Sukhoi SU-34 Strike Aircraft
Latest Update: October 29, 2014 - Adding Weapons, final details, decals and finished
The SU-34 Fullback Strike Aircraft:
For strike fighters, the Soviet UNion built many SU-24 Fencer aircratf throughout the 1980s. These were the Soviet answer to the F-111 strike fighter that the United States produced, and was very similar right down to the variable geometry wings, or swing wings as they were called.
However, over time, the SU-24 has shown its age, and though still a good aircraft for strike missions, its ability to penetrate more modern air defenses and contend with likely opposition aircraft has become more and more limited over time.
As an answer, the Russian Federation began developing another variant of the stable and strong SU-27 platform for long range strike missions in he early 1990s. This resulted in a larger aircraft with an extended tail "sting," to house more modern electronics, more internal space for fuel to enable the long range missions, and a new, dual seat, side-by side cockpit with a small galley and bathroom behind the two pilots.
This would become the SU-34 Fullback, but it would take over 15 years to get it into production.
The initial design was based on the two seat trainer version of the SU-33 naval air superiority fighter which was developed in the late 1980s. That aircraft was developed to allow pilots for the Russian SU-33s to be trained, including at sea, and was called the SU-27KUB. However, since the Russian Navy only had one carrier, and never deployed more than a handful of SU-33s, the need for a production run of the trainer never materialized. But the design did provide a very fundamental platform for the future SU-34.
In this time frame, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the new Russian Federation was strapped for cash and funding...severly strapped. They took the SU-27KUB and developed an intial figher/bomber prototype version which was called the SU-27IB. This aircraft's initial prototype first flew in 1990. It was shown on a couple of ooccassiona at airshows. In 1993, a second prototype was built it first flew late in December of that year. That aircraft was much closer to the SU-34 we now see. It had the new, modified vertical stabilizers, a twin tandem main undercarriage, and the distinctive longer tail "sting", which carried a rearward-facing air radar. In 1994 a new aircraft was built to this production standard and was fitted with a fire-control system, which included the Leninets OKB-designed passive electronically scanned array (PESA) radar. This was the first aircraft to be designated the "Su-34."
But budget restrictions and other prioroties caused the programme to languish. Another SU-34 production aircraft (now the 3rd) was built and first flew in late 1996. It took another ten years to raise that number of production prototypopes to five aircraft in 2006.
Finally, in March 2006, Russia's Minister of Defence announced that the Russian Air Force had signed a contract and purchased those first five prototype Su-34s. In late 2008, a second contract was signed which called for the delivery of thirty-two more SU-34 aircraft, which would begin replaceing the SU-24 Fencers that were still in operation. On January 9, 2009, Sukhoi indicated that the Su-34 was ready to begin full-rate production. Despite this, due to continuing budget issues, only three of the thirty-two SU-34s were delivered by the end of 2009.
The Russian Air Force received another four Su-34s at the end of 2010. In 2011, another six aircraft were delivered and for the first time, six aircraft were deployed to active Russian air bases.
A second contract was signed in 2012 for ninety-two more aircraft, which would bring the ultimate total to one hundred and twenty-four SU-34 aircraft to be delivered by 2020.
In 2012, another five aircraft were delivered. Then in 2013, a total of sixteen aircraft were delivered. This completed the 2008 order for thirty-two aircraft and began the intial deliveries against the 2012 order for ninety-two more aircraft. In 2014, a total of seventeen new aircraft are being delivered to the Russian Air Force which will bring the total number of SU-34 Fullback aircraft to fifty-one at the end of 2014.
Basing of the SU-34, as of the end of 2014, consists of:
Voronezh Malshevo Air Base - 24 aircraft
The aircraft shares most of its wing structure, tail, and engine nacelles with the Su-27/Su-30 aircraft. The SU-34 adds canards like the Su-33 and SU-35 to increase static instability (higher manoeuvrability) and to reduce trim drag. The aircraft has an entirely new nose and forward fuselage with a cockpit providing side-by-side seating for a crew of two. The Su-34 is powered by the Russian AL-31FM1 engine. Its maximum speed is Mach 1.8+ fully loaded.
The Su-34 has a three surface flight design, with two horizointal stabilizors at the rear, the large wing mid-body, and the pair of canard foreplanes in front of the wings. The aircraft has twelve hardpoints for over 26,000 lbs of ordinance. This includes the latest Russian precision-guided munitions of all types. Like the SU-27 and SU-30, the aircraft is also armed witha 30 mm GSh-30-1 cannon.
The most distinctive features are the long tail "sting," which carriers, as stated, a rear facing radar and other sensors. A lot of design work went into providing crew comfort for what were expected to be long strike missions. This resulted in the side by side seating, which is distinctive for this variant of the SU-27. The two crew sit side by side in a large cabin, with the pilot-commander to the left and navigator/weapons operator to the right. They both sit in NPP Zvezda K-36dm ejection seat. Cabin pressurization allows operation up to 32,800 ft. without oxygen masks, which are available in any case for emergencies and combat situations. The crew has room to stand and move around the cabin during long missions, allowing them to lie down if necessary in the corridor next to and behind the seats. A toilet and small galley are located in a compartment behind their seats. Entrance to the cockpit from the ground is made from below the aircraft, using a ladder attached to the nose landing gear and a hatch in the cockpit floor.
With refueling, the range of the SU-34 is extended to whatever necessary through inflight refueling.
Italeri makes good kits. They are not quite as detailed as the newer Trumpeter kits, but they are right up there with the major producers like Hasegawa and Tamiya. This kit has two large sprues of parts molded in light gray, and a single spure of clear plastic for the canopy. No major flash or left overs from the molding process were found.
A total of 110 parts are included.
The upper and lower fuselage (without wings, or stabilizors) are in two different parts. This is a large aircraft, as is consistant with the SU-27 Flanker family. But with the large extended tail piece and the larger cockpit for the side by side seating, the aircraft is even larger.
The kit includes some very decent armament options. Four air to air missiles, both IR and radar guided. Four large laser guided bombs. Two precision guided glide bombs, and two large guided missiles. I will build mine with the IR missiles, the radar guided missiles, at least two of the large (possibly 1,000 kg LGBs, and the two large guided missiles.
Gear can be shown up or down, I intend to build it with the gear down.
The cockpit is decent, with raised instrumentation but no decals for that instrumentation. The ejection seat is decent, but not overly detailed.
The decal sheet is decent, but does not have the dozens of detailed panel markings and other textual markings you see in some of the more detailed kits. Just the same, the decals look very well done, and there are a very adequte number of detailed and standard decals...a total of 70 of them.
The instructions are fairly straight forward. However the painting scheme leaves a bit to be desired. Some of the placement instruction are not very clear, and you will want to depend on some good high res photos of the aircraft to assist. Also, the gray-scale patterns used for the painting on some patterns are hard to tell apart, this is because the instructions appear to be mass produced...almost as if they were simply copied on a copy machine.
Despite a few issues with the instructions, the kit is overall a very good kit and should build up into a very decent SU-34 model.
I intend to build the airaft as is, out of the box. For painting I will use some Russian Flanker Model Master colors over what is shown on the instructions.
I have already built the Russian PAKFA Stealkth Fighter, a SU-27, and a Mig-29 in 1/72 scale. After this build, over time, I will build quite a few other Russian modern airccraft. They include:
- SU-33 Sea Flanker by Itakeri
I began by removing the parts for the cockpit and painting them. No decals for the cockpit were included, but because of the finely detailed raised surfaces for the instrumentation, I was able to paint those by hand. I then assembled it all and then glued the cockpit into the upper fuselage. The cockpit is fairly decent with a control stick for each side, decent instrumentation, and a passable ejection seat. I painted the doorway for the pilots into the rear areas of the crew compartment dark gray as shown., They have a small galley and toilet back there. Here's how that looks:
Then it was time to put the fuselage together. This involved asssembling some areas in the landing gear bays, and the long tail boom that houses some of the SU-34's additional electornics. At that point I was able to glue the upper and lower halves of the fuselage together with the cockpit which had already been inserted into the upper half.
I then added the forward canards, the wings, the verttical stablizors, the horizontal stabilizors and the engine nozzles. The engine nozzles for each side were a small assembly consisting of the engine turbine inside the forward cone, and then the afterburinng sections of the tail cones on each side.
It was then a matter fo gluing all of this together.
At this point I decided to go ahead and paint the camo pattern onto the aircraft. I used Flanker Blue/Grey for the lower fuselage and portions of the upper fuselage. I also used dark ghost gray and a Russian Pale Green for the upper camo pattern. All of them Model Master paints.
That's it for this session. This is an impressive aircraft and a good model of it.
In my next session I will work on the landing gear, the landing gear bay doors, and the initial selection and build of the weapons.
I started off this session by removing the canopy from its spure and then painting it. Once it was painted, I dry fitted it to the fuselage. I will glue it down at the end after the dull caot finish has been applied.
In the dry fit the instrumentation through the cockpit window looks pretty decent.
Then it was time to paint all of the various parts that go into the landing gear. Whenever possible, I glue mating halves together to one of the halves that is on the sprue. I was able to do this with the large tires for the main landing gear carriage. Those are large tires...two in tandem on each side. Once the parts where painted and assmbled, I then glued the landing gear (including the gear door hinges) onto the model. I then followed this up be glueing the tires on.
Once the tires were on, I cut out all of the parts for the various weapons pylons to which the weapons I choose for this model will utlimately attack. Some of them required a little sub-assembly work first. Once all of that was done I glued them to the wings and the lower fuselage. There are twelve hard points for weapons altogether. Four on each wing and four under the fuselage.
Now, with all of that done, it as time to choose the weapons package for this aircraft. I decided to go with the following:
2 x R-73M (AA-11 Archer) IR Short Range Air to Air missiles
This is a very heavy loadout for the aircraft, maxing out its capabilites, but also demonstrting the powerful nature of the armament possible for this new Russian strike aircraft.
The Archer, Adder, LAser Guided bombs, and Krypton missiles all came with the kit. I went to my 1/72 scale after market kit of Russian Air to Ground munitions for the AS-18 Kazoo missiles.
The AA-11 came in a single piece, all of the other were small assemblies in their own right from two pieces (for the bombs) up to six pieces for the AS-18 Kazoos. Once they wer eput together, I then painted them. They are looking nice:
That's it for now. In the next session I will get the landing gear doors all added, add all of the weapons, and then add the decals. I actually hope to finsh the aircraft in the next session.
Well, I decidied to go ahead and complete the model in this session.
I started by adding the weapons that I had selected, painted, and completed in the last session. From wing pylon to the fuselage pylon I added one AA-11 Archer missile, one AA-12 Adder missile, one KAB-500L laser guided bomb, one AS-18 Kazoo, and finally one AS-17 Krypton missile to each station on each side.
I then added the decals. I ended up putting 49 decals on and they came off nicely. The instructions were not too clear, other than giving you the decal number and a basic location. Just the same, I believe they went on nicely.
Finally, I added the refueling probe (which could be shown either retracted or extended) in the extended position.
Here's how those three things went:
Then it was toime for the touch up and adding the dull coat finish. Once that was on, I took the model and got the finshed pictures:
...and a few more shots from other angels:
That's a very good looking aircraft, with a particularly potent weapon load out. A really enjoyable kit to put together.
Schedule for Future Activities: October 29, 2014
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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