|KIT:||Revell AG 1/72 MiG-21F-13|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||New Mold kit|
The MiG-21 was Russia's first truly modern second-generation jet fighter. The Russian Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI) developed a unique "tailed delta" configuration with a very thin delta wing. This wing gave the MiG-21 maneuverability, high speed, good medium-altitude performance and adequate takeoff and landing characteristics. Testing began in 1956, and the first version entered service in 1960 as the MiG-21F-13. It was equipped with the K-13 infrared homing air-to-air missile, known in the West as the AA-2 ATOLL and purportedly a copy of the U.S. "Sidewinder" missile obtained from China following air-to-air clashes with Taiwan over the China Sea.
The MiG-21 soon became the standard clear-air interceptor for the Soviet Air Forces. By adding radar in the MiG-21PF and more powerful engines and blow-up flaps in the MiG-21S, the aircraft became a multi-role fighter. It could operate in all weather and carry a wide variety of air-to-ground munitions in an attack role. Reconnaissance and trainer versions also flew. The fighter benefited from a series of reliable, high-powered engines (the R11F through the R25) developed in parallel with the airframe by the S.K. Tumanskiy engine design bureau. More than 6,000 MiG-21s of 12 types were flown during the next 30 years with the USSR's Frontal Aviation and IA-PVO (anti-aircraft forces). The USSR used the MiG-21 as part of its effort to establish international relationships and exported many hundreds of these aircraft.
India was a major user, and has itself produced large numbers of the MiG-21FL, MiG-21M and MiG-21bis. China also built the aircraft as the F-7. The MiG-21 saw combat around the globe almost from the moment when it was first exported. It has served with Arab states against Israel in the Six-Day War during June 1967 and in the October 1973 Yom Kippur War. Israel claimed 245 air-to-air kills against MiG-21s in a 16-year period beginning July 1966, but Israeli losses to MiG-21s are unknown. In India, it flew against Pakistan in December 1971 (this combat included the first-ever encounter between the MiG-21 and the Lockheed F-104A). It was also met over North Vietnam by American forces, which established a kill advantage of 5.5:1.
Although these earlier MiG-21s had advantages in cost, durability, and mid-to-high altitude performance, they also had disadvantages which contributed to the losses: short range, less advanced avionics, a poor view (both to the front and the rear), and inadequate armament. The range problem was alleviated but not eliminated by adding saddle-type auxiliary fuel tanks. Avionics--including radars--were improved throughout the aircraft's career, better armament was added and the structure was strengthened. Later versions of the MiG-21, such as Yugoslavia's MiG-21bis FISHBED N, are still met in combat even today.
Molded in silver plastic, the level of detail shown on the parts is absolutely first rate. Nicely engraved panel lines and even the indented rivet detail is superb. I did find a sink area on the fuselage next to the cockpit where there is detail on the inside of the cockpit area. I also found ejector pin marks on the inside of the inside gear doors and speed brake. You can blow off the gear door ones as normal lightening holes, but the speed brake will need to be taken care of if you are wanting a contest-level result.
The cockpit is quite complete with a good seat and raised detail on the consoles and instrument panel (which is molded in clear plastic). There is also a decal for the instruments, which I appreciate. The seat includes molded on belts, but looks like some sort of torture device rather than a seat! All the deep portions of the wheel wells are separate and have convincing detail in them. The kit has a number of inserts for things like detail around the tail section, the gun and a number of separate cooling scoops that reminds me of the KP MiG-19. The wheels are designed to rotate as there are little axles for the main gear. You have to bend out the outer gear doors as they were not straight. For 'things under wings' you have a centerline fuel tank and the option of bombs or rocket pods for the wing pylons. The final option is to have the canopy displayed open or closed and if you put any work into the interior you'd want to go for the open position.
Instructions are typical for Revell AG, but it seems that the paper quality has improved somewhat from the near-newsprint they've used in the past. As is so infuriating with Revell AG kits, all the color information is provided using what seems to be Revell paints. The result is that there are shades that need mixed. Generic names are given, however, for many of us, it means we need a good reference and will have to choose from what paints are available in our area to get things right. There are markings for no fewer than six aircraft. Two are East German in both unpainted metal and a camouflaged version. There is a Soviet aircraft in unpainted metal and three Finnish aircraft. These three are from different units, but all are in unpainted metal. The decal sheet is very well printed, somewhat matte and should work very well if it is anything like the sheet used on the Hunter. A number of other countries use the Fishbed C so there are undoubtedly markings around in the aftermarket world for those.
What a really great kit. Before this, there really wasn't a top-notch early MiG-21. Fujimi covered about all of the later variants and those are still quite nice kits. The only other option was the rather dated and somewhat overscale Hasegawa version. It was lacking in niceties (like an interior), but did have the shape down right. IMC also did an early version in their 'Battle Damage' series, but it was even cruder than the Hasegawa kit, though the shape was OK for the day. Selling for 10 Euros for our European friends, this is really a bargain for you folks. Not quite the bargain over here, but still well worth picking up.
Thanks to Tom Braden for his kindness in providing this kit and a few add-on goodies!
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