying surfaces in the model were not bad at all.

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The large twin fins dominate the next sprue (above) along with the airbrake and the unrequired original poor cockpit interior. The fins are nicely produced and capture the dominating aspect of the originals really well. The next photo (below) shows the sprue holding the missiles and their pylons. All of the pylons are surprisingly accurate, whereas every missile unfortunately has overscale fins that cry out for replacement in etched brass or plastic card. A lot of work will be required to bring these parts up to an acceptable standard; many may well choose to source replacements elsewhere.

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The fuselage halves, thankfully in view of the shape and planform of the airframe, are split horizontally. The lower half (above) gives the appearance of a good overall shape (see later) and was warp-free in my kit. The standard of detail and engraving is shown in a close-up below. It is alright, but quite a distance from the excellent results Eduard now achieve in this area with their own kits; certainly, I would anticipate some rescribing will be required. It is with these parts that the size of the Flanker is truly appreciated.

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The upper fuselage half (above) is of similar quality. The two parts are "banded together" in the box and, even in this temporary state, the poor fit at the front and rear becomes obvious. Also clear when plans are consulted is the incorrect sweep to the leading edges of the wings (a problem that will take major work to correct) and the truncated fuselage, which is over 2 scale feet too short (a problem almost no modeller will be able to correct).

When the Academy kit was first released, reviewers and modellers alike became aware quickly of the incorrect shaped radome which detracted from the appearance of the finished kit. Sadly, Eduard has only duplicated this part from the original (below) and so the modeller is still faced with this major problem.

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The Academy kit was blessed with a very poor cockpit; Eduard have taken the opportunity to upgrade this area completely via a specialised BRASSIN cockpit and seat for the kit (above), something that I heartily applaud. These castings are full of crisp detail and have only the faintest traces of resin flash in one or two areas. There is also the (now obligatory, it seems) pilot's helmet; I have yet to meet a modeller who utilises these helmets in their finished kits, since they would never be left in the cockpit by the pilot. Also shown, bottom left, is the wonderfully produced front wheel mudguard with its intricate shape and odd detail.

The transparency sprue (below), however, is not one of the kit's finest moments. It is duplicated from the Academy kit and fails to capture the bulged shape of the original canopy. There is also a seam which will need to be carefully removed by the modeller.

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The kit contains 2 frets, both in different presentation styles. The first fret (above) is pre-coloured and designed to be used in the BRASSIN cockpit and seat shown earlier. All of the detail and colour is very fine here, apart from the colour of the seatbelts which is not the normal colour shown in many colour photographs of this area. The second, traditional fret (below) contains a large number of detail parts for the whole aircraft. This is beautifully produced with excellent detail. Of particular note are the parts for the engine nozzles, various grills and vents, the cockpit surround and the really fine detail for the interior of the canopy.

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Next is shown the large decal sheet (above) along with the small masking set. As ever, colour and register are both excellent with these Eduard decals, they are thin and correct in size; of note is the plethora of stencilling appropriate for different aircraft.

The instruction booklet, in the normal Eduard manner, offers colour profiles of the 5 decal options in the kit:

A.    Su-27, 689th GIAP, Chkalovsk Air Base, Russia, May 2003 (below)

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B.    Su-27, 54th GvIAP / 148th Combat and Training Centre, Savasleyka AB, Russia, 1998

C.    Su-27, Uzbek Air Force, 62nd Fighter Regiment, Karshi Air Base, 2010 (both above)

Su-27SK, Indonesian Air Force, 11th Sqqdn, Hasanuddin Air Base, August, 2003Su-27, Ukrainian Air Force, 831st Tactical Aviation Brigade, Mirgorod Air Base, 2009 (both below)

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I would have to choose either the Uzbek or Indonesian machines as interesting modelling subjects.

I think that we should now consider the original Academy kit from several years ago that Eduard have licensed in and explore how well that kit's major faults, of which there are many, have been addressed in this release:

  • Fuselage too short by over 2 scale feet – not addressed
  • Poor fit of fuselage at front and rear – not addressed
  • Poor cockpit – fully addressedIncorrect wheel wells – not addressed
  • Poor wheels/tyres – addressed, but in a totally confusing manner
  • Poor engine nozzles, both detail and shape – partially addressed via etched set
  • Incorrect sweep to the leading edges of the wings – not addressed
  • Faults with the LERX – not addressed
  • Incorrect shaped radome – not addressed
  • Incorrect shaped canopy – not addressed
  • Poor, thick, missile fins – not addressed

Alright, so there are a couple of good aftermarket replacements for the Radome and the canopy (and engine nozzles, should you wish) but I cannot believe that Eduard did not take the opportunity to correct these 2 major items. It is also true that you could source better quality missiles of various types from Eduard themselves but in a kit of this price, I would have expected to see at least replacement fins provided.

So What Do We Think?
Eduard has licensed in several kits for special treatment previously and generally the process has worked well. This time, although it is a limited edition special kit, I do not feel that success has been maintained. The old Academy kit is well-known for its major faults and Eduard has only addressed a minority of them. The difficult choice for the modeller wanting to build a quality 1/48th Flanker is to decide if this kit, with all of its extras but much higher price, is the correct way to progress, particularly since further outlay on aftermarket parts will still be required. There is even a rumour of a brand new 1/48 tooling from the Far East, so some modellers may even choose to wait to see what develops in this direction. On top of this, the poor quality control in the area of the wheels which I fully described earlier is unnecessary and will cause confusion. This is a nice presentation of a great aircraft overall but not quite good enough in my view.

An opportunity not fully realised

Our thanks to Eduard for the review sample. To purchase directly, click THIS link.

Robin Jenkins.

 

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