Azerbaijani Su-17M3 'Fitter-H'
Hi everyone! Here's my latest finished project, the Modelsvit 1:72 Su-17M3 built in the interesting splinter camo of Azerbaijani Air Force.
ukhoi Su-17 series developed from the fixed wing Su-7 – the latter having poor low speed handling and the variable sweep wing on the -17 series improved this dramatically. First versions of Su-17 entered Soviet Air Force in 1970 and thus becoming the first swing-wing aircraft in Soviet inventory. The ground-pounder became very popular and was exported to many countries and saw combat action all around the globe. Several countries still use the type today, including Poland and Peru.
Su-17M3 evolved from the revised Su-17UM twin-seater, but instead of the second cockpit, it carries another fuel tank and some additional electronics in the enlarged hump. Doppler radar from the M2 was moved internally, air-to-air missile pylons were added under the wings and laser rangefinder/designator installed in the nose cone. Production of this variant lasted from 1976 until 1980 and almost a 1.000 were built.
Unfortunately I have not found a lot of information regarding Azeri Fitters. I would assume they remained in Azerbaijan after the collapse of Soviet Union in late 1991. The four aircraft were sent in 2003 to Ukraine for overhaul but have seen little use upon returning to their home base and were put into reserve.
I have to admit, I love the Fitter family – not matter if it's a fixed wing Su-7 or the swing wing -17, they have this kind of purposeful and powerful image to them that attracts me to them like moth to a flame. I guess part of this fascination comes from the fact, that I did take care of a museum Su-7 for a couple of years. So, when I've seen Modelsvit started expanding their -17 range, I was more than thrilled. Getting the kit, it struck me, as how much this small short-run company has advanced in just a few years. When I built their Su-7BM a few years back, I was really excited, as it was a new tool, fit well and looked great! I have to say that this new kit sets the quality bar really high – not just for short-run kits but injected moulded kits in any scale!
The level of detail in this kit is better than in 1:48 KittyHawk and HobbyBoss Su-17 kits! Just check the in-progress post! The fit is really good throught and the only problem that I've had were main wing fences (again check the in progress post) and even they were sorted out with some patience. And that's not all – Modelsvit include a thin foil masks in the kit (for both inside and outside of transparencies plus doppler radar, gun blast areas,…) and a small photo-etched fret which includes counter-measures dispensers and several antennas and aerials. There are also options to pose airbrakes open or closed and the canopy comes in single part for closed option or divided into windshield and canopy for open position. Marking options include several Soviet Air Force machines that fought in the Afghanistan war in 1980's. While I initially planned to build one of those war horses, I've stumbled upon a photo of Azerbaijani M3 with a striking splinter camouflage and upon finding Linden Hill decals for it, the decision was easy. I also chose to replace the plastic/PE combo of complicated pitot tube with new Master Model pitot tubes, which really improve the overall look of the model.
If you like Fitters, Soviet aircraft, or if you're just looking for a first foray into the world of short-run models, I can't say anything else but – GO FOR THIS KIT! You won't be disappointed!