Fujimi 1/72 Mig-21bis “Fishbed”

KIT #: H-12
PRICE: approx $22.00
DECALS: Three options or more, depending on the boxing
REVIEWER: Gordon Zammitt
NOTES: Can really be made as a bis version not an MF.

HISTORY

The Mig-21 was quite a radical design change from the previous Mig jet fighters that were produced previously. The new fighter went back to a single engine design after the twin engined Mig-19, and the highly swept wings were transformed into a delta shape but still kept a conventional tail configuration and a front intake. It still was a quite straight forward design (compared to, say, the F-4 of the same era) which aided its production in the USSR and other countries, building licensed or unlincensed (China) examples. The Mig-21 has the record of the most abundant jet fighter, which considering current production for modern fighter will never be beaten for sure! While not getting any records for it design and performance (especially range and endurance!), the Mig-21 was very agile and still a capable aircraft and was exported to countries all over the world and was involved in combat quite often.

THE KIT

The Fujimi Mig-21’s are no new comers, and on opening the box one is pleased with the excellent moulding and separately packaged sprues. The kit was considered by many modelers (not all though) to be the best in 1/72nd scale, up until the Zvezda offering was issued. The moulding quality is by far the best but there are several inaccuracies in the kit.

Fujimi produced the kit in modular design to make different versions. The versions available to my knowledge are PF/FL, RF, MF, bis, SMT and recently a Lancer version. As already mentioned, there are various inaccuracies in the kit but most are quite within my personal limits, but getting a sprue for the spine and tail labeled “MF,bis” is unacceptable! The main outward difference between the MF and bis version is the spine. The bis version has a wider spine which is faired further into the vertical tail surface. The Fujimi kits can only make a bis version. The recently issued Lancer version is also a basic bis version with added details, and since Romanian Lancer were all converted from MF examples, is quite inaccurate. When compared to the Zvedza kit, the most notable differences are: a larger tail, smaller tailplanes and a slightly wider rear fuselage. The nose was also considered to be inaccurate for the Fujimi kit, but is a very close match to the Zvevda. I think that when built and placed next to each other, the tailplanes would be the most notable difference. (In the photos the Zvezda is the grey coloured plastic while the Fujimi is a cream colour.)

When a local hobby shop that had stocked up on a lot of Fujimi kits discounted them to half price and then to quarter price, I could not resist the temptation and bought several of them (along with A-4’s, F-86’s and Mig-29’s, the latter being useless as they are very wrong in shape [along with the Hasegawa MiG-29s, being designed from photographs. Ed]).

CONSTRUCTION

As usual with most aircraft kits, the first step takes care of the cockpit. The kit includes a 4-piece pilot figure which I eliminated and started with the tub and panel which is molded in transparent plastic. There are decals provided with the kits but since there is raised detail where there are the instruments, I did not use them. I painted  the assembly and the interior side walls with ModelMaster Russian interior Blue/Green (Fujimi suggests a mixture from Gunze Sangyo colors) which seems to be correct for all of the bis versions supplied to any country according to available photos (it seems that only the F version got grey interiors and some PF versions). I dry brushed the instruments with dark grey. The seat is acceptable for me, since I make all my models with a closed canopy. It has molded seat belts. I followed the color as in the instructions for the seat but did not glue it to the floor. As common with some kits the cockpit tub has to align with the rest of the fuselage halves so some filler and sanding may be required and retouching with paint.

Before joining the 2 fuselage halves together the nozzle, which is nicely done, has to be assembled and painted. The front undercarriage bay is glued to one half. The intake shock cone (filled with lead shot) has also to be glued and I painted it green (Xtracolor Green for Russian a/c nose cones etc.), and the sides of the intake gunmetal. The halves were then glued together and left to dry. The wing are 2 pieces each and have separate flaps and ailerons and can be placed in dropped position, however one needs to sand off the actuator fairing on the underside to match the required angle in which they are glued which is a very easy task. If the pylons are to be installed, their respective holes have to be opened before the halves are glued together.

The tail is a separate 2-piece affair and is the only real piece that needs a little attention. If glued and placed on the fuselage halves, it is quite larger (around 1mm) than the spine section. From the second one I built, I found that by sanding off the 2 halves before assembling them I got to the right size and eliminated the use of filler later on. Apart from here, I found no need to use filler anywhere else, just some slight sanding and the fit of this kit is really very good. Another point were a little attention is needed is the forward wing roots. The extreme end of the wing roots is molded on the fuselage halves and does not match perfectly with the wings, but nothing serious here also. The tailplanes have a complete tab for positioning on the fuselage halves and so can only be placed in the horizontal position without a slight modification. I left these off since it is much easier to paint the exhaust area and glue them on when everything is finished.

The armament and fuel tanks are also not a strong point of this kit. The fuel tank is not as slender as the real thing. I read somewhere that the main underbelly tank is larger than the wing tanks, but I am not sure that this is true. Usually I end up using the tank on the centre pylon as here it is not that obvious there, but I have never used the tanks on the outer wing pylons from the Fujimi kit (The ones with the KP kit and Condor 2-seater seem more accurately proportioned). The missiles included are also not accurate. Spares from other kits or from the ICM modern armament set can be easily substituted.  

COLORS & MARKINGS

Whichever scheme you decide to make, it is most likely that the radome and dielectric surfaces need to be sprayed green together with the wheel hubs. The green available from Xtracolour was used for this purpose, but line-ups of real Mig-21’s indicate that either through fading, or different paint supplies, the colour varies considerably. There are endless ways to finish off a Mig-21, from bare metal, 2-, 3-, 4-tone camouflage to new lo-visibility color schemes.

For the first one I finished off, I decided to make a Finnish version. Finland has always had a mixed air force from East and West, and these were some of the aircraft which most probably sourced some real information to the western world of this aircraft and probably even to model manufacturers. So it is quite easy to come across decals for this air force (Finland first bought the F-13 version which were in an all metal finish). I used the decals that came with a Revell (Matchbox) kit which weren’t of the best quality and so took the painting guide from the same kit. I did though mix up a very dark green instead of the suggested black. I used Light grey for the undersides, and sprayed the camo pattern free hand using a Badger 200 airbrush. The strakes below the cockpit are striped in yellow and black, and I sprayed these with yellow and cut decals for the black stripes.

The second one is finished in a 3-tone Bulgarian airforce camouflage and the decals were obtained from a Linden Hill sheet which covers some very interesting examples from various airforces. The camouflage pattern was also painted freehand on this one. Colors used are RLM71, Humbrol 98, Humbrol 116 and ModelMaster Russian underside blue no.2123.

The third Mig-21 is a Cuban air force plane which came from a sheet called Latin Eagles II from Aztec. I have the same color scheme on another decal sheet now (El Presidente Decals, which are very interesting), and both sheets suggest different colors for the camouflage. I used what I think is the nearest color from available photos but I may be wrong. There are at least two variations on this scheme with different colors and they are both given in both decal sheet. I used Humbrol 28 (instructions suggest it as FS26622) and Humbrol 89 lightened with white, and Humbrol 147 for the undersides.

The fourth one is in Angolan Air Force colors, and is one of the options in the Fujimi African Mig boxing of the Mig-21, together with some other African AF’s. However, the demarcation between the red and black of the national roundel is reversed in the Fujimi decal sheet (and also in some other sheets). So I experimented with printing my own decals with an inkjet printer. The blank sheets are provided in transparent and white. After printing, you have to coat the decals with a lacquer based varnish (since inkjet ink is water based) before placing in water to put them on the model. But if you print them on the white backing you have to trim them exactly around the edge which not only very difficult, but also exposes the edge ink to the water causing the edge to become white once more. So the solution was to print them on the transparent sheet and cut them a little larger, and cut a white round from the white sheet with a hollow punch of the correct diameter and overlay them. The result is good and they have been on the model for several years now and do not show any negative signs yet. (Editor's note: I do this when I make markings for slot cars and find that Testors Metallizer Sealer, using a couple of light coats, works better than anything else I've tried)

The last 2 were the ones I finished recently. These are finished as a natural metal USSR example. This is the second time I have used Alclad, and I tried to get different shades on the panels by painting the panels in different shades of grey. Although the result is not bad, the difference in shades of the aluminum varies with the light direction. Next time I will try using different shades of Alclad.

The last example is an Indian Air Force Adversary squadron, which has an interesting colour scheme. Although it seems to have the spine as being replaced with that of a different camouflaged aircraft, the same green colour is repeated around the nose roundels, and the olive green colour of the camouflage pattern seems to continue over it. I found a photo of this aircraft on a recently issued book and the instructions on the sheet look to be accurate, so I followed the instructions for the pattern. Colour used here are White Ensign Modern Russian Tan, Humbrol 105, Model Master 1711 and Humbrol 147. As you can see from the photos, the yellow lightning decals fit perfectly on the tail of the Fujimi model, so if used on the Zvezda kit it would have to be trimmed down!  

CONCLUSIONS

As now we have more choice for the 1/72nd scale Mig-21bis, we might eliminate the Fujimi from the top spot, but I still consider the Fujimi to be a good kit. I still haven’t built the single Zvezda example I bought and it would be interesting to see how it will look next to a Fujimi bis, but I still have two more Fujimi unbuilt examples, and they surely be built as well as I have dozens of options left from the decal sheets I have for the Fishbed.

REFERENCES

Mig-21 4+ Publications

Mig-21 in action Squadron/Signal no.1131

www.airliners.net

www.jetphotos.net

www.mig-21.de/english/default.htm

The Complete Encyclopedia of Aircraft

Gordon Zammitt

October 2009

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