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K-560 Severodvinsk is the first submarine of the new Russian Yasen class of nuclear powered attack subs. It is supposed to replace both Akula class SSNs as well as Oscar class SSGNs.

Construction work started in 1993 but due to the Russian financial crisis of the ’90s after the break-up of the Soviet Union, work on the newest sub restarted in 2003. Unfortunately launch date slipped even further when in the second half of decade, the Borei SSBNs were given a priority and Severodvinsk made its first sail and sea trials in September 2011, with official introduction to the Russian Navy in May 2014. There are 5 Yasen class submarines under construction at the moment, with the 6th scheduled for summer next year.

The submarine is equipped with the latest sensors and weapons of the Russian Navy. Besides 650mm and 530mm torpedoes, this sub also carries the latest anti-ship and anti-submarine missiles, cruise missiles, land-attack cruise missiles and mines. The heart of the sensor suite is spherical sonar MGK-600 Irtysh-Amfora mounted in the forward hull – the reason why the torpedo launchers were moved to the sides. The crew consists of only 90 sailors – 44 less than comparable USN Virginia class.

The kit

Modern nuclear submarines are quick and easy models to build and Yasen is no different. It goes together quite nicely but there is a hull long seam to take care of and unfortunately torpedo tubes are right in the way of it, so some care has to be taken of. Yasen subs are all grey – very dark grey. To break apart the monotonous single scheme, I’ve used an off-black paint as a basis and black for the sonar parts. I’ve noticed a tile pattern on one of the close up photos and tried to recreate that as well to even further break up the all grey scheme and I am quite happy with the result. Unfortunately the biggest fault of this kit are decals – especially the one on the bow as it doesn’t contour the shape of the bow well – I thought it was my fault but after checking several other builds on the internet, I’ve seen every modeller was struggling with that. That apart, it is a really nice kit and a welcome addition to any modern sub collection.

Model Data
Company: HobbyBoss
Scale: 1:350
Aftermarket: /
Paints used: Mr.Paint (MRP-4 White, MRP-5 Black, MRP-173 Tire/Rubber)
Alclad (ALC-101 Aluminum, ALC-104 Pale Burnt Metal, ALC-110 Copper)

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23rd Slovenian Nationals

BIC, Ljubljana, Slovenia; 19th November 2016

Sukhoi Su-30 ‘Flankers’ are a two-seat multi-role derivative of the famous Su-27 fighter. There are two main versions of Su-30s. Irkut plant produces the canard and TVC equipped Su-30MK series (in use with Algeria, India, Malaysia, Russia), while the Komsomolsk-on-Amur KnAAZ (ex-KnAAPO) plant until recently produced the Su-30MK2 series, which don’t have canards and TVC engines but are easily recognizable by taller, straight tipped vertical fins and are in use with China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Venezuela, Uganda and in smaller numbers with Russian Air Force. Supposedly Su-30M2s in the Russian Air Force serve as training aircraft for the single-seat Su-27SM multi-role fighters.

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Pavel Sukhoi

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Pavel Osipovich Sukhoi was born in 1895 in near the now Belorussian town of Vitebsk. In 1915 he went to Moscow’s Technical School but with the outbreak of World War 1 he was drafted into the Imperial Russian Army and was discharged in 1920 and in 1925 finally graduated. In the same year he started working as designer/engineer with TsAGI aviation institute and in the following years designed aircraft like record breaking Tupolev ANT-25 and TB-1 and TB-3 bombers. His career then rose to top positions at TsAGI and in the late ’30s he designed a light multipurpose aircraft Su-2. In September 1939, Pavel established his own design bureau (OKB) and he designed an excellent ground attack aircraft but with Stalin’s preference to Il-2, Su-6 didn’t see mass production. In 1949, his OKB was closed on Stalin’s order and Pavel had to work as Tupolev’s lead designer, but in 1953, after Stalin’s death, Sukhoi OKB was reestablish. His first successful design was Su-7 fighter-bomber which was the main aircraft of the type in 1960s, while the derivatives Su-9, Su-11 and the Su-15 formed the backbone of the interceptor units. Sukhoi OKB was also pioneering the variable-sweep design, creating Su-17 and Su-24 series of attack aircraft. One of his most ambitious projects was a Mach-3 bomber called T-4 Sotka. Pavel Sukhoi’s last design was T-10 (Su-27) but unfortunately he died in 1975 and did not see it fly.

The kit

Trumpeter’s Su-27 kits are widely available now for a few years and while they are not expensive and are readily available, most of them share several mistakes. One of the worst and basically impossible to correct is the wrong cross-section of the forward fuselage towards the nose, making the aircraft look to thin and LERX’ ending too early. The other mistake is that the main landing gear wells are posed at an angle when they should be level. Su-30MKK kit I used as a basis also has the problem that the vertical fins are too short and had to be replaced or modified. While not really difficult to build, there are some problematic areas that could be avoided by Trumpeter, especially the wing insert on the bottom of the wing.

When I first saw the photos of this memorial scheme, carried by 4th Su-30M2 prototype (Red 504), I had to build it as a tribute to a great aviation designer. When Caracal decals announced release of decals, including this scheme, I was thrilled as I could finally recreate this bird. Unfortunately, the decal application process was not a great experience. Despite being printed by Cartograf, which normally produce decals of highest quality, Caracal decals were very thick, prone to silvering, did not lay down into recessed details well and were not responding to setting solutions well. Painting diagrams can also be misleading. Unfortunately there’s just a few photos of the real aircraft, as it carried this scheme only for a short amount of time. The black colour of Mr. Sukhoi’s jacket is printed black while it should be Dark Gray. Despite all the problems, I somehow managed to pull it off and create another new Flanker for my Flanker collection.

Model Data
Company: Trumpeter
Scale: 1:72
Aftermarket: Caracal models decals, Master pitot tube, DreamModel replacement fins
Paints used: Mr.Paint (MRP-4 White, MRP-5 Black, MRP-32 Green for wheels, MRP-42 Red, MRP-47 Dark Gray, MRP-98 Light Gull Grey, MRP-196 Light Blue, MRP-198 Light Gray)
Alclad (ALC-101 Aluminum, ALC-104 Pale Burnt Metal, ALC-111 Magnesium, ALC-123 Exhaust Manifold, ALC-416 Hotmetal Sepia)

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MiG-29 9.13 ‘Fulcrum-C’; Swifts

Mikoyan MiG-29 doesn’t need a special introduction. One of the most famous (and feared by the West) 4th generation jet fighters in the world, it first flew in 1977 and entered service with Soviet Air Force in 1982. Designed to replace the MiG-23 in Frontal Aviation units, the requirement to operate from rugged, damaged or unprepared runways resulted in reinforced landing gear and anti-FOD measures, including the mudguard and closing jet intakes with auxiliary intakes on the top of leading edge root extension.
First version to be put into service was MiG-29A, which was externally recognized by having small ventral stabilizers (like Su-27 series) and different landing gear and airbrake design. MiG-29B which soon followed was built in more than 800 examples, a lot of them downgraded for export, which are still in use today in many air forces including Serbia, India, Bulgaria, Iran, to name but a few.
The next upgrade that happened in the ’80s was the so called izdeliye 9.13, which is also the subject of this build. MiG-29S 9.13 ‘Fulcrum-C’ introduced an enlarged dorsal hump, which is the most recognizable feature compared to 9.12. 9.13 could carry the longer ranged air-to-air R-27ER missile, the enlarged dorsal hump carries an active radar jammer as well as additional fuel and the airframe strengthening brought the total armament capability to 4.000kg. This version also included an improved flight control system slightly improving maneuverability.

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Swifts / Strizhi / Стрижи

The beginnings of aerobatic group Strizhi go back to the late ’80s, when a group of pilots started training in precision formation flying through aerobatic maneuvers with their debut performance on May 6th, 1991 and their international debut a few months later at an airshow in Sweden. In the beginning, the group performed with 9.12 version of MiG-29, painted in white and blue, but later switched to 9.13 and repainted their aircraft into current scheme of red and white with blue swift symbol on top and bottom of the aircraft. UB (9.51) twoseaters were also used in both liveries. Strizhi recently celebrated their 25th anniversary and Zvezda celebrated this event by releasing their new 9.13 kit with Strizhi markings and box artwork.The team is based, like the Russian Knights Flanker equipped team at Kubinka Air Base and usually performs as a 5- or 6-ship while a 4-ship flight usually flies with a 5-ship Russian Knights team during celebrations of special events, like the 9th May parade over the Red Square in Moscow.

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The kit

There isn’t much to say to this kit, that I haven’t already said in my previous in-progress threads (PART1, PART2). Despite some small shortcomings, the kit is really a joy to build, is accurate and it’s the first MiG-29 kit in 1:72 that has correctly depicted open jet intakes and closed auxiliary intakes. The later are open only when the aircraft is on ground and the engines are running (from start-up to take-off and from landing to shutting down the engines). The engraved detail is well defined if a bit shallow, mostly on the curved surfaces like LERX. There are no engraved rivets present but I don’t mind that, as they are more often than not over emphasized and don’t look real. With a multitude of riveting tools present today on the market, making you own shouldn’t be a problem. If building the Swifts version, the easiest way of applying the top decals would be to wait with vertical stabilizers installation until after decaling. Decals themselves proved excellent, thin enough and didn’t require any setting solutions. All in all, an excellent kit and I’ll be sure adding a few more to my collection.

Model Data
Company: Zvezda
Scale: 1:72
Aftermarket: none
Paints used: Mr.Paint (MRP-4 White, MRP-45 Dark Blue, MRP-98 Light Gull Grey), Revell (36 Red, enamel)
Alclad (ALC-101 Aluminum, ALC-104 Pale Burnt Metal, ALC-111 Magnesium, ALC-123 Exhaust Manifold, ALC-405 Transparent Smoke, ALC-416 Hotmetal Sepia)

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MiG-29 9.13 Swifts pt.2

Painting is my favorite part of model building and this scheme provided some challenge.

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Some dread over painting white, but with Mr.Paint paints, opacity is not an issue – even with the dreaded White. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get the suitable red from their range and had to resort to a Revell enamel from my collection. Masking the tails for the MiG inscriptions was a process of its own – first tracing the decal on a piece of paper, then cutting it out, retracing its outline on the tail with a 1mm offset and masking it.

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Metal shrouds on the exhaust are were painted alternating with two different Alclad paints – Dark Aluminum and Magnesium, but unfortunately the effect is not really shown in this photo.

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Exhausts on MiG-29s are truly interesting from the painting perspective. I’ve used a bunch of different Alclad paints, chipping, Tamiya weathering sets and oil washes to bring the details out. No, they are not as detailed as resin replacement, but with proper weathering techniques, they look great nevertheless.

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Decaling was an interesting affair as well. They perform nicely and do not silver. However the design is a bit complicated. The bird motive on the top is made of only 3 decals – the body and separate wings. The problem arises when you apply the wing decals over the tail extensions. I actually cut the decals to remedy this problem. Fortunately Zvezda’s design team was clever enough to include spare strips of blue, white and silver to correct such problems.

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Despite being broken into more pieces, the lower bird motive was even harder to apply than the upper one – mainly due to the fact, the shape of the fuselage with engine intakes is more complex. In the end though, with the help of hairdryer, the decals settled down and into the engravings nicely enough.

MiG-29 9.13 Swifts pt.1

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Hi everyone! Another day, another project!

Earlier this year, Zvezda released long anticipated new model of the famous MiG-29 fighter, namely the 9.13 version with slightly bigger spine than the baseline 9.12 version. Just a few months later, a new boxing was released with decals for the Swifts aerobatic group, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary.

Upon first inspection, the model presents a typical new generation Zvezda kit. Finely engraved details but without rivet detail, nice wheelbay surfaces of correct shapes and dimensions but no wiring, basic cockpit and a nice selection of armament. Indeed, buying the Swifts version of the kit will considerably fill your armament spares box. Decals are printed in matt and appear slightly thick, but more on that when we get to decalling.

I will bring forward some downsides of the build so far, but follow closely, as not everything is as black as this post might suggest.

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Part of the main wheel wells. There are pin marks in there, but truth be told, when installed, they are hardly visible, they are easy to remove if spotted before assembly (or warned by me :D) and are the only visible pin marks I have noticed in the entire kit.

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Engine intakes are done similar to their Su-27SM – they are two part and split along the edge. I am not a fan of such design as it requires the seam cleanup along the entire length of the engine nacelle – luckily, there’s not a lot of details in this section, so the lost panel lines are easily rescribed and a plus – intake lips are really thin!

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An unusual design of the forward part of the fuselage leaves some gaps (I am quite sure it’s not my fault as I’ve seen other modellers with the same problem). Luckily, cleanup again is quite straightforward, especially using water based putty like (Deluxe Materials Perfect Plastic Putty).

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Cockpit and the ejection seat are basic – decals (slightly out of register) for the instruments mimic the photos of the real aircraft. As I am building this model OOB and with closed canopy, I didn’t bother with super detailing, but the next will certainly be improved.

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The new generation of Zvezda kits includes the transparent plastic which has a soft elastic feel to it. Good thing is that it is not as brittle as normally transparencies are but on the other hand, clarity of the parts can be an issue and in my case, the main canopy was sort of squashed a little, sitting too low and too wide. Due to its elasticity, I force-glued it to the fuselage but nevertheless I couldn’t get a really perfect fit.

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Despite my critics, I have to admit, those are the only ones I had during the construction of the model. Apart from some minor things mentioned before, the model really falls together, is very accurate and so far, I have been really enjoying building it.

Antonov An-71 ‘Madcap’ was based on the popular An-72 STOL transport series. The aircraft needed only 620m for take-off and 420m for landing and could operate from rough unpaved runways. Over-wing mounted engines greatly reduced FOD risk but also improved its STOL capabilities.

Only three An-71 were made with the first take-off in 1985. Unlike An-72, An-71 was equipped with more powerful engines and was also equipped with a third, fuselage mounted jet engine of the same type as Yak-38, that helped with take-offs. Rear fuselage was redesigned and a broad, forward swept fin installed with a radar dome mounted on top.

During the times of Soviet Union, each aviation branch had its own Early Warning Radar system in use which it didn’t share with others. So while the PVO (main fighter/interceptor and SAM branch) was equipped with A-50 AWACS, VVS-FA (frontal aviation) strike fighters lacked the capability and the An-71 was developed. There was also a carrier borne version considered under the designation An-75 but it remained a paper project. The two flying prototypes flew around 1.000 hours but the problems with the radar and the eventual fall of the Soviet Union killed the project.

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The kit

I picked up this kit really cheap in Club-TM shop on one of my trips to Moscow. I didn’t have much expectations of this 1:288 Eastern Express kit but in the end, I really enjoyed building it. The fit is rather good, but the plastic is somewhat weird, as the seams were constantly cracking open, as if the solvent wouldn’t work on it (I washed it before building!). The panel lines are engraved although somewhat heavy for the little scale. Decals went down fine, but I had many problems with the size and had to trim them while I couldn’t get a perfect cheat line on the right side of the model. Landing gear are a thing of fiction and the wheels are WAAAAY too small. You get a nice display stand with the kit though.

Model Data
Company: Eastern Express
Scale: 1:288
Aftermarket: none
Paints used: Mr.Paint (MRP-4 White, MRP-5 Black, MRP-38 Light Gray, MRP-42 Red, MRP-47 Dark Gray, MRP-105 USN Modern Blue Gray)
Alclad (ALC-101 Aluminum)

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Polikarpov Po-2VS

Po-2, also nicknamed ‘Kukuruznik’ and less known under its NATO designation ‘Maule’, was designed in the 1920’s and went into production in 1928. It is one of the most produced aircraft in the history with exact number unknown, but believed to be somewhere between 20.000 and 30.000 airframes. It’s initial purpose was for training new pilots, but the impending Second World War transformed the trainer into a light bomber, reconnaissance, liaison and psychological warfare aircraft. Initially designated as U-2, it was renamed into Po-2 after its designer, Nikolai Polikarpov, died in 1944. U/Po-2VS was a designation for militarized aircraft, which was armed with a rear facing machine gun for self protection and 4 bomb pylons that could carry 50kg or 100kg bombs. Its combat use has not ended with the fall of the German Reich though. During the Korean War, N. Koreans used Po-2s in similar fashion as the Soviets did during the WW2 and with some great successes. Po-2 is also the only biplane credited with a jet kill – USAF F-94 Starfire intercepted low and slow flying Po-2 and while trying to engage, the pilot of the jet fighter slowed below the stall speed and crashed.

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Night Witches

The Po-2 became most known by a group of women. In October 1941, Stalin issued an order to establish three women aviation regiments – a fighter, bomber and night bomber one. 588th NBAP, night bomber regiment, was the only to be an all woman regiment, including the ground crews. Consisting of young volunteers, 588th started their operations in the spring of 1942 and continued until the war was over. As of recognition to their success, they were later in 1943 renamed to 46th ‘Taman’ Guards Night Bomber regiment. They flew precision bombing as well as harassment sorties, denying German soldiers the well needed sleep. The standard procedure during those attacks was to switch of the engine, glide over the enemy positions, drop bombs and then retreat. These stealth attacks earned them a German nickname ‘Nachthexen’ – the Night Witches. 588th/46th was one of the most highly decorated aviation regiments of the WW2!

Commander: Yevodkiya Bershanskaya
Combat Missions: more than 24.000
Dates of service: 27 May 1942 – 15 October 1945
Theaters of operation: Donetsk, Mozdok, Terek Valley, Kuban, Krasnodar, Novorossiysk, Kerch, Sevastopol, Minsk, Warsaw, Berlin
Female pilots: 61
Female navigators: 63
Female staff and political officers: 24
Female ground crew: 99
Heroes of the Soviet Union: 24

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The kit

ICM released this kit in 2012. Although there has been KP and its copies on the market since at least 1975, a modern tooling Po-2 in 1:72 was long overdue. Plastic is molded really nicely with beautiful surface details, leaving KP kit literally 40 years behind. The fit of the kit is generally good, though one has to be careful with many tiny parts. Special care has to be taken with the vertical stabilizer assembly as it is molded extremely thin and the result is very weak attachment to the tail. The known mistake of this kit is its propeller – it is turned the wrong way – Quickboost offers a simple and cheap replacement. Rigging was done with Uschi Van Der Rosten 0.02mm elastic rigging thread – but looking at the reference photos, some bigger diameter might be better. Anyhow, this model was built for my lovely wife. She got interested in Night Witches upon hearing the song Night Witches by a Swedish metal band Sabaton, which you can hear in the below link.

 

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And here she is, proud owner of the Night Witches’ Po-2 model!mimi-1

Su-33 EggFlanker

A fun quick build to test the Su-33 line of Mr.Paint paints.

Hasegawa 1:egg scale Sukhoi Su-33 Sea Flanker.

Northrop XP-79B

XP-79B is one of the Northrop’s lesser known flying wing designs. Jack Northrop conceived the aircraft in 1942 as a rocket powered fighter, which would destroy enemy aircraft (primarily bombers) by ramming into them. The aircraft featured several advanced solutions – pilot would be flying in prone position to be able to sustain higher G loads, while the airframe would be constructed by welded magnesium instead of usual riveted aluminum, as the volatile rocket fuel would corrode the later too quickly.

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To test the radical design, several full scale glider models were built, which started testing in 1944. As the rocket testing turned out to be unsatisfactory, the aircraft was instead equipped with Westinghouse 19-B turbojets.

The first flight of the XP-79B was also its last. After days of taxi runs at Muroc Dry Lake (today’s Edwards AFB), the aircraft finally took off on 12th September 1945. 15 minutes into flight, the aircraft performed a slow roll, uncontrollably pitched nose down and crashed in vertical spin. Test pilot Harry Crosby attempted to bail out, but was hit by the tail and died on impact. As the result of the crash, the second prototype as well as the project were cancelled.

RS MODELS 1:72 Northrop XP-79B

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RS Models’ XP-79B is a typical short run kit. While not a multimedia kit, some experience is still needed to achieve best result. The surface of the plastic is not smooth – it actually reminds of a very fine sanding paper – some polishing is required before painting. Instructions call out for the Yellow Zinc Chromate as the interior color, but I guess Interior Green is safer bet. Another wrong color call out is for the exterior paint – RS Models suggest you paint the model white. A few available photos show that the surface was darker (compared to the white on the stars&bars), so I used a light grey, similar to the one used on P-80s. Construction is pretty straightforward and probably the most tricky part of assembly is the two-piece canopy. It was a two piece on the real aircraft as well, but the short run nature of the kit and the complex contour make a perfect fit almost impossible. Some blending in with a water soluble putty was required. Unfortunately due to the rather thick plastic and the curve, due to the light refraction, the join line is too pronounced.

Model was finished with Mr.Paint paints and finishes.