Colorfully camoflauged Sukhoi SU-34 Fighter-bomber

I’ve always wondered why we don’t paint our military jets with blue camouflage so they blend in with the blue sky. Well, after a quick Google search, it appears that the Russians thought the same thing, because the wonderful camoflauge pattern on this Sukhoi SU-34 by ModernBrix is indeed accurate to the real-life jet. It’s an excellent choice, because we rarely see this type of camouflage pattern recreated in LEGO.

Sukhoi SU-34 Medium-Range Fighter/Bomber

Camouflage aside, the shaping is outstanding, especially on the cockpit and fuselage. The builder has also managed to fit side-by-side seating for two pilots in the cockpit — an uncommon feature the Sukhoi is known for — which eliminates the need for duplicate instruments required in the front and back of tandem seat fighter jets.

Sukhoi SU-34 Cockpit

6 comments on “Colorfully camoflauged Sukhoi SU-34 Fighter-bomber

  1. Purple Dave

    There are a couple of reasons why we don’t paint them blue, some of which are really weird.

    When a plane is parked, and highly vulnerable to attack, blue tends to stand out against most locations. This is a large part of why we use green or tan camo patterns. When a plane is flying, anyone above it is looking down at the ground. Painting the top of the plane in a matching camo pattern makes it harder to spot from above. And when looking upwards, they’ve found that the ideal color to paint the underbelly to make it less noticeable from the ground, it was some pale shade of pink. Yes, seriously…pink. Try pitching that one to the flyboys and see how many tell you they’d rather get shot down and die in a giant fireball than fly a pink plane.

    Also, the US Navy has used some blue camo patterns, I believe, but significantly darker blue which is probably meant to blend into the deep waters of the oceans past the continental shelves.

  2. Peter Post author

    It all makes sense now…blue camo like this on the top of a plane would stick out like a sore thumb on a gray runway, and a plane flying is only going to be viewed from the bottom. Pink though? That is quite strange. Thanks for enlightening me, I definitely learned something new today!

  3. Purple Dave

    @Peter:
    After bringing it up, I had to go reread the article about pink planes, so here it is:

    https://io9.gizmodo.com/5872484/why-world-war-ii-spy-planes-used-pink-camouflage

    In this case, they few mostly during dusk and dawn, when the sky would be more red and the clouds would be lit up in bright pastel colors from the low angle of the sun. If the video still worked, you’d be able to see just how effectively that pale pink blended into a cloud.

    Here are a couple other pages I ran across in my search:

    https://www.quora.com/Why-arent-fighter-jets-painted-blue-to-hide-in-the-sky
    https://www.defensemedianetwork.com/stories/the-u-s-army-air-forces-strips-its-planes-of-paint/

    Color patterns can serve different purposes, only one of which is blending in to your environment. During the early days of aviation when they didn’t even have radio communication, being able to identify friend/foe was probably much more important, as flying up alongside your wingmate only to realize it was the enemy who had just shot him down would suck. With radio, camo patterns probably became more important as radio could be used to cover the friend/foe issue but plane spotting was still entirely a visual skill. In modern aviation, radar will spot you and HUD will put a target around you, so paint means nothing to enemy pilots unless it’s paint that reduces your radar profile. Modern fighters tend to fly so high that camo is useless against people on the ground (think about jet plumes from commercial aviation), but apparently once you get really high the atmosphere washes out the ground and mottled grey is always your best bet during full daylight. This blue camo pattern may actually be intended to blend in with the ground at high altitude. From below during full daylight, even a white plane will appear dark, so at one point Allied forces experimented with adding lights to the bottom of the wing to make it appear lighter so it would blend in to the sky when trying to spot German U-boats.

    And one of the odder things I ran across while searching for the pink planes article was about _not_ painting planes at all. One obvious benefit is weight reduction (the same reason we stopped painting the primary fuel tank white on Space Shuttle launches. Less weight means higher climb, longer range, and faster speed. If you’re not trying to hide, all of that gives you more of an edge (or less of a disadvantage) against your enemy. My dad used to work maintenance for USAF during Vietnam, and he told me that you’d regularly have to strip all of the paint off to inspect the skin and rivets for stress, which means you just have to repaint the thing afterwards. So, not painting a plane saves a ton of time and resources on the ground. One of the comments in those articles also suggests it could be a show of bravado sort of thing, since we went into WWII with planes that were soundly outclassed by the enemy, but by the time we ditched the camo paint we probably had much better, and larger quantities of aircraft in service, so our air combat had shifted from guerilla style to straight up numbers.

    One thing to remember regarding the need to regularly strip the paint off an aircraft is that it’s not like a fancy sports car. You don’t paint it once and live with that color forever. You’re going to have to regularly repaint it based on maintenance schedules anyways, so it’s not that big a deal to change the pattern to be mission-specific. Assume that any time a plane flies at a public air show, they chose a paint pattern based on the audience. Elite air show squadrons like the Blue Angels will have a distinctive pattern that’s really only intended to draw attention and make them easy to identify. Even if they’d need to fly into combat, their planes would probably be stripped and repainted before they were deployed.

  4. Purple Dave

    @Matthew:
    Probably. More than just the cockpit, the nose cone is identical except for the switch from lever to syringe. Personally, I think both the syringe and the changes made to the glass in the forward section of the cockpit are improvements over the other design. I

    I’d actually say that if it was just the cockpit, it could be a case of parallel development. I’ve actually had that happen to me, where I’d been designing a model in private, which I’d never photographed nor shown to anyone in person, and someone else posted photos of something that looked like it could have been based on my design. Obviously that was impossible, and I know I didn’t base mine off of anyone else’s work, but if I posted it now I might have people claiming I’d stolen the design. The blue squad car from the TLBM Arkham set also has a lot of similarities to one that I designed several years ago, but since we were both trying to make one of those boxy 70’s era cars, and I personally know how limited your options are on certain design choices, I suspect it’s just a case where nothing else will work so anyone will end up in the same place more or less.

    Regardless, there are two divergent schools of thought on this. One is that if you take any inspiration from anyone else’s work, no matter how small, you should credit them. The other is that once demonstrated, a technique becomes public domain. I’m somewhere in the middle on this. I mostly design in a vacuum. By that I mean that most of the time I don’t use references of any type, and on those occasions when I do it’s usually photos of the real thing rather than other peoples’ MOCs. If I copy someone else’s MOC, I’ll try to be as honest as I can about where the design came from. If I copy a technique, I won’t lie about where I got the idea, but I don’t feel as compelled to credit the source every time. Especially when interacting with the public at a show, you get a limited amount of time to explain a given model, and if you spend that time talking about how you saw another LUG member hang cheese wedges upside-down, talking about your model becomes talking about this one construction trick you once saw someone else use. When publishing photos online, you have a little more freedom to go as deep as you want into the design, but even then I’d limit that to giving credit for the first time you used that technique.

  5. Håkan

    @MaxDiehard

    Well, everybody steals from another in some way. I guess there’s not too many ways to construct a credible Sukhoi cockpit…

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.