Zvezda 1/72 MiG-17 'Fresco'
KIT #: 7318
PRICE: $18.00 delivered from Estonia
DECALS: Four options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Dragon/DML tooling


The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17 (Russian: Микоян и Гуревич МиГ-17; NATO reporting name: Fresco) is a high-subsonic fighter aircraft produced in the USSR from 1952 and operated by numerous air forces in many variants. It is an advanced development of the very similar looking MiG-15 of the Korean War. The MiG-17 was license-built in China as the Shenyang J-5and Poland as the PZL-Mielec Lim-6.

The initial production aircraft had the same engine as the MiG-15 and were not fitted with an afterburner. It was this version that initially equipped the North Vietnamese Air Force as well as a number of Warsaw Pact and other Soviet-friendly nations.

MiG-17s first saw combat in 1958 in the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis and later proved to be an effective threat against more modern supersonic fighters of the United States in the Vietnam War. It was also briefly known as the Type 38 by U.S. Air Force designation prior to the development of NATO codes.

When the Iron Curtain fell the MiG-17 was still in use by Warsaw Pact countries and by the Chinese. As such, the type became available to whomever could afford one. This resulted in a rather large number of Chinese and Polish-built types being registered on the war bird market. Their simplicity and ease of maintenance has made them quite popular.


Despite the 2021 date on the box, this is the Dragon/DML kit from the 1990s. Initially Dragon released the MiG-17 'sans suffix' kit, but it fairly quickly disappeared. The later MiG-17F/Jian J-5, however, has been widely available. This kit was produced with the ability to include either the afterburning or non-afterburning rear fuselage. This additional sprue was included depending on which version was being kitted.

The Dragon kit is still a nice one, otherwise Zvezda would not have chosen it. Interestingly, the sprue does have Zvezda printed on it though it is the Dragon tooling. From what I gather, Zvezda has only released the early variant and I'm quite pleased that they did. The tail section is different between the two versions and I've included an image of that piece. Note also that the box art shows an afterburning MiG-17F which is not the variant included in the box.

The kit is fairly nicely done and uses a decal for the instrument panel. The only underwing option is a pair of drop tanks. You will also need to find room for nose weight. The windscreen and canopy are separate so you can pose the canopy open. Note also that the gear doors are molded in one piece so will need to be cut apart for the gear down option.

Instructions are nicely done and provides Tamiya color information. There are four markings option, all in unpainted metal. One is the box art plane as used during the 1968 Czech uprising. Others are a Cuban plane, one from East Germany with their early insignia, and one with North Vietnam. Decals are nicely done and come with a full stencil suite.


Started with the cockpit on this one. Basic stuff including a seat, control stick, and instrument panel. The seat is made from three parts. Installing it is a bit tricky as the control stick fits in the opening formed by the seat sides. I ended up painting this as well as gear bays and door insides with RAF medium sea grey as it seems to be pretty close to the grey called out on the painting guide. This was trapped in the fuselage halves. I also assembled the rear fuselage and attached that to the forward fuselage. In almost all joins the fit was only fair and I used filler on pretty much all of them, some gaps being worse than others.

The instructions call for 10 grams of weight and there is no way you'll fit that much in the intake. I put a large portion of it under and behind the cockpit tub. With that in place, the lower forward fuselage section was attached. I then added the fin and tailplanes. Note that while Dragon did provide a proper rear fuselage section, it did not provide the proper fin. There should be a fairly smooth transition from the end of the fuselage right to the lower end of the rudder. This fin also has the incorrect access panels. Dragon should have provided a slightly longer rear fuselage and that would have taken care of this issue.

Next were the wings. These had the worst gaps of the entire kit. The forward cowling piece was added after I put the remaining weight into the small space in the nose. The piece was a bit oversize so sanding and some filler was needed here. The canopy was masked and attached. Then the entire airframe was given a coat of Tamiya grey primer. This was followed by Alclad II Aluminum. The primer provides a somewhat less shiny and more 'used' appearance.

Landing gear wells were brush painted and the landing gear installed. Main gear are a very good fit and the nose isn't bad either. Wheels were added onto the too small axles. The front attachment points were downright tiny little pips and several times smaller than the holes in the nose wheel. I then attached the gear doors. These are all butt joins and it should not be too surprising that I knocked a few off while handling the kit.


At this point, I went for the decals. I used HighDecal 72-030 for the MiG-17 Fresco A and chose the Mongolian scheme. Based on the placement guide, the wing stars are considerably undersize. These went on well using Mr Mark Softer as Microsol had no effect on them. After those were on and dry, I brush painted the blast area in front of the guns and the speed brakes with Vallejo steel. This proved to have almost no tonal difference with the Alclad Aluminum so I used Vallejo's gunmetal, which was a bit better. I then added a selection of stencils from the kit decals just to break up all that aluminum. 

I then re-attached the gear doors I knocked off, the large upper antenna, and the radar altimeter antennas. The drop tanks didn't fit as well as I'd hoped in regards to the V struts as they seemed to be a tad short. The masking was removed and the kit was done.


I'm glad that the early MiG-17 is available in kit form in this scale. It does have its issues, but nothing really major aside from the rear fuselage that I noted earlier. I have another of these in the wings that was received without clear bits or decals. I have a vac canopy for it and markings are not an issue, thanks to aftermarket and the remnants of this kit's sheet. It would be nice to see a newer and more accurate MiG-17 in this scale so perhaps Eduard can add this one to their future releases. 

26 August 2022

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