The J-11B (NATO code name Flanker B+) is a Chinese version of the Sukhoi Su-27SK. The first 100 J-11A aircraft were built under license from Sukhoi. After those were completed, the license was suspended. Soon thereafter, the Chinese announced they had developed a multi-role version known as the J-11B.
The Trumpeter kit seems to be a scale-down version of their larger kit. It covers the aircraft configured for air-to-air combat, capable of carrying no fewer than 12 missiles. Yep, 12. The kit is 10 trees plus the fuselage top and bottom molded in Trumpeter’s standard medium hard grey plastic with engraved panel lines. The fuselage is molded in top and bottom halves including the wings. Optional parts are included, such as vertical stabilizers, wingtip rails, and exhausts, indicative of the other versions of the Su-27 that Trumpeter has released. There are two identical trees of missiles and rails. The kit has three decal sheets, one for the external markings of the aircraft, the second for markings on the wide variety of missiles, and the third for cockpit decals and the chaff/flare dispensers on the aft fuselage.
The build starts as usual with the cockpit. It should be painted grey, instead of the usual Soviet/Russian blue-green. The decals go down well with normal setting solutions. I overpainted the multi-function displays (MFDs), which shouldn’t show anything when they’re not powered up. The seat builds into an acceptable replica of the original K36. There is no provision for a canopy opening mechanism, so I built mine with the canopy closed. If you do so, be aware that the canopy on mine was slightly smaller than where it should sit. The windscreen, including the infrared search and track (IRST) sensor, fit well, except that the IRST wound up sitting a bit high. Either fill under it or take a little off the bottom front of the windscreen. Before assembling the fuselage halves together, Trumpeter has you install two engine faces as well as two engine intake screens. Yep. The screens block the intakes and you can’t see the engine faces. Though it probably wasn’t necessary, I added a bit of weight in the radome. The fuselage parts fit together well except for minor fit issues at the aft fuselage under the vertical stabilizers and where the wings go together on the underside. The aft fuselage requires a touch of filler or so and the underside wing parts need to be shimmed underneath to come up to the level of the rest of the wing. On top of the fuselage, Trumpeter gives you a separate speedbrake, but they don’t give you a strut to raise it with. When glued closed, it required a shim to bring it up to the level of the fuselage and there are minor gaps around the speedbrake which are easily filled but required a bit of rescribing in my case. I built up the aft parts of the engines but did not glue on the exhausts until after painting. There were a couple of sink marks on top of the wings which I filled with Mr. Surfacer.
As I said earlier, the kit supplies pylons to hold 12 missiles. Would they normally fly with that wide variety of missiles loaded? Probably not. But, I built it that way to show the possibilities. One of the problems with the instruction sheets is that the load-out diagram does not coincide with all the types of missiles included in the kit. By that, I mean that there are missiles shown on the diagram that are not included and there are missiles included that are not on the diagram. I did a bit of research, then went with what I thought was logical based on the probably weight of the missiles.
The instructions include separate color painting and decaling guides for the aircraft and missiles. Color callouts are given for Gunze Sangyo paints and also give common names for the colors. The decals give options for one aircraft in overall primer and one ‘line jet’ in two greys. I painted the topside color then masked the edges and painted the bottom side. I then masked and painted the radome, the engines, the wheelwells, landing gear doors and the antennas the various colors called out in the instructions. After a gloss coat, I applied the kit decals. I changed the tail code by substituting the last number in the code with one of the spares in the number farm on the decal sheet. The national insignia were slightly out of register, so I replaced them with some spare PRC insignia. This was followed by quite a session of decaling missiles. Woof. But everything reacted well with decal setting solutions, though I had to use some stronger solution on the stripes on the some of the missiles that had to go over fins.
After decaling was finished, I gave the model an overall coat somewhere between satin and flat, then installed the remaining bits, the wheels, the gear doors, and the exhausts. Everything fit well and looked right when done.
It looks like a J-11B to me. Well, it looks like an Su-27, but I’m sure you understand. Though there were some minor fit issues, none were difficult to overcome. The wheelwells could use some extra detail and the cockpit could use a lot of extra work, if you’re inflicted with the kind of AMS I am. But, with the canopy closed, the decals are quite sufficient. The instructions could use a bit more information and a few corrections but, again there’s nothing an average modeler can’t figure out. After all, I got through it. All in all, it wound up looking pretty impressive with twelve missile hanging off of it.
Thanks to Trumpeter for the series, to Stevens International for providing the kit, and IPMS/USA for the opportunity to build the kit.