ICM 1/48 MiG-25RBT Foxbat B Kit First Look
|Date of Review
|MiG-25RBT Foxbat B
|$42.00 (see notes)
For a brief history of the MiG-25 Foxbat, look here. During the Cold War, the MiG-25 came in four distinctive versions - the Foxbat A interceptor, Foxbat B reconnaissance, Foxbat C trainer, and Foxbat D SLAR. As the veil of secrecy lifted near the end of that Cold War, we knew that there were a variety of MiG-25 variants under each of the four NATO designators with at least five different variants under the banner of Foxbat B and another four under the banner of Foxbat D. For NATO recognition purposes, the aircraft with the small dielectric panels on the nose as well as camera ports was Foxbat B whilst the aircraft with the huge dielectric panels on the sides of the nose and no camera ports was Foxbat D. Two versions of the trainer Foxbat C were produced, the interceptor trainer (MiG-25PU) and recce trainer (MiG-25RU). Of course two additional Foxbats appeared at the end of the Cold War including the MiG-25PD/PDS Foxbat E (interceptor) and MiG-25BM Foxbat F (SEAD).
For years, the MiG-25R series flew wherever they wanted because nobody had the means to stop them, much like the SR-71. The Shah of Iran obtained the F-14 Tomcat because that aircraft's AIM-54 Phoenix missiles could reach the MiG-25R and sure enough, once the F-14s entered service in the Imperial Iranian Air Force, MiG-25R overflights ceased. The MiG-25R was also a regular spectator over Lebanon in 1982 after the Israeli Army experienced widespread brake failures and couldn't stop their new Merkava tanks before reaching Beirut. After careful planning, the Israelis invited US news crews to set up cameras on a rooftop in Beirut. I watched with fascination as a lone contrail approached the city at high speed, then stopped with a white puff of smoke. A short time later, another explosion and soon an aircraft trailing smoke appeared. As it grew in the camera's view, the MiG-25R was in a flat spin with the upper surface burning and it finally disappeared behind some nearby buildings and crashed. When it was safe, the news crews were invited to see the crash site in an alley where the aircraft had impacted nearly level.
War Story Alert: The Berlin Control Zone was administered by the US FAA and one day the administrator shared an interesting incident: There was a Soviet airbase inside the northeast side of the control zone that operated the recce Foxbats. One day, a British Army sergeant had arrived from a post in Northern Ireland to fly the Gazelle helicopter patrols along the Berlin wall. Another sergeant was giving the newcomer an orientation flight during the evening and they spotted the runway lights of that Soviet airbase. The Brits flew the Gazelle on a simulated landing approach while noting different landmarks, etc. Unknown to them, a MiG-25 was approaching that very same runway, saw the Gazelle at the last second, and executed an afterburner go-around. The jet wash sent the Gazelle tumbling and the sergeants were able to put the aircraft down in a field to check for damage. Once they verified the helicopter was still flyable, they also remembered that they were now inside East Germany and were drawing attention. They quickly and safely egressed the area, but the MiG-25 pilot had landed and reported the incident to his commander (after a change of flight suit). A formal complaint was submitted to the FAA for investigation. You just have to love the Brits!
Here is a welcome addition to my scale flightline. This is ICM's first 1/48 MiG-25 installment, the MiG-25RBT Foxbat B. Deciphering the MiG-25 designator, the R = razvedchik (reconnaissance), the B = bombardirovhchik (bomber), and T denotes the RB variant equipped with the Tangaz ELINT system. The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on seven parts trees plus one tree of clear parts. The finely scribed surface details are nicely done and the parts layout reminds me of the AMK 1/48 MiG-31 rather than the venerable Revell 1/48 MiG-25P. The instructions are similar to the Bobcat 1/48 Yak-36 Firebar with a black letter/number denoting a part and tree location number, black numbers inside a circle denoting a previously completed subassembly, and a letter inside a square denoting a color for a given area. Unlike the Bobcat kit, the color identification and pointer are printed in red (versus the other two identifications printed in black) making these instructions far easier to read.
Among the features and options in this kit:
- Nicely detailed cockpit
- Nicely detailed ejection seat (no pilot restraints provided)
- Positionable canopy
- Intakes rendered with variable ramps open and intake trunks to the compressor faces
- Nice afterburner chambers and nozzles
- Detailed wheel wells and landing gear
- Positionable rudders
- Positionable ailerons
- Positionable stabilators
- Postionable flaps
- Clear windows for camera ports
- Optional centerline 5300 liter drop tank
The assembly of this kit is interesting. The main fuselage and nose go together similar to the Kitty Hawk MiG-25PD, but unlike the Kitty Hawk kit, ICM provides a pair of bulkheads for alignment and strength - one at the fuselage/nose subassembly join, and the other deep in the fuselage to mount the front of the afterburner sections. Various fuselage panels mount to the fuselage assembly and bulkheads much like a Zoukei-Mura kit.
Markings are provided for four examples:
- MiG-25RBT, Bort 72, Soviet Air Force, 1980s
- MiG-25RBT, Bort 46, 47 GRAP, Russian Air Force, 2001
- MiG-25RBT, Iraqi AF, 1980s
- MiG-25RBT, Bort 499, Libyan AF, 2000s
In addition to the distinctive markings, the decals also include a nice set of airframe stenciling. While all four examples are wearing the standard MiG-25 gray, you'll find that some of these aircraft wore tactical camouflage in frontal aviation units like the ones just outside of Berlin. There are many good photos of these camouflage schemes online (thank you internet).
If you're a quarter-scale Soviet/Russian aviation modeler (like I am), you must be enjoying the sight of your subject 'wish list' getting shorter. With Eduard MiG-21s (where is generation one?), Trumpeter MiG-23/27s, several MiG-25s, several MiG-29s, AMK MiG-31s, Trumpeter Su-15s, Kitty Hawk and OEZ/Eduard Su-17/22s, Trumpeter Su-24s, several variations of the Academy Su-27/30, Kinetic Su-33, and some upcoming Su-34s, the list is indeed growing shorter. While ICM has announced a second Foxbat B (the MiG-25RB), given the layout of this kit, I am hoping we'll see the MiG-25P/PD and the MiG-25RBS/RBSh Foxbat D as well.
One last note, you'll note the listed 'MSRP' - there is no suggested retail price so here is where some good shopping skills are required. While I've seen the kit arrive in US online retail stores recently, I about fainted with a listed 'MSRP' of nearly $90 USD. I had purchased two of these kits from two different online retailers in the Ukraine for around $42 USD each plus an additional $12 USD shipping for each. The total cost was $52 per kit delivered in less than two weeks to my door versus the alternative. I ordered each kit from two retailers on eBay on the same day and they arrived here on the same day as well in pristine condition. That is still roughly $20 per kit less than some of the so-called 'our price' offerings.