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Trumpeter 1/48 scale Sukhoi Su-15 TM Flagon F

Kit: No. 02811
Scale: 1/48
Manufacturer: Trumpeter, available from Stevens International, P.O. Box 126, Magnolia, NJ 08049, 856-435-1555,
Price: $49.95
Comments: Injection molded, 159 parts, decals
Pros: Good recessed panel lines, diplayable radar, good selection of underwing stores
Cons: Spartan cockpit interior, radome does not droop

Originally intended to intercept the U.S. Air Force's Mach-3 B-70, the Russian Su-15 was supposed to climb and fly faster than anything the West had, and do so in all types of weather. The Su-15 Flagon F was the follow-up to the Flagon A. It had a compound-taper wing instead of a straight delta, dual nose wheels, and an ogival radome instead of the conical one. The plane achieved infamy when one shot down Korean Airlines flight 007, a Boeing 747, in September 1983. Though no longer in service, Flagons are still impressive.

Trumpeter is starting to fill the void in injection-molded "Cold War" Soviet jet aircraft in 1/48 scale. This 159-piece kit is molded in slightly soft, light-gray plastic and comes in a sturdy cardboard box. All the panel lines are finely engraved. The clear parts are thin and have excellent canopy frames that make for easy masking and painting. The canopy is molded in two pieces, but it cannot be positioned open without some work. Underwing stores include AA-8 and AA-3 missiles, 800-liter fuel tanks, and Gsh-231 gun pods. You can pose the radome open to display the nice "Skip-Spin" radar, and you can open the speed brakes.

The 10-page instructions were easy to follow, except for determining the location of some of the many cooling scoops on the rear of the fuselage. The kit includes decals for two aircraft, one in natural metal, the other in a rare green-and-brown tactical camouflage.

Trumpeter's cockpit was disappointing - only a decal for the instrument panel and modest raised detail for the side consoles. The ejection seat was also Spartan.

The kit comes with full-length intake ducting and turbine faces that fit at the back end of the ducts. That's a nice touch, but cleaning the seams and ejector-pin marks inside is difficult. Be sure to follow the instructions and trim off the alignment tabs after gluing the ducts together or they will not fit properly in the fuselage.

After assembling and painting the cockpit, intake ducts, and nose-wheel well, I dry-fitted the fuselage halves. Everything seemed OK, so I glued the ducts to each half, set the nose wheel well on the right half, and then cemented the fuselage halves together, saving the cockpit for later. That turned out to be a good decision, because the cockpit sat too high when placed in its intended position, and the decking wouldn't fit. I had to sand the bottom of the tub and the top of the rear bulkhead to get the decking to fit.

The rest of the kit went together without problems. I had to pay attention to the speed brakes because the bottom ones are asymmetrical and would not fit in the top speed brake spaces or the opposing sides. The afterburner section is deep and impressive.

The trailing edges on the flying surfaces are thin. All control surfaces and flaps are molded separately and can be positioned. The horizontal stabilizers don't have much in the way of attachment points, and it's easy to install them out of kilter.

The only filler I used was around the nose wheel-well insert (part B-35) and on the radome's two sprue attachment points that were dislodged during shipping.

I painted my Flagon in the tactical camouflage scheme using the old AeroMaster acrylic Warsaw Pact colors. The camouflage instructions were somewhat hard to follow, as the tones in the diagrams were too similar. The decals went on well with Micro Sol, but my sample was printed slightly off-register and the red reveals white on some edges.

The finished model scales out right on the money according to my references. The radome should droop noticeably, but the kit's radome stands out straight. Next time I'll carve away plastic at the bottom of the forward fuselage to correct this.

If you are into 1/48 scale jets (especially Soviet ones), then I highly recommend this kit. I spent about 20 hours on mine, about normal for me. The 181Ú2"-long model looks impressive sitting next to other jets, Soviet or Western! I'll build another as soon as an aftermarket cockpit set is released.

Jon Hergenrother


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