Italeri 1/72 SU-22U-3MK 'Fitter'






Two aircraft


Scott Van Aken


Bilek molded kit


Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s the buzz in modern planes was 'swing wing'. That was seen as the perfect way to combine high and low speed operation. It worked out quite well and many aircraft (mostly attack birds) adopted this technology. Amongst the pure fighter/interceptors were the Tornado F.3, F-14 Tomcat, and Mig-23 Flogger. For attack birds you have the B-1, Tornado IDS, Mig-27, F-111, and the Su-17/20/22 series to name a few. The Sukhoi aircraft were really just an add-on to an existing aircraft, the Su-7. I'm not really sure just why this was done as it seems that the only benefit was a lower landing speed. The swing wing had to add weight to the plane and further decrease its already minimal range.

Nonetheless, it was done and the plane was exported to a number of foreign air forces. Whether it actually saw action in any wars is conjecture, though it would seem that any Iraqi ones would have been used against Iran. Of course, a few of them were plonked in the 1980s when some Libyan ones were shot down by Tomcats, but to call that 'action' would really be stretching things. The twin seater is used for pilot training and also for those few missions that might require a back seater. Basically for reconnaissance and for anti-SAM operations would be the only times I could think of one of these being used tactically. All functions that are in the single-seat versions are present in the trainer. Thanks to the additional cockpit, both performance and range would be somewhat decreased.



This particular kit is one of many from Bilek that Italeri boxes. Now I must confess to not ever having built a Bilek kit, though I have a number of them in the kit dungeon, all of them in Italeri boxes! It is what one comes to expect from a modern kit; engraved panel lines, fair molding, and a lot of optional bits. Surface detail is a bit soft and the plastic slightly 'pebbly' but it is well within the normal range.

In the case of this kit, those options are in the form of weapons. Frankly, I haven't seen so much 'stuff' to hand from under the wings since I last saw a fully loaded A-10. You have four pylons per side to hang this stuff from, so it isn't a surprise that so much is offered. In fact, two entire pages of the instructions are dedicated to these racks, weapons and pods. Actually, since this is basically a trainer, I'm not really sure just how much of this would have really been carried at any one time, but it will make for an impressively loaded plane!

As with other later members of the Fitter family, this one has swing wings, and a rather unique way of handling that little option. Not the usual attached pivot as I've seen in other planes of this ilk, but one that you have to see for yourself. Most of the attachment points for pylons, scoops and such are not positively shown on the plastic itself. The builder has to measure distances from parts of the airframe for proper attachment for a number of these pieces. It isn't that difficult, but it can make for some problems if the builder is not careful.

The cockpit and wheel wells are fairly well detailed, but there is room for improvement. I'm sure that someone has an etched brass set for this kit out there. The seats are a bit of the 'overstuffed chair' variety. I'm not really sure just what bang seats are available for aftermarket, but they would be a positive addition to this kit. The instrument panels and side consoles have some detail, but again, they would benefit from a brass set. No decals are provided for the cockpit as an option.

Instructions are typical of Italeri and that is to say they are very good. Color call-outs are given in several paint ranges and FS numbers. Now why Tamiya and Airfix can't do the same is totally beyond me. Though I'm sure this plane saw service with a number of air forces, the decals are provided for only two planes. One is Soviet and the other is post Cold War Hungarian. Both schemes are a multi-colored scheme that should be interesting to paint.  They type was undoubtedly also flown by the Poles, East Germans, Egyptians, Peruvians, Iraqis, and several other countries. Since most of these planes were just insignia and tactical numbers, the resourceful modeler should be able to come up with something a bit different. The decals are well printed and look as if they'll work well.



This kit caught my attention as it fits two of my interests in modern planes. It is a two seater and has swing wings. Though there are a lot of parts in the box, it does not look that difficult and should be a kit that most modelers can successfully build.

Kit purchased by me for your previewing pleasure. If you think I paid retail, to quote a popular song, " got another thing comin'.......".

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