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Eduard 1/48 MiG-21PFM Kit First Look

by Michael Benolkin

Date of Review August 2013 Manufacturer Eduard
Subject MiG-21PFM Scale 1/48
Kit Number 8237 Primary Media Styrene, photo-etch
Pros Still best kits of the MiG-21 in any scale Cons 'Profipack', decal stencils (see text)
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $59.95

First Look


The MiG-21 is one of the most successful supersonic fighters ever produced. The first production MiG-21 was the MiG-21F (NATO Codename: Fishbed C) day fighter which was equipped with 2 NR-30 30mm guns and a range-only radar that would provide optimum firing range data for the pilot, similar to the F-100 Super Sabre. When the K-13 (NATO Codename: AA-2 Atoll) missile (AIM-9B Sidewinder copy) became available, the MiG-21F was revised to remove one 30mm gun and replace it with two underwing missile rails and the subsystems to carry two K-13s, leading to the designation MiG-21F-13 (NATO Codename: Fishbed E). Like the F-100, these early MiG-21s were not effective in clouds or adverse weather, so an air-intercept radar was added along with two infrared homing missiles (K-13 Atoll) and the guns were deleted. The MiG-21F and MiG-21F-13 were are considered 'first generation' MiG-21s as they were day-fighters only and powered by the early R-11F-300 turbojet engine.

The generation two MiG-21s started with the first all-weather interceptor variant, the MiG-21PF (NATO Codename: Fishbed D). These aircraft were armed with the K-5 (NATO Codename: AA-1 Alkalai) which were early radar-guided missiles. When the K-13 became available, the MiG-21PF would also receive these as well. The MiG-21PF carried over several design attributes from generation one including the forward-hinged canopy which doubled as an ejection seat shield for supersonic egress; and fowler flaps for take-off and landing.

The next version of the MiG-21 (and the subject of this kit) was the MiG-21PFM. The suffix behind the MiG-21 denotes the modifications or variations to the basic design with P (Perekhvatchik or interceptor), F (Forsirovannyj or uprated), and M (Modernizirovannyj or Modernized). The MiG-21PFM was the first to replace the front-hinged canopy with a side-opening hood and standard windscreen after the supersonic shield failed to release the ejection seat (and pilot) in a number of accidents. Evidently early MiG-21PFMs retained the Fowler flaps but the most commonly seen MiG-21PFM were equipped with new flaps using engine bleed air blown over the flaps for improved low-speed lift (referred to as SPS in Russian).

Eduard has released this first installment in the generation two MiG-21 line-up with this MiG-21PFM which made its debut at the IPMS/USA 2013 National Convention (and will be followed by year's end with a second installment in generation two - the MiG-21R (NATO Codename: Fishbed H).

The kit is molded in dark gray styrene and presented on seven parts trees, plus one tree of clear parts, two frets of photo-etched parts, two sheets of decals and a set of yellow masks. When you open the box, you can quickly see that this series from Eduard is still the best MiG-21 produced by anyone in any scale to date. While I do like the Trumpeter 1/32 MiG-21MF and MiG-21UM kits, they have a few issues that are not in this box. First of all, the detailing is sharp and petit, no sign of the 'mad riveter' here. Second, the kit isn't over-engineered - you don't have details rendered in areas where you'll never see them again once the kit is built.

This kit is the first MiG-21PFM produced in 1/48 scale plastic. Some folks modified the venerable Revell 1/48 MiG-21PF kit with mixed results, but here you have a proper MiG-21PFM straight out of the box. Among the features of this kit:

  • Detailed cockpit w/color photo-etched parts
  • Detailed ejection seat
  • Positionable canopy
  • Choice of early canopy without periscope or later canopy with periscope
  • Detailed afterburner chamber and nozzle
  • Detailed main wheel wells (nose gear well nice too)
  • Positionable rudder
  • Positionable flaps, ailerons and stabilators (with some minor tweaks)
  • Positionable speed brakes
  • Paint masks

External stores include:

  • 2 x RS-2US (AA-1 Alkali)
  • 2 x R-3S (AA-2 Atoll)
  • 2 x R-3R (AA-2 Atoll)
  • 2 x R-13 (AA-2 Atoll)
  • 2 x S-24 240mm rockets
  • 1 x centerline external tank
  • 1 x GP-9 centerline gun pack
  • 2 x SPRD RATO bottles

There are additional bombs, missiles, etc., on the weapons tree as this is a common sprue tree from the previous generation three MiG-21 releases.

Markings are provided for five aircraft:

  • MiG-21PFM, Bort 5015, 921 Fighter Regt, North Vietnamese AF, 1968
  • MiG-21PFM, Bort 7909, 11 Fighter Regt, Czechoslovakian AF, 1991
  • MiG-21PFM, Bort 105, Baumal Flight School, Soviet AF, 1988
  • MiG-21PFM, Egyptian AF, 1980s
  • MiG-21PFM, 6910, 1 Sqn/62 Fighter Regt, Polish AF, 1994

MiG-21PFMThe distinctive markings are well done and provide some nice variety of subjects. The second sheet contains the most extensive set of maintenance stencils I've seen beyond Begemot, and while they're supposed to be in Russian (Cyrillic), they are still in Gibberish like the stencils in their MiG-21MF release. In the MiG-21MF's stencils, it looked like the Cyrillic had been double-printed and this batch are not double-printed, but the printing is still fuzzy and what I can read still looks like Gibberish. Get the Begemot MiG-21 stencil sheet (look here).

Painting instructions are given using equivalent Gunze paints, and while some of them are close, others are not so close. We've 'translated' the Soviet colors from Gunze to AKAN (with the available equivalents) to get you closer to the correct colors (see here for an example).

Speaking of colors, you'll note that the color photo-etch and the instructions have you paint the cockpit in the distinctive turquoise blue/green which is correct for a circa 1980s MiG or an earlier MiG that has gone through depot maintenance. The typical interiors were light gray/silver gray like the MiG-15/17/19 coming off the production lines prior to the 1980s, just as MiGs coming off the production lines or going through depot around the turn of the century received the now-current blue-gray interior color. In short, check your references.

Aside from the stencil sheet problem, this is easily the nicest MiG-21 produced to date in any scale (less than 1:1). From earlier MiG-21 releases, the Profipack is priced about $20 USD more than the Weekend release and the difference between the two is that the Profipack has the equivalent of a Zoom color photo-etched detail set, paint masks, and multiple decal options. The Weekend has a single subject and none of the other options. It's up to you which is the better value given that you're probably going to obtain a number of the resin upgrades that are sold 'a la carte'.

One last note, if you've read Wikipedia's description of MiG-21 variants, these are lifted out of Yefim Gordon's definitive title on the MiG-21 series. He has data in there on MiG-21 variants that I never knew about in the old days, but his correlation of NATO Codenames to the early MiG-21s is not correct. Pity that Wikipedia doesn't catch these technical bugs, but if you're a registered contributor to Wikipedia, try reading the background notes that don't go to the public on the F-14 Tomcat - there were some serious battles going on between contributors which makes for some interesting (and disconcerting) reading.