My Review and Build of Zvazda's 1/72 scale Kit #7275,
Sukhoi PAKFA Russian 5th Generation Fighter

Latest Update: July 27, 2014 - Painting, landing gear, decals, and complete

Introduction and What's in the Box - July 24, 2014,

In the late 1980s, the Soviet Union identified a need for an advanced aircraft to replace the MiG-29s and Su-27s then in service, which itself would enter service in the late 1990s. This project was designated the I-90 and was required to have veru modern avionics, storng stealth, and strong ground attack capabilities. The subsequent program designed to meet these requirements, the MFI (Multifunctional Frontline Fighter), led to Mikoyan being selected to develop the MiG 1.44. At the same time, Sukhoi started its own program to develop technologies for a next-generation fighter aircraft, and those resulted in the SU-37.

However, after the fall of the Soviet Union funding immediately dried up. The MiG 1.44 program was repeatedly delayed. Finally, the first flight of the prototype took place in 2000, almost a decade late. By this time the US had already flown the first prototype of the F-22, Raptor, its 5th genration stealth fighter, and was beginning to ready for production. As a result, the MiG 1.44 was canceled and a new program, the PAK FA, was initiated. Many of the requirements of the new program reflected the capabilities of the F-22 Raptor. Requirements included strong stealth, supercruise capability, substantial use of composite materials, and possess advanced avionics such as active phased array radar and sensor fusion. In a competition between Sukhoi, Mikoyan, and Yakovlev, Sukhoi was chosen in 2002 as the winner of the PAK FA competition which led the design of the new combat aircraft.

This all occurred in strictest secrecy.

To reduce risk and spread out the cost of technology development of the PAKFA, or T-50 as the prototypes are also known, as well as to bridge the gap between it and previous generation fighters, some of the new technology and characteristics were first developed and implemented in the 4.5-generation Sukhoi Su-35S fighter aircraft, an advanced variant of the Su-27 developed in the 2000s. The Su-35S and T-50 would share technologies in engines and avionics.

To help further spread the massive costs for this type of development, in 2007, Russia and India agreed to jointly develop the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft Programme (FGFA) for India from the PAK Fa program.

In the mean time the US F-22 Raptor became active in 2005 and the US began full production building of them. However, in 2009, with their new Presidency, and feeling that the Russian program would not produce viable aircraft until the mid to late 2020s, the Obama administration announced that it would cancel future purchases and builds of the F-22, capping production at 195 aircraft.

In answer to this, the first taxi test of the PAK FA was completed on 24 December 2009. The flight test, with aircraft T-50-1, occurred on 29 January 2010. The aicraft was piloted by Hero of the Russian Federation Sergey Bogdan. Tha maiden flight lasted for 47 minutef and took place at KnAAPO's Dzemgi Airport in the Russian Far East. By the end of mid-November in 2010, T-50-1 had made more than 40 flights.

In September 2010, India and Russia agreed on a preliminary design contract where each country would invest $6 billion dollars to fund development which was expected to take 810 years. In December 2010, the final agreement for the preliminary design was signed. The resulting design improved the original PAK FA specification in forty-three areas, including improvements in stealth, supercruise, sensors, networking, and combat avionics.

The program moved along and the second T-50 made its flight test on March 3, 2011, which was a 44-minute flight. The first two prototypes did not include radar or weapon control systems. On March 14, 2011, the PAKFA achieved supersonic flight for the first time near Komsomolsk-on-Amur.

The third aircaft, numbered T-50-3, was the first one to have AESA radar. Its first flight occurred in August 2012. The fourth prototype had its first flight on December 12, 2012. Soon thereafter, all four prototype aircraft were testing near Moscow. The fifth prototype had its first flight on October 27, 2013. With that flight, the prgram had ammassed more than 450 flights.

Russia plans to build ten test aircraft, and then hopes to place an order for 60 production aircraft in the 2016 time frame, though this may have slipped to 2018. The first aircraft were expected to come into service in the 2018 time frame, but this may npw slip until 2020. Still 7-8 years ahead of the Obama administrtion predictions.

At the same time, the Indian FGFA (Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft), based on the PAKFA, are expected to be ordered late in the decade and India plans to ultimately order at least 144 of them.

The PAKFA will carry an internally mounted GSh-301 30 mm cannon in the right LEVCON root. It also has tandem main internal weapon bays. Each of these is 4.6 m (15.1 ft)long and 1.0 m (3.3 ft) wide. There are also two small triangular-section weapon bays that protrude under the fuselage near the wing roots. All of these internal weapon bays preserve the aircraft's stealth and reduce drag.

For air-to-air combat, the aircraft will carry up to six BVR air to air missiles in its two main weapons bays, and two short-range missiles in the wing root weapons bays. The primary medium-range missile will be the active radar-homing K-77M, which is a highly upgraded R-77 variant with AESA seeker and conventional rear fins. The shorter range missile will the heat-seeking K-74M2, which is an upgraded R-74 variant with reduced cross-section. A new, more advanced short-range missile designated K-MD, is being developed to eventually replace the K-74M2.

The main bays can also accommodate air-to-ground missiles such as the Kh-38, the AS-20 "Kayak" anti-ship missile, Kh-38M air-to-surface missile, and the Kh-58UShK (AS-11 "Kilter") anti-radiation missile. Those bays can also accomodate multiple 250 kg or 500 kg precision guided bombs.

For missions that do not require stealth, the PAK FA can carry more stores on up to six external hardpoints. The chief designer of the aircraft, Alexander Davydenko, has said that there is a possibility that two BrahMos supersonic missile can be carried on both the PAK FA and FGFA.

Current PAK FA Specifications:

Crew: 1
Length: 65'
Wingspan: 45' 8"
Height: 15' 6"
Wing Area: 848 sq ft.
Max Take-off Weight: 77,260 lbs.
Current Enginese: 2 x NPO Saturn Izdeliye 30 thrust vectoring turbofans
Thrust w/afterburner: 2 x 39,600 lbf
Max Speed: Mach 2.3
Supercruise: Mach 1.6
Range: 2,175 miles
Service Ceiling: 65,000 ft.
Refueling: - 1 x refueling probe for air to air refueling
- Stealth: Chinese naval helicopter landing while conducting exercises at RIMPAC 2014.
- Some combination of AAM, ASM, and precision guided munitions
Hardpoints: Six

The Kit:
The Sukhoi PAK FA is Russia's most advanced aircraft. It is currently in prototype production with five aircraft built and flying. Prodcution will begin between 2016 and 2018.

Zvazda is a Russiabn model company that started in 1990. It has an American division and since 2000 has grown to be the largest model company in Russia, and a major Russian exporter.

They introduced the 1/72 scale model of the PAK FA aircraft recently and it depicts the prototype aircraft 51 (which is the T-50-1 aircraft), the first prototype.

Zvazda makes a decent kit. They are not as detailed as the Trumpeter, Italeri, or Hasegawa kits and the part count is lower. Their sprues and some of the parts are a little thicker, However, the fit of the mating parts is good, and there is little flash or risiduals left over from the molding.

This kit comes with the two major portions of the fuselage in an upper and lower half. There is one large grey molded sprue wih all of the other aircraft parts, and a smaller sprue with two pilot figures depending on how you want to display the model. One standing, and one sitting.

There is a clear sprue with the two halves of the canpoy (forward and aft), and also the landing lights.

The decals are complete, but the smaller decals are completely illegible. Not as resolute as some of the larger name companies...but also not terribly bad either. They will do.

Instructions are short and to the point. No glossies here. Good paint scheme and guide.

76 pieces all together. 49 decals.

The kit DOES NOT include any weapons bay details. At the time of production I suppose the details were not well known. I do not intend to build scratch weapons bays, either of the main bays or either smaller bays.

Gear can be shown up or down, I intend to build it with the gear down.

The cockpit is fairly decent, with accurate represntation of insrumentation, The ejection seat is decent, but not overly detailed.

I intend to build the airaft as is, out of the box, painted per the instructions, although I will use some Russian Flanker Model Master colors over what is shown on the instructions. I intend to build this true to the intial prototype. Once a good, detailed, prodcution kit is available, I will build that...a few years from now.

I have and SU-27 and a Mig-29 in 1/72 scale already built. I also have quite a few other Russian modern airccraft to build. They include:

- SU-34 side by side seating by Italeri.
- SU-33 Sea Flanker by Itakeri
- SU-37 to be bukkt as SU-35S by Zvazda.
- Tu-22M backfire by Zvazda.
- TU-95M BEar by Trumnpeter.
- TU-160 Bkackjack by Trumpeter.
Here are the pictures of the PAK FA kit before starting the build:

The Build - Cockpit, engine inlets, landing gear bays and fuselage - July 24, 2014

I began by painting and then bringing together the parts for the cockpit, and assembled them and then glued the cockpit into the upper fuselage:

Then it was the engine inlets and the landing gear bays. After assembling them, I paitned the engines and assembled the initial engine fans. I then glued these into the lower half of the fuselage and then glued the upper and lower fuselage halves together. I also glued on the distinctive, short and angled vertical stabilzers, and the horizontal stabilizors.

That's it for this session. Moving along rapidly now. I next hope to build the landing gear, add the details, and paint the camo onto the aircraft.

The Build - Painting, landing gear, canopy, decals, and complete - July 27, 2014

I started this session by paining the fuselage in its camo pattern, as shown for the first prototype. I used Model Master Flanker light blue instead of the Light Ghost Gray called out, and used Model Master Flanker Blue for the blueish color called out. I used Model Master RN Medium Gray for the medium gray.

Then it was time to build the landing gear. They are not as detailed as a Trumpeter kit, but they are well formed. I painted the inside of the landing gear bays a Model Master Light Gray as opposed to the glass gray called out. The kit comes with some decent backing for the landing lights, which are clear plastic glued on to those backings which are painted silver. Looks good. The tires and wheels are one part, each of the four of them. Rather thick as well. Paint them up and slap them on. I then painted the camopy the appropriate colors to match the camo, and glued them in place.

With all of this done, I added some sensors and then began placing decals. I used every one. After that, it was let them dry, and then two coats of dull coat and a finished model. Here she is:

Now that is a good looking PAK FA prototype, A couple of nice pics headon, the cocpkpit, and from the tail.

And there you have it. The first Russian 5th generation stealth fighter, PAK FA prototype.

SCHEDULE for Future Activities - July 27, 2014

  1. By Aug 05, 2014, Complete 1/72 scale US SV-22 Naval ASW Osprey.
  2. By Oct 01, 2014, Start the US Navy Amphibious Ready Group centered on the Gallery USS Wasp with an LHD, an LPD, a DDG, a SSN and two LCS.
  3. By Nov 15, 2014, Start the PLAN Amphibious Ready Group centered on the Trumpeter Type 071 LPD-999, with a FFG, and three DDGs.
  4. By Dec 31, 2014 Go back and start fleshing out the rest of the DDG and FFG escorts for each CSG and ARG group.

The completion of the PLAN Carrier group was centered on the already completed Trumpeter's 1/350 scale PLA Navy's Aircraft Carrier CV-16, Liaoning, (in addition to the other escorts already completed) included Mini Hobby's's PLAN Guangzhou, DDG-168. I recently pre-ordered a 1/350 scale model of the PLAN Type 071 LPD, Yuzhao Class, announced by Trumpeter and due out in October, 2013. I will end up adding two of those, propbably LPD-998 Yuzhao and LPD-999, Jinggangshan, add the PLAN- DDG-139, Ningbo, and the PLAN DDG-115, Shenyang, along with the PLAN Weifang, FFG-550 and thus build a PLAN ARG.

The completion of the US Carrier Strike group was centered on the completed Tamyia's 1/350 scale USS Enterprise, CVN-65, (in addition ot the other escorts already completed) included Trumpeter's, USS Freedom, LCS-1, Dragon's USS Preble, DDG-88 and Hobby Boss's USS Texas, SSN-775. When a 1/350 scale USS Enterprise, CVN-80 (or any Gerald R. Ford Class) is released from Trumpeter, Tamiya, Dragon, or whomever else, I will add it to this group along with another AEGIS Cruiser. Whichever Ford Class coms out in 1/350 scale, I will build it as the USS Enterprise, CVN-80.

The US ARG will include Tamiya's 1/350 scale, USS Iowa, BB-62 (which I have already completed), Trumpeter's 1/350 scale USS Iwo Jima LHD-7, Gallery's 1/350 scale USS Sommerset, LPD-25, Bronco Models 1/350 Scale USS New York, LPD-21, Cyber Hobby's USS Independence, LCS-2, Acadamy's 1/350 scale USS Rueben James, FFG-57, and another Flight IIA US AEGIS class detroyer based on Trumpeter's 1/350 scale USS Lassen, DDG-82...all of these models which I already own.

The completion of the UK Group featured the Airfix 1/350 scale HMS Illustrious, R06 as its centerp[iece until a 1/350 scale Queen Elizabeth carrier is released. When that happens, I will add that carrier to the group as its centerpiece. The Royal Navy CSG will also include two Airfix 1/350 scale Daring Class DDGs (one of which is already completed), two Trumpeter 1/350 scale Type 23 HMS Duke class Frigates (one of which is already completed), and the Hobby Boss 1/350 scale HMS Astute SSN (which is also already completed) and Airfix 1/350 scale HMS Tragalgar SSN. One day, when a 1/350 scale HMS Ocean LPD come out, I will use tt to start building a Royal Navy ARG.

The French CSG is centered on Heller's 1/400 scale Charles De Gualle, R91. I have purchased the 1/400 scale Heller French De Grasse, D612 DDG, which is an ASW DDG, the French Duquesne, D603 DDG which is an anti-air multi-purpose DDG, and the French Aconit D612 FFG and Gueprattet F714 FFGs, both of which are Lafayette class frigates. These five vessels will round out my French CSG. As soon as a French Robin class nuclear sub, like the French Perale S606 SSN is released in 1/350 or 1/400 scale, I will add that to the group. Also as soon as the Forbin D620, Horizon class anti-air DDG is released in 1/350 or 1/400 scale, I will purchase two of them and replace the De Grrasse and Duquesne with them, and then save those two for when a Mistral Class LPD is released in 1/350 or 1/400 scale so I can create a French ARG with those vessels.

The completion of the Japanese JMSDF group was centered on Fujimi's very finely detailed, 1/350 scale Hyuga, DDH-181. It will be escorted by Trumpeter's 1/350 scale DDG-177, Atago, an AEGIS class DDG and the JMSDF, DDG-174, Kongo class (which I own), Trumpeters's 1/350 scale DDG-114 Susunami and DDG-111 (both of which are Takinami Class DDGs which I own), and by the 1/350 scale SS-503 Hakuryu (which I own), one of Japans new, very modern and capable AIP Diesel Electric submarines. As soon as a DDG-115 Akizuki in 1/350 scale is released, I will add it to this group. Should a 1/350 scale Osumi Class LPD be relased, I will buy two of those vessels and create a JMSDF ARG.

Then, finally it will be a complete Russian CSG (centered on Trumpeter's Kuznetsov which I own) the Russian Kirov Class nuclear battle cruiser (CGN), the Peter the Great, by Trumpeter (which I own), the Russian Slava Class cruiser, Varyag by Trumperter (which I own), two Trumpeter 1/350 scale Udaloy DDGs (which I own), Hobby Boss's Akula II class SSN (which I own), and the new Yasen class Russian SSN (which I own), all in 1/350 scale. Some time in the more distant future when a 1/350 scale Russian version of the French Mistral class comes out (which is building in real life right now), I will add two of those and build a Russian ARG.

Recently I purchased Heller's 1/400 scale Foch, the Clemceau Class carrier that was sold to the Brazilians in 2000 and in 2002 was refitted and became the Brazilian CV, Sao Paulo, using steam catapaults. I will build the model as the Sao Paulo and thus start a Brazilian group, though the Type 22 DDGs and the FFGs the Brazilians use are not available at present. I have however purchased a set of 1/400 scale A-4 Skyhawks and S-3 Trackers to build a suitable airwing for the Sao Paulo.

Then, again, once the models are available, I'd like to build an Italian Carrier Strike Group centered on the Cavour and their Horizon DDGs, a Spanish Carrier Strike Group centered on the Juan Carlos and their F-100 AEGIS FFGs, and ultimatly an Australian Strike Group centered on the new Canberra Class LPD and the Hobart class AEGIS DDGs. If they ever build the models, an Indian Carrier Strike Group centered on either the Vikramaditya or their new ADS Carrier, the Vikrant, and their Kolkata class DDGs and Shivlak class FFGs would also be nice.

Years more worth of work!

You can see all of these actual carriers, read their histories and specifictions at my site:


...and most of their surface escorts at:


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