Fujimi 1/72 MiG-21

KIT #: H-24
PRICE: $20.00 SRP many years back
DECALS: Five options

Surely you don't need an intro to the epic MiG-21? You know, the USSR's legendary Mach 2 interceptor that duked it out with Phantoms over Vietnam and flew dog fights in the Middle East all through the 70s and 80s? Fought in the gruesome civil wars in Eastern Europe into the 90s? Ringing any bells yet? 

Nearly 12,000 of these famous birds were built during the world's longest production run for a military plane - 1959 to 1985. And they flew with almost every conceivable military - a veritable A-Z of all the world's air forces. The MM archives alone contain 1/72 MiG-21s from Angola, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Croatia, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Finland, Hungary, India, Nigeria,  Poland, Syria, Vietnam, Yugoslavia, and of course, the USSR. In all, 67 countries used the MiG-21 at one time or another. Some of those countries no longer exist; some of them didn't exist yet when MiG-21s first started rolling off the lines.

I'm now adding Afghanistan to that MM list. Anyone who's been there in recent times, or whose family or friends have, might struggle to picture Afghanistan as a place that once had a supersonic airforce. But back during the Cold War, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and long before the long drawn out western campaign that has run all of this century so far, Afghanistan had a very powerful air force by the standards of its region. In the 1980s it had 240 fixed wing combat aircraft, mostly older MiGs and Sukhois, but including 45 MiG-21s. These were used in that civil war that seems so long ago now that the lessons it taught have been mostly forgotten. After that was over, most of these aircraft became unserviceable. Supposedly the Taliban operated a handful of MiG-21s in the 1990s. But at the turn of the century, when the US and its allies were operating against the Taliban after the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks, what little remained of the Afghan airforce was obliterated in short order. As "Rummy" Rumsfeld said (and it was about the only accurate statement he ever made): "we aren't running out of targets. Afghanistan is." 


This is the equally famous Fujimi Mig-21. According to the MM archives, for a long time this kit was King of the Castle, lording it over offerings from Airfix and Kopro. Apparently Zvesda's MiG-21 is the most accurate now, the new Big Guy for second and third generation -21s. Revell's new-ish kit of the early MiG-21F is meant to be the best for that variant. But this Fujimi kit still looks like a MiG-21, fits together nicely, and therefore is still a worthwhile build.

This particular boxing is the "Jay Bird" which seems to represent an export version of the MiG-21. It comes with a great pilot figure - there's just not enough of that these days - and a pair of drop tanks and AA-2 Atoll air to air missiles. There is nothing for the air to ground mission. Apart from that the kit is very nicely moulded to modern standards, despite its age (I bought mine new in the early 1990s). There's a good cockpit panel and side panels, a slightly under-detailed seat, and the whole thing has engraved panel lines.

You can build two Iraqi machines from the 80s, one of which claimed an Iranian F-14. These two are in two-tone brown desert schemes, and a Syrian version has a green tan and grey (that version has been reviewed on MM, right here. There's a silver Bangladeshi variant, and the fifth option is this Afghanistani plane you see here.

The cockpit is pretty nice with raised detail on the instrument panel and side consoles. The left side even has a bit of a throttle handle. There's a decal for these areas but I didn't use it because I think the raised detail looks better painted. The seat is less cool. It's one piece, with moulded seatbelts on the back but not on the bottom, and somehow is a bit simplistic. I suppose that doesn't matter if you use the pilot, who is very nicely done with separate head and arms. But I saved him for use in a different project. 

Be sure to cut out the holes in the underside of the wing for the stores pylons if you want to use them. I forgot to do this. No biggie but it's easier to place them properly if you remember. Although the kit calls for a centreline tank and two missiles outboard, you can also make the classic MiG-21 load of two missiles inboard and two tanks outboard (it comes with four pylons). Our esteemed Editor really doesn't like this "missiles inside, tanks outside" outfit, but I think it looks cool (and the F-4 actually does this too, just with a pair of missiles inboard). Anyway, on this occasion I followed the suggested loadout of centre tank and two missiles.
After builing the cockpit and adding noseweight, I put the fuselage together. You mustn't forget to put in the nose cone and the tailpipe. Fit is very good. I didn't need any filler on the body, and just a little where the wings join. The whole plane goes together with ease. You might need to use a little filler where the dorsal spine attaches. This is Fujimi and other companies' ways of doing different versions from basically the same moulds. The hump fits pretty well though.
There are plenty of air scoops on a MiG-21 and this is one reason it's such a cool  looking plane. It really means business, and looks like it's designed to haul itself through the air a bit like a muscle car (as opposed to a Mirage, say, which is sleek like a sports car). Attach all those, and drill them out if you like. I did and it makes it look a lot better.
Normally I would add small parts like the two nose probes afterwards, but this time I was careful and put them on before painting. I managed not to break them which was a good effort.
I also drilled out the holes in the underside airbrake which makes it look a bit better.
Once you get this far it's time to paint. The classic MiG, from -15 to -21, is in bare metal. Nothing says Cold War or Soviet Union like a line of silver MiGs on the flight line. But I already have a nice silver MiG (my Kopro MiG-21R reviewed right here on MM) so this time I wanted something a bit different. You can build a silver one with the kit's markings, by the way. A Bangladeshi example. Looking at the schemes on the instructions, and because I already have a Syrian MiG-17 in the collection, I plumped for this attractive Aghanistan version from the early 1980s. I started with the light grey undersides, brush painting Mr Color 338. I freehanded the demarcation line. The topside colours are Tamiya XF-60 "dark yellow" for the sandy yellow, and Mr Color 22 and 302 for the earth brown and green respectively. I did two coats of each colour, plus a bit of a third for the grey in some areas. The panel on top of the fin and the nose cone are both Tamiya XF-26 "deep green", the same paint I used on my other MiG-21. I don't know that it's precisely accurate but it's consistent across my two MiGs which are now on display alongside each other.
The little missiles I did in Tamiya flat white and I used Tamiya metallic blue for the seeker head windows.
These decals are ok - I suppose given their age (about 20 years) I should hardly complain. But they were a bit thick and even with a decent lathering of Mr Mark Softer they are a bit silvery, despite melting down into the panel lines nicely. Like the hamfisted twit I sometimes am, I put my finger right into the middle of one of the underside markings while it was still setting under Mr Mark Softer, thus partially destroying it. No big deal. I didn't bother with all the data stencils, just a few on the underside where they are more obvious. Unlike more modern decals, these ones aren't legible. They're just red or black squiggles that kind of look like text.
Once that was all done, I added the undercarriage and canopy (which fits perfectly) and touched up the framework by freehanding the colours on. The wheels go on nicely without and hassle.
I think it is a good looking scheme, probably well suited to the terrain in Afghanistan.
I would happily build another Fujimi MiG, even this same boxing. I like the wide range of exotic markings and the MiG is an eternally cool looking plane.

Richard F

June 2013

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