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Zvezda 1/72 scale Su-27SM "Flanker B" Mod. 1

Kit:7295 // Scale:1/72 // Price:$29.99
Excellent surface detail; extensive weapons load; great decals; optional diorama-style parts (chocks, boarding ladder, and a standing pilot figure)
Small parts on landing gear difficult to install; surface detail is shallow and easily sanded away; a stand is mentioned in the instructions, but it must be purchased separately
Injection-molded, 164 parts, decals

Sukhoi’s Su-27SM entered service with the Russian air force in 2003 as a midlife upgrade to the basic Su-27S with more-powerful engines, upgraded cockpit avionics, and enhanced software that allowed it to employ the latest guided weapons, including air-to-ground missiles. Externally, the only difference from the original Flanker is the offset electro-optical targeting system in front of the windscreen (it’s centered on the original).

Zvezda’s release perfectly captures the sexy look of this sleek fighter. It features excellent surface detail, a wide array of missiles, two different pilot figures (one seated in the cockpit and one standing), wheel chocks, and a boarding ladder. There are lots of tiny, delicate parts to add to the overall detail of the kit. Decals provide markings for three Russian air force planes, all in variations of an attractive blue camouflage scheme.

The instructions are straightforward. But some of the diagrams are cluttered, especially those of the landing gear and weapon pylons. The fuselage is split horizontally into upper and lower pieces; the upper half is further split into front and rear sections.

The resulting joint needed sanding, which proved to be a time-consuming fix. Instead of gluing the aft top piece to the lower fuselage, then adding the front section per the instructions, I suggest gluing the upper fuselage sections together first, then attaching that assembly to the lower fuselage. This should minimize the aforementioned seam.

The instructions didn’t mention it, but I added some weight in the nose cone. Cockpit detail is good, with a nicely rendered seat. The intakes fit so well, I didn’t use the FOD covers provided in the kit.

One other part I had to work on to fit was the windscreen. Also, take care with the small gear actuators; they are positioned in tight spaces. Zvezda includes alternate pieces to display the aircraft in flight. However, a stand must be purchased separately. 

Color references list Humbrol paints. The color names didn’t help me much, so I went to the Internet and found pictures of the very aircraft I wanted to build: Red 04, which has a two-tone blue camouflage scheme (the other two decal versions have tricolor schemes). For the lighter blue, I mixed equal parts Tamiya sky blue and flat white; the darker blue was 2 parts Gunze Sangyo bright blue (H-150) to 1 part flat white.

The decals were among the best I’ve used lately. They are opaque and settle into recessed detail without setting solution. Even the small, white dielectric panel decals folded over the strakes without fuss. Oddly, there are no decals for the missiles. I added black stripes to the Archers. Internet pictures of this particular machine show a clean aircraft with no weathering.

This is an excellent model. It’s more detailed than the Hasegawa and Trumpeter kits I’ve built, but it’s a little more difficult to assemble. I spent 41 hours on it and am pleased with the result.

Dealing with the numerous tiny parts and their delicate nature might stymie beginners; it’s best left to intermediate modelers with several kits behind them.

Now I’m looking forward to other Flanker variants from Zvezda.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the October 2014 FineScale Modeler.

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