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KIT REVIEW


Eduard MiG-21MF Interceptor ProfiPACK Edition
1:72 Scale



The MiG-21 (NATO designation: Fishbed) is the most widely produced fighter since the Korean War and takes is place among the most storied fighters in history.  It was a front-line Soviet fighter and interceptor for a good portion of the Cold War, and 60 Soviet client states operated the type.  There have also been a few hundred injection-molded plastic MiG-21 kits from 1:144 to 1:32 scale.  Eduard has produced the best (by far) 1:48 and 1:144 scale MiG-21s.  In between, I’d argue that the classic family of Fujimi Fishbeds (molds circa 1991) represent just about the best you can do in 1:72 scale.  Personally, I am pretty sentimental about the Fujimi kit, but they aren’t Eduard quality.  So it seems Eduard is shooting for a trifecta with their new tool 1:72 scale MiG-21MF released in mid-2018.  Let’s take a look at the inaugural ProfiPACK edition of what promises to be a new family of Eduard 1:72 scale Fishbeds.

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The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 started out as a second-generation jet fighter and was an evolutionary development of the early Soviet jet fighters extending back to the MiG-15 and MiG-17.  Design work on the delta-winged MiG-21 (NATO reporting name: Fishbed) started in the early 1950s.  It was a lightweight Mach 2-class aircraft that sought to blend the strengths of a fighter with that of an interceptor.  The MiG-21 was also distinctive for its prominent air inlet shock cone.  It was an agile aircraft and remained quite controllable at the margins of the flight envelope.  Still, the Fishbed was plagued by notoriously short range and endurance and usually had about 45 minutes worth of gas before the tanks ran dry.

More than 10,600 Fishbeds were mass-produced by the Soviets with several hundred others produced under license in India and Czechoslovakia.  Fishbeds were also produced for export with many additional versions going to more than 60 nations.  MiG-21s have seen a lot of action in the hands of these air arms, perhaps most infamously during the Vietnam War as operated by the North Vietnamese Air Force.  MiG-21s downed 56 U.S. aircraft (mostly F-4s and F-105s).  The U.S. claimed 92 MiG-21s destroyed throughout the war with 60 recorded as air-to-air kills.  Following changes in American tactics and technology in the wake of the Vietnam conflict, MiG-21s have, nearly universally, not since survived encounters with U.S. jets or those flown by U.S. allies.  Fishbeds have also been involved in nearly every Arab-Israeli war, hostilities between India and Pakistan, the Angolan Civil War, the Iran-Iraq War, and the ongoing Syrian Civil War among many other smaller conflicts.

The MiG-21MF first appeared in 1970.  It had the in-house design designation of Izdeliye 96F and the NATO reporting name Fishbed-J and sought to improve upon some of the weaknesses of earlier models, though it still was rather short ranged.  The “M” stood for Modernizirovannyy (modernized) and “F” for Forsirovannyy (uprated engine).  It featured the RP-21 radar and the Tumansky R13-300 powerplant.  Its suite of weapons include a pair of internal 23 mm cannons, the R-60 air-to-air missile (NATO designation: AA-8 Aphid), and later, the R-60M heat-seeking missile.  Various air-to-ground stores, from rocket pods to bombs, were also cleared on the MiG-21MF.  In the Soviet Union, MFs were produced in two factories: one in Moscow, and the other in Gorky.  This detail is important, since Gorky Fishbeds (which numbered more than 230 before production ceased) differed from Moscow-built airframes.  The MF was also built under license in India by HAL as the Type 88.  MiG-21MFs were widely exported and saw combat in the skies from over North Vietnam to the Middle East, the Horn of Africa, Angola, and elsewhere.  While they had some combat success through the 1970s, the employment of the MiG-21MF against fourth-generation American fighters (e.g., the F-15) in the 1980s and 1990s resulted in a disastrous combat record for the Fishbed.  Its time as a cutting-edge fighter had passed.

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Eduard’s new tool 1:72 scale MiG-21MF kit comes on three blue-gray injection molded polystyrene sprues containing 183 parts.  About 70 of these parts go to external stores.  Fourteen clear parts are present on one clear sprue.  There’s also 46 photoetched metal parts included on one fret (some parts pre-painted).  There’s a pre-cut self-adhesive masking set for the windscreen, canopy, and conformal airframe antennas/dielectric panels, too.  The full color instruction booklet organizes the build over 15 pages.  The decals come on one sheet and provide markings for five airplanes:

Strengths:  Upon opening the box and inspecting the kit contents, it is imminently clear Eduard has produced the best MiG-21 ever offered in 1:72 scale.  The kit obviously draws on the thinking and design approach seen in the superlative 1:48 scale Eduard Fishbed.  The parts breakdown is similar, but this kit does represent its own tooling. 

Eduard’s 1:72 scale MiG-21MF kit features a very straightforward and uncomplicated parts breakdown from the cockpit, wheel well assemblies, fuselage halves, and wing halves.  To eliminate seams and seam clean-up, the leading edge of the upper wing half carries over to the bottom of the wing as an extended lip.  It also seems that as many parts as possible were molded as single-piece assemblies, such as the combined spine and vertical stabilizer assembly, horizontal stabilizers, engine shroud, pylons, and air-to-air missiles.  A few other parts are more complex, such as the multi-piece KM-1 ejection seat or the separate wheel hubs, but that allows for the construction of the most detailed injection-molded ejection seat you could wish for.  I also dry fit the fuselage halves and the wings – they are airtight.  If you need to use filler, you might be doing something wrong!

Overall surface detail of the exterior of the airplane is breathtaking for any kit and especially in 1:72 scale.  The panel lines are delicately and precisely recessed, and some of the finest recessed rivet detail you’ll ever see are on the wings and fuselage.  I’d plan on this kit with a very thin paint such as Mr. Paint so as not to accidently fill in some of that gorgeous rivet detail.  Molding detail is also outstanding, from the quilted ejection seat backpad to bulkhead details, afterburner turbine face, wiring on bulkheads and gear well parts, landing gear, and missile details.  You also get separate and positionable ailerons, flaps, horizontal stabilizers, a positionable canopy, options to extend or retract the speed brakes, and other neat details often overlooked in 1:72 scale such as gear door actuators.
 
The cockpit is good for a 1:72 scale kit, and you can either use the plastic parts in the kit, decals for the instrument panel and side consoles, or the pre-painted ProfiPACK parts (certainly, the preference of most builders, one would assume).  The photoetched parts that come in this edition of the kit are gorgeously made, and really will elevate the detail in the cockpit to be sure.  The PE parts also feature really nice shoulder harnesses, lap belts, and the ejection handle for the seat as well as some external airframe details (e.g., antennas, static wicks).

The external stores included in this kit are one 800-liter external centerline fuel tank, two 490-liter drop tanks, two RATO bottles, two RS-2US missiles, two R-3S missiles, and two R-13 missiles.  While there are unguided rocket pods on the sprues, you won’t use them in this edition of the kit.

This kit features the details of a Gorky-built MiG-21MF, and the markings options all line up with Gorky exported Fishbeds that are represented on the decal sheet.  The markings choices are all great, but I like the Malian jet from 2006 the best since it’s the most distinctive – an earthtone camouflage scheme with a light blue underside.  The smaller primary decal sheet was printed by Cartograf and it is technically impeccable.  The secondary (but larger) decal sheet with the hundreds of airframe, pylon, and external stores stencils appears to have been printed in-house by Eduard.  While it’s of a slightly different quality than what comes out of Cartograf’s production process, the Eduard sheet also looks great and I can see no flaws therein.  And as far as painting goes, the pre-cut, self-adhesive masking set will save a lot of time and will produce a precise masking job for the canopy, windscreen, and conformal antennas.   

Weaknesses:  I can identify no obvious errors or issues in shape, size, configuration, or engineering.  Of course, the gear wells are nice but simplified as they must be for this small scale.  You can always add more detail (wiring, plumbing), and the kit provides a great basis to do so.  I would argue the ejection seat leg guards are really thick and over-scale.  There’s a little flash on the afterburner flame holder.

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This is a really impressive MiG-21MF kit, and Eduard has their trifecta in hand: they now produce the best MiG-21s in 1:48, 1:72, and 1:144 scales.  Bravo to them on this great new release and what is certain to be the first in a line of new 1:72 scale MiG-21 kits.  They have also released Brassin resin parts for their MiG-21MF, and if you wanted more detail opportunities, you have them.  In our next review, we’ll take a look at some of those.  In the meantime, enjoy this kit and given the parts that you don’t use in this edition of the kit, we will be pondering which MiG-21 Eduard has coming next…

Sincere thanks are owed to Eduard for the review sample.  You can visit them on the web at http://www.eduard.com and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/EduardCompany

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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