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ESCI 1/48 MiG-27 Flogger D Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review January 2007 Manufacturer ESCI
Subject MiG-27 Flogger D Scale 1/48
Kit Number 4020 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Best MiG-27 in this scale Cons Still the only MiG-27 in this scale
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) Out of Production

First Look


The development of fighter technology took a major turn with the introduction of the jet engine into combat aircraft designs during World War II. The Soviet Union, like the United States, put their first successful production fighters in the air powered by British centrifugal-flow engines. As the technology of jet engines advanced, axial flow engines that were led by German wartime designs were adopted. The MiG-19 was the first of the axial-flow turbine-powered fighters from the MiG OKB, and was the first of the supersonic generation of Soviet fighters.

Even with these advances, combat commanders wanted fighter aircraft with speed, range, payload, and maneuverability. With the early jet fighters, you could really only have two attributes at a time. With the MiG-21, the first of the Soviet Mach 2 fighters, you could achieve three of those attributes at a time, but the trade-off for even three of these attributes required longer runways for take-off and landing. The requirement was put forth for a new generation of fighter that would operate from shorter runways, have similar speed and maneuverability, and offer greater range and payload than the MiG-21. In short, they wanted all five attributes in one package. That aircraft was the MiG-23.

Like many other versatile aircraft designs, the MiG OKB was able to derive a ground attack variant out of the MiG-23 by replacing the fighter nose with the now infamous 'utkanos' (duck-nose) profile that replaced the intercept radar with a laser range-finder and much better visibility over the nose. The engine was also replaced with a powerplant optimized for low-altitude operations resulting in shorter intake splitter plates and exhaust nozzle.

Here is one of the early boxings of this aircraft from ESCI, but imported into the US by Scalecraft Models. This was a follow-on release to the MiG-23 Flogger B fighter variant (reviewed here). While this version hasn't been on the market for a while, the recent Italeri release of the MiG-23 may mean that the MiG-27 won't be too far behind. In the interim, these kits are still widely available at kit swap meets, etc.

The real difference between the fighter and mud-mover versions of the Flogger are in the forward section of the airframe and the engine. ESCI capitalized on this fact to render to distinct versions of the aircraft from one set of tooling.

Note: You may see aircraft that look like the MiG-27, but they are not. The photo on the instruction sheet for this kit is not a MiG-27, rather a MiG-23B or MiG-23BN. What's the difference? MiG-23s are Mach 2 aircraft and have the large splitter plates on the intakes. MiG OKB produced a fighter-bomber version of the MiG-23 prior to the MiG-27 using the fighter engine instead. These aircraft have the same ducknose as the MiG-27, but they have the twin-barrel 23mm gun (the MiG-27 had a gatling gun under the centerline), large intake splitter platess and large exhaust nozzle of the MiG-23 fighter. This means you can snag the right parts out of the MiG-23 fighter and convert your MiG-27 into a MiG-23BN will little effort. Check your references for any unique bumps and bulges found on some of these aircraft.

Since ESCI’s original release, this kit has shown up in a variety of boxings including AMT, ERTL, Hobbycraft, and this Scalecraft release. I’m sure there were a few others out there, but suffice it to say that the tooling is the same.

This kit (and its predecessors as far as I know) is molded in light gray styrene and presented on three parts trees, plus a small tree containing the clear parts. The molds have held up very well in all of these releases. Surface detailing is raised.

As you might imagine, any resemblance that this kit’s cockpit has to reality is strictly coincidental since there was virtually no references available for the cockpit at that time. The kit instrument panel decal (same one used in the MiG-23 release) wasn't accurate for the MiG-23 and isn't even close for the MiG-27 as this variant didn't have a radar, so no radar scope.

The wings are movable similar to the Academy F-14 and F-111 kits if you don’t want to glue them into position. There were only three wing positions for the Flogger, 16 degrees (full forward), 45 degrees (cruise), and 72 degrees (go-fast). Wings at 72 degrees was also handy for stuffing the MiG-27 into an aircraft shelter so you won’t ding a wingtip (or worse).

The kit landing gear and ventral fin can be positioned for in-flight position should you want to hang the model up or place it on a stand of your own making.

External stores include a pair of Atoll missiles on the under-fuselage stations and a pair of OFAB bombs under the wing gloves. The gatling gun is also provided for installation ahead of the centerline pylon. A centerline external fuel tank is provided as well as a pair of under-wing ferry tanks. I can't say for certain if the MiG-27 was configured to use the ferry tanks, so check your references.

The decal sheet included in this kit provides markings for one example:

  • MiG-27, Red 26, Soviet Air Force, East Germany, 1978

The decal sheet also provides a set of maintenance stencils. It also looked like they started to provide Red 07 but ran out of room for the marking for the other side of the nose.

This is the nicest MiG-27 available in 1/48 scale. It is also the only one out there for at least the next year or two. The kit builds into a reasonable representation of this much-overlooked subject, but with the addition of the Eduard MiG-23 detail sets, the kit will really start to come to life.

Definitely recommended.