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'Projekt Flanker"- (3) 1/32 Su-27P Flankers, 1/35 (1) Mi-8 Hip Diorama -08/09/20 Riveting, riveting, riveting...

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Let me take a moment to tell you about what I've termed 'Projekt Flanker.'  This will be a large scale diorama based at the Russian Kilp Yavr Airbase up in the Arctic Circle.  I've been at work off/on this project intermittently for a couple years so far.  It features (3) Trumpeter Su-27 Flankers heavily modified with basically all the aftermarket you can throw at it them, Zactoman nose, canopy, intakes, weapons pylons, and missiles.  Aires 1/32 Su-27 Cockpit, and Exhausts (2) Quickboost Ejection seats with pilots, Eduard 1/32 Su-27 Exterior Detail, aftermarket wheels which name escapes me now (or do I need to order these?), Linden Hill 1/32 Su-27 Flankers on Patrol: Guardians of the North' decals, Begemot 1/32 Su-27 stencils, Trumpeter Mi-8 Hip with quite a bit of aftermarket from Profimodeller thats en route, Scale Aircraft Conversions landing gear, Eduard Mi-8 stencils, Linden Hill 1/32 Mi-8 decals, Speedway Decals custom decals for various parts on the Mi-8.  I've also got a Trumpeter GAZ-66? Russian oil/fuel? truck, Trumpeter 1/35 rutruckssian utility-type, various ground equipment, tow bars, ladders, etc., a tarmac and a little terrain/bunker (although I have NO idea or experience with stuff like that, what better way to learn than sink or swim?).


I lucked out and got the motherload of reference photos for several Su-27s (Blue 38, Blue 36, and Blue 41 among a couple others) that show all angles of the actual subjects shown (I waited YEARS to find these), these aircraft get REALLY weathered, which I just love airbrushing so I can't wait to get to airbrushing again sometime soon.  I've also re-riveted essentially the entire airplane, 3 times over, so you can imagine its rather time consuming, however, the rivets really add to the weathered and beaten look of these aircraft and I have an idea to help make this even more apparent.  I thoroughly researched the actual rivet patterns of the planes, and while not 100% accurate, its probably about 95% accurate (minus some of the double riveting), drew them in pencil, made edits/changes, and went over it with my 'rosie the riveter' and another rivet tool, I will more than likely end up deepening the rivets each by hand so that they show up well with primer, paint, gloss coat, etc.  I had a problem without doing it where after the primer for the first 'test' plane I used filled in most of the detail I spent HOURS adding so I very carefully went over it VERY precisely and deepened the rivet without it looking doubled and weird.  I actually mostly painted and did some weathering with a first to try out techniques/planning on 'Blue 36' however I decided once I started re-riveting the other two that I would have to go back and add the rivet, panel, panel line detail to make them look 'uniform.'  While a little bit of a setback, its not bad, just time consuming and meticulous work but I'm not in a rush.


I'm planning on this project taking quite a while, so I'm planning some other builds to actually complete and paint sooner than this project will allow.  A 1/32 A-6E Intruder, 1/32 F-16B Israeli Air Force, 1/32 A-1H Skyraider (already primed) will help "fill the gaps."  I apologize for not getting these photos together sooner, but I'll try to just start with a few and describe some of the harder steps and how I tried to handle them.  Any help, tips, criticism (lets not get out of control here though), reference photos, etc are welcomed.



Lets begin with the cockpit, I prepared the Aires 1/32 cockpit with a power drill loaded with a sanding attachment, a dodgy affair if there ever was one.  You need to dry fit these things very carefully and diligently, I don't believe I had to take too much material out of the inside of the plastic near the cockpit on the kit.  You do need to make sure that the there is proper fit/clearance near the nose gear bay top, I believe you need there to be a gap between the bottom of theremin  cockpit and the nose gear bay part otherwise it won't fit.  That and what I talk about below with removal of the resin 'shims' were really the only tricky parts of the fit, overall its pretty good especially for Aires (if you know what I mean)




Also, if you look at the sides of the cockpit here you see that little 'shim' of plastic on the lower edge?  I sanded that down really smooth, I don't believe I sanded the inside of the fuselage sides that much (or at all) but it was quite a while ago.
















I painted it with Badger Stynylrez Primer (lightened with some white), sprayed a base of aluminum, used AK interactive chipping solution, and sprayed Akan Flanker cockpit blue, then used a moistened/damp brush and a small stiff one to pick out some scratches to help with the weathered look.  Various details were picked out with reference photos and painted accordingly when possible, some of the detail I just painted randomly to represent replacing/different parts?  and give it a little interest to the eye.  Painted the pants in a camouflage color I saw one of the pilots there wearing these pants and thought it would be a neat little touch.  Some dry brushing and wash was added to, and then a flat coat to knock it back a bit.


Next time, I'll talk more about the nose....its a beautiful piece of resin, that is challenging to properly attach.  Finesse and not strength is key.  Basically you have to "compromise" a little on the angle/positioning to capitalize on as even a look as possible.  Carefully adding CA glue is best to strengthen the bond, once carefully sanded smooth (to preserve detail and masking tape helps wonders even if you have to reapply it several times), oh well, I'm getting carried away, the pictures are more interesting and should speak wonders and i'll discuss the technique in detail.

Edited by dsahling1
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Wow! Hats off to you for taking on a project of that magnitude. I thought I had a fair space for LSP’s, but this is another level. 
I did giggle a little at your ‘fill the gaps” comment. My idea of filling the gaps would be building a few missiles or undercarriage parts. You’re doing entire aeroplanes! :bow:

I shall be following this one closely, 

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Ok, so here's the next update.  Today I'll discuss the Zactoman nose.  To reiterate, its a BEAUTIFUL piece of resin and really corrects the shape/length issues of the kit (even after the Trumpeter 'fix').  The problem is with the fit, however, with a little finesse its somewhat easy to get looking pretty good.  The problem is the kit fuselage halves have a larger circumference than the resin nose, even if you adjust the screw, take off a little plastic on the side of fuselage right before the end it still won't fit right.  The second issue is trying to get the nose to be level or 'flush' with the fuselage.  I've seen some people try really strong epoxy (and I did that once but it never cured properly and even if it would've I predict one day it would break because there would just be too much force used to keep the bond secure.  Basically if you make it level, it won't fit on the top properly and thats the part you'll see for the most part.  I did end up getting it to look damn good in the end.




In the above photo you can see the edge of the kit parts where the plastic is really thin/stressed probably from me messing around with it.  If you do see this and an indention form you can just apply a little CA glue over the 'divot' and sand it smooth and flush, pretty easy fix. 




I scratched my head and eventually came to a solution after re-reading the Zactoman instructions...small beads of CA glue to fill the gap with accelerator.  You do end up compromising a little with the positioning, but this way you get the best of both worlds and its flush with the fuselage and doesn't look weird.  Before applying the CA glue be sure to carefully tape off the  detail on the nose to protect it from mistakes/smeared glue.  I just apply a little more glue than is needed to make sure its even and flush after CAREFULLY sanding with progressively finer grains.  






Then comes the tricky part, re-scribing the panel line that delineates where the radome meet the fuselage, only tricky part is its not a simple vertical/round shape.  yes, its round but its "canted" at a funny angle.  So to get around this I use Demo tape all the way around, but in the parts where the tape wasn't stuck to the fuselage I applied a liberal amount of blue tac, and some other dymo/tamiya tape to secure it.  You just need it to be secure/stable enough for scribing, once thats done you can use a rivet wheel/template to add some lost rivets and details. Applying Tamiya tape over the detail really helps to protect it, sometimes you sand through, so just watch closely and apply another piece over it or remove the worn one and replace with a new piece.  It really helps make cleaning up the detail much easier.








Lastly, I wanted to give everyone a small preview of the insane amount of rivet work that was done, this is just a small peak though, I still need to deepen/define pretty much all the rivets in order for them to show up with primer, paint, gloss coats, washes, etc.  Yes its time consuming, but it'll pay dividends later, and if you break it up into smaller sessions it doesn't seem so daunting.




Next update I'll discuss and show how I did the Zactoman canopy and IRST.  It was one of the longest parts of the build because they're out of print, although I have been able to find 3 other canopies, but only 2 sets of the IRST and actuator parts (one was a spare Chris Wilson from Zactoman used to supply which was really nice especially if you've never worked with vacuformed parts before and make a mistake), what made it so difficult was I was so worried about making a mistake that I thought through each step and tried to figure out what could go wrong and how to correct it.  Eventually it worked out, but it was really dodgy, cutting and sanding and fitting knowing if I screwed up I was really in trouble.  The above photo isn't complete, there were actually more rivet detail aded to the nose shortly after I took the photo.  I have to remove some of the tape I used for lining up the rivets I made as a bootleg template (I'll talk more about that in the future when I discuss the riveting, as it proved to be an easy and useful technique for assuring the rivet lines are essentially uniform and identical between the 3 planes) and then I can show more of the rivet detail I added as a preview; but that'll be soon.

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On 7/27/2020 at 5:05 AM, dsahling1 said:

It features (3) Trumpeter Su-27 Flankers ... Trumpeter Mi-8 Hip


Wow this sounds like it's going to be massive! - Any ideas how big the final piece will be? 

Great work on the first Flanker as well!

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3 hours ago, Lemonstein said:


Wow this sounds like it's going to be massive! - Any ideas how big the final piece will be? 

Great work on the first Flanker as well!


I was thinking of making the diorama base about 4-5 ft. wide, by about 3 ft. long or so.  My plan is to have it be a fair amount of tarmac, with some terrain (the 'bunker' type thing seen in the inspiration photo above) and equipment/ground vehicles.  It'll be very large, and certainly will take quite a while to do, but I'm excited to learn some new types of modeling and techniques to try and use for it.

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Nice project! :speak_cool:


About the nose plug:

I usually add a sheet of styrene (with a hole) over the inner resin plug, thick enough to cover the gap, before glueing the resin part in place. When the glue has cured, I trim off as much of the styrene sheet as possible (scissors, scalpel) before I start sanding. This makes sanding a lot more easier: It has the same sanding properties as your styrene fuselage, and you have only to deal with two different materials instead of three (resin and styrene instead of resin, styrene and some kind of filler). Helps a lot to achieve a good transition between the parts.


Long story short - I do it this way:



Keep it rolling!

- dutik


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In this update I'll talk about how I installed the Zactoman Su-27 canopy sets.  First, this was one of the longest parts of the project so far, not because its necessarily difficult or unique, although there are challenges working with vacuformed canopies, but I just kept dry fitting and trying to think many steps ahead of potential problems that could arise owing to the fact that these Zactoman Su-27 canopies are discontinued so I was really nervous I'd screw it up (Chris if you see this, PLEASE reconsider making them again, they are wonderful and help correct the kit into a really good looking shape/profile).  Well luckily I think I got them to fit really well and at least I think they look great.  I have lucked out and found a couple others....one day I plan on adding another Flanker or two to this project (Blue 03 and maybe Red 50, which is SU-27UB two seater?)  If anyone has any reference photos of Blue 03 with the wolf on it I'd be very grateful.


The biggest lesson in working with vacuformed parts is to give yourself a moderate amount of "extra" materia to play with in the initial cut, and to go VERY slowly with scoring the plastic and sanding it to precision.  I carefully mark where the actual line needs to be with thin strips of tamiya tape and then cut a bit aways from that which gives you some room to get used to how the plastic handles/cuts/sands.  Then I apply Demo tape which is secure, and apply either a lot of blue tac or clay to give the canopy strength.  To Zactomans credit its good durable plastic and didn't give me any problems.  Then use a fresh #11 xacto blade and carefully with a little pressure (you can practice on the scrap plastic after the initial cut if you need to and I did) follow the hard edge of the demo tape.  Once you have made a few lighter passes, there should be somewhat of a "groove" in the plastic to help with firmer pressure and cuts.  It can seem like its taking an eternity and you're probably doing it right, and eventually you will cut through.








We're not out of the woods yet, now comes the really dodgy part where you need to separate the windshield from the canopy, same technique applies, but you need to be even more slow and careful because cutting on the curve is tricky.  I found "pulling" the knife slowly towards me made a smoother more natural motion.  Eventually with a lot of sweat and holding your breath you're done!




Then you need to slowly and carefully sand/grind it down so it fits.  A word to the wise, if you're keeping the canopy open it will make for far less headache and you get to see the wonderful detail of the resin cockpit.




Now comes time to remove the rudimentary IRST piece on he kit with a razor saw and fit the zactoman IRST.  Maybe I took off too much kit material, but I had hard time getting the IRST to sit flush with the fuselage/cockpit area.  In the end I used a combination of carefully applied and sanded CA glue and superfine milliput to get it flush.  In the end I had to blend it as one piece (which on the real plane it isn't like that) so I used Tamiya tape for curves to re-scribe the panel line delineating the outline of the IRST secured with dymo tape (this tamiya curve tape is wonderful stuff and I highly recommend it for any modelers tool collection).  Its slightly "taller" but once the primer and paint is on it you won't be able to tell and most important it looks good/accurate.  Remember to paint the inside of the zactoman IRST that faces the cockpit in black otherwise you'll have this awkward looking white resin piece staring at you from the inside of the windshield.










To apply the windshield and canopy 'frame' or 'bulkhead' I dry fitted the parts to make sure they were flush by placing them face down on a flat surface.  Now more hair raising work, you will need 'foam safe' CA glue specifically used for clear parts otherwise the fumes from regular CA glue will stick to any finger prints/smudges in the clear parts and ruin your part.  What I did was apply a little of that special CA glue on a piece of cardboard and used a long toothpick/narrow wooden dowel to get a small amount of glue on it and then apply to the edge of the frame piece that will be attached to the clear parts and spread it around so its a thin film of glue that won't "push through" when you join the part together.  I wouldn't use CA glue remover on the clear parts unless you test it on the same material scraps as that stuff can 'craze' styrene and ruin the part.  Then position the canopy part face down an gently nudge and position the part quickly.  I recommend practicing the motion without glue a few times so you know what to expect.




Once you've dry fitted the living hell out of the parts, mask off the clear parts and spray the interior color either the Akan Flanker cockpit color or black on the inside of the side part that glues to the fuselage/cockpit area on the windshield.  Again use the special CA glue for any cockpit parts for safety to attach the windshield and use some ca glue for the gap and sand smooth and re-scribe any panel lines/detail you need or lost.  I find taking pictures of the kit parts before I go to town sanding helps with redoing the detail work and panel lines and such.


Skipping WAY ahead, here's how one of them currently looks (more or less, there's currently more detail, but I just don't have an up to date photo and its late)




Take a deep breath, get yourself a drink, kick your feet up and relax, one of the most stressful parts of the build is done...now you just need to be insane like me and repeat the process twice more :-)  Next I'll talk a little about the intakes, and then on to the riveting. and flight control surfaces


Until next time.



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very nice work, Dan.

of very hard to find vacparts i always make a master before i work with them, so i can pull copies if i mess up. these may not be as perfect as Chris´parts, but what good is a perfect part i cant get? i have  a flanker kit with all of zactomans parts except the canopy, but haven been able to get my hands on one. i have been in contact with Chris a long time ago, but he wont make any more copies because he sais these are not producible to his standards.....

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6 hours ago, blackbetty said:

very nice work, Dan.

of very hard to find vacparts i always make a master before i work with them, so i can pull copies if i mess up. these may not be as perfect as Chris´parts, but what good is a perfect part i cant get? i have  a flanker kit with all of zactomans parts except the canopy, but haven been able to get my hands on one. i have been in contact with Chris a long time ago, but he wont make any more copies because he sais these are not producible to his standards.....

Thats definitely a good idea, I've never tried to make a spare and Im not sure what would be involved but I imagine its rather labor-intensive.  The other item I've been hunting for is a Wolfpack 1/32 Su-30K conversion as it has some critical parts to make an Su-27SM3 or some other version (which is also on my long list of future projects, but right now I don't have a windshield with the side mounted IRST  and I can't even find a spare from the Su-30 kit anywhere), speaking of which if anyone has any photos that show the upper camouflage surface of the Su-27SM3 'Red 64' it would be much appreciated :-)  It's too bad because I know I would buy quite a few if he ever started making the canopies again and they really do let you make an accurate flanker with some other work of course, and he was the only one on the market making it too, maybe, you never know?

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not labor intensitive at all, i just fill the vacpart with carputty

i still regret not following my own advice with the A-7 canopy from Chris. i used it for a build and am now stuck with a second kit without canopy...

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