1/72 Sukhoi Su-47

'Operational' Berkut  

by Randy Foo

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This is a 1/72 scale model kit of the Russian Sukhoi OKB's fifth-generation fighter aircraft.  It is produced by Mini-Hobby Models (MHM).  Zvezda also has this kit in 1/72 (the Italeri version is a re-box of the Zvezda kit). The MHM version has decent panel line details and as an overall, the parts fitting are surprisingly good. Observed from a distance, it captures the shape of the aircraft nicely. However, there are a number of inaccuracies when observed closely on the details (discussed later), especially if you have reference materials to verify. Thankfully, most of these issues aren't obvious enough to deter you from enjoying it (of course, this can be a subjective matter!). The kit was built completely box-stock and at a leisurely pace over a period of 4 months. Though at certain stages of the build, there were rather "unleisurely" tasks to do.

For this kit, I imagined that the Berkut is now operationally ready and has been re-painted in a "zig-zag" camo scheme similar to the Ukrainian Su-27 Flanker. Unfortunately, the similarity ends here. I mixed a concoction of Gunze's Mr. Color aircraft colours but the end result was a dulled 3-colour camo scheme that I wasn't really satisfied with. I wished the colours were brighter. Also, I think I may have over-done the "zig-zag" camo patches (this being one of the painful and "unleisurely" tasks). The Sukhoi logos on each of the vertical tail fin is taken from the decal sheet of an Italeri Sea-Flanker aircraft kit. The kit is rather fragile, as I broke the canards at least twice during the process of painting and despite cementing them "dead on" to the body. I also broke the nose cone antenna even though it was the last part to assemble.

The Berkut (meaning "Golden Eagle") forward-swept wings hold several advantages over traditional swept-wing layout, one key factor being that the aircraft is virtually spin-proof. Like the Su-27 Flanker, the Berkut can also perform the famous "cobra" maneuver but at an even lower speed. In the tradition of Soviet/Russian aviation influence, the Berkut is another big bird. Even though the kit is in 1/72 scale, you would have easily mistaken it as another 1/48 aircraft kit. This model has roughly the same length as an 1/48 F-16 Fighting Falcon. As such, Sukhoi OKB made the right choice naming it the "Golden Eagle", for its sheer size, I meant. I always enjoyed the design and overall appearance of Soviet military aircrafts (from cold war period until today). Compared to their Western counterparts, Soviet military aircrafts are big, relatively less-refined in terms of workmanship, uniquely shaped (=beautiful!), equipped with radical technologies and built as tough as a tank.

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For the details, there are areas of the kit which I observed are incorrect. The most obvious being the exhaust nozzles. The nose cone antenna has more details than the real plane. The forward landing gear wheels have FOD covers which the real plane doesn't have. The only area that may be considered as poor, would be the cockpit and pilot figure. I think the cockpit instrument panel decals were wrongly printed (black areas are white, and vice versa). The pilot figure is too small at 1/72 scale (okay, I did said that the Berkut is a big fighter aircraft, but it is not that huge), the result being that the pilot's head is barely sticking out for the canopy view, and the front cockpit panels were too far away from arm's reach. It looked more like he is sitting in a long bathtub, and the shower taps are out of his reach! If you are bothered by this to the point that you can't sleep at night, NeOmega resin has replacement cockpit for the 1/72 Italeri/Zvezda kit which I think may fit the MHM version (no replacement pilot figure though). The air intake cones are separate parts that are not flush with the fuselage when assembled, and I had to putty and sand like a lot to make them flush with the main body.

A very useful reference book would be "Sukhoi S-37 and Mikoyan MFI" by Yefim Gordon. Inside the book contain colour photos of most of the pictures you can find on the web and more.

In conclusion, this is a "do-able" kit, and a large one considering that it is only in 1/72 scale. More importantly, the Berkut is a beautiful aircraft that also provides the technological foundation for the future of Russian military aviation. So if you enjoy building Soviet/Russian military model aircraft, don't miss out the Berkut.

Credits:
- Thanks to Adam Ning for the spare Flanker decals and general aircraft modelling tips.

Randy

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Photos and text by Randy Foo