Trumpeter 1/32 MiG-29M Fulcrum Kit First Look
|Date of Review
|Photo-Etch, White Metal, Styrene
|Excellent scribed detailing throughout
|Engine intakes/exhausts need work
During the late 1970s, the Mikoyan Design Bureau (OKB) was tasked to develop the next generation of combat aircraft. Recognizing that the United States had fielded a purebred dogfighter with the F-15 Eagle and were developing advanced lightweight fighters with the F-16 and the F/A-18, this next generation would need to hold its own, if not out-fly, these new aircraft. The resulting design was the MiG-29, NATO Codenamed FULCRUM. Like the US designs, the MiG-29 had a thrust-to-weight ratio greater than 1:1, but unlike the competition, the aircraft could operate from unimproved airfields, thanks to its very rugged landing gear and unique dorsal bypass engine air intake system (those louvered vents above each intake).
Despite the aircraft's impressive design specifications and the stunning performances that it provided at airshows, the MiG-29 did not fare well in the few aerial combat encounters it experienced. The aircraft needed an update.
The MiG-29M (M for modified) is the result of a series of updates to move the aircraft into the next generation of superfighter and was marketed as the MiG-33. In addition to modernized avionics, the cockpit featured multi-function displays, the dorsal bypass intake system was eliminated, and the aircraft was given an expanded range of air-to-air and air-to-surface munitions. The MiG-29M and M1 have been set aside for the even-more improved MiG-35, the MiG-29OVT with thrust-vectoring engines.
I know, I say it for just about every new Trumpeter release, so for consistency: WOW! Trumpeter has definitely kept its ability for awesome first impressions!
Molded in light gray styrene, the kit consists of 842 parts (!!!) and is presented on 15 parts trees (duplicate trees not shown) along with separate upper and lower fuselage halves, four engine nozzle parts, plus three small trees containing the clear parts. In addition, the kit features two frets of photo-etch, rubber tires, and white metal landing gear struts.
At first glance, the cockpit tub looks rather plain, but when you look at all of the stuff that goes in there as separate parts, this cockpit is going to look awesome. The K-36D ejection seat is beautifully captured, right down to the complex ejection seat harness that is captured on one of the two photo-etch frets. They've even captured the F-16-styled side-stick in this cockpit. Nice!
The wings go together next and the trailing edge flaps and ailerons use photo-etched hinges (the other photo-etch fret). The leading edge flaps are also molded separately and are glued into whatever position you'd like. I'm going to lose those hinges and do the same thing with the trailing edge.
The wings are mounted to the lower fuselage half with two screws each, but little mechanical reinforcement otherwise. I am not at all happy with this arrangement given the size and mass of this kit. When you load those wings up with any of that beautiful array of armament, those wings are going to eventually sag. I will be installing a mainspar in my build as there are no obstructions in the kit to prevent this.
Oddly enough, where each wing is attached to the lower fuselage with two screws, the nose gear well is held in place with four screws. Hmm....
The main wheel wells are molded as part of the lower fuselage with only a few bulkheads added to provide detail on vertical surfaces. The upper and lower fuselage halves screw together with two screws (and lots of cement).
Interestingly enough, no radar is provided, so you'll be keeping that radome closed.
The engine intakes do not have compressor faces at the end of the ducts. Instead, the FOD screens are to be placed in the down position to block the intake, but these screens are solid plastic. I believe these screens are retracted when the aircraft is shut down to allow the maintenance crew and the pre-flighting pilot to see down the intake. The screens will need to be replaced with photo-etch and I feel some resin engine compressor faces coming.
The landing gear strut cores are white metal that have styrene parts added to provide details. Thankfully Trumpeter did not try to put springs in the struts to articulate them!
The engine nozzles are a curious affair. The kit provides the inner and outer nozzle assemblies, just like the real RD-33. But for some bizarre reason, the turbine face and afterburner spray ring is mounted directly to the back of the nozzle! You'll need to add a number of scale feet of afterburner chamber between the turbine face/spray ring assembly and the nozzle.
The horizontal stabilators plug into the rear fuselage. I think I'll be stealing a few Tamiya polly caps from another kit to make these stabilators removable for transport.
The vertical stabilizers, canopy and dorsal speed brake round out the assembly of the basic airframe.
Now we get to the sweet part of this kit - the weapons! Of the 15 gray parts trees that make up this kit, seven are weapons, two are external tanks, and two are pylons!
The kit provides:
- 2 x R-27AE
- 2 x R-27T
- 2 x R-60MK
- 2 x R-73E
- 2 x R-77
- 2 x Kh-25ML
- 2 x Kh-25MP
- 2 x Kh-31P
- 2 x Kh-29L
- 2 x Kh-29T
- 2 x Kh-35A
- 2 x PTB-1150 external wing tanks
- 2 x PTB-1500 centerline tanks
In addition, all of the proper pylons and launch rails appear to be present for these options.
The PTB-1500 centerline tank will need a little work. The tank is designed to cram into the space between the engines, but there is an auxiliary power unit that exhausts down onto the tank. The designers had to build a duct through the tank to vent the APU away from the fuel tank. The kit sort of reflects the duct, but there is no hollow duct in the tank. A little strip plastic and an X-Acto knife will cure that.
There are two huge decal sheets included in this kit. The smaller one contains markings for one of two aircraft options - blue 156 and blue 01 of a Guards Aviation unit. A complete set of maintenance stenciling is also included on this sheet. The LARGER decal sheet is nothing but weapons stencils. Lots of weapons (and pylon) stencils. This is going to be one beautiful aircraft with all of this!
As usual, this is an incredible work of art. Trumpeter has certainly done it again. The minor bugs identified above can be easily dealt with using parts from your spares box and/or a little scratchbuilding. Better yet, fashion some intake and exhaust covers and call it a day! Add this awesome array of armament, and you're going to want more than one of these kits. This one is definitely recommended!
My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!