Brand: Trumpeter 01659
Markings: Caracal Models CD72041
The Sukhoi Su-30MKK (Russian: Сухой Су-30; NATO reporting name: Flanker-G) is a variant of the Su-30 (NATO reporting name: Flanker-C). The Su-30 is a twin-engine, two-seat fighter aircraft developed in the Soviet Union by Russia’s Sukhoi Aviation Corporation. It is a multi-role fighter for all-weather, air-to-air and air-to-surface deep interdiction missions. The Su-30 is manufactured by two competing organizations: KnAAPO and the Irkut Corporation. KnAAPO manufactures the Su-30MKK (Modernizirovanniy Kommercheskiy Kitayskiy – “Modernized Commercial for China”) and the Su-30MK2, which were designed for and sold to China, and later Indonesia, Uganda, Venezuela, and Vietnam.
The Su-30MKK incorporates advanced technology from the Sukhoi Su-35 variant. The Su-30MKK was developed by Sukhoi in 1997 and is comparable to the American Boeing F-15E Strike Eagle. Su-30MK2 is a further improvement to Su-30MKK with upgraded avionics and maritime strike capabilities.
Because of U.S-imposed arms embargo against it, Indonesia’s TNI-AU (Tentara Nasional Indonesia – Angkatan Udara) ordered a combined 11 Su-30MKK/MK2s (2 Su-30MKK and 9 Su-30MK2) from 2003 to 2011 with all aircraft delivered by 2013. Skadron Udara 11 “The Thunders” currently operates the 11 Su-30MKK/MK2s out of Hasanuddin International Airport, Makassar.
My build depicts Su-30MK2 ‘TS-3011’ in 2014.
Info adapted from Wikipedia
This kit was released in 2012, and is a rebox of Trumpeter’s original 2011 J-11B kit with new parts to model this variant. The kit is made up of more than 110 parts on 12 sprues. Many of these make up the stores which are many: R-27R (NATO name AA-10A Alamo) x4, R-27T (AA-10B Alamo) x4, R-73E (AA-11 Archer) x4, R-77 (AA-12 Adder) x4 and Kh-31P (AS-17 Krypton) x4. While odd that there are only missiles for a multirole fighter that can do ground attack missions, I appreciate the number of missiles Trumpeter provides. Wingtip ECM pods are also provided.
The panel lines are very nicely done with just enough depth to make panel washes easier to stick. The parts are all cleanly molded with little obvious injection pin marks or flash. The canopy is two pieces and cannot be posed open. Maybe that’s for the better as the instrument panels and side consoles are decals only although it should be fine under a closed canopy. The refueling probe is oddly molded extended although just a cut will get it to be stowed. The speed brake on the other hand, can be molded open but I noted an injection pin mark among the inside details of the speed brake which will be hard to fill.
What is very nice is Trumpeter’s choice to mold the wings already attached to the upper and lower fuselages. No worries about misalignment issues there! There are however no option for lowered flaps and the stabilizers are also limited to the neutral position only. They won’t be able to be posed down without some work to modify the very visible actuators on the base of the tailfins. Landing gear is nicely thick and robust with big attachment points (I did a test fit of the nose gear and it friction fits) but there’s no gear up option provided.
Markings are provided for two PLAAF Su-30MKKs with one set of stencils and look to be in register. All in all, everything looks good in the box (I believe it’s one of the more accurate Su-30 kits in the market) and would make for a large model even at 1/72 scale.
This was supposed to be my Indonesia Independence Day build on 17 August 2020 but I didn’t manage to make the deadline. That’s quite on par the usual for me when it comes to deadlines though.
Anyway, this build started out well until I ran into the nose to body joint. First the bottom fuselage was short shot by about 1mm which required filling with styrene spacers. After that was done I found that the nose had a Coke bottle shape when viewed from the side. Looking at pictures the nose didn’t look quite right so I spent some time trying to fix that. It ended up chewing a lot of time since I had to repeatedly fill, sand down, buff then prime to check the work. When I finally have had enough and the nose looked relatively better, I then had to scribe back all the details I managed to sand away.
The intakes were built up as subassemblies and fit well individually with the detailed intake ramps. However, there were gaps at both front and back ends which all need filling when I attached them to the bottom fuselage. I used a combination of both plastic plate spacers and Vallejo Plastic Putty to fix them up.
Because I had to prepaint the exhaust area and deal with camouflage I decided to keep the tailfins off till after painting. A check of the antennas showed that they all attached via butt joints so I modified them by adding tabs onto them using plastic plate. I then drilled out the corresponding holes in the fuselage.
Weapons-wise, I decided to mount the large Kh-31P anti-radar missiles as I’m a sucker for aircraft flying SEAD missions. I also added R-73E x2, R-77 x2 and R-27T x2 to round it off: this Flanker will be heavily armed! I usually insert brass rods as pins on the missiles but tried stretched sprue for half of these to see if they will work well. I’ve found it easier to deal with plastic cement than CA glue so if stretched sprue works, it’s something I can do more of.
Colors & Markings
Before primary painting can begin, I had to deal with the exhaust area. Based on photos the area is various shades of burnt metal with some parts of the nozzles having a bluish tint. I carefully masked and sprayed the panels with various shades from my metal color collection. Being acrylic, I was also able to add some transparent blue onto the metal colors to get the bluish tint for the exhaust rings. Once cured the whole section was masked off.
The TNI-AU flies their Flankers in a very striking two-tone gray camouflage with hi-viz national markings. The demarcations are solid so I experimented with using Tamiya Tape for Curves but went back to using blutack for the sharper curves. I ended up spending more time getting the tape to conform to the curves I needed than for the curves to be correct. Using blutack is still easier so I don’t think I’ll switch any time soon.
Painting was straightforward and much easier with the tailfins separate and I was done in no time. I then installed the tailfins before moving on to the next step. They could really use larger tabs for a more positive fit. After that I went back in to redo some of the camouflage to tighten up the demarcations and correct overspray.
The decals were next after a gloss coat. Printed by Cartograph, they were very easy to use and reacted very well with Mark Setter and Mark Softer. I had to check references for some of the placement as some panel lines in the instructions don’t match up with the kit. Russian planes apparently don’t have many stencils so decaling went by quite quickly.
The missiles were prepped separately including painting the bands instead of using decals. The Kh-31P missiles were three colors so required more masking time than normal. I’m consciously now trying to do a better job with the stores as opposed to treating them as an afterthought.
Before proceeding with finishing, I first had to check my work on the exhausts. Not sure what happened but there seems to be paint bleeding under the masking tape on the port exhaust. And best of all, it was on the top side so it was very visible. After marinating on it for a while, I decided that sanding everything down and re-painting is the only way to go so I carefully sanded, buffed and repainted the area. As the tailfin was in the way I couldn’t get to all the problem areas but luckily these aren’t that visible due to the said tailfin.
For the panel wash, I tried a very dark gray color using AK Interactive Starship Filth oil paint instead of my usual dark brown color using Raw Umber. The gray keeps the overall look colder which I think suits the camouflage. I did the wash over a Vallejo Satin Polyurethane Varnish coat which I misted over the whole kit.
The Indonesian Flankers are kept quite clean and following reference photos I went with mild weathering around the exhaust area and the left side of the nose where there would be more foot traffic. Things started going sideways again when the base Mig AMMO paint reacted with the thinner I used for the panel wash and started disintegrating. What’s odd was it only affected random spots. I could only conclude that the affected areas didn’t quite get hit by the satin varnish. Of note is that the this only affected Mig AMMO paint: the areas done with Vallejo and Tamiya were fine.
So more repaints needed to be done. The most offending area that had the problem was the port side of the nose where the paint stripping cut through a decal. This one took a bit of careful sanding, buffing, respraying and handpainted touchups. I then did some heavier weathering to ‘hide’ the mistake.
Once I was able to live with the (IMO) shoddy repair work I proceeded to install the stores. These attached very easily for once. Using stretched sprues seem to work well and going forward I think I’ll try to use them more.
It turns out that there was also paint bleeding on the canopy once I removed the masking tape. I scraped off what I can with toothpicks and removed the rest with airbrush cleaner. I then brush painted Future to bring some of the shine back. The antenna and pitot tube were last on and with the use of the tabs, made installing the antenna especially painless.
And I’m done even two weeks behind my deadline. The work is far from perfect (as usual) but I think besides the nose, Trumpeter has captured the Flanker’s lines well and it looks particular fierce toting so many missiles. I also can’t help but play the Soviet anthem in my head every time I look at it.
Number 08 of 2020