|KIT:||Fujimi 1/72 MiG-29A Fulcrum "Stormy Petrel"|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The MiG-29A began detailed design work in 1974 with the first flight taking place on October 6, 1977. The preproduction aircraft was first spotted by United States reconnaissance satellites in November of that year; being dubbed Ram-L because it was observed at the Zhukovsky flight test centre near the town of Ramenskoye. Early Western speculations suggested that the Ram-L was very similar in appearance to the YF-17 Cobra and powered by afterburning Tumansky R-25 turbojets.
Despite program delays caused by the loss of two prototypes in engine-related accidents, the MiG-29B production version entered service in August 1983 at the Kubinka air base. State acceptance trials where completed on 1984 and on the same year deliveries started for the Soviet Frontal Aviation. It was given the NATO reporting name 'Fulcrum-A' because the preproduction MiG-29A, which should have logically received such designation, remained unknown in the West at that time. The MiG-29B was widely exported in downgraded versions known as MiG-29B 9-12A and MiG-29B 9-12B (for Warsaw Pact and non-Warsaw Pact nations, respectively), with less capable avionics and no capacity for nuclear weapons. Total production was about 840 aircraft.
The MiG-29 was first publicly seen in the West during a visit to Finland in July 1986. Two were displayed at the Farnborough Air Show in Britain in September 1988. Western observers were impressed by its apparent capability and exceptional agility, though found fault with the excessive smoke generated by its Klimov powerplants.
Fujimi was one of the first out with a 1/72 MiG-29 and based their kit on photos taken during a visit to Finland right after the aircraft had entered service. Their access was limited so they were unable to properly measure the aircraft. The result is that this kit appears a bit to short to my eyes, though when I first built this kit after it was released, I didn't realize this. In a similar vein, the Hasegawa kit was also not quite right proportionally, though to see the difference with the two, you had to set them side by side. Since then, other, more accurate MiG-29s have been produced by European companies, but apparently, none of them have the ease of construction that the Fujimi and Hasegawa kits provide.
This one is molded in a white plastic to make it easier to paint. Previous boxings have been in the standard grey plastic. The overall molding and general detail is very good with crisply engraved panel lines. The cockpit tub provides engraved detail on the consoles and instrument panel along with decals. A nice, single piece seat is provided, though you may wish to substitute it with a more detailed aftermarket version. A pilot figure also comes with the kit.
Fujimi provides the option of having the intakes opened or closed, something one doesn't get with the Hasegawa kit. Nicely detailed landing gear and moderately detailed wheel wells are also part of the kit. A bit of trimming and cutting are needed to do a wheels down version. A full load of missiles and pylons are included in case you wish to use aftermarket decals for your kit. They are not required for the markings in the kit. A very clear two piece windscreen/canopy is provided, though there is no indication it can be posed open.
Instructions are well done with the usual Gunze paint references. Markings are for any one of the four 'Stormy Petrel' display aircraft. All of the blue markings are provided as decals. Some of you may well wish to paint some of the larger sections and use the decals only for the more difficult detail stuff. I would definitely paint the fins and tail planes. Fujimi uses typical Japanese decals, which means that they may not like setting solutions. Generally, using very hot water is the way to get these to work the best.
So there you have it. In terms of being a nice kit it is. Parts are very nicely molded and the fit is actually quite good. I see these all the time at swap meets for just a few dollars and you can easily talk the vendor down a bit as these just don't sell. If the shape situation isn't a problem, then I'd go for this one.
Thanks to your editor for providing the preview kit.
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