Bilek's 1/72 Sukhoi
Su-17 "Fitter H"
The Su-17 was a swing-wing development of the Su-7 and first flew in 1966. The first Su-17 greatly resembled the Su-7 that it came from, with the only noticable difference being the swing wings. Like most Soviet aircraft of the time, the Su-17 saw a great bit of modification through its production run, making it difficult to figure out which plane is which. Even the references I have from Eastern Europe conflict on what is what. Basically the differences between the different marks are with the tail and the fuselage spine, with both getting larger towards the later versions, eventually leading to the Su-22. I'm still looking for a definite reference on this plane, but at least this overview is better than the kit instructions, which give "The kit of russian attack-bomber" as the sole history.
This kit by Bilek is listed as a Fitter H, which some sources list as a Su-17M-3. However, another source shows that the Su-17M-3 has a different tail shape and no ventral fin on the rear fuselage. While I'm not sure which exact version this kit represents, in looking at photos that match the tail style the kit looks like it has everything where it should be, and hopefully Bilek did the same level of research for the markings.
The kit is fairly straightforward in construction, with no forseeable problem areas. The interior is pretty basic, with a simple tub and seat. A stick and instrument panel finish it out and with the small canopy not much else will be visible. There is a resin cockpit set available for this kit should you want to go all out, but even OOB you can end up with a nice cockpit. Other bits that find their way inside the fuselage are the exhaust pipe, intake cone & splitter, nose gear well, and a piece to make the swing wings swingable.
On the outside of the fuselage there's lots of details you'll be adding. Pretty much all the scoops and vents on the rear fuselage are separate pieces and careful measurements need to be made to put them in the proper location. Luckily the instructions are very clear in what goes where. You'll also have to drill out a couple of small holes in the underside of the fuselage for some clear lenses. Again, complete information is provided in the instructions.
The wings come in four pieces for each side (the outer sections move, remember?) and you'll likely have to spend some time here cleaning things up a bit if you want the wings movable. If you fix them in place, though, construction should be very quick. The kit provides lots of stuff to hang underneath as well, from rocket pods to fuel tanks to missiles. The landing gear is adequately detailed, although it could probably use some extra tubing. Out of the box, though, it should look fine.
The decals are a nice spot in this kit, with a total of six options provided. The decals are printed by MPD (East German and German examples) and Propagteam and both sets are nicely done. Each option has a full set of national insignia, even both Soviet examples, allowing you lots of great stuff for your spares box. You get an Iraqi plane, an Afghanistan plane two German and two Russian planes. The first Russian example is the one seen on the boxtop and is finished in a three-tone upper camouflage. The sharkmouth adds a bit of individuality to this plane. The second Russian example is also interesting in that it has two pieces of artwork on the fuselage sides right behind the canopy. On one side there is what appears to be an Indian chief and the other side has a bat carrying a bomb. There's also a total of fifteen white stars provided, but their location isn't clear. This is the only scheme that isn't provided in profile on the box, so you're on your own in determining where those stars go. The colors for this one are green, tan and brown over light blue.
The two German examples cover both before and after Germany's reunification. Both choices are pretty bland compared to the Soviet examples, with little more than national markings and numbers. Both have similar camouflage schemes and colors as well. The other two examples that round out the selection are interesting only in the countries they offer. The Iraqi one is very simple, being dark green over light blue. The Afghanistan example has a three-color upper surface camouflage similar to the Soviet examples, with roundels in all six positions.
Bilek's Fitters are probably the best 1/72 Fitters out there, and while they may not fall together like a Tamiya or Hasegawa kit, they will build up into a nice example of the Su-17, filling an important spot in modern Soviet aviation.