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  1. Mi-17 Hip Early (88010) 1:48 AMK – Avantgarde Models The Mi-8 was originally intended as a replacement to the ageing Mi-4, and started life as a single turbine medium lift helicopter of the Soviet Union. After the addition of an extra engine for greater lift and an element of redundancy, the Mi-8 entered service with Soviet and Soviet aligned forces in the mid-70s, the export variants known as the Mi-17 and having some differences from the indigenous airframes, in the shape of larger, more powerful engines and optional hot-and-high engines for environments where the originals might struggle. The new engines gave it a greater lift capacity, and they are easily separated from the Mi-8 variants by their tail rotor, which is on the port side of the Mi-17. They have become a very popular helicopter amongst former soviet states and their export customers, with over 6,500 airframes created if you incorporate the local Mi-8s and their many variants. ‘Hip’ is the type’s NATO reporting name, and it has been pressed into many roles throughout its long service life, which at time of writing is still ongoing with many countries. One such role is as a gunship, as the Mi-171V, which was fitted with rocket pods to provide close support to friendly forces, although this was a role better suited to the Mi-24 and later attack specific choppers. China have long been a customer of the Hip, and have built their own under license from Mil, although they have recently decided to use their own indigenous equipment going forward. They are still an excellent load-carrying chopper, and their rear clamshell doors are surprisingly capacious with plenty of space to load and unload equipment, vehicles or up to 24 fully armed and equipped personnel. The Kit This is a new tool from AMK from 2022, who have returned to produce more new kits for us modellers after a quiet period that seemed to follow their F-14A release, at least here in the UK. It has been reboxed a couple of times already, sometimes under the Annetra logo, although I’m not entirely sure who or what that means. The kit arrives in a standard top-opening box with their burgundy theme, and inside are nineteen sprues in grey styrene, a clear sprue, a sheet of Photo-Etch (PE), decal sheet and instruction booklet that is printed in colour on glossy paper in an A4 portrait format. Detail is everything we have seen from AMK in the past, including copious use of slide-moulding, raised and recessed features, and finely engraved panel lines next to raised rivets in places. Unusually, the painting and decaling diagrams are printed at the front of the booklet in colour, along with a chart of all the colours to be used in the build, with Gunze Sangyo C codes given, which are usually simply the same number as their acrylic H equivalent, plus a Federal Standard FS or RAL colour code wherever possible to assist with conversion if necessary. Construction begins with the bulkhead between the cockpit and main cabin, which is built from two highly detailed layers and several extra parts, including a jump-seat and cabin door with porthole in the curved top. The finished assembly is inserted into slots that match the pegs on its underside in the combined floor, which is nicely detailed itself. Another simple (and uncomfortable-looking) jump seat is attached to the cockpit side of the door, then adding control consoles in the centre, with cyclic and collective sticks replicated for both crew, as are the pedals. The crew seat shells are made from halves that have the legs moulded-in, the seam hidden at the front by the L-shaped cushion parts that are pencil quilted vertically. The two pilots have an instrument panel each, which are supported either side of the centre console, and they each have a dial decal to apply over the raised details moulded into the panels, which have a blanking plate added to the back. The passenger/load area has an internal skin with plenty of detail moulded into it that is augmented by adding the canvas seats on tubular frames down both sides, which like a great many helicopter interiors, can be folded away on the real thing. With both sides completed and painted, the side walls are glued to the floor and closed over by adding the ceiling panel, which has a curved interior with yet more detail. Once the glue has fully cured on the interior “sausage”, the fuselage can be closed over the assembly after inserting all the portholes that line the sides of the aircraft, and a couple of consoles in the ceiling area of the cockpit on both sides, referring to the drawings in the front of the booklet for decal information. The modeller is advised to “duddy” the seamline of the upper tail boom, which with a little help from my iPhone means putty, or literally “replenish soil”. It’s a fair guess from a non-Mandarin speaker. There is a basic rendition of the two turboshaft engines inside the cowlings, which are made from two halves and each have a three-part engine face and bypass trapped between the parts. The engine cowling is moulded as a single slide-moulded part with several cut-outs for exhausts and intakes, fitting a central support for the central intake on a lug, then building the rotor base from just two well-detailed parts, before inserting the two engine sections in place on the supports moulded into the cowling, and closing the front with a bulkhead to admit the air into the turboshafts. The entrances are then covered by a pair of dust deflecting domed filters that are each made from three layers and have a fourth part that inserts into the openings in the front of the cowling. The cowl is detailed with grab-handles, handles, a blister over the transverse mounted APU on the starboard rear side, and an intake in the front above the main intakes. The completed assembly is then mated to the flat-spot on top of the fuselage, taking care to align the two parts carefully. The clamshell doors at the rear of the fuselage can be posed open or closed as you like it, starting by detailing the interior with additional parts over the ribbed surface, then either gluing them together and mounting them over the rear, or leaving them separate from each other and attached to the rear of the fuselage on their hinge-points. The front of the fuselage is closed by detailing the canopy with small sensors on the exterior and an overhead console with decal on the inside, lining it up gluing it carefully to the fuselage. The underside of the fuselage is closed by a curved insert, and the panniers on the sides of the fuselage are installed on their mounting locations, the port pannier made from a single part, while the starboard unit is built from four parts in order to provide further variants later, hopefully. The underside is covered with small details, and a sensor box that bears a resemblance to an old-fashioned tin bath is inserted into a recess under the tail boom, adding a pair of stabilising fins to the sides, and a vent insert right under the tail. The side door is outfitted with another porthole, and a winch is made from three parts and fixed to the fuselage next to the door at head height for easy access. More sensors, aerials and antennae festoon the upper fuselage, with an emergency exit over the pilot’s seats in case they get the urge for a quick flat-top haircut. In typical Soviet fashion, the landing gear is fixed, and relatively simple. The nose gear has a three-part strut and twin wheels with separate outer hubs, and sprouts from the floor under the cockpit bulkhead, while the main gear is mounted on a single strut attached to the upper fuselage side, and is mated to an A-frame outrigger that supports the four-part wheel, one on each side. The three-bladed tail-rotor is fitted to the tail after building the six-part mount, slotting into the top of the tail on a long peg for strength, and do remember that it is meant to be on the port side of the airframe. The main rotor has five blades that have been moulded with the necessary gravity-induced droop incorporated, and the hub is presented as the lower half, onto which the blades with the upper portion of the hub moulded-in are glued, then the axle with three-part actuator assembly, spacer and counter-weight crown are inserted, after which it can be inserted into the socket on top of the aircraft. A pair of tiny round rear-view mirrors on long frames are applied to the nose for the crew’s use, adding windscreen wipers, blown side windows, probes and a side access ladder that should be shortened before installation according to the scrap diagram. The model isn’t yet finished, as the tail boom needs some work, first removing some raised details that aren’t applicable to this variant, then applying many of the PE sheet’s parts to replace and augment the detail all around the tail and boom, which may have been damaged by sanding the seams earlier. Take care here, follow the instructions carefully, and perhaps consider doing this task early in the build after you have glued the fuselage together to save breaking off any small parts. Creation of the weapons and their pylons is interleaved between the other steps of the build, but we have left them until the end to preserve continuity. There are two racks of three pylons, one each side that are supported in the horizontal by a pair of inverted V-frames that latch into strengthened points on the side of the fuselage. Additional cross-braces are laid across the pylons to act as anti-sway braces, and each of the three pylons can carry a UB-32 rocket pod that are each supplied on their own sprue, making heavy use of slide-moulding, and providing two styles of rear housing, one with a conical rear shroud, the other with a curved cut-out under the rear. It is the cut-out option that we use for this boxing, sliding a tubular sleeve inside that has the rear of the pod engraved at the end, then closing the front with the conical cap that has all the rocket tubes moulded deeply into the surface. There are no rockets visible inside the tubes, so we’ll just assume they’re unloaded. Sanding the seams between the mould sections of the slide-moulded parts will take a little time, but it’s preferable to trying to align two halves and suffering from reduced detail levels that a traditional injection moulded rocket pod would offer. Markings There are three decal options on the sheet from three operators, with vastly different camouflage schemes for each option. You are advised to select your decal option before starting building, and three single profiles are printed at the front of the booklet with the paint codes beneath them. The options then have a further page devoted to each one, with another page showing the colours for the main and tail rotors, stencils for pylons, rocket pods and the decals for the instrument panels and consoles, as previously mentioned. From the box you can build one of the following: The decals were designed by L-Decals Studio and printed anonymously on light blue decal paper. Printing is crisp, colour density good, and sharpness allows you to read the stencils, providing you can read whichever language the Cyrillic stencils are. Conclusion A very well-detailed model that shows attention to detail inside and out, and with pre-sagged blades that are a huge relief to this modeller that is currently facing this task on another model. It’s great to see AMK back and producing kits that are just as good as their previous issues. Highly recommended. Available from all good model shops, whether they’re bricks & mortar, or virtual. Review sample courtesy of
  2. Mig-31B/BS Foxhound 1:48 Avantgarde Models The Foxhound was developed as successor to the Mig-25, to fulfil the promise of the far from perfect Foxbat, and this is did very well. It was shrouded in secrecy, and the advanced radar coupled with a capable targeting system allowed it to designate several targets at once, as well as giving it the ability to look down/shoot down, aircraft and cruise missiles, which was a first at the time. The B model was fitted with in-flight refuelling capability as well as a new radar system that was developed after it was found that the West now had the technical details of the previous installation. The BS was the upgraded Mig-31 base model that was re-deployed to B standards, to differentiate between marks, and was eventually replaced by the B in the 90s. Incidentally, the B was also built as an export model and designated the E, which may be of interest to those of us that like unusual schemes, such as the E that wore the striking blue/white/black scheme over its base grey at airshows. The Kit The initial boxing of the kit was the more common BM/BSM that we reviewed here, built here and completed here. Now I've got the self-publicity out of the way, this is the next boxing with differences engineered in, and some changes made based upon feedback from us modellers, self-included IIRC. Sorry – I said I'd finished blowing my own trumpet, didn't I? Having built the original boxing, I can confirm it was one of the most pleasing and satisfying modelling experiences of my life, and this one should be better, as it has a number of improvements that will help keep momentum going, such as seatbelts, instrument decals, decals for the germetika, tinted canopy etc. The boxart is another photo, but of a B/BS taking off to the left instead of the right. Inside the box it is full to the brim with three sub-boxes holding the lower fuselage, forward fuselage and missiles respectively. The rest of the sprues are in re-sealable bags, which some folks with vibrating houses (in-joke) will find useful if they wanted to look in the bags and put them back to save chaffing. It's easier to provide a list of the contents: 13 x sprues of varying sizes in grey styrene 1 x fuselage lower in grey styrene 1 x fuselage upper in grey styrene 2 x clear parts in clear or gold tinted styrene 10 x spruelets for weapons in grey styrene 1 x Photo-Etch (PE) sheet in brass The nose-weights from the first boxing have been dropped in favour of a larger PE sheet, as I suspect they weren't quite enough. I ended up filling the nose cone with weight held in place by a packing of Milliput, but you may have better ideas. The build is very similar to the original, so I won't re-tread that, other than for pointing out the differences. The full length intakes are built identically, while the main gear bays have two small parts swapped to hide a couple of ejector pin marks. I'd consider leaving parts L42 & L43 off until later in the build though, as I managed to break both of mine during the build and they can easily be inserted when needed to support the bay doors/airbrake parts. Check your references for the painting of the bay, as some aircraft have a tan coloured section on the walls, which adds a little interest to the overall metallic colour. The bay doors can all be left off until later, but the nose wheel leg has to be inserted in between the walls. You can however leave the base parts in the bay without building the rest up to avoid damaging those too. The fuselage closes up around the trunking, and the wings are built up along with the separate flying surfaces, attaching to the large aperture on the top, and leaving VERY little in the way of seamlines to deal with. The nose is an impressively moulded single part, into which the cockpit slides very neatly. The instrument panels are subtly different, and as previously mentioned there are a set of decals to cover the instrument faces at the front and rear once you have done the detail painting. The coamings fit into the cockpit once it has been fixed in place, or it would baulk the sliding in process, and you can choose faired-in or un-faired refuelling probes in extended or retracted positions, both of which have a clear fairing around them so that you can mask the light at the front of the fairing that is used in night-time refuelling. Paint the rear of this silver before you glue it in, then back it with some black, so that it won't be seen from behind. The final refuelling option is the absence of probe and an insert that covers the recess. There is a photo floating round the net of a Mig-31E with its radome removed to show off the front of the Radar, which AMK have included as a PE part in case you'd like to go down that route. The nose cone is a click-fit, and has the detailed probe on the front, which has some fine lines of sealant/insulation in places that you can pick up from looking at my build. The detail painting really does improve the model. I should thank Gabor for a lot of the detail painting that he pointed out to me, as I had missed quite a lot of the subtleties early in my build. Intakes, auxiliary doors and the nose fit simply to the front of the fuselage with again very little in the way of seamlines. The kit really does pamper the modeller! The twin tails build up with poseable rudders and lots of delicate antennae at the trailing edge that I managed to bend and break quite early in the build. Cut them off and re-attach later, replace them with brass aftermarket ones (as I did), or just be careful with them, as not everyone has pudgy fingers like me. The elevators can be posed angled down or straight, but it appears that they are usually in the undeflected position when the aircraft is at rest. This time around you are given the option of showing the IRST housing under the nose retracted into its cubby-hole by omitting the plinth that makes it stand proud. The landing gear has been identified as slightly weak by some builders who have installed them when told to, so give some consideration to leaving them of until the last minute. If handled carefully they should suffice, but if you intend to take your model to shows you would also be wise to consider metal replacement parts, which are now available from G-Factor Models and others. The wheels have no tread to speak of still, but as I've said before the majority of photos I have seen there is very little if any tread left on the wheels. Eduard however have come out with a lovely resin set for that Kwik-Fit feeling. The ejection seats have been updated with a set of crew harnesses that were missing from the initial boxing, and these should ease your way to a nicely detailed cockpit. Thanks for listening guys! They are fitted at the last gasp along with the canopy, which is now provided in clear or gold-tinted variants on separate sprues. Yet again, AMK have listened to feedback, as not all modellers are comfortable with tinting their own clear parts. Again there are choices of a one-piece closed canopy with separate windscreen or three part canopy and separate windscreen for posing them open. When posing them open there are some fantastically detailed styrene inserts that make up the interior details, which will need painting in the bright insulation green with interior green strips holding the insulation in place. There is no front cockpit periscope on this earlier mark, but the rear periscope is still there, comprising a large mirror that pops up on pair of legs with PE bracing when needed during take-off and landing. If you are putting in the rams for the canopy in the open position, don't glue in the ejection seats first like I did. Much easier to put those in after, and it saves you some pennies for the swear jar. The weapons load for the B/BS is different from the BM/BSM, although the four R-33s that nestle under the fuselage in semi-recessed mounting points are still present. They are all still slide-moulded in one main part, which is a two-edged sword, as you get superb detail, but have to deal with four fine seam-lines. From my point-of-view the jury is still out on them, but they do look nice when finished. In the box you get the following weapons: 4 x Vympel R-33 (AA-9 Amos) long range A2A missiles 4 x R-60 (AA-8 Aphid) Infrared A2A Missile 2 x R-40 (AA-6 Acrid) long range A2A missiles There are adapter rails and pylons for each of these, with a dual-rail adapter for the R-60s. A separate page of the instructions shows possible load-outs for the munitions. Markings The most notable feature of the markings is a full sheet of stencils that are rather comprehensive and ordered in such a way that each section applies to a part of the airframe, such as underside, starboard, ejection seats etc. This helps massively when you are applying them, as you can just work along a section cutting off successive decals and wetting them, rather than the usual hunt-the-decal game that gets tedious very quickly. The national markings are on a separate sheet, and these are very similar to the original issue, which a few people commented on being a little large. The sheet has been extended to accommodate the cockpit decals, which have been very nicely done (and are most welcome), and the Germetika pink sealant that goes around the canopy borders. These have been printed in just the right colour, and have an incredibly fine carrier film that should disappear once fitted. They have even included two parts for the sills of the canopies, which also have the Germetika gunked on, which shows attention to detail. In case you find any areas that need some additional sealant, and believe me, they do slap it on all over (remember Brut 33?), there are eight 60mm strips at the bottom of the sheet for just such purposes. IIRC, I even saw some inside the flap track in one photo. A white sealant line is included for the shapely front panel of the windscreen, which can be seen on close-up photos. I missed it on my previous build though. From the box you can build one of the following: Mig-31BS 16 Blue Russian Air Force, Chelyabinsk-Shagol Airbase 2014. Mig-31BS 23 Red Kazakhstan Air Force, 2012. Mig-31B 73 Blue one of several operated by the training unit at Savasleyka Air Base. Decals are printed anonymously, and have good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas. With a little gloss coating and careful sanding, the carrier film can be made to disappear for most of them. Conclusion AMK have made a great kit better, but there's one thing missing. That gorgeous display scheme with the blue, white and black design that was applied to an E. If that could have been incorporated into this boxing I'd have been a happy bunny. That's just me though, so don't take that as a gripe – someone is bound to come out with the decals soon, and if you're one of those someones, do let me know ASAP if not sooner. Such a lovely kit – treat yourself, even if Russian aircraft aren't usually your bag. I simply can't recommend it highly enough! Available soon from all good model shops online or otherwise. Don't delay getting yours, as if it follows the runaway success of the initial release, they might be hard to come by soon, pending moulding of another batch. Review sample courtesy of
  3. on acebook AMK have updated their Facebook presence here, and are showing some pics of the scheduled Mig-31 Foxhound ( ) and the Fouga Magister, the latter I hope is due very soon Leave a comment or Like their page to follow them as they progress their new projects
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