Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-23 and MiG-27 in 1/72 scale
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1/72 scale kits of the MiG-23 and MiG-27 family  (NATO "Flogger")  
kit review / modelling report

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Yes, I known the recent MiG-23 series of RV AIRCRAFT are currently the best kits in 1/72 scale. But having a whole pile of old MiG-23 kits, I decided to make these older models nevertheless with often new decals and attractive camouflage schemes.
 

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Zvezda MiG-23  (kit #7225)

Zvezda has a whole series of MiG-23 kits. They share the same basic parts but with some changes for particular versions.

Kit #7225 is quoted to be for a MiG-23MF and the kit dates from 1996. It has about 75 parts. The kit has the "notched" wing glove leading edge as in the kit but this is only applicable for a MiG-23 MLD. The overall dimensions are a bit inaccurate: the overall length is about 7 mm too short (mostly in the nose area). Also the exhaust pipe a bit small and the wing gloves too thick.  (my modelling friend Rob de Bie has done accuracy analysis... look here at Rob's page...)

The cockpit interior in the kit is terrible with a very large seat and crude detail. It was decided to close the canopy although the canopy and windshield are too big and too high. The schemes suggested in the kit are also vague and can not be checked. 

The model was assembled as indicated in the instructions for the main parts. But most crude raised panel lines were sanded off. I did not bother with the other inaccuracies as it would be a lot of work to correct. But the horizontal stabilizers #9, 10 were set 1 mm higher, now just below the aft speed brakes. This looks better. 

The wing halves were aligned a bit better to keep a symmetric pose with some card inside:


The panel lines are raised and most were sanded off during assembly. And quite some putty and sanding was needed.
..
After the sanding effort, the model got a base grey coat to check for any errors. Usually I use an airbrush with a simple paint like Revell Aqua 75 "Steingrau". 

Still some filling with putty and sanding was needed.... Note also the "notched" wing glove for the MLD.
.

Below the nose, an IR tracker fairing was installed as in the kit.

Focus is now on the paint scheme of a rare Ivory Coast air force MiG-23MLD. The kit has the notched wing glove leading edge so is in that respect correct. Also, the vertical tail has no upper dorsal fin. (The MLD was the final version of the MiG-23, see page 1). 
The book "Soviet and Russian Military aircraft" in Africa (see references) shows a drawing on page 100 and a very rare photo of the MLA but the text suggests also a few MLD 's through Bulgaria were delivered. 

Camouflage colours interpreted as:
Dark green:  AKAN 73024
Medium green: Revell Aqua 360 
Brown: AKAN 73080 acrylic
Light blue lower surfaces:  AKAN 73008 acrylic

These were airbrushed with the Harder Steenbeck double action airbrush

The model was ready for the decals, but first a couple of gloss coats were added using with my usual technique.

Only a few decals were added. The rare photo of a MLA of the book noted above shows no clear roundel as the nose area of the aircraft is covered. But it is very probable that a roundel is on the nose, so this was set in place: the Ivory Coast roundel was made by using an IRAN roundel from the spares box and combining it with an orange dot in the middle from a Dutch decal roundel.

When decalling was done, a trick made the decals look better on the model. With the airbrush, very thin coats of the previosuly applied paints were "oversprayed" in some areas, this "blends" the decals into the surface. It looks very good. The final coat was a final semi-matt coat. This was achieved with the usual technique by airbrushing a gloss coat of Johnson Future acrylic with 5% mixed in Tamiya X-21 "flat base" acrylic paint.

The landing gear assembly is a bit awkward to ensure a correct alignment. The main wheels have "holes" to fit the main gear legs, but I found these pegs to pose an inaccurate look so one was removed on each side. 

The canopy was closed, inside I also installed a simple spare set after it got a few harness details made from tape. gaps were closed with white glue and painted.

Almost done, the model also got two R60 missiles (retrieved from an ICM 1/72 missile set) below the fuselage. The pylons came from the kit #47. That completed this model. 

.. ...
This former French colony "Cote d' Ivoire" (in English "the Ivory Coast") became independent in 1960. With French assistance armed forces were set-up. The army started with Max Holste Broussard aircraft and a DC-3 and later the air force was established and some C-47's were obtained as well. It's air force had a very limited operational capability for decades. The first jet aircraft type was the Alpha Jet "C1", arriving in 1980 with 6 delivered (and later 1 extra). In 2000 a new leftist president was elected, followed by Soviet aircraft being delivered like a few Sukhoi Su-25's and MiG-23MLA's. Through Bulgaria in 2003 probably a few refurbished MiG-23MLD aircraft were delivered as well but it seems they only flew a few times. 


The biggest inaccuracy of the basic kit is clearly seen here in the canopy area, it looks "too big". But nevertheless a nice MiG-23MLD model in the collection of a rare air force. The MLD has the notched wing glove leading edge clearly seen in the view below...


Here located at the Base Aerienne d' Abidjan.....


 


   MiG OKB.
. .


RV Aircraft MiG-23B
This kit #72019 of the year 2013 is a very nice kit of the series of MiG-23 kits of "RV Aircraft". 

The number of parts (mostly in light brown plastic) in this kit is about 100 and includes a photo etched fret for the details. For this BM version the "duck nose" is obviously in the kit (as grey parts) and also has the side armour plates, but the normal MF nose is still found in the sprues. The same is true for the vertical tail: one with or without dorsal fin is provided. 

The kit instructions are a bit vague in some areas to clearly indicate what parts are needed for a particular version. Also, detailed colour instructions are not provided for the details. All panels lines are finely recessed and very impressive. But there are NO locating pins for the parts so alignment needs more care to avoid ridges. And the kit has NO external weapon stores are provided so any desired must be sourced elsewhere. 

This kit release also has a few resin parts for the aft bomb racks, very nice. Also a resin exhaust nozzle is provided and additional two resin horizontal tailplanes. So you have a lot of welcome "left overs" that can be used for improving older simpler kits. 

Decals in this kit are for the MiG-23BM first Soviet prototype "blue 351" in a camouflage scheme. (may be I mixed up some decal sheets, but I think no other scheme was in the kit).

I compared the RV Aircraft vertical tail with an old  Zvezda/Italeri Mig-27 kit and they agree on the basic shapes:

It was decided to a small conversion into a MiG-23BN as used by Ethiopia. (I found out too late that RV also has this version in a kit #72018 with a different exhaust nozzle). 

Basic construction started with cockpit tub (which is very nicely detailed), nose and aft sections. This MiG version has the large style "boundary layer" splitter plates with parts #21, 23. 
..
The main fuselage wing gloves with the swivelling wing is not a very tight fit. Before closing up the fuselage upper and lower parts, I added a 2 mm extra rod bit on top of the rotating pins. Still, the wing "wobbles". But the wing can be clicked in at a later stage. 
..
The fuselage was further assembled. The separate air brakes are nice but when set closed do not fit, so sanding was needed on their insides. Remaining gaps were closed with white glue. The wing glove leading edge parts #39, 40 need some putty. (The missile emitter fairing #43 below the wing glove is a separate part; it was fitted to most BN aircraft but I believe not on the Ethiopian aircraft).

The model was given now a base grey coat to check for any error in filling and sanding. 


For the exhaust pipe for this version is provided as a separate resin part is provided but I did no bother to fit the internal pipe structure with parts #27, 30. 

NOTE: Later, I discovered that I made an error retaining the "long" afterburner as I wanted to make a "BN" that had a slightly derated R-29B engine with short jet pipe. Discovered very late, I got the razor saw and cut it off. Unable to install a fine detailed shorter nozzle, I simply wil put of a "exhaust pipe" protection plate/cover that was painted red.

The cockpit of the kit looks nice with details and cockpit interior colour was painted with AKAN 73005 "emerald green". The lower folding tail fin has parts #31, 32, 33. I did not yet fit the lower folding fin #32 and the undercarriage assembly will be done after airbrushing the overall paint scheme.

The picked scheme is of an Ethiopia air force MiG-23BN aircraft using the Berna decal set 72-87. I found some drawings on the internet but also some profile drawings are found in the nice book "Soviet and Russian Military aircraft" in Africa (see references) ; on page 118 as well as some colour photos. 

The following colours were used:
Light green: Gunze Sangyo 312 acrylic ;
Sand: Revell Aqua 314 ;
Light brown: AKAN 73080  ;
Green: Gunze Sangyo 303  ;
Dark brown: AKAN 73026   ;
Lower blue surfaces: AKAN 7003 russian blue  ; 

Also, some darker green patches were airbrushed at some dots using AKAN 73024. Masking was done both with tape but also "loosely" by holding a carton at the eddes whiel airbrushing. 

The model was ready for the decals, but first a couple of gloss coats were added with the usual technique. Decals were applied when the coat was dry.


The wing halves that also got their decals were "snapped" in. It needs to be glued fixed to ensure a correct position with dihedral. I also had to insert thin plastic bits to get the correct and symmetrical dihedral angles.  

The model was now almost ready for final assembly. A similar "overspray trick" and semi-matt coat was applied as described above....

OK, now the assembly of the undercarriage was now done. The multi-part undercarriage legs of this RV Aircraft kit are a bit awkward but unused and thus spare parts are also here for different gear legs and wheels. It seems the main wheels sit "too low" so I had to do a bit re-aligning. Two types of nose wheels are also provided with parts #59 probably needed. (this is not well indicated in the kit instructions). Very nice is an optional mud guard #61 or #62. But the Ethiopian aircraft have no mud guard.

Final assembly also means installing all the pitots, tubes and probes and all are provided in the kit including resin ones. I also added a few FAB 500 bombs from an ICM "Soviet" weapons set on the rear fuselage pylons. This is a special feature of the later MiG-27. 

Next, an end semi-gloss coat was applied with the usual technique

The cockpit canopy inside frames were painted AKAN 73005 "emerald green". A mirror was made from scrap and installed in the edge. The seat form the kit set in place after it got some straps made from tape. After that canopy was installed hinged upwards and that completed this very nice model. 


............
Military aviation started way back in 1922 under emperor rule with a few aircraft of various types including even some Fokker F.VII transports. Italia overtook ruling eind 1930s and only after 1944 Ethiopia again was independent. With Swedish support with some Saab Safirs and a few B-17's a new air force was set up. In 1951 some Fairey Fireflies were acquired. In the 1950s with US assistance T-28 and T-33 followed and also F-86F Sabres fighters and in 1965 F-5A aircraft arrived. September 1974 there was a large regime change in Ethiopia when Emperor Haile Selassi was overthrown and the new regime turned to the Communist block. The Ethiopian air force was now the "Ityopya Ayer Hayl". Soviet aircraft were soon provided like MiG-17, MiG-21 and in 1977 the first MiG-23BN aircraft arrived and the total number of MiG-23's were probably one hundred. Many Mil helicopters are also used. In the region many conflicts emerged and unfortunately as of today many local conflicts are still being fought (and Eritrea region became an independent country). 

This MiG-23BN coded "1288" was flown to Djibouti in 1991.... the pilot defected. 


    at Asmara before Eritrea became independent....

 

. .


Academy MiG-27D
Kit #12455 is for a "Flogger -D" and its release date was probably 1993. The kit is very basic and the cockpit has a seat "hump" with a floor but no side consoles and no control stick. Decals are for a single "Soviet aircraft" with red stars. 

The nose shape seems very inaccurate and the nose length at the canopy location looks "too short". As I had a couple of spares nose halves and a radar nose from the RV Aircraft kit #72019, it was decided to do a complete conversion of quite a different type: the MiG-23MF in an Angola scheme using spare nose parts from an RV Aircraft kit.  (The Academy canopy and windshield could still be used). 

The strange stubs of the wing glove leading edge (on part #B15) were cut away. The simple wing halves were merged in the wing glove and the fuselage closed. 

To get rid of the inaccurate nose, a spare "RV Aircraft" thick nose was "crafted" to the rear Academy fuselage. So the MiG-23 version changed to a thick nose one as seen on a MiG-23MF. 

The assembly took putty and sanding. From another Academy kit (seen below) intakes were used... later I turned out I needed these.... 

Some card on top of the intakes and putty was needed to get a flush fit. 


The lower areas also needed putty and sanding when dried. 

As the MiG-23MF has a splitter plate, one was used found as spare part. 

In the cockpit some rod was installed for the side consoles. The gap in the cockpit was closed with a rear bulkhead from card. I added a control stick in the cockpit and the interior was painted Russian green/blue with AKAN 73005 "emerald green". 

The stores as indicated in STEP 10 of the instructions were not used, these are very very basic in the kit.

A model of the Angola air force MiG-23MF was made with roundels from the Berna set 72-87. Although the model is not perfect, it is much better than the original kit.

The book "Soviet and Russian Military aircraft" in Africa (see references) shows a drawing on page 50. The colours were interpreted as:
Lower blue:  AKAN 7003 acrylic "russian blue" (this being applied first, also not forgetting the gear doors and pylons);
Dark green:  Revell Aqua 65 acrylic ;
Light green: Gunze Sangyo 303  ;
Brown: Revell Aqua 85 .


The model was ready for the decals, but first a couple of gloss coats were added with my usual technique. The Berna decals from set 72-87 went on fine. 


The final finishing was installing the landing gear, pitots and probes. And the Academy kit windshield was fitted, needing some white glue to close gaps. When dry, this was painted in the surrounding camouflage colours.

The nose gear bay looked too long as compared to the nose gear doors, so I inserted a piece of card of approx 3 mm width. 

Some additional pylons were installed and the lower gun pack. Also, UB-32 rocket pods were fitted obtained from an ICM "Soviet" weapons set. 

The lower fin was set folded as required for a ground parked aircraft.

The model got the usual semi-gloss end finish and canopy installed. 

 ANGOLA
........
End 1975 the former Portuguese colony Angola claimed independence, the Portuguese left the country and a leftist government was installed. The Angolan Peoples Air Force "Forca Aerea Popular de Angola" (FAPA) was established and the Communist Block supported it with many aircraft being delivered. Starting the built-up as usual with MiG-17's and MiG-15UTI trainers, more advanced aircraft were to be used like the MiG-21. Also, several versions of the MiG-23 were delivered beginning with about 20 MiG-23MF aircraft. These were operated from a number of air bases in the country.

MiG-23MF coded red "C455" of the FAPA .



.


.... at Luena airport, Angola

.
.... and Kuito airport
 

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February 8, 2016