by: Adie Roberts [ ]
Originally published on:
The Sukhoi Su-35 (Russian: Сухой Су-35; NATO reporting name: Flanker-E) is a designation for two separate, heavily upgraded derivatives of the Su-27 aircraft. They are single-seat, twin-engine, supermaneuverable multirole fighters, designed by Sukhoi and built by Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Production Association (KnAAPO).
The first variant was designed during the 1980s when Sukhoi sought to upgrade its high-performance Su-27 and was initially known as the Su-27M. Later re-designated Su-35, this derivative incorporated aerodynamic refinements with increased manoeuvrability, enhanced avionics, longer range, and more powerful engines. The first Su-35 prototype, converted from a Su-27, made its maiden flight in June 1988. More than a dozen of these were built, some of which were used by the Russian Knights aerobatic demonstration team. The first Su-35 design was later modified into the Su-37, which possessed thrust vectoring engines and was used as a technology demonstrator. A sole Su-35UB two-seat trainer was built in the late 1990s that strongly resembled the Su-30MK family.
In 2003, Sukhoi embarked on a second modernization of the Su-27 to produce what the company calls a 4 generation fighter that would bridge the gap between legacy fighters and the upcoming fifth-generation Sukhoi PAK FA. This derivative, while omitting the canards and air brake, incorporates a reinforced airframe, improved avionics and radar, thrust-vectoring engines, and a reduced frontal radar signature. In 2008 the revamped variant, erroneously named the Su-35BM in the media, began its flight test programme that would involve four prototypes, one of which was lost in 2009.
The first thing you notice is a huge box, some stunning artwork and some nice colour profiles.
The box is a top lid of thin cardboard and thicker cardboard lower box which is quite strong and able to protect the plastic during transportation
All the sprues besides the clear sprue are in light grey colour.
1. One with the main fuselage in two
2. Four further sprues for the rest of the aircraft
3. Four sprues for the armament, missiles etc
4. One clear sprue for the cockpit, lights etc
5. Three decal sheets and one photo etch
6. One comprehensive instruction booklet with some of the best full-colour profiles I have ever seen.
So first impressions of the Kitty Hawk Su-35 “Flanker-E” model kit is I have to say "awesome" a huge amount of plastic in the box, including a vast amount of armament. So let us see if it lives up to the hype and expectation.
The main fuselage comes in two halves top and bottom and the surface detail is quite extraordinary with everything you would expect to see in a good kit I am really taken by the shear size of this particular aircraft. The top of the fuselage is a real graceful looking bird with some astonishing aerodynamic, racing lines, looking more like a true thoroughbred. So down to the detail it comes with some very fine engraved panel lines which seem just right in depth and width some amazing rivet detail with lots of maintenance and service hatches. On the underside of the top half is some tiny bits of the connecting sprue that will need to be cut off and sanded this is only minor and should not be an issue to anyone. It is the same with the top of the bottom half again nothing to drastic here. The bottom half of the fuselage is very similar with its array of maintenance hatches and engraved panel lines all of these really do look the part and will try to pick them out for you in my pictures.
As with most jet aircraft the building begins at the business end of the jet “The Office” with the cockpit and ejector seat, the build looks thorough and really stands out in parts and detail. I particularly like the way that Kitty Hawk have gone about their business, the seat builds in several parts each one adding more and more detail and realism. It looks like Kitty Hawk have really done their homework here and so far looks very much like the real thing. The cockpit area really does carry some astonishing detail and added with the photo-etch really will stand out as a focal point once painted. The cockpit panels look good and carry some detail raised for switches but most of it is down to the decal sheet that they have provided which are nice looking and seem very thin.
Sitting prominently on the right hand side of the lower right of the cockpit glass is the OLS-35 Optoelectronic targeting system an infrared search and track fire control system faithfully produced in a clear plastic bulbous glass housing by Kitty Hawk
After finishing the cockpit it is then onto the lower fuselage where you will be placing the cockpit tub into place along with the inner housing of the fuel probe. On the underside of the housing for the fuel probe there are two injector marks that will need some removal allowing everything else to sit nicely in place. Just to the right and behind the cockpit is the housing for the GSh 301 Cannon sitting nicely in the right wing root. The cannon itself really looks impressive once made with the ammo guide put on top and placed into the housing.
The wheel wells for the rear and front wheels have been made with plenty of detail and look quite comprehensive when compared to real photos of the same area with moulded detail covering electronics and wiring.
The engines are very nicely done with fan blades which fit into its own housing before fitting into the full housing, this makes it stand out completely like the real thing I have done a dry fit which I will try to photograph for you to see what I mean.
The two halves of the fuselage once the engines are in place are next to be put together
Wings the left and right come in four main pieces with upper and lower wing leading edges and flaperons allowing both the leading edges and flaperons to be positioned into different positions. As with all the rest of the kit so far the detail on the wings is sublime and is hard to find much in the way of fault, from the inspection covers and hatches to the engraved panel lines and rivets it really is a well thought out kit. The wings on a dry fit with very little effort seemed to be a perfect fit.
Avionics comes in the way of a Irbis-E phased-array radar system capable of mapping the ground while keeping an eye on airspace or tracking an aerial threat up to 400km away. The replication of this array radar is almost faultless and looks exetremly close to the real thing as per photographs in Russian 21st century military aircraft. There are plenty of parts to the radar which builds up to a high level of detail.
Once the radar is complete you have the option to have this part exposed or you can place the nose cone on.
Right and left vertical stabilisers come in three main parts with separate rudder detail, with various sensors that fit onto the stabilisers included, the detail level is right up there again, not looking like any issues here with the building all straight forward looking.
Sat between the exhausts is the is the parabrake fairing another nice touch by Kitty Hawk is the inclusion of having this one open or closed this is just like the rest of the kit and very highly detailed
The air intakes of a flanker are very large and some work on preparation will be required here when you go to fit the engine faces that face to the front and go over part of the wheel bays. I would recommend a dry fit before even thinking about glue, at this stage this also includes a roof for each nacelle and comes with the choice of open or closed auxiliary intake louvers. There are some curved bumpers for the main gear legs
One of the first things that caught my eye when first looking at the plastic on opening the box is the landing gear legs, that really are quite substantial, yet very well detailed with clear parts for the landing lights and includes a twin front wheel with the usual Russian mud guard for the front wheel. The two main landing gear legs are very large as you would expect them to be with the overall size of the aircraft, but although very large it is still very well detailed.
Once built the undercarriage doors are finally fitted to finish of the build before moving on to the weaponry that you decide to go with, Kitty Hawk have really spared no expense and you will have four sprues of weaponry that come with the kit all of this again is in great detail.
The list of included weaponry is as follows
2 x KAB-1500L/ KR /SE Laser Guided Bomb
2 x KAB-1500-KR Smart Bomb
2 x KAB-1500-SE/L Smart Bomb
2 x KH-31 Air to Surface Missile designed to take out radar systems
2x KH-25-MT Air to Surface Missile
2 x KH-25-ML Air to Surface Missile
2 x R27-ER/ET Air to Air Missile
2 x R27-R/T Air to Air Missile
2 x KH-29T Air to Surface Missile (Nato code name Kedge)
2 x R-73 Short Range Air to Air Missile (Nato code name Archer)
2 x R-77 Air to Air Missile (Nato code name Adder)
2 x KH-58ME Soviet Anti Radiation Missle (Nato code name Kilter)
4 x R60 Short Range Air to Air Missile
Instructions, Decals and Photo-etch
The instruction booklet comes in slightly smaller than A4 size and has in total 36 pages. This is broken down into 16 pages of instructions for the build 1 page that has copies of all the sprues that come with the kit including clear sprue, decal sheets and Photo-etch. There is also a key as to the symbols and 3 pullout double size pages that carry the profiles for 6 aircraft 1 further double-sided pullout for all the weaponry profiles colour and decals for those and the rails to hold them.
Three decal sheets cover the markings of the aircraft, cockpit and armament. All of these look good without any blemishes
One small Photo-Etch sheet with seatbelts clips and some grilles
Colour profiles for the aircraft included are
Russia Air Force, SU-35S “Red05”
Russia Air Force, SU-35 “Red-31”
Russia Air Force, SU-35BM “902”
Chinese Air Force, SU-35 (3 Colour Camo)
Chinese Air Force, SU-35 (2 Colour Camo)
Chinese Air Force, SU-35 Cang Zhou Flight Test and Training Centre
Having been lucky enough to be able to have a look at the Kitty Hawk Super Etendard which I thought was very well represented by Kitty Hawk. However good the detailing was on the Super Etendard the detailing on the SU-35 Flanker-E is just way past that of the Super Etendard. I have taken my time looking through various books and internet sites and finding it hard to find any fault in the moulding or manufacturing of this extraordinary kit.
From the first time you get the kit from the artwork (some licence artistry there) to the amount of plastic in the boxes of these new kits and one thing I really love about Kitty Hawk is their instruction booklet which is incredible with the full-colour pullout colour profiles to painting guide is something that many other companies would be wise to follow. For sure there are the odd bits that need some preparation and would recommend some dry fitting first, but overall the detail in this kit really does take precedent and makes for a fantastic choice and I am sure will be a very nice build.