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Kinetic’s naval Flanker fighter jet

RELATED TOPICS: AIRCRAFT
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The Su-33 is one of my all-time favorite modern jet fighters. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a proper example in 1/48 scale — until now. Thanks to Kinetic!
 
Opening the box reveals 320-plus parts, molded in gray, with primo surface detail! Everything is recessed and true to scale. Parts like the single-piece molded missiles and exhaust nozzles are boxed separately. There are photo-etch (PE) parts and crystal-clear plastic that includes separate navigation lights.

Decals provided by Cartograf are included, and are gorgeous. Only 24 of these aircraft were built, and I believe all can be modeled with the decals provided. Individual numbers, 0-9, are included. All aircraft are based on the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, so the colors are the same; choose the number you want. The only real problem is that the white decals, used for sensitive areas, allow the underlying colors of the model to show through.

Acrylicos Vallejo, Ammo of Mig Jimenez, Italeri, GSI Creos Mr. Color, Humbrol, Tamiya, and Akan are referenced in the color listing, but, in the instruction steps’ color callouts, only Vallejo numbers are shown.

The instruction sheet is the only real problem with the kit. All the drawings are black-and-white CAD and look like photocopies. Part locations are vague, and there are quite a few parts that have no location at all or are mislabeled. Part PE3 should be 29, etc. The same paint number is used for two different colors. I found extensive research was required, not only for colors but also for part locations.

The cockpit is beautiful, missing only seat belts. Dry-fitting is a must; there are no locating marks or pins on the seat components, and the instructions are not much help. The ejection seat is a tight fit; I removed a small amount of plastic on each side and the seat pushed in with no glue required.

The landing-gear bays also have wonderful detail. But when you get to Step 6, you must deviate from the directions. Kinetic would have you assemble the landing gear, doors, and all the other bits before joining the upper and lower fuselage halves.

When it’s time to cement the fuselage together, the fit is very tight around the cockpit. I don’t know the reason. I probably should have dry-fitted more before gluing the cockpit together.

There are 26 parts in the nose gear alone, and it is beautifully molded. The main landing gear is not as extensive but still looks fantastic. Tires are weighted with bulges.
 
Step 16 takes you to the exhaust nozzles and three-piece PE flame holders. They are exquisite, and though they require a bit of patience they are well worth it. The exhaust and accompanying nozzles are molded as single pieces; no unsightly seam to smooth. The edges of the nozzles are realistically thin too.

There are many options for this kit as you progress through assembly. You have a choice of folded wings (or not). I chose folded because the model is twice the size otherwise, and I don’t have room for it. The finely molded hinges look fantastic. But if you leave the wings down, you have to sand or file them to get the wings to fit together — and that’s a lot of work.

The kit provides three brackets to hold the wings up, but they are plastic and the weight of the wings causes them to rest on the vertical stabilizers. I suggest replacing them with a metal bracket.
 
The nose cone was not necessarily a problem, but it was engineered differently from similar kits. On most, the nose cone is a separate piece. It is on this kit as well, but it is molded at an angle that incorporates some of the forward fuselage. I don’t know why Kinetic did this, but I’m sure it had its reasons.
 
Other options are open/closed canopy, folded pitot tube, open/closed tail cone (revealing some PE and not much else), open/closed intake screens, open/closed speed brake, and a refueling probe that can be positioned in or out. All control surfaces are molded separately.
 
Detail on the single-piece missiles is fantastic. However, while instructions call for the missiles to be painted white, no detail painting is shown and no stencil decals are provided for them. The box art shows two missiles to be mounted under each intake, but nothing is said about that in the instructions.

Still, this is a fantastic kit with no ejector-pin marks that can’t be easily removed, and great decals along with amazing surface detail.
 
There are some minor fit issues, but no deal-breakers. Kinetic’s kit builds into a drop-dead gorgeous model of one the most beautiful aircraft in service today. I’m absolutely giddy to have it in my hangar!


Note: A version of this review appeared in the December 2016 issue.

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