The Sukhoi S-37 (now Su-47) Berkut was developed as primarily a technology demonstrator. Using advanced materials - but still borrowing items from the Su-27 family - the S-37 demonstrates such thing as stealth (using advanced skinning items, etc.), internal weapons' storage, and the flight characteristics of a forward-swept wing. With it being "fly-by-wire", the S-37 is an extremely manuverable aircraft. Even though it hasn't been purchased for production yet, it was still given the production designation of Su-47 (the "S" in S-37 basically meaning "experimental"). It has to compete with the MiG 1.42 for production status.
Building the Kit
The Revell 1/144th Berkut consists of 33 black injected molded pieces and one injected molded canopy. Detail throughout is excellent and the model is molded very well. Since there is only one machine operational, decals cover this aircraft, and in its last known markings variations.
Construction naturally starts in the cockpit. I read in Caz Dalton's review that the control column was not directly in the center of the floorboard and instead it was mounted on the starboard "shelf". Moving the control column was the only change I made to the cockpit. The rest was out of the box. I painted it using Polly Scale's British Medium Sea Grey, with an Olive Green seat and black details. Once the cockpit was added construction continued.
It was now time to mount the cockpit to the top fuselage half, according to the instructions. However, I found it was easier to mount it to the bottom half of the fuselage using the provided mounting holes. I could then add the front "stabilators" (not sure exactly what they're called) and then glued the two fuselage halves together. Fit was extremely nice except in one area, that being where the inlets would mate with the fuselage. I didn't have to putty the whole area, instead concentrating on where the inlets didn't cover.
From here I built the inlets, added them to the fuselage as well as the nose cone. Not being sure if there was enough weight to keep the nose landing gear on the ground, I decided to glue a small lead fishing weight to the inside of the nose cone. Once again the fit was less than spectacular around the inlets, but with careful dry fitting the nose cone can be added with little to no putty. Now construction really moves forward.
Reading Caz's article it appears that the exhaust cans are very well fitting pieces and can be painted off the model. He was right. This is good because there are two different colors to the cans - the forward area being the color of the rest of the airplane, and the rear parts being the standard exhaust color. I now added the wings and the rear stabilators and if you're careful, you can get away with no putty. Assuming you're not as ham-fisted as I am. Checking the available photos the kit has been designed around natural seems. The vertical tailpieces are also added but be careful - it appears that the gaps here are more than should be. Something I didn't check carefully enough and looking at the photos I can see that the gaps are too much. Ah well.
Now the painting can start. The aircraft is not overall black; instead it's an overall very deep and dark blue. So I used Polly Scale's Model Railroad color "B&O Blue" mixed with black for what I thought was the correct shade. Before spraying the blue/black, though, there are white areas that need to be painted. These items include the nose, the tips of the horizontal tails and the tips of the "cones" at the back of the plane, right near the exhausts. I decided since I was going to have to mask anyway, I would spray the larger area on the leading edge of the starboard vertical tail. In hindsight I should have sprayed all the white areas. In the end I wasn't very happy with how the decals covered.
Once the white is sprayed, dried for two days and masked, the blue/black can be sprayed. After this dried I removed the masks and continued. I decided to hand brush the gray interiors to the wheel wells and interiors of the landing gear doors. The gray also was brushed on the landing gear, while the wheels were painted green and the tires scale black.
I ventured from normal practice when adding the decals. Normally I spray the overall model with Future then decal. This time I decided not to spray the whole model, instead only putting on a puddle of Future under the decals themselves. This didn't work out as well as I had hoped, and I ended up with some of the decal edges showing. Well, at least I know what not to do the next time. Keep in mind that there is one decal missing. On the starboard exhaust can is a ring of “metal” of some sort. This would be best represented with a decal. Unfortunately I haven’t added the ring to my model yet.
Now I could add the landing gear and the nose probe. In hindsight, I should have done something different with the nose probe. I think what could have worked was to drill out a hole and inserted a pin, cutting of the extreme tip of the pin. That way the probe won't be broken off as often. It's happened three times so far.
If you're not a ham-fisted modeler like I can be, this is an awesome model. Perfect for breaking one out of the AAMS quagmire. The Revell 1/144th Berkut is an excellent model and it goes together very well. Highly recommended.