Kitty Hawk 1/48 Su-35 Flanker E PLAAF Kit First Look
|Date of Review
|Su-35 Flanker E
The Su-35 is Sukhoi OKB's latest production variant of the Su-27 (NATO Codename: Flanker). The Su-35 evolved from a variety of technology developments and operational experience since the original Su-27 entered service in 1985. The Su-27 was designed as an air superiority fighter and armed only with air-to-air weapons. When China purchased the Su-27 and began producing its own versions, one of the first things they fixed was to give the aircraft multi-mode avionics and the ability to carry a wider array of air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons.
Meanwhile, Sukhoi OKB began work on the integration of thrust-vectoring engines into the airframe which began flight test in 1996 as the Su-37. These thrust-vectoring engines were then integrated into variants of the Su-30 including those flown by the Indian Air Force. With the addition of their own multi-role avionics, the Sukhoi OKB employed canards to offset the additional weight (as used on the Su-33 Sea Flanker and some Su-30 variants), but as the avionics matured and more modern (lightweight) components came online, the canards were deleted. The production Su-35S features the latest avionics and weapons in the Russian Air Force arsenal and is being produced at a rate of 10 aircraft per year, with another 24 destined for China, and additional countries are considering the adoption of this aircraft.
If you've watched the airshow demonstrations of the Su-27 and some of the 'limited' demonstrations of the Su-37 over the years, these two aircraft boast some impressive maneuverability, though not quite as impressive as the thrust-vectoring MiG-29OVT. Take a look at this video on YouTube of a production Su-35S performing at the MAKS 2015 airshow outside of Moscow. One look at this and you'll see how this Gen 4.5+ fighter rivals the best with its maneuverability!
Last June, Kitty Hawk released the first new-tooled kit of the Su-35S Flanker E in 1/48 scale (look here). While overall the kit is nice, it does suffer from one problem - the exhaust nozzles. At rest, the Su-35's nozzles are pointed downward as are the stabilators. The nozzles included in the kit are accurate for an Su-35 with hydraulic power as the nozzles and horizontal stabilizers will come up to neutral (assuming the stick is also neutral). With this release, Kitty Hawk has not only fixed this problem, it corrects one more the average person might have missed and adds some nice options. Before we dive into the details, let's look again at the basics: the kit is molded in gray styrene and presented on eight parts trees plus upper and lower fuselage halves, one tree of clear parts and one fret of photo-etched parts. New to this kit is a carrier containing new nozzles, new tail cone, weighted wheels, and two crew figures. Among the features and options in this kit:
- Detailed cockpit tub
- Detailed K-36D ejection seat with choice of seat cushions and photo-etched restraints
- Optional instrument panel and side console decals
- Positionable canopy
- Optional seated crew figure
- Optional standing (walking) crew figure
- Positionable gun bay panel with cannon inside the bay
- Choice of drooped or neutral position afterburner nozzles
- Choice of open or closed aux intake shutters
- Detailed landing gear and gear wells
- Choice of round or weighted wheels
- Positionable radome
- Detailed radar
- Positionable rudder
- Positionable stabilators
- Positionable leading edge slats
- Positionable trailing edge flaps
- Choice of tail cone (see notes)
- Positionable drogue chute door
- Positionable air refueling probe
External stores include:
- R-27R (AA-10 Alamo A)
- R-27T (AA-10 Alamo B)
- R-27ER (AA-10 Alamo C)
- R-27ET (AA-10 Alamo D)
- R-60 (AA-8 Aphid)
- R-73 (AA-11 Archer)
- R-77 (AA-12 Adder)
- Kh-25 (AS-10 Karen)
- Kh-29L (AS-14 Kedge A)
- Kh-29T (AS-14 Kedge B)
- Kh-31 (AS-17 Krypton)
- Kh-58 (AS-11 Kilter)
- Kab-500 variants
- Kab-1500 variants
The kit provides markings for three subjects plus a set of airframe and weapons stencils:
- Su-35, 11038, PLAAF
- Su-35, 11031, PLAAF
- Su-35, Bort 91, PLAAF
- The tailcone included in the stock kit is correct for the Su-35S in Russian service. The new tailcone included in the supplemental package lacks the squared-off fairings on the dorsal side of the fairing in line with the ends of the engine nozzles. This would be consistent with the PLAAF version as China opted to use its own avionics in the aircraft.
- The new parts in the supplemental package appear to be produced with low-pressure (limited run) injection molding, so there will be a little clean-up required.
If you haven't purchased the Kitty Hawk Su-35 kit yet, this is the version to purchase. I'm told, however, that this is a very limited run release. All of the parts for the Russian Su-35S are in the box, and you can acquire Russian markings from the Begemot Su-35S decal set.
If you already own the previous release of the Su-35, you might consider aquiring this one as well. The seated pilot figure from this set would provide the basis for a powered-up (nozzles at neutral) setting while having a second aircraft to allow for modeling the interesting prototype, early operational (eggplant over blue) or current tactical camouflage schemes.
Perhaps Kitty Hawk would consider selling the supplemental parts separately for existing Su-35S kit owners?
My sincere thanks to Kitty Hawk Models for this review sample!