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Eduard 1/48 MiG-21bis Weekend Kit First Look

by Michael Benolkin

Date of Review March 2012 Manufacturer Eduard
Subject MiG-21bis Scale 1/48
Kit Number 84131 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Still best kit of the MiG-21 in any scale Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $39.95

First Look

For a brief history of the MiG-21, please look at our previous reviews of the Eduard MiG-21MF or MiG-21SMT kits.

MiG-21bis MiG-21bis MiG-21bis MiG-21bis

The MiG-21bis was the final production variant of the MiG-21 series and while classified as a third generation MiG-21 along with the MiG-21M/MF and MiG-21SMT, the MiG-21bis was fitted with the Tumanski R-25 engine with improved dry and augmented (afterburner) performance. Where previous variants of the MiG-21 were lumped into common ASCC designations (i.e. MiG-21M, MF, SM, etc. were all designated as Fishbed J), the MiG-21bis actually received two designations. The original MiG-21bis was designated as Fishbed L and when the same aircraft was equipped with two distinctive antennas for the radio system for short range navigation (RSBN), these MiG-21bis were designated as Fishbed N. No other variants of the MiG-21 were produced with the RSBN system though the system would appear on next-generation aircraft like the MiG-23 Flogger.

Eduard has released the Weekend version of their excellent MiG-21bis kit. The weekend edition is identical to the other releases of the kit from Eduard in terms of plastic, but to make the kit more affordable and easier to build, Eduard skips the photo-etched and resin parts that go into their other releases. As with the previous releases, this kit is molded in dark gray styrene and presented on eight parts trees, plus one tree of clear parts. One small set of decals round out this kit.

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.

Like any good aircraft kit, construction begins with the nose wheel well. Okay, so it is supposed to start with the cockpit, but once you get the wheel well walls and bulkheads in place, you flip the part over and install the cockpit - close enough. The cockpit comes with a nice set of decals that emulate the color-printed photo-etched parts that go into the other versions of this kit. Take care to match the turquoise blue-green color on the rest of the cockpit interior and the hard detailing is already done for you.

Next is the afterburner chamber and nozzle assembly. You're going to love the depth of the flame holder away from the turbine face (something that is usually molded together).

This kit has the entire interior fuselage mid-section here that represents in full-depth the main wheel wells. If you want to see some interesting engineering origami, watch some You-Tube videos on the MiG-21 and MiG-23 landing gear retraction tests and see how those wheels are moved around to fit into those unusual spaces.

This is one of very few kits that got the unique centerbody radome shape captured right. When you have the cockpit, afterburner section, and wheel well section completed, these all go together with the centerbody inside the fuselage halves.

Eduard did a nice job in making the kit adaptable to easily render the other third-generation MiG-21s out of this tooling with minimal parts changes. The main difference - the dorsal spine - requires different parts for the spine and vertical stabilizer as the spine fairs into the tail in different places depending on MiG-21 variant. These are provided on their own trees and the bis tail is natually in this box.

The forward airbrakes are molded closed on the kit to ease assembly and filling, but if you want to portray these open, simply remove the air brake petals along the cut lines, insert the well interiors, then install the brakes themselves.

The wings, like the rest of the kit, are common to all three variants that will be portrayed by Eduard.

Among the features of this kit:

  • Detailed cockpit
  • Detailed KM-1 ejection seat
  • Positionable canopy
  • 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
  • Optional RSBN antennas

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)
  • 4 x R-60 (AA-8 Aphid)
  • 2 x S-24 240mm rockets
  • 8 x FAB-100 bombs
  • 2 x FAB-250 bombs
  • 2 x UB-16-57 rocket pods
  • 2 x MERs
  • 2 x external underwing tanks
  • 1 x centerline external tank
  • 2 x SPRD RATO bottles

Markings are provided for one aircraft:

  • MiG-21bis, Bort 1874, 47 CAR, Papa AB, Hungarian AF, 1991

This is still the nicest MiG-21 produced to date in any scale (less than 1:1) and as a Weekend edition, this kit is the least expensive of the 1/48 MiG-21bis kits released from Eduard and is simpler to build.

This kit is definitely recommended!

My sincere thanks to Eduard for this review sample!