AMK 1/48 MiG-31BM/BSM Foxhound Kit First Look
|Date of Review||December 2015||Manufacturer||AvantGarde Model Kits (AMK)|
|Kit Number||88003||Primary Media||Styrene, Photo-Etch|
|Pros||Stunning details||Cons||See text|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$54.99 (at Lucky Model and Sincere Hobbies)|
The Mikoyan OKB revised the MiG-25 airframe to create a 'Super Foxbat' capable of engaging a wider range of airborne threats. Unlike the MiG-25 however, the new design would not need the high-speed dash capability since the B-70 Valkyrie was never put into production. The new airframe would eventually be designated MiG-31 is crewed by a pilot and a weapons officer. The rear cockpit in early MiG-31s had a similar radar console layout as the AWG-9 in the F-14. In fact, the new R-33 (AA-9 Amos) missiles were mounted under the fuselage similar to the F-14 as well. In addition to the four R-33 missiles, the MiG-31 was able to operate the other common weapons in the fleet including the legacy R-40 (AA-6 Acrid) missiles of the MiG-25 as well as the R-60 (AA-8 Aphid), R-73 (AA-11 Archer) and R-77 (AA-12 Adder).
AvantGarde Model Kits (AMK) is a prolific model company from China that has been releasing a variety of subjects using some impressive mold engineering. Here is their latest masterpiece, the MiG-31BM/BSM in 1/48 scale. This is the first AMK kit I've had the opportunity to put on the bench and it is also the first injection-molded plastic MiG-31 Foxhound kit in 1/48 scale. I don't count the Lindberg kit from decades ago since that kit was as less accurate in shape and detail as Monogram's 1/48 Su-25 (which was externally patterned from the early Frogfoot prototype and was internally patterned from guesswork and imagination). When you open the box of this kit, prepared to be impressed.
This kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on 28 parts trees plus one tree of clear parts and one small fret of photo-etched parts (duplicate trees not shown). I've seen some nice injection-molded work before, but the slide molding in this kit are very nicely done. For example, the forward fuselage is one hollow part and you slide the completed cockpit into place during assembly. The textured pattern work inside the intake trunks is also well done. What really catches the eye are the R-33 missiles, each is molded in one piece complete with fins in place, only a few tiny details are molded separately for each missile.
Among the features and options of the kit:
- Detailed cockpits
- Detailed K-36D ejection seats with photo-etched actuator handles
- Positionable canopies
- Detailed D-30 engines
- Detailed intake trunks from inlet to compressor face
- Positionable leading edge flaps
- Positionable trailing edge flaps
- Positionable rudders
- Positionable stabilators
- Positionable speed brakes
- Positionable air refueling probe
- Positionable lower intake ramp
- Detailed landing gear and wheel wells
- Nose ballast included
The kit provides the following external stores options:
- 4 x R-33 (AA-9 Amos)
- 4 x R-73T (AA-11 Archer)
- 4 x R-77 (AA-12 Adder)
The decals for this release are on two sheets, the small sheet has the distinctive and national markings while the large sheet is nothing but airframe and weapons stencils. The subjects provided in this release include:
- MiG-31BM, Bort 34, Russian AF, 'Ivan Pilipenko'
- MiG-31BM, Bort 93, Russian AF, Zhukovsky AB, 2009
- MiG-31BM, Bort 93/RF-92379, Russian AF, Zhukovsky AB, 2013
- MiG-31BSM, Bort 25, Russian AF, Akhtubinsk AB, 2014
The level of detail in this kit is very well done though I would point out a few nits:
- The ejection seats do not have crew restraints included, either molded-in, photo-etched, or decal
- The external details of the D-30 engines are nice but you'd be wasting your time painting these exteriors since they'll never be seen again after assembly. There is no provision to display one or both of the engines removed from the airframe (no engine cradles nor the engine bay details needed inside the airframe).
None of these are really an issue since there are photo-etched restraints that can be used in this model (the MiG-31 uses a variant of the K-36D seat used in the MiG-29, Su-25, Su-27, Su-33, etc., so you can grab ejection seat photo-etch for the seats from any of those kits). As for the D-30 engines, paint the front of the engine, the interior of the afterburner chamber, and the nozzle, and move on. Anything more will never be seen.
This MiG-31 kit fills a major void in the 1/48th scale MiG OKB kit line-up and if you want to build one of the earlier MiG-31s, AMK has already announced the MiG-31B/BS coming in the near future. This MiG-31BM/BSM kit represents the latest configurations of the aircraft in service. With the exception of the crew restraints, there is little left for the aftermarket world to enhance this kit.
My sincere thanks to AMK for this review sample!