R-73/AA-11 "Archer"

Published: September 22nd, 2017     
Product Image
Instructions
Reviewed by: 
Paul Brown, IPMS# 24085
Scale: 1/72
Company: Eduard
Price: $9.95
Product / Stock #: 672 151

The R-73 (NATO designation AA-11 Archer) was designed as a replacement for the R-60 (AA-8 Aphid) close-in dogfight missile. The R-73 is an infrared homing missile with thrust vectoring and has been exported to a number of air forces around the world.

As a follow-on to its previous release of the R-60/AA-8 Aphid missile set, Eduard has now released the R-73/AA-11 Archer. The set includes parts for 4 missiles, including seeker caps and engine covers as well as 4 P-72 missile rails. A nice touch by Eduard is that in addition to the missile rails, the set is designed in a modular fashion, much like the actual rails, so you can construct the appropriate pylons for both the MiG-29 and the Su-27 simply by installing different pylon mounts. The set includes enough of the pylon mounts for you to construct four of either type. I elected to construct two of each for illustration purposes.

After washing the resin parts to remove any remaining mold release, I first started with the P-72 missile pylons. The missile launchers had a slight mold seam along the upper and lower faces, but this is easily removed. At the same time the three square mounting holes for the pylon mounts were cleaned out. The instructions have a very nice diagram showing exactly where each of the pylon mounts are to be installed depending on which aircraft the pylon goes on and the resin parts include a little square block to fill in the unused hole on the pylons. Beware as these squares are very little and if not contained will easily disappear. Eduard provides four sets of pylon mounts for each of the MiG-29 and the Su-27 so you can really load up the airplane of your choice or spread them out between a couple of jets. With good prep work and careful test fitting the pylons pegs nestle down tightly into the mounting holes.

The next step is to decide whether you want to display the missiles with or without missile covers as the set includes four seeker covers and four exhaust covers. If you elect to not use the covers, then you will need to carefully remove the exhaust parts from the pour stub and attach them to the missiles, making sure that the thrust vectoring petals are 90 degrees off from the rear missile fins. I noted that the exhaust nozzle parts are a little larger in diameter than the missile bodies, so as a result of this overlap, you will need to take care to ensure the exhaust nozzle is centered on the missile body. If you elect to use the seeker covers, you will need to cut off the seeker head off the missile as shown in the instructions. I strongly recommend cutting off the seeker head before you install the brass forward missile fins as the fins are very easily bent after installation.

Eduard has captured the delicate forward missile fins very well by using a single brass insert that includes all three of the fins. There is very small "L" shaped forward fin, followed by a fixed rectangular fin and ending with triangular guidance fin. The brass parts are very thin and crisply made. The fins slide into slots cut in the front of the missile and care must be taken to get them inserted correctly so that they are properly seated. I used superglue gel to attach the fins, but next time I will insert the fins into their slots first, then put a drop of thin superglue on one side and let capillary action pull the glue around the fin as in many cases the insert moved before the gel set up or the gel set up before the fin was correctly seated and I had to start with a new fin set. Fortunately Eduard anticipated this problem, as there are a lot of extra fin pieces on the photo etch sheet. One you start installing the fins, try to always handle the missiles using the rear fins as the little "L" shaped fins are easily bent or snapped off.

Paint colors are pretty easy as the missiles are overall white with a just the "L" shaped fin being stainless steel. In looking at photos of the R-73, I think the seeker head should be painted chrome silver, but the instructions do not indicate this. The seeker and exhaust covers are flat red. The instructions tell you to paint the missile pylons FS 36375, but as I had Testor's Fulcrum light grey, I used this color instead. Check your references to see what color the pylons and rails are on the aircraft you are modelling.

A coat of Future prepared everything for decals and it was at this stage that I discovered that apparently there are two different guidance/tracking variants for the R-73 as the instructions show different decals to be applied depending on whether the missile has a laser fuze or a receiver antenna. In looking at the decal diagram closely, it appears that there are also some minor differences in the lumps and bumps on the sides of the missiles. The missiles as molded have both variants of lumps and bumps, so it would appear that you need to sand off some of these depending on which fuze/tracking system you are modeling. I noticed this while decaling, so I did not modify the missile bodies.

Typical of Eduard's other ordinance sets, the decals are very thin and react extremely well to MicroSol and MicroSet. They do tend to curl up on themselves if you are not paying attention, but there are several extras of each decal, so unless you have a real bad day, you should be able to recover from a curled decal. Beware of decals 6 and 7 as they are handed and there are four of each for each missile, one on each side of the rear fins. Check the instructions to ensure you have the longer vertical leg towards the front of the missile. A coat of flat finished things off and sealed the decals in.

This is another great ordinance set from Eduard and it is really nice to see them continuing to release sets of modern Russian/Soviet weapons. The fins are some of the most delicate photoetch I have used and I have already broken off a couple of the tiny "L" antennas, so be careful handling the missiles.

Highly recommended. Thank you to Eduard for the review sample and thank you to IPMS-USA for letting me review it.

  • Completed missiles
    Completed missiles
  • Photoetch & decals
    Photoetch & decals
  • Instructions
    Instructions
  • Instructions
    Instructions
  • LR Missiles
    LR Missiles
  • Laser fused
    Laser fused
  • Missile head
    Missile head
  • Kit parts
    Kit parts
  • Pylons 3
    Pylons 3
  • Pylons 6
    Pylons 6
  • Pylons 7
    Pylons 7