Trumpeter 1/32 MiG-21MF Fishbed J Kit First Look
|Date of Review||April 2007||Manufacturer||Trumpeter|
|Subject||MiG-21MF Fishbed J||Scale||1/32|
|Kit Number||2218||Primary Media||Styrene, White Metal, Resin|
|Pros||Best kit of the MiG-21 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 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 the F-series (MiG-21F, MiG-21F-13) which were armed with the NR-30 30mm cannon internally as well as the ability to carry IR-guided missiles on two underwing pylons. This first MiG-21 series was a day-only interceptor as it did not have an intercept radar.
The next generation was the P-series (MiG-21PF, MiG-21PFM) which did have the intercept radar, but no internal gun and was still limited with two underwing pylons. It was powered by the slightly improved R-11F2S-300 afterburning engine.
The third generation was the M-series (though there are a few others in this family) with the MiG-21MF being the common version delivered to Warsaw Pact and exported quite extensively. This version of the MiG-21 family retained the intercept radar, regained an internal gun (the GSh-23 23mm), and now had four underwing pylons. It was powered by the improved R-13-300
The US Air Force and Navy had their first 'close encounters' with the MiG-21MF in the skies over North Vietnam in the early 1970s where it's improved engine and afterburner surprised aircrews when they were not able to outrun this new variant as they had the earlier MiG-21s in VNAF service. 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 few 30+-year-old fighter 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.
When I first heard that Trumpeter was going to release the MiG-21 in 1/32 scale, I still wasn't convinced at the time that they could keep up the level of detail that was presented in their first 1/32 offerings. I've since learned that they were only warming up! I also thought it odd that Trumpeter would choose as their first installment the MiG-21MF as Revell's 1/32 kit was not bad at all! Since they did both the MiG-21MF Fishbed J and MiG-21PF Fishbed D, that left a wide range of subjects open. Well they did to the MiG-21MF and they did it beyond my expectations, and then they followed up with the MiG-21F-13 Fishbed E and MiG-21UM Mongol B which are two new subjects in this scale. These were of course followed by a few other MiG-21 variants produced by Chengdu in China, the J-7 and the export F-7.
When you open the box, you are presented with twelve parts trees molded in light gray styrene, one tree molded in clear, a white metal intake centerbody radome (that doubles as ballast), white metal landing gear struts, rubber tires, and a sprue of resin parts for an optional gun-loading diorama.
The best part is that this kit design pre-dates Trumpeter's use of photo-etched flight control hinges, so installation and positioning of the flaps and flight control surfaces is simple.
The wings are correctly represented with the non-Fowler engine-blown flaps that equipped the MiG-21s from the MiG-21PFM Fishbed F and beyond.
The cockpit tub is quite detailed, though some modelers might find the molded-in details a little on the soft side. There is an excellent photo reference published for this aircraft (reviewed here) that will help you enhance the look and detail to your taste. The early production MiG-21MFs featured cockpits that were a mixture of black and dark gray, so one could use the kit cockpit as-is with no problems. Later MiG-21MFs were produced with Russian turquoise green cockpits and remanufactured aircraft were repainted the same way (check your references). There are also some excellent aftermarket cockpits produced for this kit from Cutting Edge and Black Box, as well as detail sets from Eduard, Part, and others.
The kit features a 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 R13F engine series. This 'feature' is also present in the MiG-21F-13 and MiG-21UM kits.
The MiG-21MF was able to employ a wide range of weapons in its air-to-air and air-to-surface missions. In the air-to-air arena, it could carry:
- 2 - 4 K-5 (RS-1) AA-1 Alkali (radar aimed)
- 2 - 4 K-13 (R-3S) AA-2 Atoll (copy of the IR-guided AIM-9B Sidewinder)
- 2 - 4 K-13R (R-3R) AA-2 Atoll (radar guided)
- 2 - 4 R-60 AA-8 Aphid
The Trumpeter kit provides 2 x AA-1, 6 x K-13, 2 x K-13R. You'll have to liberate R-60s out of your 1/32 Su-27 or MiG-29 kits, or perhaps you have one or more of the Trumpeter 1/32 Soviet/Russian aircraft weapons sets.
In the air-to-ground arena, the MiG-21 could carry a wide range of bombs, rockets, rocket pods, gun pods, and more. In the kit, Trumpeter provides a pair of UB-16-57 and UB-32-57 rocket pods, OFAB-250 bombs.
Depending on the mission profile, the MiG-21MF usually carried a centerline fuel tank (two types provided in the kit) plus two 490 liter tanks on the outboards, leaving the inboard pylons free for missiles, bombs, rockets, whatever. If the duration was shorter, the outboard tanks were offloaded and weapons carried on all four pylons.
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 flaps
- Positionable ailerons, rudder, and stabilators
- Removable tail w/optional tail section dolly
- Positionable canopy
- Boarding ladder
- Positionable speed brakes
- Centerline external fuel tank (two types provided)
- Nice selection of weapons (discussed above)
- Pilot and ground crew figures
Which brings us to another interesting feature of the kit. One sprue contains four ground crew figures, three of which are loading the GSh-23 gun with 23mm ammunition from the resin-cast loader, one crew figure is posed reloading the brake parachute in the tail. Very nice touch!
Markings are provided for two examples:
- MiG-21MF, 23+15, JG 1, Unified Luftwaffe
- MiG-21MF, Iraqi Air Force
An extensive set of maintenance stencils are provided on this sheet.
Trumpeter has provided a kit that easily outshines any other MiG-21 kit on the market. This is definitely the best MiG-21 kit produced to date. This kit is highly recommended!
- MiG-21 Online Reference
- MiG-21, Frantisek Koran, Wings & Wheels Publications, 2004, ISBN 80-86416-40-2
- 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