Trumpeter 1/350 Russian Aircraft Carrier Kuznetsov Kit First Look
|Date of Review||November 2004||Manufacturer||Trumpeter|
|Subject||Aircraft Carrier Kuznetsov||Scale||1/350|
|Kit Number||5606||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Detailing as nice as the Nimitz||Cons||No hangar deck; You're going to need a bigger house|
|Skill Level||Intermediate||MSRP (USD)||$199.95|
The former Soviet Union had some of its best shipyards in the Black Sea. Their latest aircraft carrying cruiser (Project 1143.5) was built at the port of Nikolaev South in the Ukraine. Technically, the Soviet Union never had an aircraft carrier in operation as it was against the treaty with Turkey to use the Bosphorus Strait to transit an aircraft carrier between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. The workaround for years with the Moskva-class helicopter carriers and the later Kiev-class VTOL aircraft carriers were to classify them as aircraft carrying cruisers.
The largest of these aircraft carrying cruisers was the Admiral Kuznetsov class, of which two examples were built. The Kuznetsov was completed and put into operations, its sister ship, the Varyag, was never completed. Instead, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the Ukraine sold the incomplete Varyag to Chinese interests who wanted to take the hull to China for conversion into a floating casino. Unfortunately, this ship fell into the light of day with Turkish authorities who've forbidden the transit of the Varyag through the Boshporus and the Ukrainians have rejected the notion of storing the ship any longer. It awaits its fate tied to a tug boat manned by a Chinese crew out in the Black Sea. By this time, it is likely that arrangements for transit have been completed.
In parallel with the development of the Kuznetsov, a new family of aircraft were tested to look for carrier-borne suitability. As many of us have seen in photos, the Su-27, MiG-29, Yak-141, Su-34, Su-25, and others have all been tested. The final compliment was to be the veteran Kamov Ka-25 with the navalized Su-27K (Su-33) and MiG-29K. The Yak-141 was also showing promise as the worlds first supersonic VTOL fighter, but budget cuts caused the premature end to this fine aircraft.
As with the Nimitz kit that preceded her, the Kuznetsov kit is molded in light gray styrene with the exception of its lower hull options, which are molded in hull red. There are roughly 755 parts on 24 sprues.
The detailing around this kit is every bit as nice as the Nimitz, with positionable jet blast deflectors on the flight deck, positionable elevators, and your choice of open or closed hangar bay doors. Unlike the Nimitz, this kit does not include an internal hangar deck.
The hull is equipped with an array of air defense systems that are nicely represented in the kit. Once all of the fairings and fittings are attached to the hull, the three-piece flight deck is installed with the positionable elevators. Even the folding HF antennas that encircle the flight deck are also provided.
The unique island that houses the bridge, flight operations, etc., is also nicely done. Unlike the Nimitz class, which is cluttered with a variety of radar antennas on and around the island, the Kuznetsov uses conformal phased array radar antennas to clean up the clutter, something we'll hopefully see with the construction of CVN 77 or CVN 78. That's not to say that the Kuznetsov's island is free from radar dishes, but it is much cleaner than its American counterparts. The various antennas that do remain on the Kuznetsov are nicely done.
With the island assembled and installed on the flight deck, it is time to decide if you'll be displaying this as a waterline or full-hull model. If you do opt for the full hull, a complete set or propellers, shafts, and rudders are included as well as the bow sonar housing. A stand is also provided upon which to rest your completed model.
With the ship complete, it is time to work the air wing. The kit comes with four Ka-27 helicopters, each with your choice of deployed or folded rotor blades. The fuselage is molded in clear, enabling you to mask off the windows and paint the fuselage accordingly. The result will definitely look nice. The rotor blades and landing gear are molded in black, all on the same tree.
For fixed-wing assets, the kit comes with six Su-27K (Su-33) Flankers, two MiG-29K Fulcrums, and four Yak-141s. Each is molded in light gray, with black nozzles and landing gear, and clear canopies, again all on the same trees. You can pose each aircraft with wings folded or ready to fly. Not bad at 1/350th scale!
Fully assembled, this kit is over 34 inches long. The distinctive ski-jump on the bow that replaces conventional catapults is another well-represented feature.
This is an exciting addition to the 1/350 ship line-up! With the growing list of the 1/350 aircraft carriers available from Trumpeter, Tamiya, White Ensign Models and MB Models, we have more kits, subjects and eras to choose from. With the Kuznetsov being the only Soviet aircraft carrier to embark Flankers and Fulcrums, the camouflage colors of these aircraft will definitely liven up the flight deck!
My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!