Trumpeter 1/32 Su-27 Flanker B Quick-Build
|Date of Review||September 2004||Manufacturer||Trumpeter|
|Subject||Su-27 Flanker B||Scale||1/32|
|Kit Number||2224||Primary Media||Photo-Etch, White Metal, Styrene|
|Pros||Excellent scribed detailing throughout||Cons||Minor molding line in canopy/windscreen, photo-etched flight control hinges|
|Skill Level||Intermediate||MSRP (USD)||$149.95|
To read some background and look at the kit out of the box, read the in-box review published earlier.
Just as I mentioned in the in-box review, this kit is beautifully molded and detailed. The packaging of the kit is just as impressive. Without further fanfare, let's kick off this quick-build. Remember that we'll be building this kit without paint or filler so you can see for yourself how the kit goes together.
Step 1 - Cockpit Assembly This first step builds into a very nice cockpit tub, but it also reveals the first caution flag in the assembly process. Some of the parts have just a hint of flash on them. In my kit, the stick and throttle had just a bit around the ends, but these cleaned up very quickly.
The more noteworthy thing to watch for is flash around the ejector pin holes on the back of many parts. In this first step, even the tiniest bit of flash obstructed the otherwise beautiful beveled fit of the cockpit walls and side panels. Once the parts are cleaned up, the engineering of these parts is very well done indeed. The instrument panel looks black because I didn't paint the clear instrument panel face before laminating the acetate instrument faces between the clear face and the rear panel section.
Steps 3 & 4 - Main Wheel Wells How hard could this be? Not as simple as you might think. Each wheel well is seven parts that are nicely set up to go together after you remove the remaining sprue stubs and flash. Unfortunately there is an error in the instructions that would have you install part C47 in the left wheel well and part D37 in the right upside-down. The detailing on the insides of both parts is keyed assemble onto the wheel well 'base' (parts C55 and D43) opposite of the way it is shown in the instructions. The two tabs on the back of parts C47 and D36 should be oriented to the top of the diagrams as they set the depth of the wheel wells when installed into the lower fuselage. Peek ahead to step 10 in your instructions and you'll see those parts are correctly oriented there.
Step 5 - Upper Fuselage Assembly This is where you assemble the hydraulic cylinder that opens the dorsal speed brake and is mounted in the recess as shown in the instructions. The rear deck is installed in the cockpit opening as well. Safety Tip: When swinging this big honking fuselage around the bench to get at one section or another, be sure you watch where the other end is going. You might knock over a bottle of glue or something on the far end of the bench. In my case, the cat is still pissed off at me.
Step 7 - Nose Gear Well Once again this assembly goes together nice and snug as long as you ensure that the mating surfaces are free of flash. The engineering behind these parts is still very impressive.
Steps 8 & 9 - Wing Assemblies I really dislike these photo-etch hinges, but this is the first kit that Trumpeter has released where they actually create the right look as the flaps and slats all droop naturally when the aircraft is at rest. Take your time with the hinges and pay close attention to the hinge pin lengths. There are three lengths provided. The photo-etched hinges can also be a challenge as I found myself looking at the wrong sub-diagram for the leading versus trailing edge hinges. The trailing edge hinges use PE hinge PE1, whereas the leading edges use PE2, which is slightly shorter than PE1. With the sheer size of the wings, trying to keep the hinges in place, and the less-than-effective locating pins, it is best to glue a small section of wing, then clamp it before moving to the next section. I have a supply of small spring-loaded clamps that I bought from one of the online tool surplus places, but clothes line clamps work great as well.
Step 10 - Wing Installation Actually, the wing installation is a no-brainer, but you also screw and glue the nosewheel well into place, install the main wheel wells and the rear bulkheads for the main strut wells (Parts C23 and D36). Careful as these last two are easily overlooked. After maneuvering the wings into place, I discovered that the hinges for the wing leading edge flaps have fallen inside the wings on both wings. The internal structure isn't set up to hold the hinge pins in place with the wing halves together (evidently) so I would strongly recommend a drop of cyano on each pin to keep it in place after assembly (or eliminate the leading edge hinges altogether as I am about to do). The trailing edge hinges are not having this problem.
Step 11 - Fuselage Assembly This is where you trap the wings between the upper and lower locating pins on the fuselage halves. The three screws look like assembly overkill at first glance, but I'm here to tell you that I wish there had been more screws! The sheer weight of the wings will keep the fuselage halves apart even with the screws installed, though a little glue will take care of everything. You see the subassembly in this photo with only the rear corner cemented and clamped. It is going to take a while to work around the perimeter of this monster. The visible gap in the wing-fuselage joint is currently due to gravity and no cement in these areas (yet). We'll soon see how well this monster blends together!
Step 12 - Fuselage Assembly With all of the joints cemented, and I am using liquid cement for the extra strength and flexibility it offers, the model is beginning to look like a Flanker. To close the gaps with the wing fuselage joints, I put the aircraft upside down in a jig suspended by its wingtips this closed the lower wing fuselage gaps and I cemented the gaps closed. After the cement had dried, I flipped the model over and applied cement to the upper joins. I still didn't get good closure of a few gaps as pointed out by the arrows, but a simple application of Mr. Surfacer 500 in the gaps will cure that problem. The most important thing is now the model is strong enough to be handled by the wings without fear of something 'snapping' loose. Note: In later shots, you might notice a slight dihedral in the wings. This is a product of the technique I used to bond the wings to the fuselage without using fillers. I have not reversed the process to straighten the wings yet. You should not have that problem when you assemble your kit.
Steps 13 & 14 - Intake Trunks The intake trunks go together nicely, but what puzzles me is that the kit poses the intake screen closed which blocks off the engine compressor face that is also provided at the end of the trunk. It would be easy enough to pose the screen doors open, but odd that they'd go to the trouble of adding the detail and then obstructing it from view. No doubt that someone will offer a photo-etched set of intake screens and perhaps posable intake bypass doors for the underside of the intake trunks as these are molded closed in the kit.
Step 17 - Missile Pylons, Intake Trunks In the instructions, you were supposed to assemble the Archer and Alamo missiles and their respective pylons between steps 12 and 13. I opted to leave the missiles off this build as they'd be useful in another project, so I assembled the pylons according to the instructions and installed them onto the wings. The intake trunks are also installed in this step and while the fit isn't bad, a little extra time filing and dry-fitting was required to get a better fit.
Step 18 - Centerline Pylons, Main Gear Mounts, etc. As I mentioned in the previous step, I elected to leave the missiles off this build, so the centerline pylons install easily. The main gear mounts go in next, and I did have a bit of a struggle with these. Once they were in place, the remaining fairings and antennas are installed according to instructions as well.
Steps 19-22 - Landing Gear Step 19 is the nosegear and is easily the one most complex and time-consuming step in the kit. I chose to use the white metal struts for my landing gear as the additional strength will be useful. The kit also offers styrene struts, and these may work fine. In fact, for my next Flanker, I may use the white metal struts for the mains and the styrene strut for the nose gear. The probem comes from the number of styrene parts that must be carefully applied to the strut. This requires some experience with cyano adhesives. I took my time, kept an ample supply of adult beverages nearby and everything did come together. The results were worth the time. Step 20 assembles the styrene wheel hubs and the rubber tires.
Steps 21 and 22 assemble the left and right main gear struts. Unlike the nosegear, the main gear assemblies go together quickly. All three struts are spring-loaded, so they articulate like the real aircraft - fully extended when no weight on the gear, compressed when the aircraft is at rest. The plastic torque links concerned me as they are supposed to move when the struts move. They do snap over their pivots on the struts, but where they snap to one another is not well defined in the instructions. One link has a pair of pins that snap through slots on the other link. I was inclined to have the slots oriented towards the struts to hide the gaps, but the torque links unsnap when the strut moves. When I reversed the link to where the slots are facing away from the strut, the links now articulate perfectly with the moving struts.
Steps 23 - 25 Now we install the landing gear. Once again, the nose gear is going to take some time and patience to install, but do take the time as it will need to be strong to carry the weight of the model. The main gear, on the other hand, go in smoothly. Carefully turn the model over when the adhesives are dry and slowly put weight on the model. If all goes well, you should have three down and locked. The landing gear doors were easily the best engineered parts of the kit. How many times have we been frustrated trying to install landing gear doors? Trumpeter has engineered these doors to go on very easily and stay put when cemented. Even the hydraulic door actuators all go into place smoothly. Kudos to Trumpeter!
Steps 26 - 29 It is time to assemble the last sets of components to complete the Flanker. Here we are with the horizontal stabs, heads up display (HUD), and the twin afterburner cans and nozzles. All go together smoothly. If you have the kit, you've no-doubt wondered how those two huge slabs of plastic are going to mount on the aircraft. These horizontal stabs have small pins and the receiving holes are not reinforced in the fuselage. We shall see.
Steps 30 - 33 These are the last subassemblies that need to be completed before we finally complete our Su-27. The vertical stabs also feature the photo-etched hinges, but I opt to cement the rudders straight to the vertical stabs. The canopy hinges are also photo-etched and I installed these per the instructions along with the photo-etched rear view mirrors on the canopy bow. Finally, the huge barn door of a speed brake gets assembled with working hinges to enable it to be positioned later on.
In steps 34 through 38, we mount the remaining subassemblies to the airframe. In step 34, we mount the horizontal stabilators to the fuselage, but these were not designed to be positioned. They get a good mechanical fit against the fuselage and with a liberal dose of liquid cement, they stay put just fine.
In step 36, we assemble the K36D ejection seat, and while I opted to retain the molded-on seatbelts and harnesses, the instructions want you to remove the belts and harnesses in favor of the photo-etched straps provided in the kit. While the kit seat is not a bad representation of the very effective K36D ejection seat, I would not be surprised to see resin replacements reappear. I believe a number of them had been previously produced for the Revell 1/32 MiG-29 kits.
In step 37, the windscreen did not really want to stay in place. I convinced it to fit properly with a rubber band around the nose and windscreen and my trusty liquid cement carefully applied to the seams.
Step 38 is the final one and the vertical stabs are finally installed. You'll note that there are slight gaps in the outboard seams on both stabs, but the inboard seams are fine. A small strip of Evergreen styrene would cure this easily enough, but the intent of this build was to show you how the model builds without paint and filler.
Well first of all, the notion of a quick build with a kit of this complexity is definitely an oxymoron. I am very impressed with the engineering of the kit and how nicely everything goes together. The most challenging assembly was the nosegear, but if the styrene strut had been used, the whole thing would have gone together quickly. I still prefer the white metal struts. The best part of the kit was the ease of installation of the landing gear doors.
While there were a few gaps in the wing-fuselage, vertical stab-fuselage, and even in the nose and tail joins of the two fuselage halves, not much time or energy would be expended filling and correcting these gaps. The presence of subtle bits of flash throughout the kit will give the less experienced modeler more problems with assembly unless the time is taken to carefully dry-fit each part prior to gluing. I cannot stress this enough.
Overall I love this kit and I hope that we'll be seeing later versions of the Su-27/30/34/37 coming in the future. In the meantime, you'd better plan on adding some space on your house as the assembled model is HUGE! I highly recommend this kit!
My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!
- Flankers The New Generation, Yefim Gordon, Midland Publishing, 2001, ISBN 1-85780-121-0