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  1. Mig-21F-13 1:48 Trumpeter The Mig-21 started life as a supersonic interceptor fighter in the early 50s, garnering its familiar delta wings during the early prototype stages, and could reach Mach 2 for those high speed dashes to meet the incoming capitalist hordes that thankfully never came. It is considered to be a second generation jet in its earliest forms, but after the successful upgrading of the airframe was also a third generation jet, which extended its production run to 1985, with the very first production airframe coming off the line in 1955. The Mig-21F was the first production variant, the basic Mig-21 being neglected in favour of the F, and that was superseded by the F-13 after fewer than examples had rolled out of the factory. The F-13 was upgraded with the capacity to carry the K-13 missile, better known in the west as the AA-2 Atoll, which is alleged to be a reverse engineered Sidewinder, to which it bears an uncanny resemblance. The F-13 could carry two of these missiles on launch rails mounted on hardpoints under the wings, although they could be switched out for unguided rocket launchers if the need arose. A number of license built examples were used by the Chinese under the local designation Chengdu J-7, who appreciated its simplicity, light weight and agility. Chinese built examples were exported under the F-7 designation to a number of sympathetic nations, most notably in Africa and Pakistan. The Kit Although Eduard have cornered the market in the later third generation Mig-21s, there has been a hankering for a new tool early Fishbed for a while, and as China has easy access to the airframe data, it is fitting that Trumpeter have released this important Cold War warrior to complement Eduard's kits. The box is small and wastes no space inside, having four large sprues and four small in medium grey styrene that fill it well. A clear sprue, a small sheet of Photo-Etch (PE) brass and two "rubber" tyres are individually bagged in the bottom of the box, as are the two sheets of decals, and the package is completed by an A4 landscape instruction booklet and separate full-colour painting and decaling guide. Initial impressions are that this is a well detailed kit, with plenty of fine engraved panel lines and restrained rivets in various areas. I understand that a few of the panel lines, most notably on the tail are in slightly the wrong place, but there are a few hyper-detailers out there on the internet that can let you know which ones they are. Construction is as you would expect from a fighter, although Trumpeter have mixed things up a little by building the nose gear bay first. Speaking personally, I'm starting to find this new vogue of installing the landing gear legs early in the build a little painful, as I'm a little bit prone to knocking things off with my sausage fingers during the painting stages. As the nose gear leg mounts on two pins in the sides of the bay, it will be difficult and probably pointless trying to make it possible to mount it later. Detail in the bay is good, with separate side-walls mounting onto a roof that has the ends of the bay moulded in. The nose wheel mounts on the gear leg by use of a separate yoke part that clamps the two piece wheel in place. It seems odd that the nose gear doesn't get the same rubber wheels as the main gear however. The cockpit is next, and detail here is excellent from the nicely moulded tub, to the rear bulkhead that is festooned with sharp detail. The ejection seat is built up from fifteen parts, including PE seatbelts, and a scrap diagram gives detailed painting instructions, which is nice to see. The instrument panel has raised instrument bezels, and decals are supplied to complete the look. The small coaming that houses the HUD is quite complex with six styrene parts and the clear glass, which is comparatively large and has a nicely rounded top eadge. The control column and a pair of very detailed inner sidewalls complete the cockpit, and Gunze colour call-outs make painting a little easier. The two main gear bays are built from separate parts, with good detail on each face, and a curved section depicting where the engine intrudes on the bays. The exhaust is built up from two halves, and features the afterburner ring, plus a representation of the rear turbine blades, although these are depicted in the instructions facing forward where they won't be seen. The exhaust is terminated by a single piece ring of petals with a very delicate additional ring that slips over the sloping petals. A spacer attaches to the front of the exhaust assembly, and this, the cockpit and gear bays are trapped within the fuselage along with the shock-cone and supports, and an avionics bay that sits in the upper nose in front of the cockpit A drop-in cover can be installed over this if you choose, and I imagine most people will, to preserve the sleek lines of the aircraft. A rear turtle deck is added to finish off the cockpit, and the windscreen is installed over the coaming, with a one-piece nose intake part that slips over the shock cone, completing the nose. The elevators are made up from top and bottom halves, and added to the fuselage with a slightly insecure-looking butt fit that has a V-shaped groove to ensure correct placement, but would probably benefit from pinning in place. The two-piece large fin with separate rudder attaches to two pegs on the rear behind the spine, and a few fairings and auxiliary intakes are added around the tail, before the tail cone is added. This is keyed, and tapers on the inside in steps down to an incredibly thin almost translucent rim, although because it is moulded in two halves, some fettling of the seams will be needed, and damage to the delicate engraved rings is inevitable. Detailing of the fuselage ensues after the opening canopy and rear fixed section are installed, and remember that the canopy on the Mig-21 hinges forward if you intend to display it in the open position. Several inserts on the underside of the fuselage are added, plus the ventral airbrake bay and the ventral strake, plus (perhaps unwisely at this stage) the long pitot probe that is synonymous with the Mig-21. The forward airbrakes are situated under the fuselage forward of the main gear bays, and these are shown posed open, but could probably be closed up with little effort. The large ventral airbrake is able to be posed open or closed easily, and its four holes have corresponding pins moulded into the bay, and a retraction jack is inserted if posing it open. As the Fishbed had a notoriously short range that was exacerbated by centre of gravity issues when using fuel, a large 490l fuel tank was often seen on the central plyon between the main gear bays. This is made up from halves, which have the stabilising fins moulded in, and is mounted under the fuselage on the separate pylon via two pins that insert into holes in the fuselage. The wings are made up from top and bottom halves, with wafer thin gear bay recesses necessitating the detail being moulded into the upper wing half. Detail is nicely done, and some additional detail is added before the wings are closed up. If you are planning on loading the model with weapons, you will need to open up some holes in the lower wing halves as well as adding the clear lens to the inside before committing to glue. The ailerons and flaps are separate parts, and can be posed at a more candid angle if desired, with a pair of PE strakes added to the upper wings near the tip. A small probe is also added to the underside of each wing, and again a hole must be drilled to accommodate its pin. The wings are mounted on the fuselage with a pair of small pins that slide into corresponding holes in the fuselage, and again they look a little fragile. Replacing the styrene pins with brass rod may be a wise idea if you are heavy-handed like me, or plan on transporting the model to shows. The main gear, with attached gear legs and retraction jacks slot into holes in the gear bays, and if you don't like those rubber tyres on styrene hubs, you might want to think about sourcing some replacements, which I'm sure will be along soon if not already. Trumpeter cannot be accused of skimping on providing weapons loads in general, and this kit is no exception. From the box you can build all of the following: 2 x RS-2US Missiles 2 x 250KG Bombs 2 x R-3S Missiles 2 x UB-16 Rocket Pods All of these come with appropriate rails and stencil decals to add a little detail. Markings There are a generous six marking options from the box, although all but one involves natural metal. National markings and unit codes are on the larger of the two sheets, while the stencils (and there are many) are on the smaller sheet. A lot of the larger stencils are legible enough under magnification to be clearly Cyrillic, but others are scribble, but that shouldn't notice without magnification. From the kit decals, you can make one of the following options: USSR Air Force Tushino AB 1961 - natural metal PLAAF - undocumented unit wearing codes 0102 - natural metal North Vietnamese Air Force - natural metal East Germany Airforce - Green/brown camo over light blue CSSR Air Force - natural metal Finnish Air Force TiedLLv (sic) - natural metal The decals are nicely printed, and all but the blue are in good register. As a result of the slight shift of the blue on the review sample, the Finish roundel is slightly off-centre, and the Czech roundel has some overlap between the red and blue which causes a slightly darker border between them. Conclusion Soviet jet modellers are enjoying a golden age at present, largely down to Eduard, Trumpeter and Hobby Boss. This kit fills a gap close to the heart of many, and it does the job well. It is a well detailed kit of simple construction, and my only worry is that the wing and tail joints aren't that strong. Of course there are some minor issues, such as the panel lines mentioned earlier, but what kit doesn't have at least some? You might also want to consider the new Neomega cockpit set for this kit, which improves the cockpit and resolves some minor instrumentation issues. Highly recommended. Review sample courtesy of
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