Wednesday, March 17

Build review Pt.2: 1/48th scale Sukhoi SU-30SM Flanker C From Kittyhawk

Alister Curnow has progressed to the 3/4 point of Kittyhawk's new 48th scale Su-30SM "Flanker C" two-seat fighter build. This massive beast is a complex & detailed build, so Alister has stopped to give us some progress of the build and what he thinks so far in part 2 of his story... 
Sukhoi SU-30SM Flanker C
From Kittyhawk
1/48th scale
Kit No: KH80171
Previous parts of this story:

Build review Pt.2: 1/48th scale Sukhoi SU-30SM Flanker C From Kittyhawk
The gear bays have some nice details moulded in, and build up easily (just note some part numbers are incorrect in the manual, as pictured, so take care as you go). 
After a primer coat in grey, these were then painted Vallejo US medium grey before hand-painting pipes and wires. The real aircraft looks clean here, but I did give it a light touch of weathering with a thin dark grey wash made of mixed black and white Ammo Oil Brusher thinned with white spirits to give the impression of some shadows. Gear bay parts before and after:
Next up, the engine intakes - the instructions for these subassemblies are once again vague, in particular step 18, offering an "open or closed" option, and a remark here to "cut" something. But, I just ignored all this, and followed my instincts here, with the result being parts that fit together well.
The fit of the two large outer intake parts (parts A44 and A26) is essentially perfect, so my choice to paint the engine metal work first hasn't backfired on me! The inside of the intakes was filled and sanded as required, and all internals were painted in black primer, and then Flanker light grey from Vallejo.
However, once the internals were fitted to the outer parts, a large gap formed at the rear of the outer intake assemblies that had fitted so beautifully with nothing inside them. This was due to the inside intake pipe being a bit too long, and impacting at the engine end, so I slowly sanded this back, and this closed the gap. Once that was done, the join between the lower fuselage metal and the engine intake assemblies was perfect again with no filler needed. Looking down the intakes from the front, the alignment inside was not quite so perfect, so a small lump of blue tack was placed under the intake tubing, and this corrected the alignment.
Skipping some steps in the manual, I now glued and attached these before joining the fuselage halves together. The open ends of the engine systems could then be sealed with tape and foam to protect the inside from the outside paint stage to come.

Needing to be attended to before joining the fuselage would be the canard wings attached to the sides of the fuselage. I wasn't keen on the Kittyhawk approach, which was to simply glue them in place and then seal the fuselage.
It would make it difficult to sand or paint around them when fitted this early, plus the risk of me breaking them off during the rest of the build would be high. So after a little experimenting, I have used a small O-ring made of rubber insulation from electrical wire, and super glued this into the fuselage (I made the hole here a little bigger to accommodate it) and sanded back the T shape connector on each canard, to just be a straight pin. Once the aircraft is finished, this can be inserted into the fuselage and will be held in place by the rubber O-ring. If it is bumped in the future it should hopefully twist instead of break, and also the canards on the finished model can be posed in other angles if I wish. An experienced builder might have spare ready-made bushes in their tool kit already for a job like this. This makes much more sense to me.
Joining the fuselage halves together went extremely well, the fit of the two halves was excellent. Top marks to Kittyhawk for this. Fitting the centreline air brake was not so good, the part doesn't really fit the space here very well. This would be fine for the builder who wants it open, but for me, I did quite a bit of sanding in this area to get it to fit, plus needed a little plasticard and filler in all the gaps to try and present this properly as closed.

Flying surfaces came next, starting on the tails. These are magnificent looking parts, highly detailed. My first task was to paint the white sections. I would mask these off before the final colour, for convenience and ease of masking mostly. The white is Ammo One Shot primer (white) followed by X-2 Tamiya Gloss White. Alas, the fit was not as great as the fuselage halves, and I need to apply some filler and do some sanding here. This required a little bit of re-scribing afterwards.
The wings up next have proved to be quite a bit of a disappointment. One of the lower wing parts was warped in the box. Thankfully dipping this in boiling water for 30 seconds, then placing a heavy flat object on top of it on a hard, flat surface has returned it to the correct shape. But to follow this, I then discovered that the other lower wing half was not formed correctly. Where the lower wing joins the fuselage, if the wingtip end is properly fitted, leaves a 1.5mm gap between wing and fuselage. The wingtip end is also not moulded completely and remains a poor fit. This lower wing is also missing the straight panel lines that the opposite lower wing has.
To fix I have sanded the fuselage edge flat first, and then added strips of plasticard and super glue to build this back up. It is then sanded back to shape to rebuild this missing length of the lower wing. After this, though I was able to attach the wings to the fuselage, and at this point, they attached nicely. I used a mix of super glue and Tamiya extra thin glue to secure them well. The weapon pylon options in the box did not appeal to me, and there are no weapons in the kit to populate them with anyway. I've not drilled holes in the wings to accommodate these. Strangely two of the locations in one of the lower wings that the builder would normally be required to make a hole for already had holes open. So I've had to fill and sand these.

While the elevators are a smart design, in theory, it also doesn’t work as well in practice. They don't fit out of the box without some trimming and sanding. Not a major issue, but worth mentioning that dry fitting everything numerous times before gluing is very important on this kit. To ease painting, and to prevent me from breaking these, I will paint these separately and attach to the model at the very end of the build. The nose section is again designed to be open for viewing inside by Kittyhawk, with potential to have the full radar system out on display. But again, this is not something I want for my model. This has enabled me to skip all of step 6 and step 35, so all that is required here then is a ring mounting to the end of the fuselage, and the nose cone itself. 

The fuselage ring prior to the nose cone isn't a perfect fit (again, probably due to being designed to be open), and in order to not lose all the surface details around it, I've had to be careful with the amount of effort put into sanding this. Prior to installing the nose cone, I need to start considering some nose weight. But considering how far back the rear landing gear are, I decided not to overdo this, and went for 0.5oz of lead fishing weights held into the nose with some blue tack. I've then glued the nose cone to the nose ring at the front of the fuselage. 
The fit is pretty good, considering there is no guidance or mounting points to speak of. At this point, the fuselage can be masked with tape and foam as required in preparation for the painting to begin. This stage includes fitting the masked canopy as well. 
The canopy is to be my next disappointment with the kit. There are some imperfections moulded into the glass that will be visible and are not repairable. The seam down the centre of the main canopy glass is not a problem to remove, however, this is done with some very fine sandpaper, and Tamiya polishes to finish. Finally, I'm ready to apply some primer, and we can take one last look at the model before painting gets underway.
See you again soon with an update on the finished model!

Alister Curnow

Thanks to Kittyhawk for sending this model to Alister to build and review. You can find out more about Kittyhawk's models on their Facebook page.
See more of Alister's work on his facebook page "Alister's Model Hangar"