Trumpeter 1/700 Russian Aircraft Carrier Kuznetsov Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||September 2005||Manufacturer||Trumpeter|
|Subject||Aircraft Carrier Kuznetsov||Scale||1/700|
|Kit Number||5713||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Detailing as nice as the Nimitz||Cons||No hangar deck; You're going to need a bigger house|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$69.95|
The former Soviet Union had some of its best shipyards in the Black Sea. Their latest aircraft carrying cruiser (Project 1143.5) was built at the port of Nikolaev South in the Ukraine. Technically, the Soviet Union never had an aircraft carrier in operation as it was against the treaty with Turkey to use the Bosphorus Strait to transit an aircraft carrier between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. The workaround for years with the Moskva-class helicopter carriers and the later Kiev-class VTOL aircraft carriers were to classify them as aircraft carrying cruisers.
The largest of these aircraft carrying cruisers was the Admiral Kuznetsov class, of which two examples were built. The Kuznetsov was completed and put into operations, its sister ship, the Varyag, was never completed. Instead, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the Ukraine sold the incomplete Varyag to Chinese interests who wanted to take the hull to China for conversion into a floating casino. Unfortunately, this ship fell into the light of day with Turkish authorities who've forbidden the transit of the Varyag through the Boshporus and the Ukranians have rejected the notion of storing the ship any longer. It awaits its fate tied to a tug boat manned by a Chinese crew out in the Black Sea. By this time, it is likely that arrangements for transit have been completed.
In parallel with the development of the Kuznetsov, a new family of aircraft were tested to look for carrier-borne suitability. As many of us have seen in photos, the Su-27, MiG-29, Yak-141, Su-34, Su-25, and others have all been tested. The final compliment was to be the veteran Kamov Ka-25 with the navalized Su-27K (Su-33) and MiG-29K. The Yak-141 was also showing promise as the worlds first supersonic VTOL fighter, but budget cuts caused the premature end to this fine aircraft.
The Trumpeter 1/700 Kuznetsov kit is molded in light gray styrene with the exception of its lower hull options, which are molded in hull red. There are roughly 634 parts on 30 sprues.
The detailing around this kit is every bit as nice as the Nimitz, with positionable jet blast deflectors on the flight deck, positionable elevators, and your choice of open or closed hangar bay doors.
The hull is equipped with an array of air defense systems that are nicely represented in the kit. Once all of the fairings and fittings are attached to the hull, the flight deck is installed with the positionable elevators. Even the folding HF antennas that encircle the flight deck are also provided.
The unique island that houses the bridge, flight operations, etc., is also nicely done. The Kuznetsov uses conformal phased array radar antennas to clean up the clutter of whip and blade antennas that are present on US carriers. That's not to say that the Kuznetsov's island is free from radar dishes, but it is much cleaner than its American counterparts. The various antennas that do remain on the Kuznetsov are nicely done.
With the island assembled and installed on the flight deck, it is time to decide if you'll be displaying this as a waterline or full-hull model. If you do opt for the full hull, a complete set or propellers, shafts, and rudders are included as well as the bow sonar housing. A stand is also provided upon which to rest your completed model.
With the ship complete, it is time to work the air wing. Here is where Trumpeter has raised the bar once again. With the 1/350 aircraft, they would mold the aircraft in three colors to minimize painting. In this case, the aircraft are all molded in clear to allow for clear canopies and windows. Properly painted, the helicopters and fighters will look like they have interiors in this scale!
The kit comes with six MiG-29, four Su-33, six Su-25, four Su-33UB, six Yak-141, two Ka-29, two Ka-27, and two Ka-31. All are molded in clear and still feature amazing details, especially in this scale. In the case of the helicopters for instance, the kit provides deployed or folded main rotor blades.
Fully assembled, this kit is over 17 inches long. The distinctive ski-jump on the bow that replaces conventional catapults is another well-represented feature.
This is an exciting addition to the 1/700 ship line-up! With the Kuznetsov being the only Soviet aircraft carrier to embark Flankers and Fulcrums, the camouflage colors of these aircraft will definitely liven up the flight deck!
My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!