|KIT:||KP 1/72 MiG-15 UTI|
|PRICE:||$ it has varied over the years from $3 to $7|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
There were a number of second generation jets which gained a modicum of fame for their longevity as well as their effectiveness. One of these has to be the MiG-15 UTI, a trainer version of the quite popular MiG-15. Probably the closest comparison in the West would be the T-33, also a trainer version of a popular aircraft which lasted in service decades after the basic aircraft was long retired.
Like the T-33, the MiG-15 UTI was pretty much the same plane as it's namesake, with the addition of a second cockpit. All of the rest of the airframe was identical and it proved to be a reliable, easy to maintain, and rugged aircraft (as it would have to be if training pilots). The type served with all Soviet-friendly and some neutral nations well into the 1990s, having been developed from the MiG-15bis in the early 1950s.
Armament was reduced to one 12.7 mm machine gun for weapons training. The second cockpit was produced by removing the fuselage fuel tank (in the T-33, the nose was lengthened). This lack of fuel capacity meant that the MiG-15 UTI was rarely seen with out the under wing tanks. Even today, you can see these planes in the hands of private owners on the warbird circuit.
Today, the Czech Republic is a powerhouse of scale modeling companies with Eduard, Pavla, and MPM, to name a few as some prominent players. However, even back in the 1970s it was possible to get quality models out of Czechoslovakia, as the country was then known. The people doing this was KP (often known as KoPro). They made and still do make a fine selection of Czech subjects. At the time, fine raised detail (rivets and all) was the way of things and this detailing is superb. It also extended to the framework of the canopy. The insides of some of the larger parts have ejector pin towers that will need to be removed, and over the years flash has become more and more pronounced.
The cockpit tub has raised detailing on the side consoles with room for rudder pedals and control sticks. The seats are well done, but I'm not entirely sure of their accuracy, though they are convincing. Placement of the cockpit tub requires some guesswork as there is no clear mounting post or ledge. Wheel wells provide some detail and the somewhat softly molded landing gear are complex looking enough to please most. The inner wing fences both have notches cut so the pilot can view the gear down-lock indicators. Both the intake and exhaust are blanked off to prevent see-through and that leaves enough room for nose weight. The two drop tanks are fairly well done and there are mounting holes in the wings for these and the radio altimeter antennas. The one piece clear canopy is nicely molded, but a bit distorted. I have also found that these don't always fit perfectly so care needs to be taken. The kit does come with a nice display stand, also a remnant of the past!
Instructions are on the typical news-print type of paper with basically a pair of exploded diagrams with one detail drawing for the cockpit section. Most is easily understandable, though a few of the placements are a tad vague (like the cockpit tub and blast screen). There are instructions and history in Czech, English and German. Markings are for three planes. One is the box art aircraft of the Polish AF, then one from the North Vietnamese AF and Finally, a Czech version; the last two in unpainted metal. Decals are fairly well done, but the yellow on the Vietnamese version is well off-register. Not a real problem as the general lack of opaqueness of early KP decals makes them pretty much un-usable, and it would behoove the modeler to search out aftermarket replacements. Fortunately, most are just insignia and numbers. For the Czech version, you'd have to paint the squadron badge on the white background provided, not something most of us are good at doing.
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