Su-25K Frogfoot

Published: April 25th, 2011     
Product Image
Box Art
Reviewed by: Charles Landrum - IPMS# 26328
Scale: 1/48
Company: Eduard
Price: $60.00
Product / Stock #: 1150
Product provided by: Eduard

Editor's note: The Eduard website notes that this kit is "Canceled".

Fortunately for the modeler, Eduard continues to release in limited edition packaging of older but decent kits by other manufacturers, enhanced with a variety of Eduard aftermarket products. In addition to the plastic, Eduard boxes pre-painted and regular PE frets, their new line of resin accessories, paint masks and a large decal sheet. My first experience with their limited edition kits, was the Mirage 2000C (ex-Heller) and I was excited when Eduard announced their intention to give the Kopro (ex-OEZ) Su-25K the same treatment; I was not disappointed. These kits are a true multi-media package and a great value when compared to buying the components separately.

The Kopro (ex-OEZ) Su-25K is the most accurate model of the Su-25 in shape, in any scale, but it is not without it weakness in detail, and it does not fall together as a kit. Where the plastic falls short:

  • Cockpit detail - better than most ex-OEZ kits, but still it needs attention
  • Landing gear - accurate in shape but very plain in detail
  • Wheel wells - bare, but most gear doors are closed unless the gear is cycling
  • Engine exhausts - the intakes are pretty good, but neck down too much and the narrow diameter is carried over to the exhaust which should have a much larger burner can.
  • Weak and some misaligned engraving
  • Bald tires

Still, the kit matches the reputable 4+ Publications drawings and faithfully replicates the planes shapes and boiler plate construction (minus the raised rivets of the early airframes. Most of those details are fixable and Eduard provides plenty of extra detail. The real challenge is in assembly - trying to align the fuselage halves, the halves of the engine nacelles, the nacelles to the fuselage and the wing (with the proper anhedral) to the nacelles. This is where the plastic bedeviled me. The Eduard products were a pleasure to use and made this build easier and much more detailed!

The key to tackling the plastic is to acknowledge that it is an older Eastern European kit and not one from Tamigawa and to do proper research before assembly. These are older molds, so there was flash present. I found that this lower pressure molded plastic melted more easily with Tenax, which actually helped construction. I studied the kit plastic and the aftermarket add-ons to fully understand where the challenges would be and to ensure I did not leave details off. I also studied the aircraft to understand what detail was present in the kit, what was missing, and where I could take shortcuts; studying both operational and static photos is a must. Some of the available aftermarket sets for this kit (and the Revell/Monogram Su-25) also helped save some effort in assembly. My short cuts:

  • Wheel well details, since most of the gear doors are closed when the aircraft is parked and the landing gear obscures what is visible, I spent no time detailing the wheel wells.
  • SAC makes metal casting of the Revell landing gear, which are pretty accurate and much more detailed. I used these with some modification.
  • Two Mikes makes FOD covers for the intakes and exhaust. They are nicely detailed and saved me the trouble of fixing the exhaust.
  • Two Mikes and Aero Bonus stores were used to replace kit weapons and give the model more punch.

Before assembly, I worked a few details, deepening some panel lines and the joints of the control surfaces to make them more pronounced. The soft plastic made this easy and a little sand paper smoothed the surface of the joint.

Improvements to tail surfaces

One other decision the modeler must make early into the build is what marking scheme to represent; the reason being that not all of the schemes share the same configuration. For instance Soviet aircraft upgraded to a blade antenna for IFF, while the Warsaw Pact countries retained the "Odd Rods" (3 dipole) antenna. Good references will help clarify the differences. I chose to model the Soviet Su-25 from Bagram in 1988. This was the last year of the Afghan War and the Soviet Su-25s had undergone many modifications due to experience in the field. Here Eduard was unclear was to the proper configuration for the markings, or got it wrong. For instance, the instructions state that if you are adding the IR Flare packs to the top of the rear Nacelles, then you delete them from the tail area. In fact Soviet aircraft carried both; the extra launchers on the nacelles were an augmentation due to the high Stinger Missile threat. The straight hold open bar for the canopy was also a field modification.

Instruction sheet color guide

Despite all of that research and preparation, my build went awry from the start. The fuselage is prone to warp and bend during assembly if you do not install the components and clamp the assembly just right. There are only two locating pins in the fuselage (and none in the nacelles or wings) and these are hardly adequate. To achieve a smoother seam I removed them and sanded the fuselage halves for better mating. I also added styrene tabs, like when building a vacuum formed kits, to reinforce the seams and improve alignment. Here was my first mistake, since the wall thickness of the two halves differ. I then started to add interior detail to the right side of the fuselage. The fit of the nosewell was okay with minor gapping fixed with Tenax. I elected not to open the aircraft folding ladder. Eduard provided the PE to do it right, but the Soviets rarely used the onboard ladder in Afghanistan, instead preferring metal ladders that hooked onto the cockpit sill or leaned against the fuselage. Where I really ran into trouble, was the installation of the cockpit - the plastic floor, back wall and sidewalls. The plastic side consoles are quite accurate (and copied in the Neomega set). Apart from the side consoles, the cockpit is very basic and the Eduard details greatly improve this area. Eduard has thoughtfully designed the assembly sequence so that you do not add all of the detail until later. So I proceeded with installation and chose to glue the side consoles to the fuselage halves. The gapping of the back wall should have been my first clue that the alignment was less than ideal, but I had a PE part to cover it so I was oblivious and continued with the install. As a result when I assembled the fuselage halves the nose had a pronounced warp and twist to the right. More about my subsequent fix later... I also ended up with a small step between the fuselage halves in several locations which required a bit of filing, sanding and re-scribing.

Clamping fuselage assembly

Cockpit gap

I next fitted the nacelles. Here you need to be very careful, since there are no locating pins between halves or to locate the nacelle to the fuselage. The fit of the main wells inside the nacelle is fair. The nacelles had seams to clean up which result in more re-scribing on top, but the fit to the fuselage is good with no gapping (there was a gap inside the wheel wells). The trick is to ensure that the nacelles, when installed, are uniform from side to side. By using liquid cement I could tweak the alignment to ensure that the fore and aft and vertical alignments were good. The wings were much trickier to fit. The halves went together well but the fit was to the nacelle posed a challenge with only a mounting tab and no means to set the proper 2 1/2 degree of anhedral. If you glue the wing completely flush it will have too much down angle. So I worked from top, gluing that joint first, to ensure that alignment was good; it took a lot of Tenax, careful measurement and constant adjustment to get the wings right as the plastic hardened. The result was less than a 1/32 inch gap at the underside wing root which was filled with styrene strip and CA. I then sand the wing root underside to eliminate a small step and achieve a smoother transition. Of note, Eduard provided PE flap actuators for the wings which were only used on earlier aircraft, so I omitted them. Adding the tail was a bit of a chore because there is no locating tab and the base of the tail has to be matched to the contour of the fuselage. So care must be taken to achieve vertical alignment and ensure it is not sitting cock-eyed on the fuselage. The tail required a lot of filing to match the shape of the fuselage; Tenax ensured a gap free joint.

Engine nacelles parts

Nacelles attched

Wheel well gaps

Nose warpage

After considerable frustration, swearing and meditation over my model's bent nose and after a lengthy delay, I picked up my trusty razor saw and commenced a nose job. This is not what you want to do mid-review, but neither could I live with the warp, so after removing the PE I had installed, off went the nose from the cockpit back wall forward! I then made a further cut at the front end of the cockpit giving me access to the cockpit itself. Lo and behold the floor was skewed. So after a lot of scalpel action I took apart and then reassembled the cockpit. I then installed some shims to straighten the nose, filled remaining low spots with CA, and re-scribed the lines. In fairness to myself and looking at my other Kopro kit, the nose looks to be off anyway, but my ham-handed assembly had made it far more pronounced. Now my plane no longer looked like a battered prize fighter.

I turned my attention to the wheel wells. I added strip styrene to the nose well to get the door to close and then realized I had to add plastic to the main door since it is considerably undersized. I added interior framing detail to the forward trapezoidal-shaped door. I also drilled a hole for the SAC nose gear. In the main wells I filled the gaps with styrene and CA and removed the locating squares for the Kopro landing gear. After some scraping, filling and sanding, I drilled locating holes for the SAC gear. In both cases the location of the holes was determined via drawing and a dry fit of the gear doors to ensure a proper fit. The main gear doors need to be cut apart for an on-the-ground configuration. It took a lot of fitting and filing to get the doors to sit right in the fuselage since they are molded too large. I used the opportunity to thin the edges for a more realistic look. The doors should have relief panels on the inside, but I elected to forgo that detail.

Wheel well mod's in progress

The horizontal stabilizers have a couple of issues that need to be corrected to make the model more accurate. As I mentioned before, I deepened the joint of the control surface, scraping with a No. 11 blade. The kit stabilizers have a tip that is too swept. I removed the tip and added a new one from 1/16 of an inch of styrene strip sanding to the proper shape. Also the locating pin of the horizontal stabilizers, as molded, places the horizontal stabilizers 1/16 of an inch too far forward. Also the stabilizer should be flush to the fuselage since it has a control surface and is not a stabilator. To fix this, I cut off the pin and filed the stabilizer to match the rectangular reinforcement on the fuselage, per the real aircraft. I filled the fuselage hole with a piece of sprue passed through both sides, glued and cut flush. Fortunately, when the horizontal stabilizers were attached the kit plastic had the right angle to provide the proper dihedral.

Horizontal stabilizers

Plugging hole

I then focused on the wings and the fuselage, adding various details. On the wings:

  • The fit of the wing pylons was good and tight.
  • I folded and attached the glare shields inboard of the landing lights. I subsequently kept popping of the shields during handling.
  • On the Soviet aircraft the top of the wingtips had raised fairings - their purpose I am unsure of. I fashioned them from square shaped sprue stock.

Turning to the fuselage, I added:

  • The resin flare launchers to the engine nacelles. Locating information in the instructions is poor, so I relied on photos for the location.
  • The cooling intakes, drilling out the plastic one on the right front nacelle.
  • Fuselage antennas. I elected to modify the PE dorsal antenna, replacing the dipole with wire rod.
  • I elected to use the kit nose probes including the blade antennas, as I have had a bad experience with PE replacements. In this case, I significantly thinned the plastic. Attaching these probes to ensure that they are level and parallel is an exercise in patience!
  • The flare packs on the tail should be staggered
  • The access door for the 23mm cannon is a large affair. This assembly was tricky to bend and while the result is good, mine is a little off axis.
  • One tedious detail is all of the PE latches for the access doors - I recommend a good set of small tweezers! Thankfully, Eduard provides spares.

Wing tip mod's

Light guard

Underside before painting

Rear underside antennas

Nose probes

Tail area

I added the landing gear before painting given the extensive number of actuating rods used to fold the landing gear into the well. Installing the main gear was easy, and I used epoxy for a strong and resilient bond. Installing the actuating rods was a bit of a puzzle and I ended up using a mix of kit and SAC components to get the right configuration. The nose gear was far simpler to install. Assembly of the wheels was straight forward, but they lack tread and the main wheels look like mag tires although the width is correct according to drawings. The nose wheel mud guard is a magnificent casting but care must be taken when removing the molded flash. The rubber flap, represented by PE, requires a slight radius bend before installation. I painted the guard MM Medium Green and the rubber flat black.

Main landing gear

Nose gear

Nose wheel gravel guard

Returning to the cockpit, I assembled the remaining components. Here is where the Eduard components are a real improvement:

  • The ejection seat is a multi-media kit in its own right. After a test fit in the cockpit tub, I elected to extend the seat head rest. What Eduard should tell you is that the back framing will only fit with the head rest in an extended position. Plus the locating information for these two parts is difficult to discern. After the resin was together I painted the seat black and dry-brushed the detail of the non-leather components; the leather I left black. I then added the PE details including the harnesses. With a flat coat the result is quite convincing.
  • The control column took some work. The kit plastic is wrong with too short of control column, no grip, and a canvas boot that is too big. I corrected the column by cutting off the lower half of the boot and added a spare resin grip from an F-18. The new height and configuration matched the references I have. I then added the PE bracket assembly to the front of the boot and test fitted to ensure it all fit in the cockpit along with the seat.
  • I assembled the rudder pedals per the Eduard instructions.
  • The instrument panel assembled without issue and I cut off and fitted the raised upper section from the kit IP as per the Eduard instructions. Eduard got one detail wrong her. The side panels of the IP should angle back, Eduard makes the panel flat. Still the instrument panel looks great.
  • The armored plate above the seat was an exercise in complex PE bending. I accomplished the required bends over metal rods and with various pliers.
  • The hardest work of anywhere in the cockpit was the detail inside the canopy. You need to fill the existing recessed detail and fold and add the PE framing. I used Mr. Surfacer 500 to fill the recesses in several coats with sanding in between. I then had to buff out the clear plastic to eliminate scratches. Care must be taken in using CA to install the PE components in order to not craze the clear plastic. The final result is quite nice
  • Adding the IP coaming and HUD is no small task and take care to ensure that the metal does not interfere with the fitting of the windscreen. Assembly in this area was tedious.
  • I added a HUD camera that as spare from a Black Box Mig-21 cockpit set, although one would be easy to scratchbuild.

Cockpit components

HUD and cockpit coaming

Instrument panel and coaming installed

Cockpit armor

The underwing stores were a bit of a project unto themselves and my mix armament changed as additional review items became available. Out of the box the plastic provides a decent array of commonly carried stores that will your give your Frogfoot a respectable "bombed up" look. I deviated from the kit stores to utilized new aftermarket weapons sets. From the kit I used the drop tanks, which match the 4+ drawings. However, I removed the way too thick fins and replaced them with .015 inch styrene. Eduard provides PE gas caps for additional detail. I used the 23mm SPPU 22 gun pods from Aerobonus to replace the kit pods, the ones from Aerobonus being much nicer. I also used four of Two Mikes B-13 rocket launchers. These were perfect for the aircraft I modeled, because the B-13 with 122mm rockets was developed to give aircraft in Afghanistan more standoff punch against caves and stone buildings. The launchers were fielded in 1988. The assembly of these underwing weapon systems is detailed in separate reviews.

Drop tanks

In painting the model I used Model Master Enamels throughout. When it comes to Soviet / Russian aircraft colors there seems to be no standard and it appears as if paint stocks vary by region, so the modeler has some latitude. I found the Eduard instructions to be of little help since I was not using their recommended paints. Fortunately the 4+ book had the profile of the same Bagram based Frogfoot and the color callouts by F.S. number. So for the most part I followed that reference. Table 1 provides a list of the colors I used.

Prior to painting I used the Eduard masks. These fit well and prevented bleed under. During painting I used a Paasche H single action brush with #3 tip. I pre-shaded the entire plane flat black and then sprayed the underside color, thinly applying paint with a gradual buildup of color in the center of the panels. Using the profile in the instructions as a guide, I then free handed the upper camouflage colors starting with tan, then dark brown and finally dark green. I added white to the dark brown and dark green and went back and faded the centers of the panels. When the camouflage had cured I masked and painted the dielectric panels Medium Green and the one dorsal antenna a faded flat black. I also masked and painted the landing gear and wheel wells Flat Gull Gray. I glossed the plane with Model Master Metallizer Sealer in preparation for applying decals.

Underside paint

Table 1. Colors Used for this Su-25

Component

Color

Ref. Number

Underside

French Light Blue Gray

MM 2109

Upper camouflage

Dark Tan FS 30219

MM 1742

Upper camouflage

Italian Dark Brown

MM 2111

Upper camouflage

Dark Green FS 34079

MM 1718

Dielectric panels / wheel hubs

Medium Green FS 34102

MM 1713

Landing gear / wheel wells

Flat Gull Gray FS 36440

MM 1730

Cockpit

Medium Gray FS 35237

MM 1721

Flare launchers

Non-Buffing Steel Metallizer

MM 1420

Decaling the plane takes patience because Eduard provides all of the maintenance stencils. I checked my references and the Soviet aircraft at this point still carried all of the stencils except where artwork was applied, so I applied the stars and aircraft unique markings first and then over the course of several days applied the stencils. The decals performed well and reacted to Micro Sol for irregular surfaces. After the decals had dried, I sealed them with MM Metallizer Sealer and experienced no silvering.

I weathered the plane with The Detailer acrylic wash. Primarily I used dark brown but for the wheels and flare packs, I used black. Once it had set I used a soft cloth and cue-tip swaps, dipped in alcohol, to wipe away the excess. The shallow panel lines make this process trickier, so I made repeated passes until I had the right coverage. I applied MM Dullcoat in thin coats to flatten and dull the airframe.

Painted and decalled

Wash applied

Panel lines completed

Finally assembly included:

  • The FOD covers
  • All landing gear doors.
  • Adding the under wing pylon sway braces (MM Non-buffing Aluminum). The kit does not include the numerous jack screws designed to hold the stores in place. They are visible, but I elected to leave them off.
  • Installing the under-wing stores. I secured them in place with CA and .016 brass wire for strength.
  • Landing lights. I used MV lens (L-128) for more realism and inserted a plastic disk as a spacer to make them flush fit.
  • Wingtip lights. These were tinted with Tamiya Clear Acrylics and aluminum frame painted on.
  • Static discharge whips. I chose not to use the PE parts and instead made them from .010 brass wire.
  • The canopy. I added the remaining handles and glued it in position on the sill using the straight rod hold-open device (a modification developed in Afghanistan).
  • Painting and polishing the nose probes.
  • 23 mm internal cannon, which I drilled out and painted MM Gun Metal Metallizer.
  • The wheels. The fit of the mud guard for the nose wheel was perfect, but I studied numerous photos to ensure I had it at the right angle before securing it with the PE rods.

At the end was a convincing model of the Frogfoot, all bombed up and rather sinister looking. The fact that the Frogfoot has been involved in many of the World's conflicts and has served with numerous air forces, make this a must have airframe in your collection. Despite some fit and alignment issues, the Kopro (Ex-OEZ) kit is the best option in 1/48 scale for an accurate and detailed Frogfoot. The Eduard Limited Edition release adds a tremendous amount of additional detail and provides one stop shopping. The result is a very aggressive looking ground support aircraft.

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