SMER 1/48 MiG-17F/Lim-6bis
| KIT #: || 125 |
| PRICE: || $ |
| DECALS: || Five options |
| REVIEWER: || Scott Van Aken |
| NOTES: || |
Following the success of the MiG-15, it was realized that in order to keep pace with western aircraft, the type needed to be improved. Though similar in layout to the MiG-15, the MiG-17 has a number of major differences. The airframe is larger, the engine different in that all the initial versions have an afterburner, the wings are a different shape, it carried more fuel and so on.
The type was also developed into a good fighter-bomber, though typical of Soviet designs, it wasn't able to carry much or it couldn't carry it very far. Still, it was widely exported and there wasn't a Soviet client state in the 1960s that did not have some of these on hand. They were easy to fly, easy to maintain and were quite rugged. They also maneuvered quite well and in the hands of a skilled pilot were a dangerous adversary even to much newer aircraft.
I have always liked MiG-15/17 fighters and it is often a mystery to me why I've not built many. In this scale, there have been models by Hobbycraft, this one by SMER, and a newer tool by Hobby Boss. I built the Hobbycraft kit many years ago (as in over 30) and that has pretty much been it. I bought this one long ago, but have never really gotten to the point of actually popping it out of the shrink wrap.
The first thing I noticed is that it comes in a 'lunchbox' style box where the front and side flaps are glued to the bottom of the box. This basically ruins the ability to keep the box together once it is opened. Chalk that up to a really dumb idea, though it does prevent parts theft.
The two grey sprues are well done with no real flash. However, the detailing is rather heavy-handed, at least by today's standards. It reminds me of the OEZ MiG-21 I built back in the 'old days'. I also found sink areas on the upper wings opposite the wheel well detailing. The cockpit is built up of several flat sections and contains an eight piece bang seat. The side panels have detail and side consoles and a stick and rudder pedals attach to the floor. An instrument panel is provided with decals for its instruments and also for the side consoles.
A two piece intake fits atop a two piece nose gear well. This will eventually have the cockpit sitting atop it. You will need nose weight and while no indication of how much is provided, there is sufficient room for it. When the cockpit is trapped in the fuselage halves, the tail pipe assembly is also held in place. There is a separate nose piece that I'd fit on before the guns and after the weight has been installed. Wings are upper and lower halves as is the fin, with single piece tailplanes. The kit provides the later fin for the LIM-6 with the parabrake housing, though the shape seems a bit odd.
A nice pair of drop tanks are included which is good as the long, slit placement area is already opened up in the bottom of the wings. Landing gear is actually quite simple with the nose gear being two pieces that traps the nose wheel between them. The wheels are a single piece so no worries about gluing two wheel halves together.
On the underside are various cannon bits, antennas, lights and the short ventral fin. Canopy and windscreen are separate with well defined frames. For ordnance you have your choice of bombs or rocket pods or even wing mounted rockets that are in pairs. When mounting either the pylons for the bombs or the rocket rails, one has to look for little dimples in the lower wing to determine where they go. Note that most MiG-17s were not always equipped with these things, though the Polish Lim was, and so were most Egyptian planes once the MiG-21 took over their interceptor duties. The bomb pylons for these were locally manufactured and quite different from those installed by LIM.
Instructions are well drawn, though one has to pay attention to when bits are attached. The instructions are on a pseudo newsprint type of paper with the marking and painting guides in color. There is a separate stencil page with the others dedicated to the Czech, Polish, North Vietnamese and Egyptian planes. These pages skip the Soviet option though it is shown on the box side. Decals are large, well printed, glossy and yellowed. The reds are far too light and I've a feeling that none of the colors are backed in white so would probably fade considerably on a non solid surface. I'm not sure how viable they are as the wax cover sheet was difficult to remove prior to scanning it for this article. There are, however, quite a few aftermarket decal sheets for this plane so finding one should be easy.
As seems to often be the case, I chose to build an older kit when there is a newer, and probably better one out there. I even have it in my stash, yet this one, which I've probably had for 20 years, is the one that gets the nod. Many years back, I built the OEZ MiG-21 when it first came out and this kit reminds me a great deal of that one, especially in the rather overdone surface detail. It is as if the Matchbox 'mad trencher' was let loose on this one as well.
First step was to find out what color to paint the cockpit bits. There seems to be a consensus that these were not the blue-green we have come to expect from Soviet era aircraft, but more of a light grey. Well, I had some FS 36320 already mixed up and it is a light grey, so that is what I used. I also assembled the drop tanks and was not unsurprised to note that the panel lines did not match from one half to the other. I also assembled the wing halves. The sink areas were filled during this process. The halves don't fit perfectly and I found that there was some overlap, which I tried to keep to the front as that would be easier to sand down.
Meanwhile, I assembled the nose gear well and glued it into one half of the intake splitter section. This needs to be trimmed to fit. I also started assembling the interior tub. First the right console side was glued on followed by the rear bulkhead. The instruments are decals and despite their age, once trimmed, they fit quite well though are a bit oversize. They also are not fond of setting solutions, curling a bit when I applied them. The rest of the cockpit was assembled minus the seat. This was then attached to the intake/nose gear well assembly. I should mention that the nose gear well is a bit of a fussy fit when it goes into the splitter assembly. I also added a bit of weight to the inside of the splitter assembly, but it wasn't nearly enough.
The tailpipe assembly was made up after spraying the inside of it with Alclad II's jet exhaust. Then the interior was glued into one side of the fuselage. I then taped together the already assembled wings, fuselage and fin to be sure I had enough weight. It is a major tail sitter. To the back wall of the cockpit (the only place left), I attached 20 grams of weight. Still not enough. 7 grams went into the cockpit forward of the instrument panel. Still not enough. Another seven was stuffed into the top of the nose gear well. This seems to have done it. We will see. As a note, the fitting of the cockpit is rather fussy if you don't get the instrument panel in there just right.
On the lower fuselage is a clear lens for some reason or another. Just behind it is a circular piece that needs to be cut out for a square insert that goes there. There are no guidelines on the inside of the fuselage so I just had to wing it. I got the fore/aft dimension right but took off a bit too much on the left/right part of things. Nothing that super glue filler will not cure. Once all these bits were in place and fully dry, the fuselage halves were glued together. There is a considerable gap at the upper fuselage forward of the cockpit. Obviously something needed to be reduced in size, but test fitting the forward intake ring showed that if it was flush, the ring would be too large.
So a bunch of filling and sanding took place. I then installed the intake ring and filled the gaps in that. In case you have not figured it out, every part has gaps and they are not small. It was after attaching the fin that I realized I did not properly align the intake ring. Too late to fix it now. The wings were next followed by the tailplanes. I then assembled the seat, painted it and installed it. It took a lot of effort as it was a very tight fit, but if you don't get it all the way down, you'll never get the canopy to fit over it. I had bought an aftermarket KK-1 seat for it, but figured I'd save it for another project. I then masked the windscreen and canopy, gluing them in place.
The airframe was primered with Tamiya extra fine grey and then given a nice coat of Alclad II Aluminum. I had wanted to do an aluminum aircraft for this one, saving a camo one for a later kit. All the wheel wells and inner gear doors as well as the gear bits were painted with light gull grey while the wheels got FS 34097 green.
I did not think the decals supplied would hold up and did not want to hassle with the yellowing issues so went to the 'net and ordered Hi-Decal 48-005. While all the schemes were in camouflage, I chose the Angolan option as these planes were delivered in unpainted metal and not camouflaged for a few years. The decals went on fairly well, but were not really happy with the somewhat pebbly surface, some of them starting to curl before I applied setting solution. I used Microsol as it is the weakest I have and that worked out well. The rudder stripes are too big for the Smer kit, but not horribly so. They are also a teeny bit too narrow so I had to paint the rudder where they left gaps. I chose not to apply any stencils.
Before decaling, I assembled and glued on the landing gear. I had more than enough weight to prevent tail sitting. The main gear legs will not go all the way into the holes and I had to both open up the hole for the nose gear and drastically sand down the little side pegs before it would go into the well. Gear doors were an odd mix as the big main gear doors had positive attachment points on the gear legs while most everything else was a butt join. The retraction struts for the main gear were a bit of a mystery as there was no locating section on the main gear legs and the instructions were vague on where they fit.
Other items to be added were the afterburner petals such as they are, the radio altimeter 'T' antennas, the main VHF antenna and two clear bits. A tail light lens and the landing light lens. The fuel tanks were then attached. For the wing tip probes, they are supposed to be butt joined, but I drilled out the wings and installed them that way. Seemed less hassle.
So, would this be worth picking up? There is no kit that is not worth building (well, almost no kit), and while this one wasn't bad, the others out there have to be better. I have not built the Hobby Boss kit, but have built the Hobbycraft one and I'd rather build that than this Smer kit. Now I'm not sure how accurate this one is compared to the others, but it certainly looks the part when one gets finished with it. It makes for a nice shelf model and for most of us, that is all we are seeking.
Thanks to me for picking this one up.
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