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MiG-25PD/PDS Foxbat E

Kitty Hawk Models 1/48 MiG-25PD/PDS Foxbat E Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review October 2013 Manufacturer Kitty Hawk Models
Subject MiG-25PD/PDS Foxbat E Scale 1/48
Kit Number 80119 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros New-tool kit of this subject Cons A few minor glitches (see text)
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $69.95

First Look

MiG-25PD/PDS Foxbat E
MiG-25PD/PDS Foxbat E
MiG-25PD/PDS Foxbat E
MiG-25PD/PDS Foxbat E
MiG-25PD/PDS Foxbat E
MiG-25PD/PDS Foxbat E

The MiG-25 was developed by the MiG OKB as a high-speed interceptor to counter the North American B-70 Mach 3 bomber that was under development for the US Air Force. When that program was cancelled, the high-speed intercept capabilities of the aircraft were also effective against other supersonic threats like the B-58 Hustler and (still classified) SR-71. Its high-speed dash capability also gave the Soviet Air Defense (PVO Strany) the ability to counter other threats sooner that other interceptors in service. When it was first observed over Moscow, NATO intelligence analysts assigned the next codename to that aircraft - Foxbat, but assumed that since it was the next observed MiG after the MiG-21, this must be the rumored MiG-23 fighter.

Due to development problems with the MiG-23, the MiG-25 entered service first and created some much-enjoyed confusion in the west. Even some early model kits produced in the west can still be found in kit collector guides listed as MiG-23 Foxbat. When Viktor Belenko defected to Japan with a MiG-25, the world got its first close look at this secretive super machine. The intelligence world had assumed that this was a tri-sonic super dogfighter with its only weakness being Kryptonite. Instead, the aircraft was a purpose-build (almost) tri-sonic interceptor that was elegant in its simplicity. Given its steel and heavy metal construction, it proved the old axiom that given enough thrust, you can make anything fly.

The interceptor version, the MiG-25P (perekhvatchik) was the first to be identified and was designated by NATO as Foxbat A. After Belenko's defection, Soviet planners wanted urgently to update the aircraft after its mission systems were compromised to the west. The original Smerch radar was replaced with a new mission system developed for the MiG-23 and modified to suit the MiG-25. This new system, the Sapfir-25 not only included the more-capable radar, but also an infrared search/track set that was mounted under the nose. This new version was designated MiG-25PD (perekhvatchik dorobotny or reworked interceptor) and Foxbat E by NATO.

The original R-40 missiles (AA-6 Acrid) were also modified to work with the Sapfir and these were also redesignated - the radar-guided R-40R became the R-40RD and the infrared-guided R-40T became the R-40TD. As part of the upgrade, the MiG-25 also received the R-60 dogfight missile (AA-8 Aphid) along with the single rail or dual rail APU adaptors also used on the MiG-23. Because the MiG-25 was developed from the same philosophy as the early MiG-21 interceptors, the aircraft did not have gun armament (this was rectified in the MiG-31 that followed the MiG-25 in production).

The MiG-25PDS was essentially a MiG-25PD that received a mid-life update which included some avionics updates and the deletion of the centerline drop tank.

Kitty Hawk has released this new-tool MiG-25PD in 1/48 scale and it looks nice. Molded in light gray styrene, this kit is presented on 12 parts trees and two fuselage halves plus one tree of clear parts and one small fret of photo-etched parts. Among the features and options in this kit:

  • VERY nicely detailed cockpit
  • Positionable canopy
  • Detailed gear struts with metal cores in the main gear struts
  • Detailed wheels
  • Very nice (and huge) R-15B afterburners
  • Distinctive tri-vane array is recreated in both intakes
  • Positionable low-speed intake flaps
  • Positionable trailing edge flaps
  • Positionable ailerons
  • Positionable stabilators
  • Positionable rudders
  • Positionable speed brakes
  • Sapfir-25 radar set under positionable radome
  • Choice of early/late IRST set under nose

External store options include:

  • 4 x R-60 Aphid
  • 2 x APU dual-rail launchers
  • 2 x R-40RD Acrid
  • 2 x R-40TD Acrid
  • 2 x FAB-1500 bombs
  • 4 x FAB-500 bombs
  • 2 x dual bomb racks (fore/aft)
  • 2 x dual bomb racks (side-by-side)
  • 1 x centerline fuel tank

Markings are included for three options:

  • MiG-25PD, Bort 75, PVO Strany, USSR, 1975
  • MiG-25PD, Bort 56, Ukrainian AF
  • MiG-25PD, Iraqi Air Force

The decal set provides maintenance stenciling for the airframe as well as the weapons and a bonus set of numbers for Viktor Belenko's MiG-25P Bort 31. Nice!

A couple of minor glitches in this kit:

1. The instructions have you install FOD doors that close up the intakes similar to the Su-27 and MiG-29 series. Unfortunately, the Su-27 and MiG-29 were the first to have this feature and the MiG-25 pre-dates those aircraft by several decades. The problem is that if you put the intake ramps back up in the roof of the intakes (similar to the F-14 and F-15), there are no intake ducts nor R-15B compressor faces to see inside that fuselage cavity. I think this is a relatively simple fix which I'll tackle in the upcoming build of this kit. Ironically, the unique tri-vane array mounted inside the intake duct to spread airflow across the faces of the engines are provided though they are hidden if you follow the instructions and use the intake ramps as FOD doors.

2. The R-40 missiles have bifurcated rocket motors - because the tail cone of the missiles have command guidance antennas that point back to the MiG-25, you can't put a rocket motor there. Instead, the rocket motor is located ahead of the tail cone with dual rocket nozzles, one on each side of the airframe. The kit has bumps where the nozzles would be and these will need a little tweaking to make them look right.

3. The wingtip mass balances are identified as ECM pods in the instructions. These are not optional and need to be on the wingtips.

Here we have the first new-tool MiG-25 in 1/48 scale in decades. The Revell kit filled the gap for a while though it was the Hasegawa kit that was released shortly after Belenko's visit to Japan that remained the best MiG-25 in any scale - until now. It would not be hard to backdate this aircraft to a classic MiG-25P. This is another impressive release from Kitty Hawk and you'll be seeing a build-up of this kit shortly. I've seen test shots of the MiG-25U Foxbat C, I really hope we'll see the MiG-25R (Foxbat B), MiG-25RB (Foxbat D), and MiG-25BM (Foxbat F Wild Weasel) in the near future as well!

My sincere thanks to Kitty Hawk Models for this review sample!