Quarterscale Furtive Fighter

Russian Fifth-Generation Fighter SU-57

Zvezda 1/48, Ref. 4824

It’s a massive box that comes from the East, full of 249 parts in transparent and medium grey plastic, including two main parts representing an almost complete, almost 42cm long, aircraft.  Also in the box, two large decal sheets, a instruction booklet and a separate full-colour painting guide.

The bottom half of the fuselage is however largely missing since the weapon bay, main air intakes and main landing gear bays are separate items.  A large number of stores can be hung inside the weapon bay and/or on the underside of the wings.  The landing gear wells are not particularly detailed (pretty blank in fact for the nose gear bay), but little, if any, will be visible in any case.   On the other hand, landing gear legs and wheels are nicely detailed.

The cockpit is a bit bland, but a number of decals will liven up things, as will the 6-part ejection seat and the 4-part pilot. 

The main air intakes have each their long curved trunking leading to the compressor faces; each trunking is made up of two parts, with joints that may be difficult to eliminate.  There are two options for the (rather well-detailed) exhaust cans, with the possibility of leaving them on the horizontal plane or slightly drooped.

Annoyingly, as can be seen here below, there are a few places where the plastic has caved in, and his will require some remedial work.

Nice touch, Zvezda have included a very nice cockpit access ladder to the kit.

Three painting options are offered: the 9th prototype (T-50-9) that first flew in November 2016, the 10th prototype (T-50-11) that first flew in August 2017 and became the standard for the production series, and a production-series Su-57, all in two-tone digital camouflages.  The great majority of the decals are stencils, meaning silvering could be an issue.

No doubt update and upgrade resin and metal sets will come to improve this lovely kit that is still a little ‘basic’, probably because of the newness and restricted nature of the real aircraft.

Review by Domi Jadoul, pictures by Domi Jadoul and Zvezda


Persian Midget

Iranian Ghadir class submarine

OKB Grigorov 1/350, Ref. 350012

The twelfth release from OKB Grigorov in their rather successful 1/350 naval range is the minute Ghadir-class sub, a class of midget submarines built by Iran specifically for cruising within the shallow waters of the Persian Gulf.  ‘Minute’ or ‘midget’ is relative of course, the real sub is still 29m long, and can still carry two torpedoes and or anti-ship missiles.  As one would expect, few other details are advertised by the operators!

OKB Grigorov’s kit comes in a tiny box and a typical mixed-media form, with three resin parts and nine photo-etched parts (plus a photo-etched display stand). The quality of the resin casting is faultless, the hull is well-detailed (for the scale), but a small instruction sheet would have been helpful for the placement of the smaller resin and metal parts.  

A quality kit of a rather rare and exotic fish!

Review and pictures by Domi Jadoul


The Show must go on!

The IPMS Belgium 2021 National Convention, aka Plastic & Steel, is set to take place, for the tenth time already (it would have been the 11th edition but for Covid-19) in Affligem, on 2-3 October 2021.

Affligem is a Belgian town about 15km to the north-west of Brussels, easily accessible via the E40 motorway between Brussels and the North Sea coast. The venue is only 1 minute away from the motorway exit, with plenty of free car parking space.

Club & trader registration is now open via the Plastic & Steel website, don’t delay too long, as even with a larger exhibition space than in 2019, being what could be one of the first major scale model show to take place in a year in a half, it’s likely to get full really fast!

More info at www.plasticandsteel.be

Smaller Tracks

Tracks for T-72, Tiger, Panther & KV

OKB Grigorov 1/100, Ref. S100001, S100004, S100005 & S100002

Good news for those hooked by Zvezda’s 1/100 AFV kits, OKB Grigorov has started a range of updates for those lovely little kits, starting with resin tracks for the T-72 MBT and Tiger, Panther and KV tanks.  Excellent quality, as is usual from this Bulgarian artisan.  Care will be required to remove the tracks from their resin runners, but the extra work will be worthwhile. 

Review and pictures by Domi Jadoul.www.shop.okbgrigorov.com

Farewell Mirage

Mirage 5 BD BD12 ‘Mirage Farewell’ Belgian Air Force 1993

Syhart 1/48, Ref. 48-121 & 1/72, Ref. 72-121

When the Mirage 5 were retired from the Belgian Air Force, a two-seater, BD12, was given a neat overall silver livery adorned with the badges of the squadrons that flew the delta-winged aircraft.  This particular aircraft entered service in June 1971 and was retired in January 1994, to be sold to Chili as ‘725’, where it is now an exhibit at the Aera Cerro Moreno air base in Antofagasta.

French artisan SyHart has had the excellent idea to offer us a decal sheet, in 1/48 and in 1/72, for this specially decorated aircraft. This is a relatively small and simple sheet that includes all special markings and the ‘stencils’ that were left on the aircraft after repainting.  The ‘SyHart’ quality is definitely there.

The recommended kits are, in 1/48, the Mirage III BE/D/DE/DS/D2Z from Kinetic (Ref. K48054) and in 1/72, the Mirage III BE/DS/D2Z/5BD from PJ Productions, to be used along with the MB Mk.10 ejection seats from the same Belgian artisan (Ref. 721210).

Review by Daniel Clamot, pictures by SyHart.


Thai Delights

Royal Thai Army 1930-45

Black Lion Decals 1/72, Ref. BLD72064

It’s a very interesting new decal sheet that Black Lion Decals have just released, featuring markings for several armoured and non-armoured military vehicles operated by the Thai army between 1930 and 1945.  There are a few ‘usual suspects’ amongst the covered subjects, such as the Vickers 6ton and the Carden-Lloyd tankette that made up a large part of the Army vehicles before the outbreak of WW2, and the Japanese Ha-Go as seen in 1945, but the sheet also covers some far more exotic subjects that may require some scratch-building or conversion work on existing plastic, resin and/or metal kits. 

The markings are printed on a continuous decal sheet and require careful cutting out, one by one.  A coat of Klear (or similar clear varnish) should be applied before the cutting out start as the decals are very thin, but therefore fragile.

Review by Domi Jadoul; pictures by Black Lion Decals.


Anti-Aircraft Sewing Machine

Soviet Self Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun

ZSU-23-4M Shilka

Zvezda 1/35, Ref. 3635

Here is a great addition for those interested in Soviet armour, even if it’s not the first one on the market, since Meng released a 1/35 Shilka back in 2016.  The lower retail price of this new kit is certainly a major incentive if considering the making of this vehicle at this scale.

‘Shilka’ is the name of a River in Russia. ‘Zeus’, derived from ‘ZSU’ is a common nickname for the vehicle but it is also known as the ‘Sewing Machine’ because of the noise made by its guns.

Upon opening the box, one finds 6 rather large sprues, plus the bottom hull, cast in a medium grey plastic, plus a decal sheet, a piece of nylon thread for the tow cable and one transparent part for the driver’s windshield.  If the kit appears well designed an shows some really nice details, it can be regretted that an ejection ring mars the inside face of each and every one individual track links, 192 of them… Certainly many will be hidden but concealing the others will take time.

No less than six options are offered with the decal sheet, two Soviet machines (1987 and 1988), plus one each for Russia (2002), East Germany, Hungary and Viet-Nam.  With over 6,500 Shilkas built, having operated in over 40 countries since the late 1960s, the number of other possibilities is almost limitless!

Review by Domi Jadoul, pictures by Domi Jadoul and Zvezda


SF-260 Bible

SIAI Marchetti SF-260, Flying with Air Forces around the World

Aircraft in detail 016, by R. Pied & N. Deboeck

HMH Publications, ISBN 978-2-931083-06-2

Two years ago in October 2019, the Belgian Air Force celebrated the SIAI Marchetti SF-260’s 50 years of service as primary trainer for future military pilots. The first aircraft were delivered in 1969 to replace the old SV-4bis biplane of the Elementary Flying School (EFS) then based in Goetsenhoven/Gossoncourt. By 1971, all 36 SF-260M (M for ‘Military’) had been delivered. A second batch of nine aircraft, SF-260Ds this time, was ordered at the end of 1991 to replace lost aircraft. In September 1996, the EFS moved to Beauvechain AB where it is still operating from today. The SF-260 is quite popular in Belgium not only for its colourful liveries but also thanks to the breath-taking demonstrations of the Red Devils aerobatic team gracing the skies during air shows in Belgium and abroad. The Belgian Air Force plans are to withdraw the SF-260 from service sometime around 2023.

HMH Publications have launched the Aircraft in detail series only three and a half years ago, so one can only say they are very active, as this is already the 16th book of this series and more are in the making!

The books have quite an unusual format of 24 x 24 cm and are published in full colour. All pictures are of the large format, which will be very helpful for us, modellers. All aircraft pictured are from recent years; so don’t look for camouflaged Belgian SF-260’s from the previous century. The text, in English, is limited to a strict minimum but photo captions are extensive where necessary. Most pictures do of course cover Belgian Air Force planes but there are also several pictures of Marchettis in other countries (Italy, the Philippines, Uruguay, Sri Lanka, etc). In fact, the plane has been operated by more than 30 air forces!

Throughout the 92 pages, the book is divided in several sections covering specific parts of the aircraft which is of course ideal when building a model: variants, forward fuselage, fuselage, wings, cockpit, front & main landing gear, SF-260 TP, tail section, maintenance (a dream for scratch builders) and ‘in action’ shots. There is of course a specific section dedicated to the Red Devils aerobatic team.

New kits in 1/144 and 1/72 of the SF-260 have recently reached the hobby shops and a 1/48 model should be available soon so this book comes at just the right time. So go and buy it, and above all, build a model of this superb airplane.  Breaking news: two more Aircraft in detail books are due to come out in March and another one, about the A400M, in May…

Review by Didier Waelkens; pictures by HMH Publications.


Shining Light

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

OKB Grigorov 1/350, Ref. 350002

OKB Grigorov has introduced a new range to its already bursting catalogue, ‘Port, Architecture & Fortification’, with a 1/350 rendition of Cape Hatteras’ lighthouse, off the North Carolina coastline.  It’s the tallest such structure in the USA.   

This kit includes 18 resin and 31 photo-etched parts, with the main part of lighthouse made up of three grey and one clear resin parts.  The latter is more translucent than transparent in fact.  Once built, this scale model reaches a height of about 15cm !

The platforms and their supports, and all railings are to be made from the photo-etched parts, the basting’s support being in resin, and very small ! 

A small instruction sheet accompanies the kit, particularly handy for the photo-etched parts.  There are no painting instructions, but all that can be found and seen on the web.

http://www.okbgrigorov.com Review by Didier Waelkens ; pictures by Didier Waelkens and OKB Grigorov.

Not So Junior Diver

Ju-87B-2/U4 ‘Stuka’ with skis

Zvezda 1/72, Ref. 7323

We have here a ‘snap-fit, no glue required’ kit, particularly aimed at the younger modellers, for whom it may be their first ever kit.

There are some sizeable assembly plugs to ease the build, but with a total of 89 parts (which seems a lot for a snap-fit kit), it is a kit that might interest more experienced modellers, as it is finely engraved and detailed.  In fact, in their 11-stage instruction notice, Zvezda recommend the use of glue for some of the smallest parts.

A small sprue offers the necessary parts for the Umbau 4 (U4) variant, that is the ski-fitted undercarriage.  Decal-wise, markings are provided for a very standard RLM70/71/65 aircraft on the Eastern Front during the 1941 winter.


Review by Didier Waelkens ; pictures by Didier Waelkens and Zvezda.

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