Eduard 1/48 Su-7BKL/BMK Fitter A Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||March 2010||Manufacturer||Eduard|
|Subject||Su-7BKL/BMK Fitter A||Scale||1/48|
|Kit Number||1148||Primary Media||Styrene/Photo-Etch/Resin|
|Pros||Very nicely detailed kit||Cons||Nothing noted|
|Skill Level||Intermediate||MSRP (USD)||$59.95|
When the Sukhoi OKB was re-established in 1953, their first task was to develop a fighter that was based upon the American F-86 Sabre. What followed was the Su-7 with a highly swept wing and supersonic performance that was better than the F-100 Super Sabre. Despite its high speed performance, the aircraft was not widely used.
Like many fighters that get put aside for the next design, the Su-7 found new life as a fighter-bomber. The Sukhoi OKB made a number of refinements for low-altitude operations and the Su-7B was born.
The Su-7B series entered service in 1959 and remained operational within the Soviet Air Force through 1986. Over 1/3 of the 1,800+ aircraft produced were exported to the Warsaw Pact, Egypt, and India.
The Su-7BM was the next variant that incorporated a more powerful engine, fuel cells in the wings, and plumbing for external fuel tanks. The Su-7BKL was a special variant designed for operating from rough airfields and had skids mounted to the gear struts to keep the wheels from sinking. The Su-7BMK was the export version of the Su-7BM.
While the Su-7 was an effective ground attack aircraft, it's 60 degree swept wings resulted in incredibly high (280 mph) take-off and landing speeds which required much longer runways to accommodate. The aircraft's lack of instrument landing capability and poor over-the-nose visibility made it difficult to safely operate in poor weather. While the Su-7BKL was fitted with RATO rockets for augmented take-off and twin-parachutes for augmented deceleration during landing roll-out, the Sukhoi OKB started work on different methods of reducing the aircraft's take-off and landing speeds. The solution was a partial variable sweep wing incorporated into the follow-on Su-17 Fitter.
Many folks will recognize this kit as the Kopro 1/48 Su-7 kit that has been on and off the market for a while. The kit remains the best Su-7 kit produced in any scale (so far) and this Eduard release provides some very welcome updates to the stock kit.
The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on four parts trees, plus an addition tree of clear parts. In this updated version, Eduard has added two frets of photo-etched parts including one featuring their color printing, one set of yellow tape masks, one set of resin parts, and a nice set of marking options.
Considering the kit's age, the kit has some good detailing around the airframe. Considering the Fitter was a flying stove pipe, construction of the model is correspondingly simple. One of the weaknesses of the stock kit was the cockpit, so it is only natural that Eduard do its magic to transform the cockpit into a masterpiece.
The color photo-etch provides a new instrument panel, detailed side consoles and sidewall details. This updated cockpit tub mounts up to the nosewheel well and the intake centerbody subassemblies. This all drops into the nose of the fuselage and is joined at the other end by the afterburner chamber subassembly.
Before the fuselage halves do go together, Eduard updates the styrene plugs that represent the cooling vents above and behind the wing. The styrene vent slots are removed and replaced with photo-etched vanes which will look really nice installed back there.
The nicely illustrated Eduard instruction booklet does a really nice job showing in color where parts are trimmed, modified, etc., and which modifications are required for the Su-7BKL versus the Su-7BMK.
The wings and vertical stabilizer are mounted to the fuselage and the ailerons, rudder, and stabilators are all separately molded and positionable, as are the four speed brakes.
The next area where Eduard spends some detailing effort is with the landing gear. The struts receive a nice array of photo-etched fittings to accurize them, while the main wheel hubs receive updates to the rims as well.
Other areas of photo-etch updates include the pitot boom with the distinctive pitch and yaw vanes, the Odd Rodd IFF antennas, and nose gear door hinges.
With the kit nearly completed, attention circles back to the cockpit with the installation of the ejection seat and canopy. The ejection seat is one of Eduard's new Brassin resin seats with color photo-etched details for the seat back cushion and intricate harness. The seat rails, retracted arm shields, and adjustment handles are also photo-etch and this provides an impressive replica of this unique Sukhoi-designed ejection seat.
With the seat installed in the cockpit, a resin fixture mounts behind the head rest on the rear sill. You have a choice of canopies here, a one-piece canopy closed or two-piece canopy open. If you display your aircraft with the canopy open (and you will with this nicely detailed cockpit, the photo-etch set provides canopy frame detailing, a new gun sight, and instrument coming.
The kit rounds out the process with a nice array of stores and a boarding ladder.
Markings are provided for six aircraft:
- Su-7BKL, Bort 6514, 20th Fighter-Bomber Regt, Czech People's Army
- Su-7BKL, Bort 6427, 20th Fighter-Bomber Regt, Czech People's Army
- Su-7BMK, Bort 7689, Egyptian Air Force
- Su-7BMK, Bort 947, Iraqi Air Force
- Su-7BKL, Bort 27, Soviet Air Force
- Su-7BMK, 32 Sqn, Indian Air Force
The decals are printed by Cartograf, provide a nice selection of airframe stenciling in addition to the six aircraft examples, and none require multiple layers of decals to replicate the roundels that some companies produce these days.
A set of yellow masks are provided in the kit to assist in painting the wheels and canopy frames.
It is nice to see this kit back on the market and the major updates to the cockpit and other areas really bring this beauty up-to-date. With the wide variety of colorful camouflage schemes that this aircraft carried, you could easily want to stash a number of these kits away for your next VVS builds.
My sincere thanks to Eduard for this review sample!