Academy 1/48 MiG-29AS Fulcrum Kit First Look
|Date of Review||February 2011||Manufacturer||Academy|
|Kit Number||12227||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Easy build, nice markings||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$44.00|
In the late 1960s, the USAF started to develop a requirement for an advanced air superiority fighter based upon the lessons being learned in combat over Vietnam plus the growing threats posed by the MiG-23 and MiG-25. This program led to the F-15 Eagle followed closely by lightweight fighter program creating the F-16 Fighting Falcon.
Soviet planners viewed these new fighter developments with concern and started the process for a counter-development leading to the Su-27 Flanker and its lightweight counterpart, the MiG-29 Fulcrum. Entering service in the mid-1980s, the MiG-29 is a highly maneuverable dogfighter with an impressive mix of air-to-air weapons.
The MiG-29 was in service with the Soviet Air Force, numerous Warsaw Pact air forces, and export versions were provided to a number of Soviet client nations around the world. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent dissolution of the former Warsaw Pact nations in 1991, many MiG-29s would become the frontline fighter of the new fledgling former Soviet states like the Ukraine. With the merger of East and West Germany, EGAF MiG-29s were suddenly a core part of the Luftwaffe. Some of these Luftwaffe MiG-29s have since taken part in Red Flag exercises at Nellis AFB and missile evaluation flights at Eglin AFB. While the MiG OKB has presented a variety of newer MiG-29 variants, many of these early MiG-29s remain on active duty around the world.
Academy has released this kit a few times in the past as a standard MiG-29 Fulcrum A and by definition, is the best MiG-29 kit in 1/48 scale. Hard core MiG-29 lovers will point out some of the glitches in the kit, but the only alternative 'out there' is Monogram's 1/48 MiG-29 which has even more issues. Nevertheless, the aftermarket community has put lots of love into this kit as there is no shortage of details and corrections out there for the Academy MiG-29.
This kit is released as the MiG-29AS, which is the designation applied to the Slovakian Air Force's updated MiG-29s which have NATO standard avionics installed, the most visible difference being the IFF bird cutter antennas ahead of the windscreen just like the F-16A MLU Vipers. Academy has updated the tooling to replicate this new feature.
The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on six parts trees plus a single tree of clear parts for the canopy and windscreen. Detailing is finely scribed and there is no sign of flash or other molding problems in this release.
The kit provides the following features/options in this box:
- Basic cockpit
- Choice of open or closed canopy
- Choice of open or closed dorsal intake louvers
- Choice of open or closed FOD doors in intakes
- Compressor faces at end of intake ducts (if FOD doors open)
- NATO standard IFF and comm antennas added
- Positionable speed brakes
- 2 x R-27 (AA-10D)
- 2 x R-73 (AA-11)
- 2 x R-60 (AA-8)
- 1 x centerline fuel tank
The kit has a very simple cockpit that would benefit from an aftermarket set including a replacement K-36D ejection seat. The kit parts are usable, but simplistic.
The main wheel wells are in need of some help as they are blank inside. I thought Aires or someone had released a set of these in the past and they might reappear with the release of this kit.
If you search around on the internet, you'll find some of the fixes that the hard core MiG-29 builders have done to improve their models. One that I'm a bit surprised not to see is that centerline fuel tank! One of the more interesting design features of the MiG-29 is its auxiliary power unit (APU) that supplies electricity and engine starting power without the need for an external power cart. While most modern combat aircraft have APUs, the MiG-29 has its APU intake on the dorsal spine and the exhaust underneath between the engines. Look here:
Yes, that is an exhaust duct on the bottom of that centerline fuel tank! When the aircraft doesn't have the centerline bag, no problem, but when they put that tank in place, how do you start the APU without plowing hot jet exhaust all over the top of that fuel tank? Simple, put a duct right through the center of the tank! You can fix your kit tank easily with this detail.
This release has two markings options:
- MiG-29AS, Bort 0921, Slovakian AF, May 2008, digital camouflage
- MiG-29AS, Bort 0619, Slovakian AF
As you can see in the decal image, all you have to do is paint the aircraft Light Ghost Gray and apply the digital camouflage as decals. Excellent! Oddly enough, there is no color profile provided for Bort 0619, so you may have to search the internet to find out what camouflage colors go with those markings on the sheet.
As I said earlier, this is still the best MiG-29 kit in 1/48 scale and is buildable straight out of the box. AMS modelers will want to add some of the aftermarket details available for the earlier Academy kits to bring this kit up to par, but the nice color scheme and the NATO updates provided in the box make this project worthwhile.
This kit is definitely recommended!
My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!