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KIT REVIEW


Eduard MiG-21MF in Czechoslovakian Service - Limited Edition -- 1:72 Scale



The MiG-21 (NATO designation: Fishbed) is the most widely produced aircraft since the Korean War and it has taken its place among the most important jet fighters in history.  It was a front-line Soviet fighter and interceptor for a large portion of the Cold War and more than 60 countries operated the type.  One major export customer was Czechoslovakia, and Fishbeds were even produced locally in Czech factories.  Eduard’s 1:72 scale MiG-21s are the best in this scale, and here, we take a look at their Limited Edition kit set that combines two of their MiG-21MFs, detail parts, an excellent reference book, and decal options for a whopping 39 aircraft that flew in the Czechoslovakian air force.

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The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 started out as a second-generation jet fighter and was an evolutionary development of the earlier Soviet jets.  It served as a lightweight Mach 2-class aircraft that blended the strengths of a fighter with that of an interceptor.  The MiG-21 was also distinctive for its prominent air inlet shock cone.  More than 10,600 Fishbeds were mass-produced by the Soviets with several hundred others manufactured under license in India and Czechoslovakia.  Fishbeds were also produced for export with many additional versions going to more than 60 nations.  MiG-21s saw extensive combat among these air arms, perhaps most infamously during the Vietnam War as operated by the North Vietnamese Air Force.  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 (NATO reporting name Fishbed-J) and sought to improve upon some of the weaknesses of earlier models, though it still suffered from short range.  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 included 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) differed slightly but noticeably from Moscow-built airframes.  MiG-21MFs were widely exported and saw combat in the skies over North Vietnam, 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 calamitous combat record for the Fishbed.

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Eduard’s MiG-21MF in Czechoslovakian Service - Limited Edition kit set contains sprues for TWO complete kits of their 2018 new tool 1:72 scale Fishbed.  In the box are six blue-gray injection molded polystyrene sprues containing 360 parts.  About 140 of these parts (70 per MiG) go to external stores.  Twenty-eight clear parts are present on two clear sprues.  There are also three sets of pre-painted photoetched metal parts adding up to 171 parts between them.  Six additional cast resin parts are included as well.  The masking set covers the windscreen, canopy, and conformal airframe antennas/dielectric panels.  The full color instruction booklet organizes the build over 11 pages, and that’s followed by a 44 page-long markings guide.  The book that comes in the box is 128 pages long.  The decals come on three sheets and provide markings for 39 aircraft:

Strengths:  This set is essentially the 1:72 scale version of a 2016 1:48 scale MiG-21MF set that Eduard produced.  All the good things we’ve had to say in the past about the great 1:72 scale Eduard MiG-21 kits hold here, too.  But to recap: the kit itself is straightforward and features an 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. 

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 photoetched metal parts (certainly, the preference of most builders, one would assume).  The photoetched parts that come in this edition of the kit are gorgeous and will really elevate the detail in the cockpit.  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.  The cast resin parts are for the MiG-21MFN building options.

The diversity and scope of the markings options may cause some scale modelers to agonize over which schemes to do.  The main decal sheets were printed by Cartograf and are technically impeccable.  The GIANT stencil set was printed in-house by Eduard and contains the hundreds of airframe, pylon, and external stores stencils for two jets.  While its of a slightly different quality than what comes out of Cartograf’s production process, the Eduard sheet also looks great nonetheless and I can find 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 canopies, windscreens, and conformal antennas.   

When picking up the box for the first time, one will notice it’s quite unexpectedly heavy. That’s because there’s a substantial book in there.  The accompanying publication by Martin Janousek really sweetens the deal and makes this limited edition set even that more special.  It’s a high-quality volume (the same one that was in the 2016 1:48 scale set) with hundreds of color figures spread across 128 pages and nine chapters that covers the life and times of the MiG-21 in Czechoslovakian, Czech Republic, and Slovak Air Forces.  It’s visually engaging and very informative.  There’s lots of great photos spanning airframe details to people and paint schemes.  There are a number of excellent full-color aircraft profiles that overlap with most of the schemes on the decal sheets.  Illustrated in this book are lots of really interesting MiG-21s – including the one marked with Eduard’s corporate logo.  While the text is in Czech, an English version of the manuscript translated by John Bubak is available online from Eduard HERE (https://www.eduard.com/out/media/2127en.pdf).  Regardless, it is an excellent visual reference guide to the airplanes.

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. 

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This is a really impressive limited edition issue of Eduard’s 1:72 scale MiG-21MF, and the inclusion of the great resin and photoetched metal details, masking set, 39(!) markings options, and an outstanding book on the MiG-21MF in Czech service makes this a thoroughly immersive, high-quality, and detail-rich building experience.  It represents a great combination of plastic parts, details, printed matter, markings options, and overall allure that’s pretty hard to beat.  

Sincere thanks are owed to everyone at 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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