Thursday, August 4

Review: Su-33 Flanker-D (Su-27K) w/Kh-41 Moskit(P-270) from Minibase in 1/48th scale

Having already had the chance to examine the excellent 1/48th scale Su-33 Flanker D kit from MiniBase. Who better than Gary Wickham to compare it to the new Su-27K Sea Flanker w / Kh-41 Moskit missile release? See what he thought in his detailed review...
Review: Su-33 Flanker-D (Su-27K) w/Kh-41 Moskit(P-270)
From Minibase
1/48th scale
Item No.8002
Plastic injection moulded kit, including clear parts
Kit comes with a pilot figure (for pre-order kits)...
The kit is coming late 2021, date TBA...
The Subject: The Su-33 Flanker-D (Su-27K) w/Kh-41 Moskit (P-270)
Development of the Su-27K was intended to produce a ship-borne long-range interceptor to complement MiG-29Ks in air wings that would equip the Soviet Union's four new conventional aircraft-carriers. One carrier was never started, another (Ulyanovsk) was scrapped on the slipway, and Varyag (formerly Riga) remains incomplete and unlikely to enter Russian/CIS service, leaving only Kuznetsov in service with the Russian Navy.
This made the provision of one dedicated carrier-borne fighter (let alone two) an extremely expensive proposition, killing the original plan of having a navalised Su-27 as a kind of F-14-equivalent long-range interceptor plus a navalised MiG-29 as an F/A-18-equivalent shorter-range multi-role fighter. Although the logical decision would be to procure only the multi-role aircraft (especially since its intercept capability is identical, except in terms of range), the Su-27K still has a chance of snatching any order since the Sukhoi OKB appears to enjoy much greater political influence than its competitor.

Like the Su-27M/-35, the Su-27K can trace its ancestry back to the T-10-24, the first Su-27 to be flown with canard foreplanes, which the Sukhoi OKB studied as a means of improving take-off performance and of reducing approach speed, as well as of improving agility. Navalising the Su-27 was a major task, and resulted in a host of modifications, most of which were applied to a series of at least seven prototypes.
The Su-27K is fitted with canard foreplanes and an arrester hook, retractable inflight-refuelling probe and the associated offset IRST. The wing was initially unmodified, but eventually received a new, two-section double-slotted trailing-edge flap and dropping ailerons. No other Su-27 variant has ailerons, which confer better control on approach. All Su-27K's have folding wings and even folding tailplanes to help reduce the footprint of this massive interceptor aircraft.

The P-270 Moskit (Mosquito) is a Soviet supersonic ramjet powered anti-ship cruise missile. Its GRAU designation is 3M80, air launched variant is the Kh-41 and its NATO reporting name is SS-N-22 Sunburn. This powerful anti-ship missile embodies the ambitious plans of the Soviet Navy of the cold war era. The Moskit was designed to be employed against smaller NATO naval groups in the Baltic Sea (Danish and German) and the Black Sea (Turkish) and non-NATO vessels in the Pacific (Japanese, South Korean, etc.), and to defend the Russian mainland against NATO amphibious assault. [source: Wikipedia]
KIT OVERVIEW - MINIBASE Su-27K Sea Flanker w/KH-41 Moskit (48002)
Minibase have followed up their initial kit release of the navalised Su-33 Flanker D (48001) with a second Sea Flanker, the Su-27K. This new kit (48002) includes the KH-41 Moskit, an air launched variant of the supersonic ramjet powered anti-ship cruise missile. I don't normally focus or even comment on boxart, but I found this second boxing to be a real step up in the quality of the boxart with its evocative image of two Flankers skimming the waves.
Also included in the box is an A3 double sided cardboard poster that has some very nice side profiles of the Su-27K in both a clean and dirty configuration. One interesting tidbit that I found when reading about the Sea Flanker fleet is that no two of them are painted using the same camouflage pattern. Same colours, yes, but a unique layout for each airframe.

IN THE BOX - MINIBASE Su-27K Sea Flanker w/KH-41 Moskit (48002)
In this second boxing, we basically have all the parts from the original Su-33 (48001) kit, which I have previously reviewed in detail, with several new and enhanced components, including:
- New 3D printed parts, including a seated pilot with full harness and control stick
- Extra photo-etch detail parts
- Die-cut masks
-Two new sprues (N & O), the first containing the new KH-41 missile and the second a handful of upgraded parts from the original tooling.

A quick look at the parts list and we can see those items which are new/changed in this kit. I have highlighted in yellow the new components.
As with the original lit, all the standard weapons are slide molded as single pieces and as a result the fins are extremely thin and fragile. Minibase has therefore taken the extra precaution of packaging these inside two protective cardboard boxes fitted with foam inserts.
A masking set (designed and cut by Galaxy Models) is also provided in the box. This was not in the Su-33 kit and must have been a last minute inclusion in this kit because there are no instructions to be found (at least in my kit) as what the masks are used for. Clearly there are masks here for more than just the clear parts and we have asked Minibase for some details and will update this review if and when those become available. It seems a shame to include what are almost certainly nice masks with no easy way to figure out how to make use of them.
The brand new O sprue seems to have been made so Minibase could include updated or corrected version of several parts. A comparison of the new parts with their old counterparts reveals subtle changes which Minibase must have felt were warranted, perhaps based on feedback from the first kit.
Starting with the horizontal tail, we can easily see the difference is in the way the fuselage hinge has been modified. The new connector will allow the tails to be left separate from the model (for painting etc) until the very final assembly. This is better than the original design that required them to be attached when the fuselage halves were joined and locked in place. This to me is a sensible change and I feel like Minibase have heeded the feedback from modellers building the kit. Both parts are included anyway, so you can use whichever suits your building style.
The panel line detailing on the tail cone has also been changed. I did find photos of Su-33's with the original style tail cone (no circular panel) so I'm not sure if Minibase found evidence that both types were used or that somewhere along the production run they changed. Both are included in the box and you can therefore use which one suits your fancy (or reference, as the case may be).
Sprue N contains all the parts needs to build the new KH-41 Moskit missile. The main body of the missile is not connected to the sprue as its conveniently molded as a single piece rather than two halves.
The Kh-41/ P-270 Moskit
The Kh-41 is the air launched variant of the P-270 Moskit (Mosquito) Soviet supersonic ramjet powered anti-ship cruise missile. The NATO reporting name is SS-N-22 Sunburn. This would have to be one of the biggest missiles capable of being carried on a fighter aircraft I have ever seen. It's unfortunate that from a model perspective, it will mostly be hidden once fitted in between the engine nacelles. I would have liked Minibase to include a trolley so that this impressive little kit could be appreciated sitting next to the finished Su-27K. Maybe someone will design one in 3D printed resin ...
As with everything we have come to expect from Minibase, this KH-41 "mini kit" is super-detailed, including full interior detail. Assembly seems to be straightforward with the missile fins being provided in the folded/stowed position. The centreline pylon for the KH-41 is also included on the N sprue.

The instructions showing the construction of the missile...
The Kh-41 weighs in at around 4500kg with a total length of 9.385m. In 1/48 the Minibase missile body measures out at an impressive 202mm, which makes all the other AA missiles included in the box look tiny!
Included in this boxing are five new 3D printed parts. For those of you who already have the original Su-33 (48001) kit and would like to get hold of the pilot (and seat harness) then Minibase have released a separate "upgrade" set for that kit. More details can be found in my review of that upgrade set.
Parts P1,P2 and P3 are new 3D printed replacements for the kit plastic nose gear landing lights. These are very small parts and are included to simplify the assembly process compared to multiple plastic and PE parts.
Part P4 is an alternate option for the inflight refueling probe nozzle when displayed in the deployed/extended state. Minibase must have forgotten to update their instructions as it still shows part F43 for this option when the drawing clearly is part P4. Part F43 would still be used when the probe is displayed in the closed/retracted state.
Part P5 is super detailed 3D printed pilot with full harness and control column. This pilot is a simple drop in for the kit plastic seat. As a bonus, Minibase have also included a 3D printed seat harness which can be used on the kit plastic seat frame if you do not want to use to the pilot. The harness part seems to be a last minute inclusion, as it is not shown on the parts list or mentioned in the instructions.
Of course is you do not like either the pilot or the new single piece harness resin options. You can always use the original option that Minibase offered, that being the use of PE brass from which you bend and fold your own harness. Whilst the finished PE looks good, I personally know which one I will be using, as I wish to retain what little sanity I have left.
Speaking of photo-etch, the final enhancement made by Minibase in this new kit is the inclusion of several additional PE parts on fret A.
These new parts are mainly focused on the wing surface and at a educated guess look to me like strengthening plates which may have been added at some point in the service life of the Sea Flanker, perhaps to address fatigue in the wing. Note that the placement of the panels are not symmetrical across both wings.
So that pretty much rounds out the differences between this new kit (48002) and the original kit (48001). 

I can see a genuine intent from Minibase to add more value in this boxing with the nice 3D printed goodies and also a desire from them to address mistakes or omissions from the first boxing with the inclusion of corrected plastic sprues and PE details.

COLOURS & MARKINGS - MINIBASE Su-27K Sea Flanker w/KH-41 Moskit (48002)
Minibase have provided three new marking options in this boxing, including the same imposing sheets of stencils for the aircraft and weapons. Once again the decals have been designed by Galaxy Decals, who are the same guys who run Galaxy Models and Galaxy Tools.

As mentioned earlier, no two Sea Flankers have the exact same camouflage pattern. The colours used are the same, but the specific shape of the camouflage is unique to each aircraft.

"Blue 109"
"Blue 69"
"Blue 79"
Comprehensive Stencilling
Minibase have often referred to their approach to model kit design as "no compromises". Just keep that in mind once you get halfway through applying the 272 stencil decals to your model and you realise you have not yet even started on the 266 (!) stencils awaiting you on the weapons and pylons.
Kit Decals
Minibase have out sourced the design and printing of the kit decals to Galaxy Decals, also based in China. The decals look to have good color density and clarity. The carrier film is minimal and the multi-color decals show good register. I have personally yet to use any of the Galaxy decals in real life, so will not comment on how they perform on the model itself.

CONCLUSION - MINIBASE Su-27K Sea Flanker w/KH-41 Moskit (48002)
What Minibase have done here is a classic re-box. This new boxing contains the original Su-33 kit plus a considerable number of new and updated components that makes it well worth a look.

I can only imagine how much time, effort and money Minibase would have invested into the design and manufacturer of the Sea Flanker kit. I therefore think it's perfectly reasonable for them to get the maximum return from that investment, after all every other kit manufacturers does it all the time.
If you have already purchased the Su-33 (48001) kit, then unless you really want the KH-41 Moskit missile, you may be best served to just buy the new "upgrade set #2001" (which I reviewed here). This set will give you the newly seated pilot, resin harness plus super detailed versions of the undercarriage, wingfold and much more. Well worth a look.

If, however, you have not yet purchased a Minibase Sea Flanker, then I would encourage you to opt for this new kit (48002) and then also get the corresponding upgrade set #2002 to go with it.

Either way, you will end up with a truly excellent, yet challenging, kit of the Su-33/Su-27K Flanker D in 1/48.

Overall, I am really encouraged at the trajectory that Minibase seems to be taking and am already salivating at what they will deliver with their newly announced F-16 tooling. Bring it on!!

Gary Wickham

The Minibase website is not yet up so check out their Facebook page for more from them.
We found these two kits for sale at Hobbylink Japan.
You can see more of Gary's Work on his Website & his Facebook page.
Appendix: ASSEMBLY INSTRUCTIONS - MINIBASE Su-27K Su-27K Sea Flanker w/KH-41 Moskit (48002)