Wednesday, September 20

In-Boxed: Bruce is building the Sukhoi Su-35 "Flanker-E" in 48th scale from Kittyhawk Models

Kittyhawk has brought it's 48th scale Su-35 “Flanker E” to the market, and our man Bruce has one to build – before he starts to cut and glue he got some snaps together with his initial thoughts on the kit for an “In-Boxed” review for us to see the parts of the kit before they go together...

In-Boxed: Sukhoi Su-35 "Flanker-E"
1/48th scale
Product Number# KH80142
Product Link on the Kittyhawk Site
Price: £49.49 on the E-Models Website

Kittyhawks newest release is a 1/48 scale kit of the Su-35 Flanker E, A very capable upgrade of the Su-27 Flanker. Whereas the Su-27 was purely an air defence fighter, the Su-35 has received a whole new suite of avionics and other enhancements, including vectored thrust engines that allow it to operate both as a fighter and ground attack aircraft.

Four jets were sent to Syria earlier this year to take part in ground support missions. A number of design weaknesses were revealed as a result of this “real world testing” and modifications are being undertaken. Russia hopes to export the aircraft to several other nations, The Chinese had already placed a firm order with deliveries having already taken place.

I have to admit to a certain ambivalence to modern Russian aircraft, all those Floggers, Flankers, Fullbacks and FullForwards tend to blur into one for me, so when Adam asked me if I would like to review this new Kittyhawk kit, I didn't say yes straight away...

However after some researching, my interest in it grew and I was keen to get my hands on the model, and leave the boring grey jets to (Mr Gary) Wickham! I mean who wouldn't want to build this scheme?

Or even this...
The first thing that struck me upon opening the large box were the two main fuselage halves.
In a bit of a departure from their usual engineering KH have broken the fuselage into an upper and lower part. To this are added the wings, tails, intakes nose etc. Similar to how most model manufacturers would handle the F-14 Tomcat.

Panel lines and rivets are finely and sharply moulded and look consistent across the airframe.

There are some faint mould seams, but these should disappear with a few rubs of a sanding sponge.

Eight grey sprue make up the rest of the box contents along with a clear sprue, a small PE fret and three sheets of decals. Four of the eight sprues contain parts for weapons, both air to ground and air to air. Marking options consist of three Russian aircraft and three Chinese aircraft

Sprue B contains the parts for the horizontal flying surfaces, separate flaps and slats are provided. All parts having very fine rivet and panel line detail. the wings, stabilisers and associated control surfaces all having sharp trailing edges.

Sprue C amongst other parts contains parts for the engine fronts and burner cans. In another departure from previous kits, KH has not given you complete engines, just the parts you can see.

However, just about every photo I have seen of powered down Flankers shows the vectored thrust nozzles angled downwards and inwards.

Kittyhawk only provides parts for the nozzles in powered up mode. That is, pointing straight back in line with the axis of the aircraft.

If you want to show the nozzles correctly, you will have to resort to aftermarket or modifying the nozzles yourself. Fortunately, A.M.U.R have come to your aid with a set of drooped nozzles to correctly portray a Flanker at rest. I have just received a set of these to use on my review build, and I can report they look terrific

STOP PRESS Kittyhawk have announced they will be releasing another boxing with corrected nozzles and production aircraft tail stinger - the link is here in our preview on TMN

Sprue D contains some lovely tail fins moulded as full thickness with the rivet detail consistent on both sides. Rudders are provided as separate parts.

The same can be said for the intakes, no disappearing panel lines or rivets lines here. Also on this sprue, we have the nose cone and parts for the radar dish that sits underneath, or is that behind it.

Sprue E predominantly has the parts for the landing gear, comprising landing struts, two-piece main wheels (unweighted) and some parts that make up the wheel wells as well as some pylons and many small scoops and aerials.

The clear sprue naturally contains parts for the canopy and windscreen plus various lights and sensors. The canopy and windscreen both have a fine mould seam down the centre and display a little bit of distortion. The strange layout of parts on the sprue suggests other versions may be released in the future.

Finally, the weapons, with four sprues in total made up of two sets of mirrored sprues. Weapons included comprising KAB-500 and 1500 laser and TV-guided bombs KH-31 Anti-ship missiles, R27, R60, R73, R77 Air to Air missiles. KH-58 Anti-radiation missiles and KH-25 air to surface missiles. Dedicated pylons are included for the above weapons in addition to ECM pods both wingtip and pylon mounted.

A small PE fret rounds out the kit parts. Infuriatingly sealed between two films of adhesive plastic film, it contains seatbelts, louvres, and pieces for the HUD and sway braces.

The instructions look well drawn and clearly illustrate part placement throughout the main 18 steps. Kittyhawk instructions in the past have been poor, with misidentified parts and steps out of sequence. We’ll see if they have improved this aspect when I build the kit. From the instructions, it looks like you can display the radar, refuelling probe, brake parachute cover and gun bay open as well as the flaps and spoilers drooped

Marking and paint diagrams for both the jet and weapons are in full colour and contained in the booklet as centrefolds. I preferred them at either end of the booklet, but first world problems, right?

The last page of the instruction booklet contains a diagram listing which weapon goes on which station, and mirrors a similar diagram I found on the ‘net.

Six colour options are shown, no unit or date information is supplied

Bord No. 05 Russian Air Force, in an eggplant colour over pale blue, which was the initial paint scheme for the jet.

Red 31, a three-tone camouflaged jet in two tones of blue and grey. This is actually a Flanker S as all Flankers that have entered service are known as.

Black 902, the second prototype aircraft in a rather smart arctic splinter scheme. This is the only aircraft that can be made out of the box, being a true E, the others all being Flanker S aircraft

This aircraft has been well photographed and there are many good shots of it on the net showing that camouflage scheme off nicely

The next three schemes are Chinese Air Force jets wearing either the two or three tone camouflage

I have found no photos on the net of these Chinese jets, and am unsure if they have even been delivered to the Chinese, so they could well be speculative schemes, although there are a few photos of a purportedly Chinese Su-35 wearing the three tone scheme

A marking and painting guide is also included for all weapons

Three decal sheets are provided. A large sheet containing markings for the airframe

One that contains all stencilling and warning bands required for the weapons,
 ...and a smaller sheet that contains decals for the instrument panel, consoles plus (alleged) unit markings for the Chinese jets.
The decals are matt printed, each design having only a small amount of carrier film visible, and look to be in register. Extra black and red numbers are also on the sheet should you wish to model a different jet, although only one of each number is given. Obviously, kitty hawk should have given you two sets of each number as you will need them for each side of the fuselage and fins.

I have deliberately kept this in-box brief as I intend to build this model and will address the construction and accuracy in more detail as I progress through the build.

What has become apparent with the research that I have done so far is out of the box, without modification you can only build 902, the Arctic aggressor type scheme. This jet was, in fact, the second prototype, and is a true Flanker E

All Su-35s that have entered service have received the nomenclature Su-35S which means the other decal options will require modification to accurately produce an in-service aircraft, for one, the chaff dispensers on the tail stinger have been moved from the top as depicted on the kit parts
To the underside of service aircraft
Maybe simply a matter of turning the part upside down, I’ll have a fiddle

For now, though, this looks to be an impressive kit, and certainly - in the engineering - a step up over previous kitty hawk releases. Stay tuned as I get building.

Bruce Anders

Thank you to Kittyhawk Models for sending Bruce the kit to  review and build