Su-25 Frogfoot or “Grach” as it is also known in Russia, is a Soviet ground attack and close support aircraft from the late 70s. The initial ideas and design came from satellite pictures of the Northrop YA-9 prototype, the main contender in the USAF A-X program, that lost to A-10 Thunderbolt II. Based on that information and their own research, Sukhoi design bureau came up with subsonic, twin-engine non-pressurized plane, destined in time to take Su-7/17 and MiG-23B/MiG-27 place in Russian Air Force.
Su-25 gained its fame mostly in Soviet-Afghan War during the 80s, where it flew numerous missions and despite heavy damages almost always managed to survive. Soviet troops loved it. Since its introduction in the early 80s, the plane flew in numerous armed conflicts and has a reputation of nearly indestructible, although rather ugly jet fighter. To this day, and especially with the ongoing War in Ukraine, the plane flies constantly and proves its worth on a daily basis.
Quarter-scale modeling-wise, Su-25 is not represented seriously enough, with its main options being old and obsolete Czechoslovak kits, repacked from numerous companies and still being widely available. Kitty Hawk once promised two new variants and lately, Trumpeter are hinting an eventual release of their own Su-25 1/48, however with the 32nd scale availability from that same company and its qualities, that is not overly exciting information. Zvezda on their end, entered the market with new tooling, which we are about to take a look at here.
Zvezda’s Su-25 #4807, comes in a typical for the Russian company box, being a side-opener with carboard box /top-opener/ inside. Unlike the boxart which is vivid, the inner box is rather dull, but in the same time provides strong security for the sprues inside. That is a thing that is missing in many of the new and highly praised kits from China, where everything is crammed and the boxes are barely close-able, with sprue security brought down to a minimum. Russians took care of that properly here.
Instructions of Zvezda #4807 are an improvement over what we usually get from companies like Zvezda. There is thorough description of the sprues, two language explanations and nice material of the clear white paper sheets. It seems like the paper was upgraded compared to their previous releases. But that is not confirmed, just an assumption. Looks very nice though.
Everything is clearly depicted, with assembly options divided in a manner that can save you some troubles even if you don’t pay attention. Since the parts of the plane are not overly many, the requirements for a complex instruction sheet is non-existent here, but it seems like even if it were, Zvezda would have done it properly. Another plus sign for Zvezda.
Sprues, although protected in the cardboard box, are unfortunately crammed into two plastic bags and rather tightly too. As expected, upon inspection there were some scratches over the surface of the plastic, which is unavoidable if you don’t leave enough space in the box or you don’t pack sprues separately. You can check the pictures down below for reference. Note that only the wing is pictured, but similar scratches were noticeable on the fuselage as well.
Plastic is light gray, widely known from Mi-24 helicopters made from that same company, which have reputation of being the best on the market. Detail-wise here we are getting something very good too, even though we suspect that other companies have not said their final word on the Frogfoot subject yet, so it is too early to judge is this the best 1/48 Su-25 we can get. Thus far seems like it.
At some places the detail is rather small and subsequent test fit easily revealed gaps that are far bigger than the detail itself, however everything is acceptable and within normal limits. With that said, the rivets, panel lines and all that you can expect from a 21st century kit is here. Well, it is not the A-grade level, but it is close B+. Not bad at all. After all, we didn’t expected Zvezda to offer us the next Zoukei-Mura to be frank.
Engineering-wise, there are few eyebrow raising moments and some questions regarding the proper alignment of the anhedral of the wings and dihedral of the horizontal stabilizer. Alongside with that some elements of the engines are designed in a way that beats the pure logic, but that doesn’t necessarily means that the kit is bad. It is simply a matter of an engineering approach. Russians have their own style and we have to work with that.
One should not expect a straight forward build like Tamiya, Zoukei-Mura or MENG though. It is clear from the first look that some work will be needed in different areas, with one special let-down that we must reveal:
The flaps are molded all together with the wing, even though open air brakes are an option. That is a definite disappointment, especially with the high-wing design of the Frogfoot and its rather interesting and large flaps. Even in flight – in attack mode – Su-25 uses “half” flap setting and despite Zvezda’s effort to present the kit both in parked and in-flight positions, they missed a big opportunity here. Not enough attention to detail or lack of serious research is what we suspect. However, it might’ve been production costs too.
Are OK, but they aren’t really the best quality. You can work with what you have of course, but it is definitely not an A-grade plastic. It is not clear if there is going to be a substitute from an aftermarket company, but there is a certain need of an additional option in our opinion. That’s being said knowing that aftermarket companies already approached the wheels, some of the weapons and the pitot tubes of the plane. Why not offer superior clear parts as well…Well, we can only hope. But with all that said, they are very acceptable. Just have a thing or two in mind before start your work on this project. Clear parts are always tricky and a good product is helpful anytime.
Decals seem like printed from Begemot, but this is not confirmed. They look crisp, with two separate sheets, one featuring the technical markings, while the other – abundant with the specific plane insignia variations included in this kit. Latter are nice, but you can easily go wild on the subject, since there are plenty of aftermarket decals for Su-25 in quarter scale available. And also bear in mind, that tech-stencils are more than enough and a lot of work and patience is required here. Zvezda provided nice instruction page dedicated to that specifically and it is busy. Almost like a Phantom.
There are Soviet, Russian, Czechoslovak and Bulgarian options included with this kit. Understandably, no Ukrainian ones, even though Su-25s from Ukraine are one of the best painted options ever made. But back to what we get OOTB.
Soviet and Russian options are well known and in addition to what’s included, one must know that they vary a lot. During the years the planes were re-painted, colors & patterns changed, etc. If you decide to go crazy with that, you are more than welcome with what’s included in the kit. Just you have to be sure to have plenty of reference. This plane with its work environment was aesthetically…challenged.
Czechoslovak and Bulgarian options are most intriguing though. Czechoslovakia, being the first country from the Warsaw Pact getting the Su-25, opted for dark-ish green colors on their Frogfoots, which surprisingly are quite vivid in real life. There are plenty of pictures on the web of old Czech Su-25s. You will be surprised how good looking those are. One might expect dark green to be dull looking, but not the Czechoslovak Frogfoots.
Camouflage-wise Bulgarian option is the best one, but it is also wrong. The digital camouflage applied on Bulgarian Su-25s was painted after major overhaul of 8 of the planes in service and they have nothing to do /cockpit-wise/ with the original Soviet-made Grach. The glass deck and the HUD seen on the BuAF Frogfoot planes are different, so if you pick that specific option, you must use scratch-building skills and modify few other things too. You will most definitely need paint masks as well, since re-creating the Digital pattern at hand will be pure madness. That is where DN Models’ masks come to the rescue:
Zvezda’s Su-25 is most definite quarter scale winner on the Frogfoot arena. Unfortunately, few issues are to be addressed, like flaps, missing cockpit for the Bulgarian option included, some minor fit issues and plastic wear due to poor packing and B-grade material quality. It is also pretty clear, that aftermarket is recommended.
Nevertheless, Kitty Hawk failed to deliver their Su-25 variants and Trumpeter, if released, might be a scaled down option of their 32nd Frogfoot, which will not be the best option and most definitely, not better than this one here.
So in conclusion, this is not the most sophisticated kit you’ve ever seen, but it is definitely the right Su-25 to get in 1/48. We sincerely hope to see the dual-seater Grach from Zvezda in the future too. Russian company made a firm step forward in some areas. KUDOS to them for that. We believe that if they continue to improve, in time they will reach the top level in model making. Apparently, Eduard are with the same opinion as us on the matter – they are about to release Limited Edition kit in autumn 2023, a re-packed Zvezda #4807, but with Czechoslovak and Czech markings, called “Hrabe”. Eventually some Eduard goodies included too. That’s by itself a vivid justification that Zvezda did it right. And we can confirm that according to our opinion, they really did a good job with this Grach.