Fujimi 1/72 MiG-21 bis

KIT #: 35106
DECALS: None in my kit
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Kit was purchased without decals or instructions


The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 (Russian: Микоян и Гуревич МиГ-21) (NATO reporting name "Fishbed") is a supersonic jet fighter aircraft, designed and built by the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau in the Soviet Union. Some 50 countries over four continents have flown the MiG-21, and it still serves many nations a half-century after its maiden flight. The plane has the distinction of holding a number of aviation records, including 1: the most produced jet aircraft in aviation history, 2: the most produced combat aircraft since WWII, and 3: the longest production run of a combat aircraft. Its Mach 2 capability exceeds the top speed of many later modern fighter types. Estimates are that more than 10,000 MiG-21s were built

MiG-21bis (NATO "Fishbed-L") and subject of this kit:
Single-seat multi-role fighter and ground-attack aircraft. The final production model built up until 1977 in Russia and 1987 in India. This version is powered by a Tumansky R-25-300 turbojet engine, and carries 2880 liters of fuel. The engines are capable of "extreme afterburner" for up to 3 min - increasing the thrust from 7100 kgf to 9900 kgf. It can accelerate from 600 km/h to 1100 km/h in 18 seconds (the MiG-29 does it in 11,6 sec). The climb rate is 225 m/s. In comparison the F-14 has a climb rate of 152 m/s, the MiG-17F 65 m/s, the F-16A 215 m/s.
There have been a number of MiG-21 kits over the years. Each of them has had its enthusiasts and its detractors. This particular kit was the MiG-21MF 'African Mig' boxing. Now to those of us who are not privy to all the nuances of each MiG variant (and there are quite a few), we've seen little wrong with the ones from KP and Fujimi over the years. In fact, I've built several of those two and was pleased with the results.

Molded in a nice neutral grey plastic with very nicely done engraved panel lines, the kit seems hauntingly similar in layout to the Fujimi version. Perhaps there are just a finite number of ways to mold a MiG-21 just as there are many other popular subjects. The four grey and one clear sprue contain the 90 parts needed to build one fully loaded MiG-21 Fishbed L. There is room for the usual nose weight in the radome (though none is shown needed in the instructions. A fairly nice cockpit tube with seat, stick and instrument panel are provided. There is some raised detailing for the instruments. Nose well is separate with the main wells molded into the fuselage halves

The fin and upper spine are separate, allowing other versions to be built. It also is nice that one does not have to fill the upper fuselage seam. As on other MiG-21 kits, all the scoops, shields and antennas are separate items. Even the need to slightly bend the main gear door is the same on all the others. Since thi is an MF boxing, you only get two missiles though there are four pylons so one will need to scrounge a pair of missiles or leave a set of pylons empty. You do, however, get the centerline gun. Two fuel tanks are provided though only one is shown used on the centerline. 

Instructions give the usual Gunze paint references and while there are several African nations shown on the markings diagram, my kit had no decals. In fact, the instructions are rather poor photocopies.

Now for the bad news. This kit is NOT an MF. There are three areas where one can identify the difference between an MF and the later bis. One is that the upper fuselage fuel tank is wider. This tank also fairs farther onto the fin, almost meeting up with the parabrake housing. The final one is not quite as easy to spot. The bis intake is more open and that is done by making it a bit shorter. The distance between the front of the nose probe mount and the forward part of the intake lip are the the clue, being longer on the MF. It is difficult to see unless you are looking at photos of both planes, but it is very much there and MiG-21 fans will be able to spot this.

All of this is a bit of a shame as most of the Fujimi boxings of this kit are of the MF. To my knowledge, only KP and RV make proper MFs. So one has two choices. Either build this as a bis or anger the purists and do it as an MF. Choice is yours. This one will be built as a bis as I have aftermarket markings for one.


Firt thing to do is some painting. In this case, I used Model Master for the blue-green cockpit and tried Tamiya emerald green for the radomes. While this was pretty bright as I had seen in photos of Czech planes, it was too bright so it was toned down with a couple of drops of black. For the wheels, I used FS 34097 from the Model Master enamel line. The exhaust section was painted with Alclad II jet exhaust and for the gear wells and inner gear doors, I went with ADC grey, now sold as aircraft grey in the Model Master line.

The cockpit was assembled except for the seat. This along with the nose gear well, intake spike and exhaust was then glued into one fuselage half and left to dry.  Meanwhile I opened the holes for all the wing pylons and glued the wing halves. Returning to the fuselage, I added nose weight and then glued the halves together. The next addition was the upper fuselage section. Fit is actually quite good. Note that you must push this piece back to ensure a smooth 'ramp' from the cockpit or you will have trouble getting the canopy to fit.

I then painted and masked the metallic exhaust area and the nose intake rim. This was followed by the fin, ventral strake and the wings. In the cockpit I installed an Aeroclub metal seat, which I've had for ages and is an improvement over the kit version. The gun sight was then installed, the clear bits masked and after a bit of trimming on the canopy (remember the spine situation?), these were glued in place.

Before painting the kit, there are a lot of bits that have to be attached. This includes a number of small intakes, a rather ill fitting (in the closed position) speed brake, and several other sensors. On the wings the flap hinges have to be glued in place along with the flaps. I built up the three piece gun pod then discovered that I'd not opened the holes for it or the ventral fuel tank. I eyeballed the area where it should fit, cut away the mounting tab and glued it on. I then added the four wing pylons with missile rails after filling the wheel wells with Silly Putty. The nose sensors were added and it was time to get some paint.


As my decal order from Hannants had been lost in the mails (I figured that after two months they were gone), I was rather limited on possible schemes. Most of my MiG-21 markings are for an MF or earlier and so I was somewhat limited to what was at hand. Thankfully, Balkan Models has done several sheets of markings that include MiG-21bis options. From what was available, I chose to do a second option from their sheet # BM-7204, Croation MiGs. This option is a plane flown by a Serbian defector in 1992 and shot down a bit over a year later by a Serbian SA-14. It is in overall Air Superiority Grey which is listed on the sheet as FS 36375 so I painted it in that shade using Model Master enamels. Once painted, I clear coated it.

It was then that I removed the Silly Putty from the gear wells (a very easy exercise) and installed the landing gear. Once on its gear, it was time for the decals. Despite being a few years old, the decals went on rather well, though I did have a bit of an issue with the fin stripe tearing. It is also a bit overly long, perhaps designed for the Zvezda kit or just to give us a bit more to work with. Then there were the bazillion stencils. This grey version was the only grey plane on the sheet so all those tiny stencils (all illegible) were designed for this version. To help break up the solid color somewhat, I put them all on. It took a while.

Then the gear doors and rad alt antennas were glued in place and the tailplanes snapped in. I found that the retraction struts for the inner main gear doors do not have any actual attachment points, despite one end having a pin. These were simply glued in as it seemed they should go. With all of these in place I gave it a coat of clear semi matte, as much to seal in the decals as anything. The masking was removed from the metallic bits and the landing lights attached using clear paint. I was dissatisfied with the fit of the canopy, so pried it off and put it in the open position. I was less than jazzed about the kit missiles and there were only two. So I pulled out a DML Soviet weapons set and picked a pair of advanced Atols as well as a pair of Aphid missiles. Net references stated both were used on the MiG-21bis. That was it.


So it is not the most modern kit around, it also is often not what the box says it is, but knowing what you do now, it makes for a pretty nice, but a bit fiddly to build MiG-21 bis. It also helps to use up some nice decals and gets another box off the shelf. I'm sure many will consider this to be 'boring', but so be it. This definitely will not be my last MiG-21 as I have a fondness for the aircraft and have a number of additional kits in the stash.



20 May 2016

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Thanks to met for providing the kit. Thanks to Balkan Models for the decals.   

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