The Super Étendard [SuE] was a development of the earlier Étendard IVM which flew in the 1950s. The Étendard IVM was originally to have been replaced by a navalised version of the SEPECAT Jaguar. However the Jaguar M project stalled by a combination of political problems and issues experienced during carrier deployments trials. There were several proposed aircraft to replace the Jaguar M; these included the LTV A-7 Corsair II, the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk and Dassaults Super Étendard. The SuE was essentially an improved version of the existing Étendard IVM, fitted with a more powerful engine, a new wing and improved avionics. The SuE proposal was accepted by the French Navy in 1973 and a series of prototypes were quickly assembled. The first of which made its maiden flight on 28 October 1974. It entered French service in 1978. The SuE was also operated by Iraq and Argentina, who both deployed the aircraft during wartime. The SuE was used by Iraq to attack oil tankers and merchant shipping in the Persian Gulf during the Iraq-Iran War. Its profile was further raised with Argentina's use of the SuE and the Exocet missile during the 1982 Falklands. During the conflict HMS Sheffield was badly damaged and the merchant ship Atlantic Conveyer was sunk as a result of Exocets carried by the SuE’s. In French service the SuE could also deploy tactical nuclear weapons; initially these were unguided gravity bombs only. However, during the 1990s the SuE was extensively upgraded, enabling the deployment of the Air-Sol Moyenne Portée, a ramjet-powered air-launched nuclear missile. The aircraft was also refitted with the ability to operate a range of laser-guided bombs. However, the aircraft is unable to perform naval landings without jettisoning unexpended ordnance. The SuE could be fitted to carry a specialist reconnaissance pod as well.
The SuE underwent a series of upgrades throughout the 1990s to add new capabilities and update existing systems. Designated Super Étendard Modernisé [SEM] saw its first combat missions during NATO's Allied Force operations over Serbia in 1999. It was reported that over 400 combat missions were flown with 73% of the assigned objectives destroyed: the best performance of all the air forces involved in the missions over Serbia. The SEM also flew strike missions in Operation Enduring Freedom over Iraq.
SEM’s were also used during the conflict in Afghanistan. One of their main roles was to carry laser designation pods to illuminate targets for Dassault Rafales. During Opération Harmattan the SEM flew missions over Libya paired again once again with Dassault Rafales. Today, all SEM’s in French naval aviation are in one squadron: “flottille 17”. All Super Étendards are expected to be retired from French service by 2016. The Dassault Rafale M started to replace the SEM from 2006 onwards. The Super Étendard's last operational deployment is expected to be from the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier fighting Islamic State militants, which began in late 2015.
Unusually for a Kinetic
kit the box is not bulging with sprues. Inside the top opening box there is:
5 x grey plastic sprues.
1 x clear plastic sprue.
1 x small non painted photo etched sheet.
1 x large sheet of water slide decals.
1 x 20 page instruction booklet.
The small non painted photo etched sheet contains the flying elevator plates for the fin, some of the upper wing structure and the head up display.
The cockpit is made up from seven grey plastic parts, two clear plastic parts and a photo etched part. Two instrument panels are included for the “SuE” or the “SEM”. The head up display is made up from the photo etched sheet and the lens and screen are clear plastic parts. The bulk of the cockpit is in the form of a bath. Rudder pedals and control stick is included. There is a very good level of raised detail, which would benefit from some careful painting and highlighting. The Martin-Baker Mk.4 seat is made up from six parts, with two choices of overhead firing control. It should look pretty good, but it is lacking any harnesses. The built up cockpit will more than satisfy most modellers.
The windscreen and canopy are separate items so the canopy can be displayed open. The clear plastic looks crystal clear, but there is a slight flaw in the surface of the canopy. The surface looks slightly hazy as if the plastic has been stressed.
I am immediately impressed with the fine recessed panel lines, hatches and fasteners. The fuselage is moulded in two parts and includes the radome and the vertical tail. The entire rudder is moulded on the left hand fuselage. The quadrilateral spaces on the fin are covered by the photo etched parts. There are two types of tail sensors included and these fit in the spaces on the upper leading edge and just above the jet nozzle. The shape of the fuselage looks rather good capturing the slightly droopy looking nose very well. The two air intakes are separate one piece parts. The doors for the two auxiliary air inlets are separate and can be modelled open or closed. If you do show the doors open there is no corresponding gap in the air duct. The entire air duct for the engine is provided and is made up from four parts. The nicely moulded one piece primary compressor fits at the end of the duct. The breakdown of the intakes is very similar to the Mirage III and Kfir kits produced by Kinetic. This should mean there will be no need to clean up any evidence of the join, which as anyone that builds jet model kits will tell you is a real plus point. The jet pipe is one piece with some engine detail moulded inside.
There is some nice detail in the air brake wells, which is a bonus if you want to show the air brakes extended. The air brakes themselves have perforations representing the real thing very well. Interestingly I cannot find any images of the air brakes open when the aircraft is at rest. The arrestor hook on the other hand is another matter and is quite often seen down when the aircraft is parked. The arrestor hook of the kit is a separate one piece part. The door for the refuelling probe is a separate part, but there are no parts to show the probe extended.
I detached the fuselage halves from the sprue, the tiny sprue attachment point are very easy to cut. The fuselage halves fix together with a reassuring click as the locating pins go in to their respective holes. One area that has often been a concern with previous Kinetics releases such as the Mirage III’s Mirage 2000 and the Kfir is the fit of the air intake lip. I am happy to report that there are no such problems with this release.
There are nine plastic parts and one photo etched part to build each wing. That does seem a lot but then again the wing can be displayed folded or extended. Also the flaps and slats are separate and these can be glued into various positions. This quite useful if you are intending to display your model dynamically as it’s about to be launched or catch the arrestor wire. There are notes in the instructions regarding the position of the moving control surfaces. The flaps have two choices of actuator one for deployed flaps and the other is in a neutral position. There is no detail where the wing fold is, but then again there is very little to see on the real thing. The outer wing is folded by the ground crew. The main wings fit together very well, and as with the fuselage there is a reassuring click as the locating pegs find their holes. I was a little dubious about the locating pins that assist the joining of the wing and fuselage. But test fitting shows there are no concerns and the fit is pretty good. There are numerous pre made holes on the under surface to fit the various pylons.
The tail planes are each one piece although the trim tab on the trailing edge is a separate part. The instruction provides information concerning the angle of the control surfaces depending on the situation.
The detail in the bays is very good indeed and will please the majority of modellers. There are a few raised and sunken ejector marks that spoil the detail a bit. But these can be removed with some care. The nose leg is quite complex with around seven parts and the main legs are less so with two parts each. It may be possible to extend the nose wheel oleo as can be seen on many images of the aircraft as it is about to be launched by catapult. It’s not mentioned in the instructions, but the breakdown of parts suggests it may be possible. The wheels have separate plastic tyres that fit around the nicely detailed hubs. The inside of the gear doors are detailed too.
There is an excellent range of things to hang under the wings and fuselage. A nice touch is the refuelling pod complete with drogue chute. The Damocles multi functioning targeting pod looks fine; the eye lid is depicted in the closed position. Included is:
2 x Exocet Missile with pylon
4 x Matra MAGIC AAM with pylon
2 x Douglas D827 inflight refuelling pod IFR [151 litres]
2 x 600L fuselage tank
2 x 1,100L wing tank
2 x 625L wing tank
2 x Damocles LGB designator
2 x Barracuda II jammer
2 x Phimat Chaff dispenser
I had not realized the size of the Exocet before. The length is roughly a third of the length of the SuE/SEM. The two cannon barrels are pretty plain looking as are the real things. You may want to drill out the muzzles for a more authentic look. The cannon troughs look convincing and are nice and deep.
The large decal sheet is designed by Crossdelta and printed by Cartograf. The quality looks superb: each decal has very good colour density, registry and with a minimum of carrier film. There is a whole pile of spare numbers on the lower half of the sheet which will do your spares bank no harm at all.
Kinetic Models have generously supplied five marking options covering three different forces:
Super Étendard, Aéronavale [France] 1980:
Flottille 14, disbanded 1991
Super Étendard Modernisé, Aéronavale, Afghanistan Mission 2008:
Super Étendard Modernisé, Aéronavale, Libya Mission 2011:
According to the instructions each aircraft of Flottille 17 carried the emblem of the French department and the administrative capitol that corresponded with the aircraft's number. Eg No 10: Aube – Troyes, No 33: Gironde - Bordeaux, No 37: Indre et Loire – Tours, No 65: Haute Pyrénées – Tarbes. Some aircraft carried mission markings and some carried “forty years of Super Étendard” on the starboard rudder after 2014.
Super Étendard, Comando de Aviación Naval Argentina, 1980’s
Any one of the fourteen aircraft that the Comando de Aviación Naval Argentina acquired can be modelled. Some aircraft carried mission markings for the Falkland/Malvinas war.
Super Étendard, Iraqi Air force, 1983-85
Iraq loaned five Super Étendards from France as stop gap while the Iraqi AF waited for Mirage F.1’s that were on order. Four were returned to the French in 1985. Any one of the five can be modelled.
The twenty page manual has black exploded line drawings describing the build process. There are many illustrations showing detailed views of some of the more complex structures. There is a very good ordinance section and a guide on where to hang everything. The paint guides are in grey tone and there is a separate stencil guide. Paint references in the paint guide are for Mr Color, but these can be cross referenced on page two with Vallejo, Ammo Mig, Italeri, Humbrol and Tamiya paints.
This is an excellent release from Kinetic Models; it’s everything we should expect from a modern well tooled release. It’s great to see a company run with a theme and they have certainly done this in the past with the F-16 and now they are exploring the Dassault family of jet powered aircraft. The overall shape looks very good compared with the numerous images on-line. I'm really looking forward to building this kit and I cannot as yet see any obvious flaws or vices.