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MiG-21MF Kit

Academy 1/48 MiG-21MF 'Soviet Air Force and Export' Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review December 2016 Manufacturer Academy
Subject MiG-21MF 'Soviet Air Force and Export' Scale 1/48
Kit Number 12311 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Easy build, new decal subjects Cons See text
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $36.00

First Look

MiG-21MF Kit
MiG-21MF Kit
MiG-21MF Kit
MiG-21MF Kit
MiG-21MF Kit
MiG-21MF Kit

The MiG-21 was the first generation of Mikoyan production aircraft designed to operate above Mach 2. Evolved from the MiG-19 series, the MiG-21 featured a delta wing and the R-11F-300 afterburning engine. While the MiG-21 retained the nose intake of its predecessors, a movable centerbody shock cone was used to manage the volume and velocity of the air reaching the engine.

The first generation of MiG-21 to enter production was MiG-21F Fishbed C and MiG-21F-13 Fishbed E. The C-model was armed with a pair of NR-30 30mm cannons while the E-model had one gun deleted to allow for the carriage of a pair of K-13 (AA-2 Atoll) IR missiles. This first MiG-21 series was a day-only interceptor as it did not have an intercept radar.

The second generation was the MiG-21PF Fishbed D and MiG-21PFM Fishbed F, both of which did have the intercept radar, but no internal gun and was still limited with two underwing pylons. They were powered by the slightly improved R-11F2S-300 afterburning engine. While the MiG-21R was technically a generation two aircraft, it was the first to have four underwing pylons, two of which were plumbed for external fuel to compensate for the recon pod on the centerline pylon.

The third generation included the MiG-21SM/MF Fishbed J, MiG-21SMT Fishbed K, MiG-21bis Fishbed L and MiG-21bisSAU Fishbed N, with the MiG-21MF being the common version delivered to Warsaw Pact and exported quite extensively. This generation of the MiG-21 family retained the intercept radar, regained an internal gun (the GSh-23 23mm), and now had four underwing pylons. The J and K models were powered by the R-13-300 engine with the R-25-300 powering the L/N models.

The MiG-21MF has been employed in combat in the Middle East, Persian Gulf and other parts of the world and, like other aircraft types, its successes were based upon the skills of the pilot. In capable hands, the MiG-21MF was fast, highly maneuverable, and enjoyed the mix of missiles and guns to kill its prey. There are still a few of these aircraft still in service in the world, but the MiG-21MF not only continues to see front-line service, it has been the subject of numerous modernization programs by companies from around the world.

Academy has re-released their MiG-21MF kit, once again with a limited edition decal sheet. The kit is about 18 years old now and doesn't really show its age. The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on five parts trees plus a single tree of clear parts. All panel lines and rivet details are nicely scribed. When the kit was first released, it was a more refined model in comparison to the only other MiG-21MF kit in this scale - the OEZ kit. Where the OEZ kit had a surface texture to its parts, it offered some nice details and an even nicer array of options. Academy made this kit to be a simple build and have a surface smooth enough to easily apply bare metal - a finish common to the MiG-21 in its earlier operational years. Since the last reissue of this kit however, Eduard has released virtually all of the generation two and three variants of this aircraft, including the MiG-21MF.

The fuselage is still molded in four parts - two front halves and two rear halves. The dorsal spine and vertical stabilizer are separately molded and represent one of the two minor bugs in this kit. The first being that the tail and spine are correct for the MiG-21bis Fishbed L. If you can find RSBN antennas, you can also do the MiG-21bis Fishbed N. The good news here is that there are some aftermarket corrections to shorten up the fairing on the vertical stab to represent the MiG-21MF, or you can even grab the parts out of a spare OEZ kit as well.

The other bug with the fuselage is one that also affected the MiG-21PF release as well - the bumps around the main wheel wells. These are fairings to facilitate a pair of bulges to house the big main landing gear wheel as it pivots at an angle to get stuffed into that nook of a wheel well. In the original release of this kit, the upper bump was too far forward to be help house the wheel and the bug remains. The good new here is that unless you know, most observers won't notice that it is shifted a little too far forward and this fact is further obstructed by the wing.

Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Basic cockpit tub
  • Usable KM-1 ejection seat but needs pilot restraints
  • Positionable canopy
  • Positionable flaps
  • Positionable speed brakes
  • GSh-23 23mm ventral gun

The side-opening canopy and KM-1 ejection seat are provided, but the cockpit is still spartan and begging for a resin replacement. The Neomega KM-1 seat is perfect for this aircraft and there are some aftermarket sets available that will really dress up the cockpit.

The bumps on the wing still depict the version with the Fowler-flaps which were common to early MiG-21PFs and standard with all of the MiG-21F and MiG-21F-13 models. The flaps and ailerons are molded separately so there are positioning possibilities. The good news is that the flaps and the wing-to-flap mounts are of the SPS (blown) type which is correct on this bird. To correct the wing bumps, remove the "bump" on the underside of the wing between the flap and aileron cut-outs. DON'T remove the bump on the upper wing! Keep the leading edge of the flap butted against the wing and angle it down to the desired angle. Don't forget to open the holes just ahead of the flap and add part E9. This is the SPS flap actuator "bump". While you're at it, open ALL of the flashed-over holes on the lower wing, as you'll need to have two pylons per wing with the later MiG-21 versus only one per wing on the MiG-21PF kit.

External stores include:

  • 2 x 16-shot 57mm rocket pods (UB-16-57)
  • 2 x 32-shot pods (UB-32-57)
  • 2 x PTB-490 external tanks
  • 2 x K-13 infrared Atoll air-to-air missiles (AAMs)
  • 2 x R-3R radar-guided Atoll

The most common external configuration for the late model MiG-21 is with two IR Atolls on the inboard pylons (steal a pair of AIM-9Bs out of your Hasegawa Weapons Set), and three external fuel tanks (two on the outboard pylons, one on the centerline). Since there are only two tanks included with the kit, I'd pinch the spare tank out the MiG-21PF kit.

This release has five markings options:

  • MiG-21SM, Bort 23, Soviet AF, 1968, Invasion of Czechoslovakia markings
  • MiG-21SM, Iraqi AF, shot down during Gulf War
  • MiG-21bis, Bort 1904, Sky Hussars Demo Team, Hungarian AF, 1983
  • MiG-21bis, C2788, 24 Sqn, Indian AF
  • MiG-21MF, 8676, Egyptian AF, 1982

If you're not a big fan of doing bare metal paint jobs, take heart - only the Soviet AF example is bare metal. Interesting that two of the subjects are MiG-21bis which favor the spine/tail in this kit. The decal sheet also provides a nice set of airframe stencils as well.

This is still a nice kit and out of the box, will do a decent MiG-21bis. Grab an aftermarket spine and tail and you'll have a nice MiG-21MF. The paint schemes are cool enough that you might want to get another MF kit for that purpose. At this still very reasonable retail price, you can either do the kit as-is out of the box, or the AMS modeler will want to grab a few aftermarket items and do these markings justice!

My sincere thanks to MRC for this review sample!