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Su-17M3/M4 Fitter H/K

Kitty Hawk 1/48 Su-17M3/M4 Fitter H/K Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review February 2017 Manufacturer Kitty Hawk
Subject Su-17M3/M4 Fitter H/K Scale 1/48
Kit Number 80144 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros Nice kit Cons See text
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $79.99

First Look

Su-17M3/M4 Fitter H/K
Su-17M3/M4 Fitter H/K
Su-17M3/M4 Fitter H/K
Su-17M3/M4 Fitter H/K
Su-17M3/M4 Fitter H/K
Su-17M3/M4 Fitter H/K
Su-17M3/M4 Fitter H/K
Su-17M3/M4 Fitter H/K

The Su-7 was the first production fighter to come out of the post-war Sukhoi OKB. Designed around the AL-7F afterburning turbojet, the Su-7 sported a nose intake similar to the early MiG jet fighters as well as the early US jet fighters. Its wings were swept back 60 degrees, giving the aircraft good low-altitude performance and transonic airspeeds at altitude. The major disadvantage to the design was the need for lengthy runways to launch and recover the aircraft. There had to be a better way...

The Su-17 was the result of several attempts to lower the aircraft's stall speed to provide shorter take-off and landing runs. The solution was relatively simple - add variable geometry outer wing panels to reduce the wing sweep for improved low-speed performance, then sweep them back for high-speed operations. While the early Su-17 retained the AL-7F engine, all production Su-17s beginning with the Su-17M (NATO Codename: Fitter C) were fitted with the higher-power AL-21F engine.

The Su-17M3 (NATO Codename: Fitter H) was the result of several iterations of improvements over the original Su-17. This variant was based upon the two-seat Su-17UM trainer, but the rear cockpit was replaced with more avionics and internal fuel. The dorsal spine is deeper as well for additional fuel and avionics. The distinctive droop in the forward fuselage came about with forward fuselage stretch that started with the Su-17M2 (NATO Codename: Fitter D).

The Su-17M4 (NATO Codename: Fitter K) was the final production variant that featured an improved tactical navigation system as well as other avionics, and is visibly recognizable by the air intake scoop at the base of the vertical stabilizer. The scoop provides the avionics bay with supplemental cooling air for the additional capabilities added over the Su-17M3.

Here's a welcome addition to the Soviet Aviation Quarter-Scale Kit List - this is the Kitty Hawk 1/48 Su-17M3/M4 Fitter kit. Contrary to the title on the box, this kit builds into your choice of the Su-17M3 Fitter H or Su-17M4 Fitter K. The kit is molded in gray styrene and presented on nine parts trees plus one tree of clear parts and one fret of photo-etched parts. Out of the box, this kit offers more details and options than the only other kit of the subject in this scale - the venerable OEZ/KP tooling, or the various enhanced reboxings of that kit such as those from Eduard and Karaya.

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
  • Instrument panel and side console decals
  • Positionable canopy
  • Positionable aux intake (blow-in) doors
  • Detailed AL-21F engine
  • Choice of Su-17M3 or M4 vertical stab fairings
  • Positionable speed brakes
  • Positionable rudder
  • Positionable stabilators
  • Positionable ailerons
  • Positionable leading edge slats
  • Positionable trailing edge flaps
  • Movable wings (not if the flaps and slats are posed extended)

External stores include:

  • 2 x R-73 (NATO: AA-11 Archer)
  • 4 x R-60 (NATO: AA-8 Aphid)
  • 2 x Kh-23 (NATO: AS-7 Kerry)
  • 2 x APU-60-2 R-60 twin-rail launchers
  • 2 x BETAB-500 Bombs
  • 2 x BETAB-500-ZD
  • 2 x RBK-500-250 Bombs
  • 2 x FAB-500-M54 Bombs
  • 2 x OFAB-250-SZN Bombs
  • 4 x FAB-250-M54 Bombs
  • 4 x FAB-250-M62 Bombs
  • 4 x F2B-250-TS Bombs
  • 4 x SAB-100 Bombs
  • 2 x B-13 Rocket Pods
  • 2 x S-24 Rockets
  • 2 x S-25L Rockets
  • 2 x B-8M Rocket Pods
  • 2 x UB-32-57 Rocket Pods
  • 2 x SPPU-22 Downward Firing Gun Pods
  • 2 x UBK-23 Gun Pods
  • 2 x SPS-141 EW Pods
  • 2 x External Fuel Tanks
  • 1 x KKR-1T Reconnaissance Pod

The kit provides markings for seven subjects plus a set of airframe stencils:

  • Su-17M3R, Bort 01, 313 ORAP, Soviet AF, Bagram AB, Afghanistan, 1988
  • Su-17M4, Bort 40, 43 OMShAE, Russian Black Sea Fleet, Crimea, 1998
  • Su-17M4, Bort 23, 274 APIB, Soviet AF, Afghanistan, 1988
  • Su-17M3, Bort 95, Soviet AF
  • Su-17M4R, Bort 07, 886 ORAP, 15 VA, Soviet AF, Afghanistan
  • Su-17M3, Bort 50, Soviet AF
  • Su-17M4, Bort 50, Ukrainian AF

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

  • The box art and instructions mix up the Su-17M3 and Su-17M4. They also identify the Su-17M3 and Su-17M4 as the Fitter K. From an NATO ASCC point of view, both aircraft were hump-backed single-seat fighter-bombers but the key identifier is that air intake at the base of the vertical fin - the M4 (Fitter K) had that feature, the M3 (Fitter H) did not. Some of the color profiles show the air intake on their M3 subjects - check your references
  • Not an issue in the kit but there is also some confusion with the Su-22 versions. The Su-22M3 (NATO Designator: Fitter J) has most of the same features as the Su-17M3 except that the rear of the fuselage is larger in diameter to house the R29F engine. All production Su-17M variants were powered by the AL-21F. This kit does not have the rear section parts to render the Su-22M3
  • The kit fuselage consists of three sections. The rear section division is at the maintenance break so you can pose the tail removed to reveal the details of the nice AL-21F. The instructions don't indicate that this is an option
  • With the exception of the AL-21F, the kit doesn't waste time/resources with details you won't see after assembly (not over-engineered)
  • As with some Tomcat kits, the outer wing panels are hinged to move, but as with those Tomcat kits, you don't want to leave those pivots unglued if you opt to pose the flaps and slats extended
  • When Kitty Hawk announced an extensive weapons set for this kit, they weren't exaggerating. You'll have plenty leftover to bomb up a number of other WarPac subjects

This looks like one of Kitty Hawk's best efforts to date and I'm looking forward to seeing how it builds. If the worst issue in this box is simple confusion over the M3 versus M4, then there is no real problems in this kit so far. If you're looking for some good references, the 4+ title on the Su-22 will help as will the 'OKB Sukhoi' title by Yefim Gordon, but the best out there is the 'Sukhoi Su-7/Su-17' also by Yefim Gordon.

For a look at this kit built-up, look here.

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