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Sukhoi Su-15TF 
"Flagon F"

by Phil Brandt


Sukhoi Su-15TM "Flagon F"

images by Milton Bell


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I remember studying the Flagon during our periodic Intel briefings in the 391st TFS. At the time it seemed like just another one of those relatively little known Soviet fighters with tiny canopies and big fuselages and radomes, lugging gigantic air-to-air missiles with the aid of monstrous engines. Then, that pesky little shootdown incident with KAL 007 did tend to heighten the Flagon's profile in the NATO community!



The Model


The Polish firm, HitKit, has done at least two 1/48 Soviet jet fighters in vacuform/metal, the Su-22M-4 Fitter K and the Flagon. I tossed my partially completed Fitter as soon as Kopro's injected kit hit the streets, but elected to slog ahead with the known drawbacks of the Flagon, since the Collect-Aire resin kit hadn't even been announced. The Flagon kit offers at least three versions, including a two-seat trainer. I chose the definitive, late model TM, or NATO "F."



HitKits are relatively complete, but use fairly thin plastic sheet that require scratchbuilt framework to support fuselage shells and wing halves. I used a central fuselage keel, and boxed-in maingear wells added requisite strength to the wings. Additionally, the engraving is fairly deep and irregular, making for lots of fun when preparing the surface prior to applying NMFs. The many metal castings are rough and not well done; I substituted injected parts from other kits as much as possible.

One significant feature of the Flagon airframe is the canted intakes, and HitKit simply ignores this very noticeable design element. Bondo didn't, and the surgery to correct this was the single most arduous task among many in the project.

The vac cockpit was deep-sixed, and a modified Aires Mig-21 resin tub installed--the excellent Aires release can be adapted to other cockpit-challenged kits also. The Aires Mig-21 instrument panel was also used, modified with a scratchbuilt radar scope and other black boxes on top of the coaming to more closely match the Flagon. For a short time, Squadron advertised a KS-3 aftermarket resin seat (the proper one for the Flagon), and I jumped on the deal, adding the seat and back cushions with harnesses from the True Details resin KM-1 seat.



The OEZ Su-7 kit furnished a wealth of injected parts for kitbashing and detailing: speedbrakes and wells, main gear struts and wheels, pitot tube, pylons and even the crew ladder (modified)! KMC resin Flanker exhaust tubes were trimmed to just barely fit into the fuselage holes. Underfuselage gun pods were scratchbuilt, as were the prominent, red-tipped stabilator damper "spears." The nosegear strut was kitbashed from various Western fighters, and I think (certainly you can't expect the elderly to remember everything!) I used F-4 nosewheels.



Painting and Markings


With so much Blue Acryl lacquer putty on the airframe, finishing prep was a bear, requiring many iterations of putty, sanding and lacquer priming. Four shades of my personal favorite metallizer, Alclad II, were airbrushed, with many panel-masking drills between shades. 



The HitKit decal sheet was fairly nice, offering different color and number options. The light colors were not sufficiently opaque, though, so I underlaid the desired black-trimmed yellow numbers with the white ones also included on the sheet. I went first class with white-trimmed red star insignia from an Aeromaster sheet. Natural metal-finished Soviet fighters are often seen with a fair amount of stained panels,dirty panel lines and highly contrasting fasteners. Accordingly, I didn't stint on the burnt umber wash.





I'm happy to have finally completed this Polish vacuform odyssey, but if I had it to do all over again, and if the Collect-Aire kit had been released, I'd have shelled out the righteous bucks for the resin, instead of the seeming endless punishment I took doing my vacuform 'thing.' 



But, then a week later, I look up on the shelves at all those esoteric vac kits that won't be done in injected form in my--or your--lifetimes, and I'm ready again for another "Bondo beating."

Phil Brandt IPMS 14091



Additional Images


Click the thumbnails below to view the images full-sized


Model and Text Copyright 2001 by Phil Brandt
 Images Copyright 2001 by Milton Bell
Page Created 17 May, 2001
Last Updated 04 June, 2007

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