Eduard 1/48 MiG-29UB Fulcrum Kit First Look
|Date of Review
|Styrene, Resin, Photo-Etch
|Vastly improved cockpit details
In the late 1960s, the USAF started to develop a requirement for an advanced air superiority fighter based upon the lessons being learned in combat over Vietnam plus the growing threats posed by the MiG-23 and MiG-25. This program led to the F-15 Eagle followed closely by lightweight fighter program creating the F-16 Fighting Falcon. Soviet planners viewed these new fighter developments with concern and started the process for a counter-development leading to the Su-27 Flanker and its lightweight counterpart, the MiG-29 Fulcrum. Entering service in the mid-1980s, the MiG-29 is a highly maneuverable dogfighter with an impressive mix of air-to-air weapons.
The MiG-29 was in service with the Soviet Air Force, numerous Warsaw Pact air forces, and export versions were provided to a number of Soviet client nations around the world. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent dissolution of the former Warsaw Pact nations in 1991, many MiG-29s would become the frontline fighter of the new fledgling former Soviet states like the Ukraine. With the merger of East and West Germany, EGAF MiG-29s were suddenly a core part of the Luftwaffe. Some of these Luftwaffe MiG-29s have since taken part in Red Flag exercises at Nellis AFB and missile evaluation flights at Eglin AFB. While the MiG OKB has presented a variety of newer MiG-29 variants, many of these early MiG-29s remain on active duty around the world.
Of course most high performance aircraft have a training variant so student and instructor can run through the range of capabilities and peculiarities of that type before the student plants themself and their aircraft in a cornfield somewhere. In the case of the MiG-29, this was the MiG-29UB which retained most of the combat capabilities of the single seater save the radar in the nose and the ability to carry/fire radar-guided missiles. Later MiG-29 two-seaters do retain the radar and full mission capabilities with the back seat available for an instructor, observer, or weapons officer.
Academy has released this kit a few times in the past as a standard MiG-29UB Fulcrum B and by definition, was the best MiG-29UB kit in 1/48 scale. Hard core MiG-29 lovers will point out some of the glitches in the kit, but there was no other alternative in 1/48 scale (Revell did produce the MiG-29UB in 1/32 scale). Now Eduard has taken the MiG-29UB and have added their unique twist to the kit to provide you with an interesting new option.
The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on six parts trees plus a single tree of clear parts for the canopy and windscreen. Detailing is finely scribed and there is no sign of flash or other molding problems in this release.
The kit provides the following features/options in this box:
- New resin cockpits with color photo-etched details
- New K-36D ejection seats also with color photo-etched details
- New (and finally accurate) HUD
- New resin pilots' helmets
- New canopy rails
- Choice of open or closed canopy
- Choice of open or closed dorsal intake louvers
- Choice of open or closed FOD doors in intakes (new photo-etched doors)
- Compressor faces at end of intake ducts (if FOD doors open)
- New photo-etched afterburner spray nozzles for the afterburner chamber
- Positionable speed brakes
- New photo-etched nosewheel spray guard
- New ventral vent panel (photo-etched)
- New dorsal chaff/flare fairings with open dispensers
- New (better) antennas
- 2 x R-27 (AA-10D)
- 2 x R-73 (AA-11)
- 2 x R-60 (AA-8)
- 1 x centerline fuel tank
The main wheel wells still need of some help as they are blank inside. The RD-33 nozzles in the kit are simplistic and also need replacing. If you're going to the trouble to update the cockpit with this Eduard release, you're still going to need some help in these other areas as they were passed over by Eduard.
If you search around on the internet, you'll find some of the fixes that the hard core MiG-29 builders have done to improve their models. One that I'm a bit surprised not to see is that centerline fuel tank! One of the more interesting design features of the MiG-29 is its auxiliary power unit (APU) that supplies electricity and engine starting power without the need for an external power cart. While most modern combat aircraft have APUs, the MiG-29 has its APU intake on the dorsal spine and the exhaust underneath between the engines. Look here:
Yes, that is an exhaust duct on the bottom of that centerline fuel tank! When the aircraft doesn't have the centerline bag, no problem, but when they put that tank in place, how do you start the APU without plowing hot jet exhaust all over the top of that fuel tank? Simple, put a duct right through the center of the tank! You can fix your kit tank easily with this detail.
This release has five markings options:
- MiG-29UB, Bort 15, 1 TAFS, Polish AF, Minsk-Mazowiecki AB, 2009 (Box art subject)
- MiG-29UB, Bort 71, 31 GIAP, Russian AF, Zernograd AB, 2006 (sharkmouth)
- MiG-29UB, Bort 4402, 11 Sqn, Czech AF, Zatec AB, 1989-1993
- MiG-29UBS, Bort 4401, 1 FS, Slovak AF, Sliac AB, 1993
- MiG-29UB, Bort 20, Azerbaijan AF, Zeynalabdin Tagiyev AB, 2007-2011
The decal sheet provides all of the national markings, distinctive markings, and maintenance stenciling you'll need for this project.
Eduard has taken the Academy kit and made it much better in the cockpit and addressed some deficiencies around the airframe. The disappointing part are the wheel wells and afterburner nozzles were not updated, but Aires does produce updates for these areas.
My sincere thanks to Eduard for this review sample!