Kopro 1/48 Sukhoi Su-22M4 Fitter K
Model, Text and Photos by: Juan Solorzano
The box contains 122 pieces divided in
four large sprues of light grey plastic parts with one clear sprue containing
various lights, a HUD part and a choice of open or closed cockpit. The parts
have scribed panel lines but not as crisp and fine as last Revell-Monogram or
Hasegawa releases. The plastic is a bit soft and grainy, but in general the
surface detail is nice. See more comments below.
I started the construction with the cockpit. The cockpit looks very bare with only light engravings of spurious instrument detail. I cannot comment on the fitting of the kit cockpit because I replaced it with the excellent Cutting Edge Cockpit Super Detailing Set (CEC 48079).
The Cutting Edge cockpit set completely replaces the cockpit parts in the Kopro kit. The set contains cockpit tub, instrument panel, control stick, HUD and cockpit dashboard, canopy elevation mechanism base, nuclear flash curtain (folded), a K36 ejection seat, a K-36D (Type I) head box and one K-36DM (Type II) head box. The set also contains a photo etched set that contains a lot of parts to detail the cockpit even more as well as some antennas. It is really the best cockpit set for the 1/48 Kopro Su-22 available on the market in my humble opinion.
The kit fuselage sidewalls were thinned for the CE cockpit tub to properly fit. I did this using a cordless Dremel to expedite the process. Care must be taken if you use a Dremel to not overdo the thinning process. It should be done in small steps.
When I finally got the cockpit to fit correctly, I then started with the painting. I used a mix of Model Master Duck Egg Blue and Russian Interior Blue until I got a close match to the color in photos I was using as references. World Air Power Journal and 4+ Publication were my main references. Here are some pictures of the finished cockpit:
In this step, I used another great Cutting Edge resin set, the Su-22M Fitter Exterior Super Detailing Set (CEC48082). This is a rather simple conversion. It contains outboard wings, four speed brakes with their corresponding wells and actuators, inboard flaps, outboard flaps, inner wing inserts, rudder and rudder hinges, right and left outboard wing, right and left slats, and front and rear chaff dispensers. The detail has very crisp scribed panel lines overall and in general it matches what I had seen in pictures. This was the first time I used a resin conversion and if anyone wants to do the same, this is the right one to start with. The engineering of the set is also noteworthy, and fitting of the pieces to the kit is also trouble free.
I first glued the fin halves together and then cut the rudder away, including the rudder hinges. I then glued the resin rudder hinges to the resin rudder and then the rudder to the kit fin and put it aside for later assembly to the fuselage.
then cut away the kit speed brake wells. The good thing is that there are two
panel lines that can be used as a guide to establish one corner. Then I just
enlarge the square hole to fit the resin wells. See picture at right.
I then glued the resin wells in place from the inside of the fuselage. Cutting Edge designed the wells to very slightly protrude above the fuselage skin so that when superglue has cured the modeler could carefully file and sand the excess to exactly match the fuselage contours. That is exactly what I did.
Here is a picture of the finished wells and speed brakes.
The kit exhaust looked really a bit ragged. So I decided to use the Cutting Edge afterburner can & nozzle (CEC48080), which adds a lot of detail to the inside of the exhaust. The exhaust did not fit perfectly. I had to sand the inside of the fuselage to get the exhaust to fit properly, but much less then was necessary to fit the cockpit.
is no larger picture of this one, ed.)
The cockpit, along with the nose cone and exhaust were added to one of the fuselage halves before it was zipped together.
As most of you know, the main problem in the Kopro kit deals with the fuselage halves alignment, but I didn't find this really difficult to solve. As suggested by Cutting Edge Modelworks, I trimmed off all locations pins, but instead of gluing tabs of styrene along the fuselage, as suggested by CEM, I glued the two halves directly in small steps keeping both halves aligned in every step. What happened then is that one of the halves ended being a little bit longer than the other. I then trimmed the excess and problem solved. It worked for me. I took me about half an hour to glue cockpit, exhaust and the two fuselage halves. Patience really gives you the best results. Unfortunately, I do not have any in-process shots of this step. I then fully glued the fuselage halves using super glue and applied Gunze Mr. Surfacer 500, my favorite filler for small gaps. It works great. I then sanded it smooth and rescribed the panel lines that were removed by the sanding process and again put it aside to continue with the next step.
The next step was to cut the inboard wings flaps and associated structure. I also used the panel lines as a guide. I used a fine saw and a Xacto cutter to do it. Next I glued the top and bottom inboard wing halves together to glue the resin insert in place. See the following pictures.
Since the Kopro plastic is really soft, it is not necessary to install the resin wings before gluing the two inboard wing halves together. Instead I snapped the resin outboard wings in place inside the inboard wing structure.
Where I first found a problem was when I tried to glue the inboard wings to the fuselage. The joint of the wing halves at the wing root on top is aligned in both sides, but the one at the bottom part of the left inboard wing is not. An ugly step appeared when mated to the fuselage that sanding would not solve. I cut off the locating tabs on the wing root, cut a strip of about 1/16" of the bottom of mating surface between the inboard wing and the fuselage to make it thinner. I then glued both wings to the fuselage with the same angle, put filler on the mating surface and sanded it flat when dry. I then do the same with the kit fin. No problem there.
The front canopy:
next step was the attachment of the front canopy to the fuselage. Again the
fitting was petty good. I applied Gunze Mr. Surfacer 500 to the joint to eliminate
any seams and make the front canopy look as part of the fuselage as in a real
aircraft, sand it and polished it.
The small parts:
I now started gluing all the small parts to the fuselage. Antennas, resin chaff dispensers, and various scoops. I also replaced the cannon barrels with steel tubing. Moreover, since the undercarriage would be painted the same color as the bottom of fuselage, I also glued it. In this step I used most of what can be used from the Eduard photo etched set (External fuel tank details, main undercarriage details, rocket pods, heat exchanger outlet, pitot sensors, main boom, nose aerials and tail antennas). A note about this set: I used it because I had it already, but if you have the CE cockpit, the Eduard set is not really necessary. Most of the set is extra detail for the cockpit, which is mostly covered by the Cutting Edge resin set. Siren RHAW sensors in wing leading edge were scratch built.
Instructions provide some external stores variants based on what it is provided by the kit itself. I then looked some other variants on the Su-22 4+ publication and decided to use an attack layout. This variant included two air-to-air missiles R-60 (NATO AA-8 Aphid), two UB-32M/57 rocket pods, two external fuel tanks and two CH-58E (NATO AS-11 Kilter) anti-radiation missiles. Neither the Kilters nor the Aphids are provided by the kit, so I purchased two resin Kilter missiles from Cutting Edge Modelworks Soviet Smart Weapons Set #1 (CEC48004). The Cutting Edge missiles bodies are very nice molded with scribed panel lines, but the missile fins are really thin and hard to manage and have uneven dimensions and shape. I also borrowed two Aphid missiles along with their corresponding rails from an Academy Mig-29. A VJUGA system container BA-58 was scratch built since it is used for control of the AS-11 Kilter missiles.
The pylons are also added now. The fitting of the pylons to the inboard wings is really bad. The parts are not handed, as they should be so need a bit of carving, trimming and filling to get a good fit. In this case I used Gunze Mr. Filler, which is my favorite filler for bigger gaps. It could be removed with alcohol before it fully dries. The outer pylons seem to be like an extension of the aerodynamic fences and I tried to simulate that same look on my model. Some scribing was necessary also on those spots for the sanding involved. I added a pair of pylons to the bottom of the fuselage. These are supplied in the kit but not mentioned in the instructions. I put the Kilter missiles on these. I put the obligatory fuel tanks on the outer pylons and the rocket pods on the inner pylons. The air-to-air missiles were put between the fuel tanks and rocket pods.
Preparation for painting:
When all the small parts were glued, filled and sanded to the fuselage, I then washed the kit with mild soap and let it dry overnight. When it was fully dry, I applied the first coat of primer, but really thin. My favorite primer is Gunze Mr. Surfacer 1000. It dries fast and it is compatible with most paints. I have never had a problem using it. I then let it dry and looked for all the imperfections, seams or scratches, filled them with Mr. Surfacer 500 or 1000 depending on the seam and sand them smooth again. I repeated this step until I was satisfied with the surface of the model. However, I only applied primer to the surface I fixed in each step to finally apply the last thin coat of primer overall and let it dry overnight.
The next step was the painting. There are so many several painting schemes for the Fitter that it is hard to decide which one to use. In the end I decided to use the one shown on an artwork in the middle of World Air Power Journal volume 20. It is a yellow 27 of the 20th Fighter-Bomber Regiment based on Gross-Dollin Germany on April 1994. I used only the color scheme of that artwork, but used the kit decals; see comment on the next paragraphs. I used Model Master paints straight from the bottle. Military Brown FS 30117, Dark Tan 30219, European Green 34092 were used for the upper part and Model Master II Air Mobility Command Gray FS 36173 for the bottom part.
I let the paint fully dry overnight and
then I applied a coat of Floquil Hi-Gloss clear prior to applying the decals.
Before applying the decals I also highlighted the panel lines with black oil
paint wash. I did this by applying the oil paint in a small area of the model
using a brush, I let it there for about one or two minutes and then cleaned
it with toilet paper until all the paint gets out from the surface of the model
but not the one that gets into the panel lines. Of course I did the cleaning
perpendicularly to the panel lines. If it is not done that way, most of the
oil paint is removed from the scribed panel lines. After I finished highlighting
all the panel lines, I did a final cleaning with a cotton rag or t-shirt to
remove all the toilet paper waste. I have tried the cleaning of the oil paints
on top of gloss clear from other manufactures; however, I have gotten the best
result with Floquil Hi-gloss.
(Place picture_16 here)
Kopro provides two decal options. One for a Soviet Guards regiment with a shark mouth and the other for a Czech Air force machine as seen at the Fairford IAT a few years ago. I used the Russian version yellow 27. The decals are well printed by Propagteam. They are very thin but they adhere to the model really well. I would recommend that the larger decals be cut into sections to aid application. I applied Solvaset decal solution to improve adherence. I let the decals fully dry for one day, then cleaned any excess of decal solution with a soft and slightly wet rag or t-shirt and then applied two very thin coats of Floquil Railroad Colors Flat Clear.
The final step was to add all the missiles, fuel tanks, speed brakes and the canopy to the model. I also added the Equipage wheel hubs and rubber tires. They are very nice and accurate and you don't have to worry about painting the wheel hubs since they are made of a Russian green resin that matches pictures I have seen. One only has to drill a hole right on the center of the wheel hub. The location of the hole is already marked. Moreover, I sanded the rubber tires with 120-grit sandpaper to make them look old or used.
I also added a Part boarding ladder. It is very nice and really easy to assemble. It makes the model look more realistic. I would recommend using this one instead of the Eduard set.
Although I had heard really bad things about this kit, the kit was really fun to build and also gave me the opportunity to use resin accessories other than the cockpit. As most of you know, the main problem in the Kopro kit deals with the fuselage halves alignment, but I didn't find this really difficult to solve. The fitting of the rest of the parts is very acceptable. Patience really gives you the best results. I'm very happy with the final result.
Undoubtedly, the use of the Cutting Edge exterior detail was really easy and enhanced the kit a lot. The end result gave me confidence to put my hands on a SOL Su-35/37 conversion, but that would be another story.
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