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Mike

Mig-29 9-13 Fulcrum C - 1:48

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Mig-29 9-13 Fulcrum C
1:48 Great Wall Hobby


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The Mig-29 is arguably one of the most iconic of the Cold War Russian jets, and probably one of the most frequently seen at Western airshows since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Its origins began deep in the cold war, when it was designed as a "lightweight" Tactical Fighter, replacing the Mig-23 and having the capability to go up against any fighter aircraft of the day. It entered service in 1984 and has been so ever since, with the former Soviet Union aircraft being taken over by Russia, and its satellite countries retaining theirs for the most part. After the reunification of Germany in 1991 the East German Migs were integrated with the Luftwaffe, following some alterations to make them more NATO friendly.

The Fulcrum C is similar to the original production run, but has a large spine extension containing additional fuel to increase its range, and a jamming system for self-defence. It also has more provision for external fuel tanks on the wing pylons, upgraded radar, plus other systems and weapons upgrades. The number of variants that have been fielded over the years is quite staggering, including some "home-brew" variants requested or made by purchasers at the time of buying, or later. This should give the GWH plenty of scope for alternative versions as time goes by.

The Kit
This is the second edition of the Mig-29 that GWH have produced, the original being an earlier 9-12, which sold out incredibly quickly in the UK, and I believe is now becoming tricky to get hold of. The key here is "don't delay", as this one is likely to prove as popular as the earlier kit, and knocks the Academy kit into the proverbial "cocked hat" in terms of detail and fidelity. The box is a large one by dint of the so-called lightweight fighter being a large aircraft, but also because of the way it is presented. Lifting the lid reveals a large white box within the top, and inside there is the upper fuselage, protected from harm by the additional packaging, a wrap of foam sheet to protect the prominent engine humps and a pair of foam wedges that prevent the fuselage from shimmying around in the box. Under there is another piece of packaging, which is a two-part vacuum-formed container for the six missiles, held together by a number of friction fit pegs and recessed in the middle. There are three large sprues and eight more of varying sizes, all in a medium grey styrene, as are the aforementioned missiles. A set of clear parts are double-bagged for protection, and the large clear canopy has a further sheet of light adhesive material applied to the outer surface to prevent any scratches or chaffing in transit, attesting to GWH's care in packing their products. A small fret of Photo Etch (PE) brass is included, plus a small sheet of acetate, pre-printed with the shape of the HUD glass, two sheets of decals, a print of the box artwork (which is excellent) in a plastic folder, and the instruction booklet are found in the bottom of the box, together with a pair of cover-sheets in yellow for the decals, which were (oddly for GWH) unwrapped, and both cover-sheets had come adrift.

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First impressions. Well, if you've seen the original release, you know exactly what to expect. The detail is excellent, and it's surprising to see just how much they've managed to cram into the visible internal areas such as the wheel bays and cockpit. Surface detail is just as you'd expect for a high-grade newly tooled kit, utilising slide-moulding to add value, and the overall package just exudes quality.

Construction starts with the K-36DM ejection seat, which is built up from ten styrene parts and seven PE parts including a set of seat harnesses, with four decals supplied for the head-box area. The rest of the cockpit is built up from individual faces to maximise the detail, and the sidewalls are further detailed by the addition of extra parts for the side-consoles and structural members. A detailed painting guide accompanies these steps, and a full set of instrument dial decals are included to finish off the nice 3D instrument panel, which incidentally has the older analogue cockpit appropriate to the mark. The instrument coaming is moulded into the upper fuselage part, but don't let that put you off - it is well detailed and has a PE HUD assembly into which the clear acetate HUD glass goes later in the build. The cockpit slots into the fuselage from below, and you are given options of posing the canopy open or closed, with a styrene ram included for the former, and PE rear-view mirrors arranged around the forward hoop of the canopy. The prominent IR sensor that projects from the front of the windscreen is provided with a clear cover, and detailed painting instructions are given for the representation of the equipment within. All the clear parts are crystal clear and well moulded, with no seam on the canopy, which I'm sure will please many (self included). The turtle-deck behind the pilot is decked-out with a large sloped sided box that is festooned with knobs & dials that will show-up nicely under the canopy, so will need careful painting to do it justice.

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The large upper fuselage is exceptionally well moulded, with detail all over it that is right up there with the best. A pair of sprue-runners protects the wing-tips and the static-wick on the trailing edge, and a sprue-bridge holds the tail extension booms rigid. The large "Fatback" spine extends between the engine bulges terminating smoothly right in front of the exhausts, and if you look carefully you can see a neatly "nipped" injection moulding sprue gate that will need a deft flick with a sanding stick to smooth it off before painting. There are also a pair of small bumps on the mating surface between top and bottom, next to the auxiliary intakes, which initially appear to be "stealth" sprue gates, but have corresponding depressions in the lower fuselage half to accommodate them, so don't be tricked into removing them to improve the fit between the two halves. Either side of the cockpit are two large auxiliary intakes that open automatically when the mesh intake guards come down, allowing the engine to ingest (hopefully) clean air when operating from a rough or poorly prepared airfield without ruining the engines. There are holes in the upper fuselage that accept either closed louvers or open louvers, depending on whether the engine is idle or ground-running, respectively. To the aft of the rectangular hole is a recessed section which accepts a small PE part with three sections of mesh etched in.

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The lower fuselage is equally well moulded, but has a large number of holes for gear bays, engine bays etc., plus the upper section of the twin intakes. The detail on the lifting-body central section between the intakes is very well rendered, with some deeply set grilles that look excellent. The gear bays are made up from separate faces, as mentioned earlier, and here the detail is reminiscent of resin casting, rather than styrene injection. The nose gear bay is made up from a single central part that incorporates the roof and forward and aft bulkheads, plus separate side panels, while the main bays don't have end bulkheads per se, but shelve away into nothing. The detail on the roof is superb, with rib-work on the topsides that will be seen through the auxiliary intakes if you pose them open. There are some ejector pin marks to clean up on this part though, but you can't complain as the detail on the bay side is unblemished as a result, and only some will feel need to fill them. If you're in that faction, you'll be pleased to know that they're on the edges, and easy to access. Decide for yourself whether they'll even be seen though.

Here's where the ingenious design of the intakes comes into play, but I'm sure it won't appeal to everyone. The roof of the intake is moulded into the lower fuselage, and the rest of the intake is built up from two halves split vertically, which mate to grooves in the lower fuselage, creating a broadly circular tunnel. If you want to pose your model on the ground, you can insert the FOD guards and blank off the interior forever, but if you plan on posing it with engines on or in flight, you will need to add the retracted FOD guards within the intake trunk, and clean up a lot of seams and ejector pin marks. The fact that the Fulcrum has built-in guards is just gravy to your average modeller that hates sanding seams in tricky positions, which becomes tedious very quickly. Thank you Mikoyan! The deployed parts are of course thicker than the retracted PE parts, but the detail is very good, although you forego the see-through look of the mesh in the process. I don't see many people losing sleep over that, but if you wanted to, you could bend the PE parts appropriately using the plastic parts as a template a1nd secure them carefully with the use of tabs within the intake trunk.

Joining the upper and lower fuselage shouldn't be too taxing unless you're shoe-horning in extra resin details, and at this point you can add the slats, ailerons and flaps, posed at any sensible angle of your choice. The large elevators slot into the sides of the tail, with a sharply angled axis, just like the real thing, while the twin tails, which have caused some problems in the real world, are single-thickness parts with a separate rudder and some tiny auxiliary parts. Forward and slightly outboard of the fin fillets are the fins in which you'll find the chaff and flare dispensers to confuse and avoid enemy missiles. The fins have inserts for the tube detail, or they can be fitted with blanks for those aircraft that don't have the capability installed.

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Another bone of contention amongst modellers is next, and that bone is the provision of engines with the kit. The pro argument is simple - it's additional detail that goes to add extra visual interest to your model. The detractors argue that the parts are un-needed, most modellers will close up the bays and consign them forever to darkness. Whichever side of the fence you come down on, you will have to admit that the detail include on these engines is excellent, and again more like resin than injection moulded styrene. With a surprisingly small number of parts (17) they build up with highly detailed exhaust petals, a rear fan with stator blades as separate parts, and a detailed afterburner ring. Cleverly, they have avoided the use of halves where the seams will be seen on the inside, instead using short cylindrical parts between the rear of the engine and the exhaust petals. The engine body is split in half, but only the outside seam will be seen, with much of one of them covered with auxiliary equipment. The exhaust inner and outer petals are made up from a central ring with two sides attached, to which the other quadrants are glued to make up the whole. Again, detailed painting guides you through the whole process, and a small engine trestle is supplied with the kit in case you wanted to show one motor outside the aircraft. Ideally a replacement dummy "tube" and spare exhaust would have been provided too, but that would all have added to the cost of the kit. Both engines slot into the lower fuselage and are optionally covered by their cowlings, which has rudimentary rib detail moulded into the inner face, although again there are some ejector pins to deal with if you elect to include them nearby.

The nose cone is a separate part from the fuselage halves, and is added later in the build along with its pitot probe and smaller sensors bristling from the nose area. At the opposite end, the rear-mounted air brakes clamshell around the "microphone" sensor suite in either open position with their retraction jacks, or closed, consigning the jacks to the spares box.

The landing gear is of course very well detailed and builds up from a larger than average number of parts to offer the best detail, which is to be applauded, as it is the small details that give a better illusion of reality IMHO. The wheels and hubs are separate parts, and the tyres have lovely detail moulded in that is again worthy of resin, even as far as the maker's name and data-plate on the sidewalls. A slight flat is moulded into the bottom of each tyre to better portray the weight of the aircraft on its wheels, but not so extreme as to have you reaching for the compressor to give them some more air. The nose-wheel has the usual mud-guard seen on many Soviet aircraft, and the louvers have been slide-moulded for fidelity. The gear bay doors are similarly details, and the main doors have landing lights with clear lenses added along with the actuator jacks. Happily, for those that like to model their aircraft in their natural environment, a set of alternative parts are included to pose the gear bay doors closed, which just begs for a diorama of one of those low-flying demos the reality of which are oft debated on the forums.

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The Fulcrum is well appointed for both weapons and additional fuel, with a large tank in a semi-permanent position between the engines and the potential for two more on the inner pylons on the wings. The central tank is split horizontally, and has separate nose and rear parts, plus retention lugs, attaching to the lower fuselage by two large pins. The 9-13 has three hard-points on the wings and you can choose to mount additional fuel or a pair of Vympel R-27R Alamo missiles with their distinctive forward canted fins. The outer pylons seat a quartet of R-73R Archers, and again with all these missiles, GWH have been clever. Each one is moulded on a separate sprue as a single part, using slide moulding to obtain detail on all sides, as well as each end. The four mould seams are set diagonally, as are the sprue gates, so that the seams run along the lines of the fins, minimising clean-up. The moulds are also very tightly tooled, resulting in very fine seam lines that won't take long to clean up at all. The result is a clean, detailed missile with a lot more strength to its construction, whilst avoiding all the fiddly separate fins and associated alignment issues. Given the probable expense of tooling these parts, one can only assume that GWH have more variants of the Mig-29 or some other Russian subjects in mind. Whatever the case, they have introduced a new (to me at least) and intelligent approach to tooling missiles and ordnance, which is the weak point of many a model.

Markings
Two sheets of decals are provided with the kit, the larger of which contains the markings for the decal options, while the smaller sheet is covered with the tiny stencils that are ubiquitous on modern jets. Two options are supplied, and both are Russian airframes in two tone grey soft-edge camouflage and shark-mouth motif on the nose. From the box you can build either of the following:

  • Red 29 - 31st GvIAP, 51st Air Corps, 4th Air Army, Russian Air Force
  • White 51 - 120th GvIAP, 21st OSAD, 14th Air Army, Russian Air Force

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The decals are marked as made in China, and appear to be of good quality with first-rate colour density and registration. The edges of the registration marks are visible on the sheet, and shows that the colours are well registered, but also names a few of the colours on the stencil sheet, which is usual as they are usually cropped off before release. The stencils are all legible under magnification (2.5x in this case), and although I cannot read Cyrillic, they seem to form words that are vaguely familiar from other kits. Included with the stencils for the airframe are the stencils for the missiles and fuel tanks, which is a welcome trend within the hobby. A separate diagram gives both painting and decaling instructions for the munitions and fuel tanks.

Conclusion
Having totally missed the initial release, this new variant was eagerly awaited by both myself and a lot of others, so should sell very well. It deserves to, as GWH have put a lot of work into it, and the results are there to see in the box. The detail is excellent, the build looks to be straightforward, the weapons are first class, and the presentation matches it all. If I had to pick on one thing, it would be that the decal options are a little samey, with only the bright tail stripes and tail codes differentiating to the casual observer. That churlish moan aside, it's difficult to find fault with the kit, and I suspect it won't stay unbuilt for long.

Very highly recommended.

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Review sample courtesy of
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Nice review and a lovely looking kit. :thumbsup: Even I'm tempted to get one.

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That looks a bit of alright, I need to start saving some pennies for SMW... some nice Russians coming out lately!

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Great review Mike. Mine turned up last week after a couple if months on the slow boat from HK. It's a stunning kit. As the review sample was from Creative does that mean they're now UK distributor? Good news if they are!

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Phil, yes Creative took over the importing of GWH kits a several months ago. Thanks to Mike's review I seemed to have gone and ordered one. That Buy-It-Now button has a lot to answer for. :D

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Saw one of these in the plastic today. I was actually in awe at the detail the kit gives, glad it wasn't mine as I don't think I could ever do a kit of that calibre justice. Phenomenal.

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