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Amodel 1/72 Tu-128UT Pelican Kit First Look

by Sundiata Cowels

Date of Review October 2012 Manufacturer Amodel
Subject Tu-128UT Pelican Scale 1/72
Kit Number 72115 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Interesting subject, only one of its kind in this or any scale Cons Flash and scratches on many molded parts
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $59.95

First Look


At the time of its introduction in the late 1950's, the Tupolev Tu-28P/Tu-128 (NATO code name: 'Fiddler') was the largest fighter/interceptor in the world. With a graceful length of 85 feet and a swept wing span of 65 ft, the Fiddler was a monster of the skies, designed to fill the gap in the Soviet Union's missile defense by intercepting attacking enemy bombers at range with its four (two R-4R and two R-4T) missiles. It was believed that the Tu-128 worked in conjunction with the Tupolev Tu-126 Moss to search for aircraft violating Soviet air space. With a mission endurance of up to three and a half hours and the ability to intercept targets up to 1500km beyond the national borders, the Tu-128 was well equipped to fulfill its role.

The Tu-128UT 'Pelican' was the conversion trainer version of the Tu-128 interceptor. Four were converted from the Tu-128 production airframes and there was a limited run of ten production models. The RP-S Smerch radar was replaced by a drooped 'pelican nose' accommodating an instructor's cockpit.

The Fiddler was phased out of frontal service during 1975-76 by an interceptor version of the Tu-22 Blinder and both were eventually replaced by the equally monstrous MiG-31 Foxhound and Su-27 Flanker series of aircraft from the 1980s into the 1990s.

The 'Fiddler' has long been a favorite subject of mine simply because of its reputation of being one of the biggest production interceptors ever made.

While I really wanted the Tu-128 standard production interceptor model, the Pelican version was too unique to pass up. The box art taunts the modeler with a painting of the standard model in the background while a Tu-128UT rotates off the runway in the foreground at some undisclosed, cold and dreary Soviet forward interceptor base.

Enclosed within a sturdy top opening box, I found the kit parts contained within several pressure lock poly bags.  I was surprised to see just how slender and delicate this replica of this monster airplane from my childhood memories really was.

Twenty sprues hold the 195 parts that make up this limited edition kit. At first glance, it is clear that A model had good intentions for the design of this kit, but somewhere along the way something went wrong.

Flash, scratches and soft detailing mar the surfaces of the wings and fuselage and many of the small parts, like landing gear actuators, launch rails and cockpit parts appear to be too thin to separate from the sprues without breaking them, even with the most delicate of microsaws.

The instructions stipulate "The model is executed on technology short run and is intended only for experienced modelers." There. You've been warned.


  • With close to two hundred parts to this modeler's puzzle, it's nice to see that A model did attempt to make it more than just wings and fuselage
  • The cockpit has sidewall placards along with instrument panels and multi-part ejection seats
  • The wings are aligned to a center cross piece that mounts to the fuselage to keep them straight and level
  • Flaps, rudder and tail planes are positionable
  • Multi-part detailed landing gear
  • You are offered a choice of canopies: multi-part for open and single piece for closed
  • Multi-part engine burners
  • Intake ducting and turbine faces

The decals are crisp and basic and depict a Tu-128UT in markings celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Air Force. There are plenty of stencils to keep things interesting along with the red stars and aircraft numbers- in this case the modeler is given the choice of either "Blue 49" or "Red 01".

The aforementioned gripes aside, I think A model has made a great attempt at bringing this unique and hulking interceptor to the modeler's bench. Patience, a steady hand and a lot of aftermarket resin parts (ejection seats, instrumentation, weapons etc.) could really bring out the beauty in this beast. Recommended for experienced modelers.