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Su-35 Flanker E

Kitty Hawk 1/48 Su-35 Flanker E Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review June 2017 Manufacturer Kitty Hawk
Subject Su-35 Flanker E Scale 1/48
Kit Number 80142 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros Nice kit Cons See text
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $69.99

First Look

Su-35 Flanker E
Su-35 Flanker E
Su-35 Flanker E
Su-35 Flanker E
Su-35 Flanker E
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!

You'll recall that Kitty Hawk recently released the Su-17M3/M4 Fitter in 1/48 scale and has produced the best kit of the subject to date, and while the Hobby Boss Fitter is not bad, it doesn't have the detail and options of the Kitty Hawk kit. The Kitty Hawk kit does have an issue with the intake centerbody nose that has already been addressed in the aftermarket, but build-wise, the Kitty Hawk kit is one of their best I've built to date in spite of the multi-section fuselage. The engineering in the wings and wing/fuselage joints is really impressive. So how did they do with this new kit?

The long-awaited Su-35 is now arriving on store shelves and it also has some impressive engineering that stands out. Before we dive into the details, let's look 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. 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
  • Positionable gun bay panel with cannon inside the bay
  • Detailed afterburner nozzles (see note below)
  • Choice of open or closed aux intake shutters
  • Detailed landing gear and gear wells
  • Positionable radome
  • Detailed radar
  • Positionable rudder
  • Positionable stabilators
  • Positionable leading edge slats
  • Positionable trailing edge flaps
  • 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 six subjects plus a set of airframe and weapons stencils:

  • Su-35S, Bort 05, Russian VVS
  • Su-35S, Bort 31, Russian VVS
  • Su-35BM, Bort 902, Russian VVS
  • Su-35, 11031, PLAAF
  • Su-35, 11038, PLAAF
  • Su-35, Bort 01, PLAAF

The kit itself looks nice out of the box but here are a few thoughts:

  • Kitty Hawk has designed a different wing-fuselage joint that looks solid and stable (we shall soon see)
  • Like the Su-17M3/M4 kit, this kit has a nice selection of weapons and if you acquire both kits, you'll have a nice selection of spares for future projects
  • The decals provide weapons stencils, but depending on your arming preferences, take note that you don't want to use the 'INERT' stencils for live weapons (these only appear on international static display and demonstration aircraft) or the Cyrillic version of inert
  • The only nit I have with this kit so far is with the nozzles. These are tooled like the Su-27 or F-15, facing straight aft. When power is removed from the aircraft, the stabilators and nozzles will droop downward. You can pose the aircraft as-is with everything locked in neutral, but I will be looking for a solution for drooping nozzles

With each release, Kitty Hawk is showing improvement with their design and molding processes. You won't find the over-engineered features in this kit that we've seen previously and I am looking forward to seeing how well the innovative designs of the wing roots and vertical stabilizer mounts really work.

My sincere thanks to Kitty Hawk Models for this review sample!