1/72 scale kits of the MiG-23 and MiG-27 family (NATO "Flogger")
review / modelling report
... continued from page 1...
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.
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 far 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.
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,
Camouflage colours interpreted as:
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.
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.
[ area: 322,500 sq.km | capital: Yamoussoukro | population 24 million | GDP US $ 1,900 per capita nominal ]
French colony "Cote d' Ivoire" (in English "the Ivory Coast") became
in August 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.
A few Alouette II and III helicopters were used in the 1970s with some
Cessna's and also a pair of Fokker F-27 transports from 1970 to 1979.
The president also had a Fokker F28 from 1975 until 1993.
In 2010 there was a regime change in Cote d'Ivoire after elections. Helicopters, often with civilian registration, were acquired like SA365 Dauphins. The current "Force Aérienne de la Côte d'Ivoire" has no active jet fighters but a few VIP aircraft, a Antonov AN-26, CASA CN925, Beech 350 transport and a few armed Mil Mi-24 Hinds helicopters, all based at the only base aerienne at Abidjan / Port Bouet international airport. Across the country are a few dozen civilian airfields.
MiG-23 MLD coded "CH", c/n 27204/18421 (BGR "204 white" ) and first seen april 2003. It was still seen there derelict in 2016 along with companion sister "25 white".
Abidjan / Port Bouet main airport:
courtesy Google Earth imaging
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
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 model was given now a base grey
coat to check for any error in filling and sanding.
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:
NOTE: I later found a rare photo and saw that the light green is much brighter so if you make this model better use a green like Revell 364 aqua.
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 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.Safirs and a few B-17's a new air force was set up.
In the 1950s Emperor Haile Selassie convinced the United Nations to establish the country of Ethiopia with Eritrea as a province and he ruled until 1974. 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.
The Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie was overtrown September 1974 by a Marxist officers. The Ethiopian air force was now the "Ityopya Ayer Hayl" and turned after some years of large unrest in 1977 to the Soviet Union and got the MiG-21 fighter in the seventies. Ethiopian etnical groups wanted independence and many conflicts erupted with Somalia and Eritrea in the North.
Aircraft types in the new marxist Ethiopean Air Force were first between 20 up to 40 MiG-17F fighter-bomber jets obtained in 1977 with a few MiG-15UTI trainers. Over 40 MiG-21MF fighters followed from 1978 with a few UM trainers with dozens of extra MiG-21 delivered the following years (probably over 100). These included also some 8 MiG-21R reconnaissance jets and from 1986 advanced MiG-21bis with also Cuban support. From 1977 also over 40 MiG-23BN "Flogger" fighter-bombers were delivered with a few MiG-23UB trainers. Additional MiG-23 were acquired inluding over 18 MiG-23ML and it is probable that nearly 100 MiG-23 were received. The main Ethiopean air base is Debre Zeit near Bishoftu and another important bases are at Dire Dawa and Bahir Dar with also MiG-23 aircraft based there.
(more info about Ethiopia on the MiG-21 page here...)
Bahir Dar air base:
and shelter with visible MiG-23 tails :
courtesy Google Earth imaging
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). Although not 100% sure, the MiG-23MF was also used as well as MiG-23ML and a few MiG-23UB trainers.
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....
As the MiG-23MF has a splitter plate,
one was used found as spare part.
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:
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.
red "C455" of the FAPA .
Angola / Lubango Mukanka base no.2 in the South (where many MiGs were based):
detail showing MiG-23 "parked" in pairs....
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February 8, 2016