Hobby Boss 1/72 MiG-15 bis/UTI

KIT #: 80263/80262
PRICE: 25 RMB at Xinshi in Beijing
DECALS: Two options
NOTES: Base B-24J Kit


Not many readers won't have heard of the MiG-15. It made a bit of a splash in the Korean War. The fighter is known as the "Fagot" (referring, of course, to the bundle of firewood, not the unpleasant derogatory term, which has a double G) and the trainer is known as the "Midget" (referring, of course, to the... well, it was the 1950s. Political correctness hadn't reached the NATO office where they thought up names for Soviet planes).

If you want the basics, check out one of the several MiG-15 reviews right here on MM. But here's a few things you might not have known about this little jet.

The MiG-15 was the most-produced jet aircraft ever. More than 18,000 were made, according to Wikipedia. To put that in perspective, it's around the same number as the B-24 Liberator, America's most-produced war plane ever. It's more than the Mustang. And nearly as many as the FW-190 and Spitfire. The most-produced Western jet aircraft was the MiG-15's arch-rival. Only 9,800 of those were built. And the Sabre is the only Western jet aircraft in the top five. The others? All MiGs. (There were 11,000+ -21s; 10,300+ -17s; and 8,500 -19s).

MiG-15s are most famous for the dogfighting in Korea. But they played another, less-well known role in the Cold War - shooting down western recon planes. In those tense years of the 1950s, MiG-15s intercepted RB-29s and RB-50s on at least four occasions out near Japan. In 1955, they downed a B-47 near Kamchatka. The MiG's armament was ideal for this type of work. It packed a walloping 37mm cannon, which fired too slow to be much use against a fast, nimble fighter, but could wreak havoc against a large target like a B-29. Some of these Cold War incidents weren't revealed until many years later.

The MiG-15UTI was the twin-seat trainer variant. Although its single-seat brother went out of front line Soviet and Warsaw Pact service by the late 1950s or early 1960s, the trainer was in use well into the 1970s. The Russians didn't bother building two-seat MiG-17s or MiG-19s, so the little Midget soldiered on until the MiG-21 arrived with its dedicated trainer version, the "Mongol". China reportedly used its Midgets as late as 1986 (funnily enough, nearby Korea and Japan were still using F-86s in the recon role around that time).

These two kits are almost identical and they are both pretty typical of HobbyBoss easy-build range. Both are moulded crisply with fairly emphatic engraved panel lines. The fuselage is split top-bottom rather than left-right. Transparencies are lovely and clear and I think the detail is quite nice. The cockpit is fairly basic but not so spartan as the easy-build WW2 planes from HobbyBoss. There is a decent seat, some side panel detail, but only a flat panel for the main instrument panel. And no decals.

Our Editor has previewed the UTI kit right here on MM. His conclusion: "To my eyes, this is the first semi-'serious' kit that I have seen in the el cheapo range from Hobby Boss. Sure, it has some shortcuts and some omissions, but the kit is well done and looks the part." A nice build was done on MM not long ago. Meanwhile, MM has also reviewed the new Airfix MiG-15, which is worth comparing to this HobbyBoss one. Check it out here.

The UTI comes with Soviet or Iraqi markings. The bis comes with Soviet or Chinese.

Both kits go together in essentially the same way. You do the cockpit which doesn't take long, because it only has about three parts, and then put the fuselage together. I found that the UTI fuselage went together much more cleanly than the single seater. I needed a bit of putty and sanding on the single seater forward of the wings.

Wings go on reasonably cleanly and again a small amount of putty was called for to fill the gap. Nothing major, but on the other hand, it's not as tight a fit as you'd expect from such a recent kit. Tailplanes fitted perfectly.

On my UTI, I put the airbrakes in the deployed position, so I can't comment on their fit in the fuselage. It wasn't great on the single seater, though, and I needed some mucking around with my knife and with more putty and sandpaper to get a smooth (ish) finish there. That was a bit of a surprise actually.

The undercarriage on both planes was very easy (and indeed those segments are the same in both kits so you'd expect them to be the same upon installation). The landing gear legs slot snugly into their locating holes and give a nice, solid and strong undercarriage. Same goes for the wheel bay doors.

There are no underwing stores on most MiG-15s beyond the classic fuel tanks. I didn't know until I built the UTI that MiGs also had the smaller slipper tanks. I put those on my UTI and they fit quite well. For the fighter, I prefer the classic tanks. These turn out not to have the rear pylon, which is pretty silly. The tanks have the location holes for them, and so do the wings, but the pylons themselves are missing. I know this isn't just my kits, because others have made the same discovery. So, if you want to attach the classic tanks, you really do need to fashion up some pylons. I don't think the tanks would stay on long if held on only by the forward attachment brackets. I did this with a bit of plastic card.

The canopies fit fairly well. Again, the UTI was a bit better than the single seater.

Finally, the guns. The kit is a bit clunky here, at least the single seater. Instead of gun barrels, it gives you barrels and the first bit of the gun mounting. Of course, it doesn't fit smoothly, so you're left with a bit of a step to either deal with or ignore. I chose a middle ground. I dealt with it a bit, and then ignored it. The UTI only had one little gun (23mm, actually not so little) so it's much less noticeable. The big 37mm monster cannon on the fighter is pretty  nicely detailed though.

I did the UTI in the unusual Russian green camouflage scheme suggested by the instructions. Undersides are that classic Russian light blue, for which I used Mr Color. Topsides, I used Mr Color 303 and 302 for the greens and for the yellow, Tamiya flat yellow XF-3. The brown was Tamiya XF-64 red brown.

The single seater I did as the Chinese version suggested by the instructions. A nice red tail without markings, red nose, and sparse markings (wing insignia both sides, top and bottom, and a number on the nose). Incidentally, the alternative Soviet version is the same plane as you get in the new Airfix MiG-15 kit - number 384 with a big red lightning bolt down the tail. 

For the red on my Chinese MiG, I brush painted Tamiya Flat Red acrylic. For the silver colour, I sprayed on Tamiya TS-17 from a spray can. For the gun barrels I used Mr Color Stainless Steel, which actually comes out more like gun metal. The undercarriage I did with Tamiya XF-16 flat aluminium.

In both cases the decals were pretty typical of HobbyBoss. Easy to use, but sticky, so make sure you put them in the right spot first time. They are hard to move around.

I liked the UTI. As far as I know the only other UTI was by KP/Kopro. Having built their single seater, I would not hesitate to recommend HobbyBoss over KP for a UTI (though KP is still a good MiG-15).

The single seater, not so much. The only difference really is in the construction of the fuselage, which just gave me more trouble than the UTI. Given that the new Airfix kit comes with exactly the same Russian markings, and with a total of three options rather than two, and seemingly has the same panel line depth (though HobbyBoss is probably a shade more subtle), and sounds like it fits together much better around the fuselage, I'd say the Airfix single seat kit is a better bet than the HobbyBoss one.

Still, if you can't find that, or you can get the HobbyBoss for significantly less in your part of the world, then you won't be disappointed. Both my MiGs look the part and I like them. Both these kits together cost less than one of the Airfix ones.

Finally, the MiG-15 was used by more than 40 militaries and there are decals available for many of those. You could have a lot of fun pumping these cheap kits out and doing some fairly exotic schemes. Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Mozambique? Mali? Uganda?

The list goes on!


Richard F

April 2012

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