Kopro 1/72 MiG-21R

KIT #: KPM03108
PRICE: HK$35.00 on sale
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Richard F.
NOTES:  

HISTORY

Rudolf Peresin was the first Yugoslav air force pilot to defect to the Croatian side in the civil war during the 1990s.  In October 1991 he flew his MiG-21R number 26112 at low level to Austria, watched by a pair of Austrian Saab 105s.  He returned to Croatia - without the plane -  and fought against the Yugoslav/Serbian forces. The plane was impounded and is now in Vienna. Major Peresin flew combat operations against the Yugoslav/Serbian military and was shot down by Republika Srpska ground fire and killed in May 1995 in a MiG-21bis over Bosanska Gradiska. This area was controlled at that time by Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, both indicted as war criminals by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Sources differ on whether he survived the ejection, but one way or another he died and his remains were repatriated in 1997.

Peresin is quite a hero among many Croatians and he even has his own Facebook page (despite dying a decade before Facebook was invented). Two Croatian air force academies are also named for him.

The MiG21R - Fishbed H - was the reconnaissance version rolled out in 1966, making it a second generation MiG-21, better than the original day fighter but not in the same category as the more modern versions like the MiG-21bis (and of course the later enhancements like the Romanian LanceR and the Indian Bison with modern avionics and BVR missiles). Some sources say it's a third generation MiG-21.
 
The recon MiG had a selection of pods mounted on the centreline instead of the cannon, which was removed. The radar and other weapons capability was retained.  The small wingtip pods contained ESM equipment.

The MiG-21R had four main varieties of centreline pod. Type D was a daylight PHOTINT pod, Type N was a nighttime PHOTINT pod, Type R was a general-purpose ELINT pod and the Type T pod had a TV system.  The night pod and TV pods were not exported.

THE KIT


This is a typical KP kit - raised panel lines, reasonable fit, a lot of cleaning up needed on smaller parts, but generally okay for the price and for anyone with a little patience.

The kit is mostly a basic MiG-21 - I'm not sure strictly which version it is.  In fact, various websites say the MiG-21R is based on the MiG-21S, PF, M and PFMA. I don't have any books to tell me any better.

Whatever the case, the kit includes the necessary parts for the Fishbed H recon version on a separate, and better moulded, sprue. That contains the two wingtip ESM pods and the two halves of what I think is a Type R ELINT pod. The other sprues give you what you need for the basic airframe, and includes two rudimentary AA-2 Atoll AAMs and some rocket pods as well as the MiG-21's ultra-cool looking underwing fuel tanks.

The basic kit was ably reviewed by Daboss here.

Accuracy? I am not enough of an expert to say. It looks the part but there is a lot of variation between versions so if you want to be right on the money, you should check your references. From what I can tell, though, the KP kit's outline is generally thought to be accurate.

Alternatives? Fujimi made a recon MiG - boxed as the "Peeping MiG" - but it's not a MiG21R, or at least it doesn't have the wingtip pods (judging by the box art).  Condor and Eastern Express had one, possibly/probably the same kit, and Pavla does a resin conversion set with the wingtip pods, and two different recon pods (I think Types D and R) and with a vacformed canopy - it's set W72-31.

CONSTRUCTION


Building this jet is quite easy. There is a decent little cockpit complete with raised-detail instrument panel and a joystick. I put a pilot into mine. It's basic, though. If you like detailed cockpits, you'll need to do some work here.

The only unusual work on this kit is to cut away the corners of the delta wings to attach the wingtip ESM pods. The plastic is quite soft, so I just eyeballed the parts and hacked away with a blade in small cuts, test fitting each time until I'd cut away enough. I used a bit of filler just to smooth it out, and once that was done I attached the wings to the fuselage.

Everything else goes together more-or-less as you might expect for a kit like this - you'll need some filler on the major joins (eg wing-to-fuselage) and some sanding is in your future too. Attaching the recon pod to the underside also calls for some extra effort but it doesn't take too long.

Once you have the basic airframe done, it's as good a time as any to turn to the fairly tedious job of cleaning up all the small parts. The wheels in particular, but also the undercarriage legs and the big pitot boom, need some major trimming and sanding. I always attack this with a knife first if I can, and then clean it up with sanding later. I also put together the two drop tanks at this point and spent a while trying to sand them smooth without changing their shape too much.

Before you apply any paint, be sure to add on the various air scoops that make this plane look a bit like a hot rod - it really does give it a more purposeful appearance.

After painting - covered below - I added on the landing gear and the drop tanks, which took a while because I knocked them off clumsily a few times as they were drying.

At the very end, I attached the canopy, which is really not such a great fit. I must get with the times and attach a masked canopy before painting, but I guess I am stuck in my old ways.

The last pieces to add are the long pitot boom and a smaller air data probe, both on the right side of the cockpit. These long pitot booms always look cool to my eyes. The smaller one has disappeared between completing the kit and doing the photos.

COLORS & MARKINGS

MiG-21s come in a million colours - from silver to various camouflages to highly colourful examples. A builder is really spoilt for choice. With so much to choose from, why did I plump for the bog-standard aluminium finish?

Two reasons. First, I wanted to try out the new spray can of Tamiya TS-17 "Gloss Aluminium", which was actually what prompted this impulse buy. Second, this is actually the first MiG-21 I have completed and my interest in MiGs first came from seeing photos of jet after silver jet parked on Soviet airbases. I felt like I hadn't had my "silver MiG" experience.

With that decided, I chose to build the Yugoslav version with its attractive red-white-blue stripe along the tailplane and its interesting back story.

The paint went on very easily after a good shake of the can and some effort to smooth down the plastic. I painted the other parts of the airframe (nose cone, sensor covers) with Tamiya Deep Green.

Sadly for me, the decals on this kit were next to unusable. The little Yugoslav roundels, of which four are called for but six are provided, fragmented and broke up almost as soon as they hit the water. I salvaged enough to make the four roundels I needed. The awesome red-white-blue tail stripe was completely unusable, breaking into about 40 pieces as soon as it was wet. Bummer! So I masked and painted the stripes myself. Then I hunted through the spares department until I found some Hasegawa decals left over from my 1/200 C-130 builds. I found the numbers there that I needed for the tail serial number 26112. I added the 26 and the 12 and did the middle 1 with a marker pen. Not entirely satisfactorily, sad to say.

Peresin's plane did not carry the recon pod when he flew it to Austria, and the "112" serial on the wing was reportedly already painted out when he arrived (presumably to confuse any Croatian reconnaissance). Other sources say the Austrian authorities painted it out. I painted a grey blotch, believing the first story because I wanted to use the recon pod, and therefore made the aircraft look as it would have before the defection.

CONCLUSIONS

Why a KP MiG-21? Why not? It's cheaper than Fujimi, it looks like a MiG, it was easy enough to build and with a little more effort than usual you can have a great looking MiG on your shelf. Recommended if you, like me, like your modeling fast and furious and you don't worry too much about the really fine details.

REFERENCES

MiG combat record:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikoyan-Gurevich_MiG-21_operators#.C2.A0IraqMiG-21R centreline pods (scroll down in the link to find the info)
http://www.mig-21.de/english/technicaldataequipment.htm
Yugoslav MiG-21R option from kit:
http://www.airliners.net/photo/Yugoslavia---Air/Mikoyan-Gurevich-MiG-21R/0280543/M/
Report of Peresin's defection to Austria (scroll down, but it is in
German): http://forum.airserbia.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=1526&start=0
History of Yugoslav aircraft defections:
http://www.acig.org/artman/publish/article_305.shtml
If you read German, this is also a good site:
http://www.airpower.at/news02/0222_peresin/index.html

Richard F.

August 2012

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