Hasegawa 1/72 Mig-25 'Foxbat'

KIT #

00434

PRICE:

$10.00

DECALS:

See review

REVIEWER:

Mike Rybak

NOTES:

High Decal 72-028 used

HISTORY


Western observers first glimpsed the Ye-266 during a flyover of the 1967 Aviation Day parade. This new Soviet "superfighter" was assigned the NATO reporting name Foxbat. The production model MiG-25 interceptor entered service in 1970. During the late sixties and early seventies, a number of myths and misconceptions developed around the Foxbat. Only after Lt. Viktor Belenko defected to the West in 1976 with his MiG-25P "Foxbat A" was it revealed that Western defense experts had vastly overestimated the aircraft's capabilities. Although specialized variants had broken a number of speed and altitude records, the Foxbat was not the powerful multi-role air superiority fighter they had feared. It was actually a highly specialized design, capable of intercepting high speed, high altitude American aircraft, such as the canceled B-70 bomber, but not capable of much else. It was armed strictly with missiles, with no capacity for a gun, and the airframe was optimized for supersonic flight, lacking the maneuverability necessary for dog-fighting at lower speeds.

The aircraft's exceptional high altitude performance made it ideal for use as a reconnaissance platform. Soviet recon variants were deployed in Egypt under the fictional designation X-500, and carried out over-flights of Israel with impunity in the early 1970's. A successful family of electronic warfare and strike/recon variants grew out of those early reconnaissance aircraft. Some of them are still in Russian service today, long after the Foxbat interceptor was phased out.

Syrian and Iraq are the only nations to have used the Foxbat in combat. A Syrian MiG-25P interceptor downed an Israeli F-15 in February 1981, in response to the earlier destruction of another Syrian Foxbat. The Iraqi air force made a number of successful bombing strikes against Iran using MiG-25RB's. In the 1991 Gulf War, an Iraqi MiG-25P shot down a U.S. Navy F/A-18. However, U.S. Air Force fighters later downed three Iraqi Foxbats in air-to-air combat, and destroyed numerous others on the ground.

 

THE KIT


In the box you get 53 pieces molded in gray, with a single piece clear canopy. My example was from a 1970's release of the kit and showed a small amount of flash on some parts. This kit has been re-released many times since then, and may be showing some wear by now. There are prominent ejector pin marks on a number of parts, including the main gear doors and landing gear struts. Panel lines are represented as finely raised lines, as is typical of 1970's Hasegawa kits.

Hasegawa's kit engineers based their design on first-hand observations and measurements of Belenko's Mig-25P, and the outline and dimensions are therefore very accurate. However, some details appear to have been simplified. For example, the panel lines provided are essentially accurate, but incomplete. Reference drawings reveal that there should be numerous additional panel lines not depicted on the kit. I chose not to rescribe the panel lines, but those who do should consult photos and a good set of drawings to determine where lines should be added.

The decal sheet is basic, with Soviet red star insignia and red "31" numerals appropriate for Viktor Belenko's aircraft. Later releases of the kit have a larger sheet, with a full set of red and blue numerals.

CONSTRUCTION


I began work with the cockpit. Although the raised detail on the side consoles is not completely accurate compared to photos of the Foxbat cockpit, it is adequate for 1/72 scale, in my opinion. The main instrument panel is represented by a decal. The kit's ejection seat is totally devoid of decal, so I replaced it with a True Details resin KM-1 seat. I highly recommend True Detail's Soviet ejection seats. They are a quick and inexpensive way to improve a lackluster cockpit like the one in this kit. I used Aeromaster Acrylic Soviet Interior Blue Green for the main cockpit color. The seat frame is Pollyscale RLM 66 Black Gray with a Tamiya Khaki cushion, and details picked out in various shades of gray and tan.
The cockpit floor attaches to the forward wheel well, and this assembly is trapped between the right and left fuselage halves. The two main halves went together very well, with only a small amount of gap filling super glue and some minor sanding necessary to address the seam. Unfortunately, this was not the case with the other major fuselage assemblies. Parts 35 and 36, which are the top and bottom rear fuselage sections, fit horribly. The extensive putty work and sanding resulted in the destruction of much of the raised panel detail in these sections. Part 34, the rear fuselage fairing, did not match up well to the fuselage, requiring more heavy sanding. I chose not to attach the stabilators , vertical stabilizers or ventral fins at this point in order to facilitate painting of the rear fuselage bare metal section.

The intake assemblies lack positive placement indicators, and have only a very thin mating surface, so patience and care are required (along with yet more seam filling work). Comparing the two outer sections (parts 10 and 11) on my example lead me to the conclusion that they were not symmetrical. One side was slightly wider and they are shaped slightly differently. The difference is minute, but noticeable if you check the finished model closely. Other than this symmetry problem, the intakes are handled well, with a blanking plate at the front of the wheel wells to prevent "see through" problems. I painted these black, maintaining the deep, cavernous look of the original.

I glued a lead fishing weight inside the nose cone, and attached the nose probe before painting and attaching it to the fuselage. The nose probe is fragile, and I broke it off multiple times. I would have left it off until the final assembly steps, but the very front of the nose cone is molded as part of the probe, so I wanted to attach it and fair it into the nose cone before painting.

Stretched sprue was helpful in filling the gaps between wings and fuselage. More careful puttying is necessary to blend the intakes into the fuselage. I restored the destroyed raised panel lines by scribing with a No. 11 Exacto blade.

CAMOUFLAGE & MARKINGS


Once the body work and panel details were cleaned up, I masked off the canopy and attached it for painting. The model's overall color is Gunze Sangyo Acrylic Flat Light Gray. I painted the dark gray trim with Gunze Sangyo Acrylic Gray FS 36118 lightened with a very small amount of Flat White. I have had no success using my usual weathering technique of artist's oil paint washes on models with raised panel lines. So instead, I accentuated the panel lines with Tamiya Acrylic Sky Gray darkened slightly with Flat Black. I thinned my paint heavily, so that it would be semi-translucent, and airbrushed it along the trailing edges of the panel lines. The front edges of the panels were masked with Post-it Notes, Tamiya masking tape, or note cards. This gives a good representation of the streaky look often seen on photos of Foxbats. I coated the entire model with Future. I applied decals from High Decal sheet No. 72-028 for a Syrian aircraft. Although this sheet has several great schemes for the Foxbat beyond the usual Soviet red stars, those considering using it should be ready to deal with potential silvering problems. Despite my clear gloss coat, and use of several setting solutions, I could not get them to go on without silvering.

After the primary painting and decaling, I masked and painted the rear fuselage section with Alclad Steel. I attached the various tail parts without incident, and was pleased to find that they are all keyed with different sized tabs, so it is impossible to attach a left-side part on the right side, or vice versa. The right and left afterburners were primed with Polly S Engine Black and painted with Alclad Jet exhaust. These parts are devoid of any internal detail, and are unacceptably shallow. I chose the easy route and left them black on the inside, rather than attempt to bore them out and scratchbuild the internal engine detail.

Construction continued with the landing gear, which are acceptably detailed, but are marred by ejection pin marks and mismatched mold halves. The forward gear strut on my example is slightly warped, and I was unable to completely straighten it, for fear of bending it too far and breaking it. The landing gear doors also show large ejection pin marks. MiG-25 gear struts appear to be painted with a silver-gray paint or lacquer, which I simulated with Floquil Platinum Mist. I painted the tires Polly S Grimy Black, and the hubs Aeromaster Acrylic Soviet Hub/Radome Green. I replaced the upper and lower blade antennas (which were broken off earlier) with pieces cut from thin plastic sheet. I The final details were the wing missile pylons, which went on well, and were much easier to align than I feared.

I chose to leave the aircraft clean rather than attaching the AA-6 Acrid missiles provided, but I did test-assemble them. Fit is good, but they have some nasty ejection pin marks. It appears that the missiles were designed with sketchy information gleaned from fuzzy photos of operational aircraft. As a result, the missiles are accurate in size and outline, but lacking in specific details. The most notable omissions are the two auxiliary booster engines that should be on either side of the main missile body between the fins.

CONCLUSIONS

In recent years, kit manufacturers have introduced more modern kits of other Cold War era Soviet aircraft, such as the MiG-15 and -21. However, the only MiG-25 in this scale is still Hasegawa's. This kit's instruction sheet proudly notes that Hasegawa released it only 100 days after Viktor Belenko's defection to the West on September 6, 1976. This is a 25-plus year old kit, after all, and it presents all the challenges typical of a kit of that era, such as raised panel lines, mediocre fit, and simplified details. Provided the modeler is ready to accept these challenges, careful work will be rewarded with a fine, accurate model of an important Soviet aircraft.

Mike Rybak

April 2003

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