Trumpeter 1/32 MiG-21F-13 Fishbed E Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||April 2007||Manufacturer||Trumpeter|
|Subject||MiG-21F-13 Fishbed E||Scale||1/32|
|Kit Number||2210||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Best kit of the MiG-21F series in any scale||Cons|
|Skill Level||Intermediate||MSRP (USD)||$74.95|
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 R11F-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 version of the MiG-21 to enter production was the MiG-21F, which featured two 30mm NR30 cannons mounted in fairings on either side of the fuselage below the wings, one multipurpose pylon under each wing and a centerline pylon that was plumbed for a 490 liter external fuel tank. The MiG-21F carried the NATO designator Fishbed C.
The MiG-21F did not remain in production long as new improvements were incorporated into the airframe, including a wider chord vertical stabilizer and deletion of the port (left) 30mm gun. This version was internally designated at the MiG-21F-13 and carried the NATO designator Fishbed E.
Interestingly enough, these NATO reporting designators were assigned to each aircraft variant that was observed, (usually) in the order it was observed. During the height of the Cold War, Soviet aircraft designators were not widely known outside of the Soviet Block, so these NATO designators were used early on to refer to a specific aircraft type and variant. Somewhere along the way, the radar-equipped MiG-21PF was somehow identified before the MiG-21F-13, hence the former would be known as Fishbed D and the latter Fishbed E. But that is another story.
The early MiG-21s (MiG-21F, MiG-21F-13 and MiG-21PF) were all equipped with a novel aircrew escape system. Since the aircraft was purpose-built for supersonic combat and ejecting out of a supersonic aircraft was usually fatal, Mikoyan designers employed a forward-hinged canopy that would attach to the ejection seat during egress and cover the pilot, shielding him from the supersonic airflow. Unfortunately, the canopy did not always release again from the seat, trapping the pilot and preventing him from getting clear to open his parachute. As a result, all MiG-21s from the MiG-21PFM onward were equipped with a more 'conventional' canopy and escape system.
The MiG-21F-13 was widely used in the Soviet Air Force and was subsequently exported to air forces around the world. Of all of the versions of the MiG-21 produced, the MiG-21F-13 was really the sport model. It had virtually the best thrust-to-weight ratio of any production MiG-21 variant because it was not yet equipped with sophisticated radar, additional weapons stores and more avionics (i.e. more weight). The Chinese would also press the MiG-21F-13 into production as the J-7 and even export this aircraft as the F-7. The Pakistani Air Force is one of the major operators of the F-7.
I never thought I'd see the day anyone would produce a decent injection-molded kit of the MiG-21F-13, much less in 1/32 scale. Trumpeter really pulled out the stops and is producing quite a few previously overlooked subjects. This kit was released in 2002 and was one of the many impressive kits that Trumpeter has developed in 1/32 scale.
When you open the box, you are presented with fewer parts than were in their previous MiG-21MF and MiG-21UM kits, but then again, the MiG-21F-13 is also a simpler aircraft. The kit is presented on nine parts trees molded in light gray styrene, one tree of clear parts, one cast metal centerbody radome that doubles as nose ballast, three white metal main landing gear struts, and three rubber tires.
Trumpeter didn't take any shortcuts on the details. The MiG-21F-13 fuselage sports the correct profile for the smaller inlet nose and the smaller main wheel bulges above the wing, when compared to their MiG-21MF kit.
The wings are also correctly represented with the Fowler flaps that equipped the early MiG-21s (F, F-13 & PF). The later MiG-21s feature the engine-blown flaps that are correctly represented in the Trumpeter MiG-21MF kit.
The way this kit is laid out with the gun fairings, speed brakes and vertical stabilizer as separate parts, it wouldn't be difficult to back-date this kit to the MiG-21F.
The cockpit tub is quite detailed, though some modelers might find the molded-in details a little on the soft side. In this scale, if you have a few good photos, it isn't hard to add whatever details you'd like to your front office. The early MiG-21s featured cockpits that were a mixture of black and dark gray, so one could use the kit cockpit as-is with no problems. On the otherhand, if you want to show off some details, you can build your MiG-21F-13 as a remanufactured aircraft that features the cockpit in Russian turquoise green (check your references).
The kit still features the very detailed engine, which is a kit all unto itself. The only criticism that I have for this kit is with the engine, however, as it still has the strange spiral compressor face that is definitely not present on the R11F engine series. This 'feature' is also present in the MiG-21MF and MiG-21UM kits.
The MiG-21F-13 was armed with either two K-13 (R-3S) IR air-to-air missiles (copies of the AIM-9B Sidewinder), two UB-16-57 rocket pods (16-shot pods firing 57mm rockets), or two unguided bombs, in addition to its 30mm cannon. The kit provides all of these options as well as some of the other weapons from the other MiG-21 kits, including the AA-1 Alkali and the radar-guided version of the AA-2 Atoll. These are worth saving for future projects.
As with the other Trumpeter MiG-21s, there is a white-metal centerbody nose cone for ballast, and features white metal landing gear struts and rubber tires.
Among the features/options in this kit:
- Detailed cockpit
- Detailed engine
- Positionable Fowler flaps
- Positionable ailerons, rudder, and stabilators
- Positionable canopy
- Positionable speed brakes
- Centerline external fuel tank
- Atoll, UB-16, or OFAB-250 bombs on wing pylons
Markings are provided for four air forces:
- MiG-21F-13, 4527, VNAF circa late 1960s/early 1970s
- MiG-21F-13, Bort 64, Soviet Air Force, circa early 1960s
- MiG-21F-13/J-7, 1607, PLAAF
- MiG-21F-13, 007, Captured aircraft in Israeli colors
While the bort numbers for 4527 and 007 are prepared on the decal sheet, you'll note that generic numbers are provided for Soviet, PLAAF (Chinese), and VNAF (North Vietnamese) styled bort number so that you can replicate any number of examples aside from those shown in the profiles. One set of maintenance stencils are also on the sheet.
Thank you Trumpeter! At last we have an accurate model this early MiG-21! The only other production model kits released of the MiG-21F-13 was the out-of-scale '1/72' Hasegawa kit and a better rendition by Revell in actual 1/72 scale.
Trumpeter has captured the lines and details of this aircraft and once again has offered it at a very reasonable price. As with the previously released 1/32 MiG-21MF and MiG-21UM kits from Trumpeter, this offering is very welcome addition to the 1/32 flightline.
My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!
- MiG-21 Online Reference
- MiG-21 Fishbed, Yefim Gorgon & Bill Gunston, Aerofax, 1996, ISBN 1-85780-042-7
- MiG-21, 4+ Publications, 1991, ISBN 80-900708-09
- MiG-21 In Action, Don Linn & Don Sperling, Squadron/Signal Publications, 1993, ISBN 0-89747-290-X
- Mikoyan MiG-21, Bill Gunston, Osprey, 1986, ISBN 0-85045-734-3