1/32 scale scratch conversion
Trumpeter's 1/32 scale Su-27UB Flanker C is available online from Squadron.com
This model, like many in my checkered past, arose from idle chatter during a typical Saturday lunch gathering at AAA Hobbies in Atlanta. The subject was what one could do with the Trumpeter 1/32 Su-27 that would be different, but still allow the use of as much as possible of the already-acquired aftermarket accessories. The Su-27KUB was suggested, but it took several months of marinating before construction was actually started. What follows is the rest of the story.
For those who may not be current with Russian aircraft, the Su-27KUB is a carrier-based naval aircraft which first flew in April, 1999. it appears that only one was built, but that is open for correction. The aircraft is, essentially, a twin-seat version of the single-seat Su-27K deck fighter and, like that aircraft, has canards, but also has a side-by-side configuration that is similar to the Su-34. The KUB, however, has a typical Su-27 radome instead of the “flatnose” of the Su-34. The KUB, if built in quantity, will probably be used for both training and combat strike purposes.
As usual in my little diatribes, the text will be supplemented by the photos which should help to clarify things.
As with most prototypes, nearly every picture will show some differences, if you look hard enough, and the KUB was no exception. Therefore, if someone spots some potential errors, there is probably some picture that will validate the mod. The other alternative, of course, is that I am wrong, but that possibility will not be discussed further.
The idea for starting with the new cockpit area was to make sure that the conversion could be done, which would, in turn, help to assure that an expensive kit would not be sliced and diced unnecessarily.
The first job was to carve a mold for the new forward upper fuselage and canopy. The mold was then vacuum-formed twice, once in clear and once in white styrene. The moldings were then cut and sanded to shape. The interior and nose wheel well were next because they are closely related to the cockpit because the crew enters through a hatch in the nose well. Although an Aires nose wheel well was used, it had to be highly modified for the twin nose wheels of the KUB and the mounting arrangements for the new semi-scratchbuilt dual nose wheel leg.
An opening was made in the resin well, and a hatch and boarding ladder were built from brass to match (the crew entered through the wheel well).
A set of CAM K-36 ejection seats were used, and a separate mold was made for the large glare shield. Side consoles were made from balsa. Additional detailing was carried out until I got tired.
The next project was to begin modifications to the wings, which were far more extensive than I at first thought. Essentially, it is a new wing, being larger in chord and span, with different flaps and ailerons. The kit wings were cut apart both span and chord-wise and wooden additions superglued between them. New control surfaces (flaps, slats, ailerons) also had to be made, along with the wingfolds, which were moved considerably outboard on the KUB. After all the sanding, filling, etc., I am now sure that it would have been much easier to scratch build a new wing.
Because of the weight of the modified wings, a long piece of the largest diameter brass tubing that would fit was inserted through the fuselage to act as a strengthening spar. The photos will give an idea of the amount of work necessary. I elected to use the Zacto intakes, which required some fiddly sanding to fit properly and allow for the correct placement of the main landing gear legs.
The same thing has to be said for the Aires wheel wells and, while I am on the subject, the Aires burner cans were a fat 1/16 inch too small for the fuselage openings. Mine are therefore a combination of the Trumpeter forward portions and the Aires rear portions.
The main gear legs are essentially the kit pieces with some minor changes to accommodate the Zacto intakes, and some detailing to match the photos I had. As noted earlier, the KUB has dual nose wheels, so modifications had to be made to the kit leg and new wheels of the appropriate size were scrounged from the scrap box.
New horizontal stabilizers were made from 1/8 inch basswood, since it was easier than modifying the kit pieces. Brass and aluminum tubing was used to locate and attach the new stabilizers and the vertical fins.
A tailhook was scratchbuilt and appropriate mountings made for its mountings. The IR sensor in front of the windscreen was made from plexiglas rod and a pitot tube from aluminum tubing and injection needles.
Lots of other little things required attention, but in some ways, this a model that would not be finished. There always seemed to be “a few” more things to be done before starting the painting and, in fact, two other models were built during breaks from this beast. And it is a beast; the sheer size caused all kinds problems getting access to anything, and painting was an “interesting” exercise.
Ah yes, the paint. I had often viewed models and pictures of primer-painted aircraft and thought that it might be fun to try one. Well, yes and no. On this aircraft, there are lots of colors to deal with and I suspect that I went through the better part of an entire roll of tape. There were several instances, in fact, of 3 hours of masking and 30 seconds of spraying. That’s modeling.
A mix of every kind of paint you can think of was used for one thing or another, Gunze, White Ensign, Tamiya, etc., but I used plain old Testor’s yellow chromate for the biggest area, which worked very well (I used to buy those little square bottles for 29 cents). Nostalgia city. Again, the sheer size made the painting a real battle, and in fact, I had to keep fixing dings in the nose cone because I kept hitting it on the workbench. It was mostly tucked under my arm to do most anything. The final coat was Floquil Flat Finish.
In summary, this model was one I was very glad to finish. I haven’t yet decided if I even like it, but I do know that I am not real anxious to do another one of this size. Of course, there is the F-15E waiting downstairs...
Text and Images Copyright © 2009 by Frank Mitchell
Page Created 3 April, 2009
3 April, 2009
Back to HyperScale