Mini Hobby Models 1/48 Su-27M
This my Mini Hobby Models 1/48 Su-27M, finished as s/n 703 during its early days!
The Su-27M was designed by the Soviet Union as a multi-role successor to the strict air defense Su-27. The first prototype made its maiden flight in June 1988. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Sukhoi re-designated it as the Su-35, to attract export orders.
While sharing broadly the blended wing-body design of the Su-27, the Su-27M featured canards that improved the aircraft's maneuverability. Enhancing the already great maneuverability of the “standard” Su-27, The “M” was able to briefly fly with its nose past the vertical, while maintaining forward momentum. This could give the pilot a theoretical advantage as, during combat, he could pitch the Su-27M up 120 degrees in under two seconds and fire missiles at the target. Other notable visible changes to the stock Su-27 included taller vertical tails and provisions for in-flight refueling. Though the first examples retained the standard Su-27 single nose wheel, a two-wheel nose undercarriage to support the heavier airframe was later introduced.
Besides the increase in maneuverability, another feature that distinguished the Su-27M from the original design was the new weapons-control system, including phased-array radar with pulse-Doppler tracking that allowed it to detect targets below the horizon, transforming it from an air-defense fighter into a multi-role aircraft, capable of attacking ground targets. A self-defense radar was housed in the rearward-projecting tail boom, making the aircraft the first in the world to have such a radar. Of interest is that the addition of the canards was initially necessitated due to the extra front radar weight: engineers would only later discover the aerodynamic advantages of these devices!
Other changes to the aircraft included the use of uprated Lyulka turbofan engines and the increased use of lightweight composites and aluminum-lithium alloys in the aircraft's structure. The cockpit was also modernized, becoming a more “Glass” one. Finally, the characteristic windscreen fitted IR sensor was moved a tad to the right, to provide better pilot visibility.
While the original Su-27M never entered mass production due to a lack of funding, Sukhoi engineers refined the use of canards and thrust-vectoring technology and later applied them to the Su-30MKI two-seat fighter for the Indian Air Force. The tenth Su-27M (T10M-10) also served as a test-bed for the Saturn AL-41FS engine that was intended for the Su-57 jet fighter.
Awaiting the development of the Su-57 program, the Su-27 remained a very capable interim aircraft, which, though, was in almost desperate need of modernization. Thus, in 2003, Sukhoi made a second modernization attempt. Known as the Su-35s, this version had a completely redesigned cockpit and weapons-control system. It featured thrust-vectoring engines in place of the canards, which were deleted, to save weight. The dorsal air brake was likewise deleted, with air braking performed by differential rudder operation. The type made its first flight in February 2008, with the Russian Air Force becoming the launch customer in 2009. Interestingly, the Su-35s resembles the Su-27 more than the Su-27M.
One of the 14 Su-27Ms, the “703”, started its life painted at the more or less “standard” three tone blue gray scheme. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union it started making public appearances. Somewhere in the mid-90s, its camo changed to a more “splinter” looking one, keeping the same color shades, with a black “350” extra coding added to the fins at a later time. Today (as of 2021) the “703” is a proud member of the “Russian Knights” aerobatic team, accordingly painted!
This is the Mini Hobby Models (actually a former branch of Trumpeter, now everything is "Trumpeter") kit, marketed as "Su-35/37 Super Flanker". It essentially is a legalized copy of the 1/48 Academy Su-27B, with a few extras to do the Su-27M prototype. It is not totally accurate kit, as it does not address all the differences the "M" version incorporated. Nevertheless, it is a cheap kit that is not too difficult to put together and can result in a charming model.
Full build review at my beloved site Modelingmandness: