Finishing the Sukhoi Cold War Jets

IMG_20150919_111537Long time followers of our Blog will recall that back in October 2013 we started a project two build to 48th scale Sukhoi fighter bombers from oldish Eastern European kits: the Kopro Su-17M3 and the OEZ Su-7BKL/BKM. I chose to build the SU-7BKL and update the Kopro to the Su-22M4 marque. I have posted several updates here over the last two years with the last being in October 2015 at which time we had just begun the pre-shading of the two models.

IMG_20151005_091859At this late stage I spotted we had a few popped seams on the drop tanks. This has been a long running issue for me because of my very slow build rate. The solvents used in the glue seem to be active for several years. Many modellers probably don’t notice it but if you glue your kit together and then wait a couple of years to go back to it you may well find that the seams have become visible again. So there was nothing else I could do but crack open the Mr Surfacer and apply with the detailed areas masked off. Even so it is extremely hard to sand the surfaces down without the seam showing through again. Sooner or later you have to say “sod it” and crack on regardless.

IMG_20151008_163321_hdr_editI bought the Flightpath 48th scale MiG-23 Flogger Access Ladder which, despite the name, is actually a generic ladder used across multiple Russian aircraft types for nearly fifty years. It matches the one used on the Su-7. The only problem was that the copper used was so thick that this was the hardest piece of photoetch I have ever tried to bend. It was almost unworkable. But after some brute force and swearing I finally got it into shape. It is the right size and shows how the kit ladder is so hopelessly over-sized.

IMG_20151009_102010Soon primary painting started with the light blue undersides on both aircraft. It is possible that both have the same light blue colour but I stuck to the instructions and used an Xtracolor FS15414 Blue [X127]  for the Su-22 and a Humbrol blend [10% Humbrol 89 Matt Middle Blue & 90% Humbrol 147 Matt Light Grey] for the Su-7. I cocked up on the latter and had the paint ratio inverted. So later on I misted-on the lighter grey colour as a panel in-fill to get the right shade and effect. Under-wing ordnance (that will later get metallic Alcad II finishes) had a coat of Humbrol Gloss Black 21.

IMG_20151015_122140At this point I removed the horrible vinyl masks supplied by Cutting Edge (their “Black Magic” set) and scrubbed off the yucky adhesive they used. I bought the Eduard masking set that had been released for the Smer re-release of the old Kopro kit. Once done I cracked on with masking and painting the upper side camo colours. This started with the Sand colour on the Su-7 [Humbrol 63 Dark Sand Brown FS30257) and the very light green on the Su-22 [FS34087 for which I used Humbrol 155]. Several thin coats were used. Next was the dark reddish brown for the Su-22 for which I used a White Ensign Models WEMCC ACS16 WW2 Soviet VVS AII (DARK) BROWN paint which seemed to be an ideal match. The undercarriages on both aircraft were painted Humbrol 147.

IMG_20151018_122141Next I started to roll up the Blu Tac to mask for soft edges on the upper camo of both planes. The Green paint that dominated both camo schemes seems to be FS14079 Forest Green Vietnam for which I used the Xtracolor X110. Although they give a gloss finish these enamels also yield a toffee apple finish which requires considerable rubbing down afterwards. Next in the spray booth was a large amount of ground equipment which include the Quickboost FOD guards for the Su-22 as well as Aerobonus 480 048 Soviet Weapons Loading Cart and the AMC 48113 Aerial bomb cart. I used Humbrol 60 Matt Scarlet on the FOD whilst all the ladder and wot not got a coat of Humbrol Gloss 18 Orange.

IMG_20151022_140053I had an Aerobonus 480 120 “Soviet Pilot – the Cold War period”, so I had assembled & painted this little guy at this stage. I really do not like figure painting as I simply cannot paint faces. But what the heck. Next up I painted the Aerobonus 480 002 MDD-3 Soviet Bomb Racks and the Eduard Brassin OFAB-100 Soviet bombs. The rack is Humbrol 147 shaded with a little Humbrol 64 whilst the bombs were a Duck Egg Blue for which I probably used White Ensign Models WEMCC ACS06 WW2 Soviet VVS IMUP blue-grey metal primer. Then I painted the black component on the Su-22 camo for which I used the White Ensign Models ACS04 AII/AMT Black.

IMG_20151031_164242The tail of this Su-22 has a yellow lightning bolt on a black background which was on the Karaya decal sheet although I didn’t think that would work well. So I photocopied the decal and cut out paper templates. I first painted the vertical tail and overall yellow Humbrol 99 Lemon before masking with self-adhesive frisket onto which I had cut out the lightning bolt using the paper mask. The result was good enough as picture of the real aircraft shows there was an amount of sloppy over-spray on the application! Then we moved on to mask for the Alclad II that would be applied to the engine area & chaff/flare strakes on the Su-22 as well as around the wing guns/fuselage area. After a bit of research I decided not to do this for the Su-7 as many airframes went without and it saved me a job. Alclad got added now to all areas including the rocket launchers for which I was using the Eduard Brassin set 648 025 (UB-16 and UB-32). I used several shades of Alclad II. It dries quick allowing some post-shading to be applied right after to good effect. The Su-7 kit tanks were also bare metal.

IMG_20151106_090450I now returned to paint inside the intake lip at the nose of both Sukhois. The lip appears to be light grey for several scale-inches inside before appearing to be an Olive Drab colour. It took some careful masking to get it right! I airbrushed some Tamiya X-23 Clear Blue around the rear of the Su-22 fuselage over the Alcad II metal finish as the Su-22 shows a hot metallic blue effect there. Next up I masked & airbrushed the bright green colour used on the wheel hubs and dialectic aerial airframe covers. This was FS24110 but you can use Humbrol 2 Emerald as it is quite close. There is also the Soviet Wheel Hub Green X628 by Xtracolor if you like. The effect is pretty bright but I will tone this down later with a filter.

IMG_20151108_174317Now I moved on to create the two display bases for which I found chopping boards of Amazon fitted the bill. They had to be big but fit in my display case. In the end I had to run them through my bench saw to remove a few millimetres of each end before they fitted! I then gave them a French Polish to bring out the grain and colour before applying pre-printed tops [“Airbase Tarmac Sheet”] from Noys Miniatures [Soviet PAG-14 & Soviet Hex]. I picked out the tar joints between the concrete pads with undiluted black oil paint and set them aside to dry for a couple of months. It dries eventually! I then applied some static grass here and there as well as my favourite grass tufts by Joefix.

IMG_20151129_123156It was time to detail paint the undercarriage bays so it was time for the optivisor and the finest brushes I had – and a lot of patience! I picked out the wiring in black before Humbrol 67 Tank Grey (as a “scale black”) on top. Then I removed all the masking from the glazing and replaced it with PVA glue. This was just to save my paranoia about the kabuki adhesive going off. The PVA will last forever and not hurt the plastic. Since camo painting was finished I didn’t need a hard edge either so the PVA just protects the canopies from the gloss stage. Then everything got a good rub down the Micromesh. I also took this time to perform any other detail painting around the  models. Now I was ready for a bit of preliminary weathering for which I used ground up soft pastel dust applied with a small stiff brush. This gives reasonable results on dark colours and certainly is less painful than using an airbrush. This was all sealed in with a coat of Klear.

IMG_20151229_152116I applied some Chrome Bare Metal self adhesive foil to the oleo struts of the nose undercarriage legs – a bit of a quick cheat! Now I was ready to apply the decals. I started on all the various odds and sods lying around the bench – the weapons, the flaps, the slats, the weapons launchers and so on. If I didn’t have anything on the main decal sets I used something from the spares box to approximate what I could see on the pictures. I had the L Decals Studio set 48010 for the Polish Su-22M4 stencils but it fell massively short of what is required so I culled the rest (oddly enough) from the original kit decal sheet – that was in many respects better! I also applied some decals to the wheel chocks for which I was using HAD Models set PE48001 & 448001. The former is for “MiG-29 and other Russian Planes” whilst the latter is for just “Mig-29” – however both are suitable for the Polish Su-22 as they operate both types.

IMG_20151231_144739Before long I was onto the Hi Decal Line set 48-012 that has seven different aircraft on it for Su-7BKL and BKM from multiple nations. I chose the one from the Krasnodar Training Centre 1975 – Red 57. I had read advice in the Ammo model-making techniques encyclopaedia that you should remove all the outer decal film from the larger transfers… BUT I had also once read (many years ago) that you should NOT do this. So I tried it and it was not a success as the edges of the red 57 wanted to break up and flake away. This technique might work for some decal sheets but NOT the Hi Decal Line set. So beware! I did not repeat this error with the Karaya set for Polish Su-22M4.

IMG_20160105_110504At this late stage I noticed that I had failed to paint the inner wing weapons pylons grey on the Su-22. A funny over-sight so I masked them and gave them a dose of Humbrol 147. I took this chance to mist a heavily thinned Humbrol 147 over the other weapons pylons and bomb racks where I had applied decals. I also cut the mix with a little gloss varnish to ensure it was transparent enough. This gave a filter effect and toned down the decals that look just too bright and contrasty otherwise. Emboldened by my filter effect I did the same thing to the underside of the Su-22 using a thinned down version of the same paint used for the primary underside – Xtracolor FS15414 Blue [X127]. This really helped to blend in the national insignia which would be too bright otherwise. The same was done top side with FS14079 Forest Green which also got applied over the decals on the both kits. However I used a thinned Sand colour Humbrol 63 on those areas top side of the Su-7. This all gave a very pleasing blending effect – an airbrushed filter.

IMG_20160108_131507We were in the home straight now. Just time to seal everything in with a coat of Klear before whacking in some washes using the Panel Line Washes by Ammo of Mig Jiminez. Black Night was quite useful but I also used a dark grey (“Dirt Blue”) on the white & blue areas whilst a different stone grey was used on the black. The best impact I got with washes was on the undercarriages which responded well to a combination of Raw Umbar oil paint thinned with white spirit and the Ammo Black Night panel line wash. This really helped to make those details pop. All the ground equipment, ladders, bombs, weapons and tanks got a pin wash too before everything was sealed in with a final coat of Humbrol clear satin. I used a Brown wash from Flory Models on the Su-7 upper-side. I prefer this, but due to its consistency it cannot be easily run into panel lines by capillary action. It has to be brushed directly onto each so it best applied to wide open areas where the excess is easily wiped off later.

I removed all the accessories from their cocktail sticks and painted over by hand any areas left unpainted where they had been stuck to the cocktail stick with PVA. Then, after a final few photos it was time for final assembly. Superglue gel is a godsend in this case and the whole thing came together pretty quickly on January 16th 2016.

This project started on October 27th 2013 so it has been two years and two months – or thereabouts. Not too bad as my three Shturmoviks took three years to complete. But I am still averaging one year per kit! Still, in the time it took to build this may daughter and I built several other kits and I was working on the

DeAgostini Millennium Falcon. So, not too bad. I am pleased with the result although it has been a long arduous journey. It is hard work getting these old eastern European models from the 1990s up to scratch. There was a lot of aftermarket to throw at them but you still need to scratch-build items and corrections. I found a resin undercarriage set released AFTER I spent months super-detailing that area from scratch. You have to laugh! Then, as if the add insult to injury Hobbyboss announce completely new tooled releases for 2016 which includes Su-17UM3 and Su-17M4 in 48th scale.

Just for completeness here is a full listing of the aftermarket I used (where not mentioned above):

  • Eduard photoetch set 48 456 & 48 407 Su-7 interior and exterior
  • Eduard photoetch set 48 457 Su-7 wheel well doors
  • Cutting Edge Su-22 exterior super detailing set
  • Cutting Edge Black Magic canopy and wheel hub masking set for Su-22 CEBM48185
  • Eduard Mask set EX479 for Su-22M4
  • Part photoetch set S48-014 for Su-22M4
  • Eduard photoetch set 48 173 Su-22M4
  • Armory AR AW48007 wheels for Sukhoj Su-7BKL
  • Eduard Brassin set 648 082 R-60/AA-8 Aphid air-to-air missiles
  • Part photoetch crew boarding ladder for Su-22M4
  • Eduard Brassin 648 024 Su-7 ejection seat
  • Quickboost air scoops sets 48 149 & 515
  • Neomega Cockpit set C19 for Su-17/22
  • HAD Models Fire Extinguisher 148001

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