The Su-27 entered service with the Soviet Air Force in 1985 and the primary role was long range interdiction of American bombers. Originally, this airframe was developed as a single seat fighter under the the designation, SU-27K. This was later adapted for use by the Navy for carrier trials and entered active service in 1991. While the carrier trails were ongoing, a two seat trainer version was developed, starting in 1989. This new kit by Kitty Hawk is the third in a batch of recent Su-27 releases and covers the two seat version of this important fighter.
The basis for these releases is the new tooled kit from Kitty Hawk released in 2017. Several new sprues add parts to cover the many options available for this kit. The kit comes in a large and very colorful box that features an image of the aircraft in standard rule camouflage. Included in the box are 10 sprues of very light grey styrene, 1 clear sprue, 1 PE fret, separate parts for the main fuselage and four variously sized decal sheets. Many of these parts will not be used in the build as there are a ton of extra parts and weapons included from previous versions.
Before I get into the main build of this kit I do need to mention a couple fo things about the instructions. First is that there are a large number of errors in the instructions. I will do my best to call them out as I proceed through the build but take care when following through the instructions. There are errors in which parts it calls for and some parts are never mentioned at all. You may need to refer to instructions for previous versions of this aircraft in order to complete the build. Lastly, several of the final steps address adding weapons to this aircraft, however not all versions covered by this kit would have weapons would be mounted. So check you references.
The first few steps are dedicated to the cockpit interior. The detail here is up to Kitty Hawk’s normal standards. Fine moldings with plenty of detail. There are also a surprising number of callouts for paint colors. I stuck to these callout for the most part but deviated for the overall color, choosing to paint it using an old bottle of Model Master Interior Blue/Green enamel. This color is a great match for the unique Soviet interior color. I also chose to paint the PE seat belts a grey color close to FS36375. The straps for the pilots feet in Step 3 were painted NATO black with silver buckles.
I had very few problems with the fit of these parts. My only issues were with the straps for the pilots feet, the clips on these were difficult to fit over the pins on the sides of the pedals. In Step 5, the detail that Part A4 attaches to is missing and the fit of Part H4 is a little vague. My only major issue with the instructions here is that the kit includes great decals for the cockpit details but it in no way mentions them or shows were they go. The locations for them are easy to figure out using references and location of the molded dials.
Next up are two interior structures. First is what appears to be the avionics bay. There isn’t much to say here, the detail and the parts are fine. Based on references, this is an area that would benefit from some extra detail and it is one of the first areas that you can display open depending on how you build the kit. Next is the front wheel well, again the fit and the detail is fine. I chose to paint all of the wheel wells and the intakes for this aircraft Tamiya XF-83.
Steps 8 and 9 start the engines and intakes. You will need to skip ahead to Step 11 to get the parts in Steps 8/9 to align. This is by far the easiest way to make sure everything is square. The engines are built in Step 10 and installed in Step 11. This kit does provide a fair amount of detail for engines that will never be seen. There are two small hatches on the upper fuselage that can be left off to show the front part of the engines. There was a pretty serious seam that runs the length of both engines. It is unlikely that you will be able to see this seam on the completed build but if you intend to display the engines separately it could be a problem as the seam is difficult to correct.
I used Model Master Metalizer Burnt Iron and Chrome Silver to paint the engines. One minor complaint is that the instructions do not provide accurate painting guidelines for the engines. It does call out the colors used, but it has no reference to what goes where and the color guide later in the instructions does not match the colors called out in Step 10. Refer to your references if you plan to display the engines.
I had no issues installing the engines at this stage. In Steps 12 and 13, there are the first two errors in the instructions. Parts C61 and C60 are swapped in the instructions. In Step 14, I ran into the first major fit issue. I could not get the upper and lower fuselages to mate correctly. I ended up having to slowly laminate the fuselage from back to front, moving slowly to allow for cure time between clamping. After completing this process, I still needed a fair amount of filler to hide some seams on the front of the fuselage.
The last error on this page is in Step 15, here you will be assembling the pilot’s instrument shroud and it lists Part F10 for use here. There is no Part F10 and this version doesn’t have an F sprue. Also I had issues with PE5 for the heads up display. It was too wide for the glass parts, but luckily there is plastic version of this part on Sprue C. I skipped Step 16 until after it was time to install the canopy.
Steps 17 and 18 cover the build of the intakes. This kit has two options for displaying the FOD cover, screen up or down. I chose to build the kit with the FOD screens down but it is nice to have the option for either. There is one notable issue here with the molding of the left intake housing. On the Su-27 there are round cutouts for the wheel wells and on this kit the left side intake housing is incorrectly molded. There is a square opening where there should be a round one. You will need to reshape the opening in Part A44 to fit and this may require filling/sanding to correct as well.
In Step 19, it is time to install the intake assemblies. I had some pretty serious fit issues here. Neither of the intake assemblies fit particularly well to the fuselage. Quite a lot of Mr. Surfacer was needed to fill the gaps. There was also a larger gap towards the back of these parts where they connect to the rest of the engine. This required a more aggressive combination of Mr. Surfacer and Bondo Spotting putty to fill.
In Step 20, I left the cannon and the cannon cover off until after final painting. The barrel of the cannon sticks out slightly and complicates the painting process. This step also covers, attaching the mounting point for the radar, Part C31. This part is designed to be able to displayed open or closed which is a nice option. However, the fit of this part to the rest of the fuselage is not great and the mounting point very weak. It is only attached at the hinge point at the top and it broke off several times while handling. In Step 21, I left all of the PE parts off until the final assembly.
In Step 22 there are three more options for display. First there is the speed brake, which can be displayed open or closed. I chose to build the kit with the speed brake closed and the fit was not great. It needed a fair amount of Mr. Surfacer to fill some gaps. Next there are the hatches that cover the engine, these can be left off to show the engine. Lastly, there is the parachute cover which can also be displayed open or closed. I had no fit issues here.
In Step 22-24 there are some fit and design issues that I need to mention. I left the afterburner cans off until the final assembly but I ran into an issue at that time. When installed there was large gap between them and the fuselage. I managed to remedy the issue by trimming 1mm off of the engines before reinstalling the cans. Steps 23 and 24 build up the landing gear. I ran into one major issue here. For some reason the main landing gear was molded without axles. This was an issues in previous versions of this kit as well.
I drilled holes into the landing gear and super glued short pieces of 2.1mm aluminum rod as replacements. Once assembled these were left off until after initial paining. In Steps 23 and 24 there are two swapped parts, C13 and C14 must be reversed while building the landing gear. There is one more thing to note, in Step 25 the landing gear are swapped. Step 23 needs to be swapped with 24.
There are a few more misprints in Step 26. This step covers the addition of the wings, flaps and ailerons. The fit here is great and I had no issues bedsides the instruction errors. I did leave the Parts D4/D7 off until final assembly to make painting easier. The first printing error is with Parts D1/D2, these parts need to be swapped to fit correctly. Also, Part D5 needs to be Part D15 and Part D6 needs to be Part D18.
I skipped Parts D27 and D28 until after initial painting but I had no issues with these parts or the instructions. I also skipped over all of the steps from here until I reached Step 35. All of these steps deal with detail parts that need to be added after final painting. There were no issues with the detail or fits of the parts in these steps.
Steps 35 through 40 cover the last few major details. In Step 35 the radar system is built and it is a nice little addition that you can display with out adding too much detail. Step 36 covers the build of the canopy. There was a minor mold seam a crossed the center of the glass that needed to be buffed out. I used wet sanding with micro abrasion pads and then buffed the scratches out with Turtle Wax plastic buffing compound. I had no issues with the fit of any of the parts here.
In Step 37 the canopy is installed and the fit is decent but not perfect. With the way that the instructions are written it doesn’t appear that the kit was designed for the cockpit to be displayed open. However, Part A3 appears to be long enough that with careful gluing, the canopy should be able to be left open. I chose to build the kit with the cockpit closed.
Next up are the large double tails. These are well molded and designed but I had some issues while installing them. The fit to the main fuselage is a bit rough and required some filling to hide the joint. I had no fit issues with the rest of the parts in Step 40 but there is one final misprint. Part F3 doesn’t exist as there is no F sprue. Instead the part should be Part H18. I left all of the clear parts off until final assembly but one thing to note here is with Part GP10. This is the IR sensor and to replicate the look of the real sensor I painted the inside of the part Tamiya X18 Gunmetal.
Next up is paining, this kit contains decals and instructions for a wide range of aircraft. There are 6 total sets of markings: Su-27UB, bort 64, Soviet VVS, Su-27UB, bort 65, Russian VVS, Su-27UB, bort 10, Russian VVS, J-16, bort 28/11128, PLAAF, J-16, bort 11137, PLAAF, Su-27UB, bort 14, Soviet VVS, Su-27UB, bort 23, Russian Knights aerial demo team, Su-27UB, bort 74, Ukrainian Air Force, Su-27UB, bort 52, Russian VVS and Su-27UB, bort 389, Sukhoi Test/Demo aircraft. Many of these aircraft have special markings that are reflected in the decals. I chose to build the Russian Knights scheme with the following colors. Tamiya XF-2 Flat White, XF-22 for the landing gear, Tamiya NATO green for the wheel hubs, X-4 for the Bright Blue, and X-14 for the Sky Blue. There is no masking guide to assist in painting this option but it is not difficult. Lastly there is section around the cannon that was masked and painted Model Master Metalizer Steel.
Su-27s have very distinctive sections of exposed metal for the engines. I used a number of Model Master Metalizer paints in attempt to replicate this section. The base was Stainless Steal, panel edges were highlighted with Magnesium and light coats of Jet Exhaust were streaked from front to back. The burner cans were treated the same way with an over spray of Burnt Metal.
After a gloss coat it was time to add the decals. The large decal sheets are well printed with no errors and good register. One of the decal sheets for this kit is an extensive set of stencils. Based on my references, the Russian Knights aircraft had no stencils. So I can’t say how they performed. The rest of the decals performed well over a couple coats of PFM. The large sunrise decals on the tail are impressive and responded well to Micro Sol but some of the detail near the top of the tail required cutting the decals and touching up afterwards with paint.
The only issues I had with the rest of the decals was with the large decals for the tops of the wings. The complicated shape of the center part of the fuselage makes fitting the decals very frustrating. They also seem a little short, I had to shift them aft to get them to line up and the front no longer lined up where I wanted. Also decals 41 and 48 are way too short, I had to rebuild the ends from decal scraps to ensure that they were long enough.
After the decals cured and an overcoat of PFM was applied. I added all of the details left off earlier and I had no issues with the fits of these parts. The PE parts and other probes are very fragile and tiny so be careful when fitting them. The last part of this build is to build and install the stores. This kit does contain a very nice set of weapons, tanks and pylons. The details are good but I only used the pylons so I can’t comment on the fit of these parts. The instructions give no guidance on what each aircraft can or should carry. Based on my references the Russian Knights aircraft carried a full load of pylons but no weapons. Check your references for exactly what pylons to add where, the instructions are not clear here.
This is an interesting kit. With some effort you will have a wonderful version of this awesome aircraft. From what I can tell it is one of the best kits of this aircraft in 1/48 scale and I am certainly happy with the results. However the fit issues, missing axles and errors in the instructions do hold it back a bit. I would definitely recommend this kit to any experienced modeler that is interested in a larger scale of a modern Russian aircraft. But due to these issues I can’t recommend this kit to a beginner; there is too much trouble shooting and fixing required to make the kit accessible.
My thanks to Kitty Hawk and IPMS/USA for giving me the opportunity to review this kit.