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KIT REVIEW


Eduard EduArt #11101X

The Sound of Silence: MiG-21PMF & A-4E
Limited Edition Kit Combo & Print Set
1:48 Scale



The A-4 Skyhawk was one of the most versatile and agile light attack jet aircraft of the Vietnam conflict.  In turn, the North Vietnamese attempted to defend their airspace with AAA, SAMs, and Soviet-built jets - first with the MiG-17 and eventually the renowned MiG-21 Fishbed.  Here, the second edition of the new EduArt series takes its name from the classic 1964 song by Simon and Garfunkel.  Eduard provides a 1:48 scale dual kit combo limited edition set (only 999 produced) containing the Eduard MiG-21 and Hasegawa A-4E.  There’s even more to this kit combo, as it also includes a 16 ½ x 23 ½” print of the exquisite box art by famed aviation artist Koike Shigeo.  Here, we’ll take a look at this kit and art combo.

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The legendary A-4 Skyhawk needs little introduction.  This carrier-based attack aircraft was a 1950s-era design by Ed Heinemann and built by McDonnell Douglas.  Skyhawks (affectionately nicknamed “Heinemann’s Hotrod” or “the Scooter”) played key roles in the Vietnam war, and foreign A-4s contributed significantly to the Yom Kippur and the Falklands wars.  The jet was also a favorite as a U.S. Navy adversary and for the Blue Angels.

Upon entering service with the US Navy and Marine Corps in 1956, the A-4 proved to be relatively simple yet versatile.  It was capable of delivering conventional or nuclear weapons from aircraft carriers during day or night and under all weather conditions.  While its engine did not feature an afterburner, it still possessed a very good thrust-to-weight ratio and could carry up to 9,900 pounds of ordnance (equivalent to a B-17 Flying Fortress).  The wing roots each contained one Mk.12 20mm cannon for ground attack.  Navy and Marine Corps A-4s were both among first jets to fly combat missions during the Vietnam war and also conducted some of the final missions of the conflict.  A-4s flew tens of thousands of combat sorties during the war, dropping millions of pounds of bombs.  A total of 195 A-4s were lost in combat to all causes, with 32 shot down by SAMs while one A-4 was splashed by a MiG-17.

By the time it came on the scene in 1963, the A-4E was the definitive Skyhawk to that moment.  The E model represented a major step up in capability from earlier Scooters.  This variant featured two additional weapons pylons (for a total of five hard points) and new avionics including a Doppler navigation radar, a radar altimeter, a toss-bombing computer, and the AJB-3A low-altitude bombing system.  The A-4E was fitted with the more powerful and fuel efficient Pratt & Whitney J52-P-6A engine producing 8,400 pounds of thrust.

The MiG-21 was an evolutionary development in the growing lineage of 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 fighter than blended the strengths of a true fighter with that of an interceptor.  The MiG-21 was also distinctive for its prominent air inlet shock cone.  Still, the Fishbed was plagued by notoriously short range and endurance, and usually only had about 45 minutes worth of gas onboard before the tanks ran dry.

More than 10,600 Fishbeds were mass-produced by the Soviets and included versions for more than 60 export customers.  The MiG-21PFM was the export version of the Fishbed F, a second generation MiG-21 that could be considered a third-generation jet fighter.  It featured air-to-air and air-to-ground capability and the GP-9 gun pod carrying a 23mm cannon with 200 rounds on the bottom of the fuselage.

North Vietnam was one such foreign operator, with their first MiG-21s arriving by boat in Haiphong Harbor in 1966.  Flown by an experienced pilot, VPAF MiG-21s were not just dangerous, but ace-makers with at least nine or ten of North Vietnam’s aces achieving that status in the jet.  Although the MiG-21 lacked a comparable long-range radar and other sophisticated avionics seen in the multi-mission U.S. fighters which it flew against, the Fishbed’s maneuverability, speed, and short range AA-2 Atoll missiles and guns represented advantages.  Also, effective ground-controlled intercept tactics were developed for the MiG-21, including a guerrilla-style attack informally known as the “one pass, then haul ass.”  These involved North Vietnamese attacks on formations of U.S. aircraft at high speeds and from multiple directions followed by the MiGs disengaging and egressing at high-speed (Mach 1+).  This tactic led to American jets either shot down, damaged, or forced to drop their ordnance.  In all, 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 credited as air-to-air kills.

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This dual kit combo contains, in essence, the equivalent of Eduard ProfiPack kits for the A-4E and MiG-21PFM.  The A-4E is a reboxed Hasegawa A-4E and the MiG-21PFM is Eduard’s own PMF/MF kit Fishbed.  The baseline plastic kits are enhanced by addition of photoetch metal detail parts for both kits, Brassin resin parts for the A-4, and painting masks.  Also included (shipped separately) is a color print of the box art.
The A-4E kit contains 170 light gray injection molded plastic parts on seven sprues, 13 clear parts on one sprue, 71 photoetched parts (with pre-painted instrument panels, side consoles, ejection handles, and seatbelts) on one fret, two cast resin parts for the ESCAPAC ejection set, one sheet of clear film, and one precut vinyl mask for the canopy and windscreen.  About 40 plastic parts from the kit won’t be used as they are for other A-4 variants or are replaced by Eduard resin and photoetched parts.  The MiG-21PMF kit contains 352 blue-gray injection molded plastic parts on seven sprues, 25 clear parts on one sprue, 26 photoetched parts on a pre-painted fret, 27 photoetched parts on an unpainted fret, and one precut vinyl mask for the canopy and windscreen.  About 89 of the plastic parts (lots of little antenna details) won’t be used on the PFM variant.  Markings for both airplanes are printed by Cartograf on a single decal sheet covering airframe markings and complete airframe stencils for each aircraft.  The schemes included are:

Strengths:  Both the 1:48 scale Hasegawa A-4E and MiG-21PMF are outstanding base kits and represent the best Skyhawks and Fishbeds available in this scale.  I’ve built a few of the Hasegawa Scooters over the years, and they are simply great.  Well designed, beautifully detailed inside and out, and characterized by excellent fitting, they are a real pleasure to build.  The quality of the recessed panel lines and rivets/screws makes external surface detail another highlight of the Hasegawa Scooter.  Slats and flaps can also be positioned.  The one potentially tricky spot in the Hasegawa A-4 is the seam between the fuselage and the intakes, and it can benefit from multiple test fits to make sure you get the alignment just right.

Eduard’s resin two-part ESCAPAC ejection seat from their Brassin line and their photoetched details (including the beautiful pre-painted metal parts) elevate the Hasegawa A-4E in some very special ways.  Hasegawa’s A-4 is such a good kit that it really does not leave much room for improvement, but these parts by Eduard do so in just the right ways, such as with the extra detail in the cockpit and a far improved and much more accurate ejection seat.  The painting masks are also a real benefit to provide an easier time when painting the clear parts.  

I have not built any of Eduard’s prolific 1:48 scale MiG-21 family, though I have several in my stash.  I am quite familiar with the kit (in the box at least) and a number of scale modelers I know have built it.  Eduard’s 1:48 scale MiG-21 has earned the reputation of being the best Fishbed on the market, and they are well-known for a high fidelity of detail between the plastic and photoetch parts.  It is also very accurate and my test fits of the wings and fuselage indicate an airtight fit.  Those who I know to have built this kit rave about how enjoyable it is to construct.  The external surface details are subtle and beautifully executed.  The kit also provides parts for external stores: two drop tanks, along with parts for two S-24 rockets, two AA-1 Atoll missiles, two Alkali missiles, two AA-2 Atoll missiles, and the ventral gun pod.  Also, a pair of rocket-assisted take-off pods is also included.  Do note, however, that other munitions on Sprue E are not used on the NVAF Fishbed.         

Decals for both jets were printed by Cartograf of Italy, and the decal quality is superlative.  Everything is printed crisply, colors look great, and all is in register.  In short, the decals are perfect.     

As an EduArt kit combo, the inclusion of the print of the box art makes this set just that more appealing.  I’ve long held the opinion that Koike Shigeo is one of the greatest aviation artists of all time who captures his subject matter, mood, and nuance in ways no other aviation artist has achieved.  If one chooses to frame the print, it will be a beautiful addition to the walls of your workshop or anywhere else.  However, one should note that the painting does not represent an actual interception, but more of an idealized portrait of a VNAF MiG-21PMF and USMC A-4E sharing the same airspace and a point in history.

Weaknesses:  I cannot offer any really substantive critiques regarding this offering by Eduard.  The only observation I can consider is that the Hasegawa A-4 does not come with underwing stores beyond the drop tanks (which is Hasegawa’s omission, not Eduard’s).  In order to bomb-up the Scooter as it is depicted in the box art and print, one will need to obtain them via aftermarket parts, such as Hasegawa’s injection molded bombs than include Mk. 82 500-lb. bombs or purchase some of Eduard’s Brassin line of Mk. 82s that are indeed excellent.

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This is an excellent offering from Eduard that brings together two outstanding kits of classic Vietnam-era aircraft, great detail parts, and some beautiful aviation art. There’s not much else you could want to make a more enriching scale modeling experience.   

Sincere thanks are owed to Eduard for the review sample.  You 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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