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GWH Su-35S Flanker-E

FineScale Modeler reviews the 1/48 scale aircraft kit with beautiful surface detail
RELATED TOPICS: AIRCRAFT
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It is a great time to be a modeler of Russian aircraft! Kits of these subjects were, for a long time, kind of sparse and of dubious quality. Now they are coming thick and fast; it seems like every other week there is a new kit of something Russian, sometimes from more than one manufacturer! 

Such is the case with the Sukhoi Su-35. GWH has produced a superb kit of this powerhouse fighter. It comprises 286 well-molded plastic parts, including 48 clear parts divided into two identical sprues, differing only in the color — one comes with a gold tint. A fret of photo-etched brass and two sheets of decals complete the kit.

The instructions are printed on seven separate sheets, four for assembly, two for markings and decal placement, and one as an addendum to the others. Maybe I’m being picky, but this presented a small degree of frustration. Why didn’t GWH make the instructions a book that you could leaf through as you progress, instead of having to juggle numerous pages searching for the step you need?
 
Stunning describes the surface detail, which features various depths for recess to depict different types of surface details. For example, if a panel is removable, the engraved outline is deeper than that of two adjoining panels that are not removable. 

Accuracy is also spot on and the attention to detail by the kit designers is abundantly obvious throughout. The engineering of the parts is well thought out and the quality of molding matches that level of perfection. Many parts can be left off and attached at the end of the build making painting easy. I attached the vertical and horizontal tails and rear fuselage strakes after painting, decaling, and weathering were completed. That made painting metallic areas on the rear fuselage a snap.

The accurate, easy-to-build ejection seat includes a separate piece for the cushion with belts that attaches to the main seat cushion. It can be added after the seat and belts have been painted and weathered and produces a well-detailed miniature with little effort.

The nose radar assembly is provided and there isn’t a lot of extra detail that would need to be added to make it completely accurate. Again, I applaud the research and attention to detail of the kit’s designers. I omitted the radar from my model. The nose cone fits well without glue, which makes installing and displaying the radar easy.

The wheel-well detail blows every other kit I’ve seen out of the water. All of the pipes and hoses on the full-size aircraft are given as separate pieces to be installed in a particular sequence. Well done GWH!

The Su-35 features thrust-vectoring nozzles. Once assembled, the kit nozzles can be swiveled into any position appropriate for your desired display. The same applies to the elevons, but these are held in place with barbs and may be damaged with repeated moves.

I painted the camouflage with AKAN lacquers for Flankers. The decals performed flawlessly over a coat of clear gloss settling into recessed details perfectly.

The job of reviewing models is interesting; it is my job to point out both the positive and negative aspects of a particular kit, and also offer suggestions to make building that model easier. In this case, there really is nothing I can fault. GWH has really done a fantastic job with the Su-35 and it is easily on par with the best kits on the market; it may even set the bar for future releases.

Comparisons with the recently released Kitty Hawk Flanker-E — reviewed it in the October 2018 FSM — are inevitable. The GWH kit is simply stunning in terms of detail, accuracy, and buildability. The Kitty Hawk kit also is generally well detailed, but takes more effort to build and is not as cleverly engineered; it looks great once completed, but the road to get there is rougher. On the other hand, Kitty Hawk provides a large array of weapons, both air-to-air and air-to-surface, whereas GWH gives only a limited range of air-to-air missiles. Cost is the other consideration. Shopping around you can buy two Kitty Hawk Su-35 for the price of one from GWH. 

It is up to the modeler to decide: A less-expensive kit that ends up looking great but takes more effort to get there, or one that looks as good and builds easier but costs twice as much.

I really enjoyed building GWH’s Flanker from start to finish. I would happily build another either in the so-called eggplant camouflage or backdated to a preproduction jet in a splinter scheme. I’m going to have to budget for it though.


Note: A version of this review appeared in the December 2018 issue.

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