Academy 1/48 Mig-21 MF






Three aircraft


Scott Van Aken




The most popular Soviet fighter of the60's, 70's, and into the 80's is the Mig-21. It is very much a contemporary of the US F-4 Phantom II, though built to very different specifications. Basically, the Mig-21 is a point defense fighter. It is designed to get to altitude as fast as it possibly can and shoot down incoming enemy aircraft. As a result, the airframe is quite small, weapons are not very extensive and range is equally small. Typical mission flight time is in the area of 30-45 minutes depending on if auxiliary fuel tanks are carried.

Weaponry for the Mig-21 MF variant consists of twin 30mm cannon in a small pod under the fuselage and as many as four Atoll air to air missiles, similar to Sidewinders. If wing fuel tanks are carried, the number of missiles is reduced to two. Unusually, the wing tanks are generally carried on the outer wing pylons. The type also can carry unguided rocket pods for use in ground attack.

As with the F-4, the plane seems to stay in service somewhere around the world even today. Its relatively low operating cost, ruggedness of design and high speed make it perfect for those air forces that don't have a lot of money to spend on hi-tech aircraft. The airframe is basically sound and several countries have been doing avionics upgrades to keep it a viable weapons system.



Academy was good enough to produce two Mig-21 kits. The first was the earlier PF variant and this later MF version. Both share a number of similar sprues, mainly the central airframe, wings and accessory sprues. The differences being in the canopy/cockpit, forward fuselage, spine and fin.

The detailing is all that one expects from a kit produced in 1998. Engraved panel lines, a well detailed cockpit and plenty of bits and pieces. Under wing stuff includes Two different types of missiles, two fuel tanks and two different types of rocket pods. Other options are separate flaps and ailerons. I'm not sure why the separate flaps other than they were expected. The Mig-21 is almost never seen with these deployed while on the ground unless it is on the landing roll or undergoing maintenance. Also offered are the option to have the forward and aft speed brakes deployed. Again these items were rarely seen open while on the ground. Often a fuel tank was carried on the centerline instead of the wings. If one is used there then the builder cannot put them on the wings as only two are provided in the kit.

The instructions are quite good offering not only the usual construction sequence, but also photos of completed subassemblies. This will come in handy to make sure things are properly aligned. Markings are provided for three aircraft. One is the box art plane from the Soviet Air Force in sand, green and brown with light blue undersides. Another is from the Hungarian AF in dark green and light brown over light green, a very fetching camouflage. Finally an Indian AF Fishbed in overall light grey. Kit decals are well printed and should work without too much trouble. If you want something different, there are a number of aftermarket decals for this plane available. In addition, there are resin and photo-etch bits out there so you can trick out the kit to any degree you wish.

Just as a note of information. Several readers have contacted me about this kit; specifically about the juxtaposition of the spine and the fin. To quote one reader, "...(the kit) does not represent a true MF version.  The most prominent giveaway being the point where the spine blends completely into the vertical stabilizer.  In MF version it's noticeably closer to the front of the aircraft.  I'm not sure if it is a true "Bis" either, but it's not a true MF." You can do your own research and come up with your own opinions on this matter.



I seriously doubt if there is a better Mig-21 MF on the market. Other Mig-21s available are the old PF version from Revell and an MF from OEZ to name two of the more popular ones. This kit looks like it should build into a fine model. Academy has a pretty good reputation for fit and offering a quality product. If you like Russian aircraft, then this one is for you.

Here is an additional note that you may find of interest "...I am a Mig 21/ Mirage 2000 pilot from the Indian AF. Just wanted to sort out some issues.  The decals on the IAF were earlier issued by Aero master, the decals are for 26 Sqn 'the warriors' thus the warrior with a spear on the nose. Further, C2281 was a bis.  All Indian T-96s or MFs were 15-- or 17-- series.  All bis were 22-- series up to 28-- . ' SANU' was short for Sanu Kenikara, a pilot with 26 Sqn who left as a wing commander and now resides in the US.  Each ac had a pilot in charge of its serviceability and appearance and had his name painted on it. It appeared on both sides."

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