Subject: MiG-17PF/PFU

Scale: 1/48

Manufacturer: SMER

Kit No.: SE0114 (Squadron Mail Order No.)

Parts: 181 (22 transparencies, 139 gray styrene, 20 brass photoetched)

Media: Injection molded styrene, with photoetched detail parts

Price: US$14.98 (Squadron Mail Order)

I first had to have this kit after seeing its MiG-17F brother in a

FineScale Modeler article. If you've ever heard of the movie "The Agony and

the Ecstasy," this kit takes its cue from the title.

I picked it up from a Squadron sale paper for half-price, and it looked

impressive in the box (gee, where have I heard that before?). One thing

that begins to creep into the subconscious, however, is the slightly pebbly

texture on the wings, fuselage and other flying surfaces, reminiscent of

that on the old ESCI 1/48 A-4 Skyhawk kit. That is fairly easily cured with

a quick bit of wet-and-dry work with 800 or 1,000 grit sanding film.

Panel and fastener detail is recessed and a touch on the heavy side. The

transparencies are fairly clear, and the main canopy has a molded-in

defroster grid. Sink marks are found on many of the flat parts.

Other minor problems also crop up. The upper wing fences are too short in

chord, requiring .020 plastic sheet extensions to the wing leading edge.

The main landing gear doors, while well detailed inside, suffer from sink

marks on the outside due to that detail. Test fits of the wings and

vertical fin show the need for careful filing to get a good butt joint. AND

. . . the wings are actually about .010 inch thicker than the roots molded

on the fuselage. That can be handled with judicious putty work.

The drop tank halves are hard to align in terms of outline and panel lines.

It's best to go for the outline alignment, and fill and rescribe lines

later.

The kit offers a nice set of Alkali AAM's with multi-piece racks and

continuous-wave radar antennas. Polish-configuration ground attack armament

(rocket pods on small stub pylons) is also included.

The cockpit includes a combination of plastic, clear styrene and

photoetched detail. The 14-piece ejection seat uses metal and plastic to

achieve a nice representation of that equipment. While engraved sidewall

detail is on the clumsy side, the clear instrument panel is combined with a

decal and paint to give a 3-D effect. Unfortunately, the decal is printed

opposite of what is needed for this procedure. Soak the decal and apply it

properly over a coat of white glue for adhesion. A similar clear panel

arrangement is used for some side console gauges, although the decals can

be applied to the console bases first.

The gunsight/radar scope array is the cockpit's highlight, though. With

photo-etched gunsight and scope housing frames applied over clear plastic

blocks, the assembly reproduces that cluttered forward view that 17 pilots

must have loved so well during final approach!

The big problem with this kit is the cockpit-intake trunking assembly. It

doesn't fit in the fuselage!

If you glue the cockpit tub onto the trunk and place that in the fuselage

halves, the only positive locator you have is looking to see that the

cockpit appears in the fuselage opening. Once you try to add the ventral

fuselage panel to trap this mass together, the panel will not touch the

other fuselage halves. You'll have to remove a lot of material from the

bench on the trunk where the cockpit sits, but the cockpit will at least

remain in the proper alignment this way.

Once you get past the cockpit, assembly is smoother. The nosewheel suffers

from a sink mark on the hub, although a photoetched hub is provided to

cover this (isn't there a better way to handle this?)

Decals are the high point of the kit. The Propagteam sheet provides

markings for a Soviet PFU missile interceptor, an Egyptian PF nightfighter

with a big red bat on each side of the nose, a Polish Lim-6M attack ship

and two Czech PF interceptors. The decals are thin, fairly opaque and react

well to Solvaset decal solvent.

If you want a good MiG-17, the SMER F and PF/PFU can be used. If I had my

druthers, though, I'd start again with the Hobbycraft/War Eagle F or PF

kits and use the corresponding SMER bird as a source of detail parts. Even

better, I'd buy an Eduard MiG-17 photoetched fret to go with the Hobbycraft

kits. Although those Alkalis looked pretty nice . . .

- Mike Still

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