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MiG-15 (Dragon, 1/72)

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After my CF-104 and F-84G, I'd planned to switch gears and do a pair of F/A-18s. But, in doing those builds I learned a couple new things about doing NMF, and I generated some new ideas, so I'm going to do another NMF aircraft: a Polish MiG-15. My planned F-18 build is going to be a little grueling because I'm going to re-scribe one of the kits. So I figured I'd try to do a kit that would be a "quick victory" -- after all it only has 40 parts.


I'll get into the details first, and leave the personal, human-interest story for last ;).


The kit I'm going to build is a Dragon MiG-15 that I purchased in a buying spree in 1998.





The decals may be just a touch yellow, but it's hardly noticeable.


The kit is nicely detailed with engraved panel lines, landing gear bay details, and reasonable cockpit details with molded instruments. So this leads to my first problem: the kit is a little too detailed because it has every... single... rivet.






So, I'll throw this out for opinions: Should I fill the rivets in? I've done a lot of research on MiG-15s the last few days and the rivets are not visible on the bare metal planes until you are within about 10 feet.  So, it seems to me that all of these rivets are un-necessary and unrealistic detail. I think I should be able to fill them in using super glue and a glue louper, and still keep the panel lines (and some rivets that I notice are always visible, even at a distance).


When I bought this kit, there was no scalemates (that I was aware of anyway), so I generally guessed which ones might be good quality. Doing some dry-fitting tonight, I think this is a reasonably good quality kit. The fit seems very good on the fuselage. Dry fitting the wings showed that there might be a little problem there, as the slot in the fuselage is bigger than the tab on the wing. Shouldn't pose much of a problem, but it is a little annoying to have that much slop in the fit.


So, here's the history behind this build (personal, human-interest story :) ). In late September 1989, I went to the nearest hobby store (185 miles away) and bought a Heller F-86 and a Humbrol MiG-15. I built both over the course of a couple of weekends in early October 1989. The MiG-15 kit had 2 options: Soviet and Polish. Since I had a row of "Red Stars" on my model shelf, I figured it would be neat to do something different and I chose Polish. I must say, that Humbrol MiG-15 kit is tied for first place for the "worst-kits-I-have-ever-built" award (the other being a Starfix Spitfire Mk. XIV). It had no detail whatsoever (a bent piece of plastic for a seat was the entire cockpit), horribly clumsy raised panel lines, and poor engineering galore (the nose cap was a larger diameter than the aircraft body). After college when I moved out of my parent's house, my models went with me, but the MiG-15 went in the trash.  I bought the kit I'm going to start as its replacement, which is why I am choosing the Polish version.


Next time, I'll outline my approach for the paint.  Thanks for looking...





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2 hours ago, opus999 said:

Should I fill the rivets in?

A very subjective thing. I have recently been told that a 1/72 aircraft viewed from 18" is the same as viewing the same aircraft at about 50yards. If you can see panel lines, let alone rivets at 50yards, what size are they!? Bur very few of us make a 'flat' surface 'cos it's boring, it's all down to what you like, if they are too heavy, knock them back with layers of primer or something. It's your model...



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On 10/1/2018 at 11:44 PM, Courageous said:

It's your model

Yeah.... I guess deep down I was hoping someone would say "Nah!  It'll be fine the way it is!" because it seemed like work to make it right. :D


Looking at it again, I found it just doesn't look right, especially when compared to pictures, so I am filling those rivets in now as we speak.  Pictures to follow...

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On 10/1/2018 at 11:47 PM, Eric Mc said:

What was the original source of the Humbrol MiG 15?

I'm not sure I follow... I got it at a hobby store in Spokane Washington if that's what you mean.


Interesting - I did a quick internet search for Humbrol MiG-15 and found a vintage Airfix kit that looks exactly the same.  Must be a rebox. I still have the instructions from the original and they say Humbrol on them.

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1 hour ago, John D.C. Masters said:

I'll be looking at this one.  I saw this kit recently somewhere and almost put it in the cart.  Maybe I will now.  How is the cockpit for detail?


I built it a while ago but have a couple in my stash, my memory is the cockpit is pretty good for the scale, no pilot. It really depends on how much detail you are hoping for. 

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Nope, much better than that John, I built the kit as one of my first when I got back into modeling and regardless of whatever flaws it may have accuracy wise it looks great and builds up very easily. 

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18 hours ago, John D.C. Masters said:

How is the cockpit for detail?

It's not too bad at all! I'll post pictures of the cockpit as I get it put together. I'm hoping that will happen this weekend!

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On 04/10/2018 at 02:48, opus999 said:

I'm not sure I follow... I got it at a hobby store in Spokane Washington if that's what you mean.


Interesting - I did a quick internet search for Humbrol MiG-15 and found a vintage Airfix kit that looks exactly the same.  Must be a rebox. I still have the instructions from the original and they say Humbrol on them.

Humbrol by and large, didn't produce much in the way of kits themselves, being a paint and glue company rather than a model manufacturer.


However, in the 70s they did dabble in the kit manufacturing area with a range they called "Bobcat"and released kits such as the Harrier T2 and Lockheed F-94 Starfire. Humbrol ended up buying Heller and Airfix so I am sure some Humbrol branded kits may have originally been Airfix or Heller kits. It sounds like their MiG 15 is the ancient (late 1950s) Airfix kit.

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10 hours ago, Eric Mc said:

Humbrol by and large, didn't produce much in the way of kits themselves, being a paint and glue company rather than a model manufacturer.


However, in the 70s they did dabble in the kit manufacturing area with a range they called "Bobcat"and released kits such as the Harrier T2 and Lockheed F-94 Starfire. Humbrol ended up buying Heller and Airfix so I am sure some Humbrol branded kits may have originally been Airfix or Heller kits. It sounds like their MiG 15 is the ancient (late 1950s) Airfix kit.

I was wrong: the MiG-15 I did in the 80's was an Airfix.  I found the box top in some stuff. The instructions I looked at were for an F-86 I did at the same time that was branded "Heller Humbrol".


I'm looking at the box top now and the modeler that made the one on the box top must've used a ton of filler and did a lot of sanding to make it look that nice!

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23 hours ago, Eric Mc said:

That makes sense. Heller did/do a rather nice F-86.

Yes, I did it the same time as the MiG-15 and it was rather nice for the time.  I still have it... it's awaiting a paint stripping and re-build!

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Aggravating weekend at the workbench so far...


I intended to fill the rivet holes with CA, but I quickly reconsidered when I realized that could go south pretty quickly since it's very runny.  I then thought I could use Mr. Color black with my smallest paint brush to dot each hole with paint, then sand it flush. Each hole took 2 coats of paint due to shrinkage. Worked well, but was a bit tedious -- however once I got into a rhythm it went fairly quickly. Here's the horizontal stabilizers before sanding:



...and after:




after doing the wing bottoms, I did an overcoat with Mr. Surfacer 1500 and found that there were little pin pricks all over the bottoms of the wings.  My guess is little air bubbles popped while drying. So I need to go over those again.  I was growing impatient and decided on a different approach. I have some liquid mask and thought I could cover panel lines, rivets, etc. that I want to preserve and then spray the entire model and sand flush. I carefully consulted all the photos I've collected to find rivets that I want to keep (since there are some that are very noticeable from any distance). and painted the masking on.  This is what it looked like when I was done:




I sprayed two thick coats of Mr. Surfacer 500 on. Last night when everything was dry, I sanded the tail, and it looks like it might work as I hoped.  But, unfortunately, I think I've traded one tedious job for another because I hate sanding!


I also did some Alclad color testing too... but more on that later.

Edited by opus999
Fixed typo
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I sanded down the Mr. Surfacer 500 mentioned in my last post.  The liquid masking worked perfectly and I was rewarded with some crisp panel lines and a few pre-chosen rivets. Then I sprayed Mr. Surfacer 1500 black over all the pieces. A cursory look showed that I'd successfully filled in all the pesky rivets, leaving a smooth finish.  But, a couple days later, a closer look showed some of the rivets were only partly filled in.  Now, I'm not sure if this is because the paint in the rivet holes continued to shrink (e.g., from paint curing) or if I pressed too hard with my fingers when I was sanding. It would be OK if the rivets were still there and just toned down a bit, but it was inconsistent: some were filled flush and others weren't. 


So... lather, rinse, repeat. I liquid masked all the parts again. Sprayed each with a couple of coats of Mr. Surfacer 500 again. This time, I'm letting it sit and dry/cure for almost a week before attempting to sand. Also, I bought some sanding sticks down to 800 grit and will use those instead of sanding films so I don't run the risk of pressing too hard with my fingers and gouging out the paint from the holes. I'm going to try and be patient and wait until Sunday to do this. Guess I'll work on my Star Trek model instead for the time being.

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While I've been waiting for the Mr. Surfacer to cure in the rivet holes, I've still been busy doing my homework!  I've found natural metal finishes to be very tricky and a bit frustrating when trying to match the color and wear of the real aircraft. Some planes are very consistent in the color differences between panels and how dull they get.  Such as the F-84, or F-86 -- those were fairly easy to pick out which panels should be darker and which should be lighter.  The B-66 on the other hand seemed to have different panel colors with every aircraft!  That was a frustrating build and in the end I just had to pick pictures of one aircraft and copy that one.


Another problem is that panels on the same airframe will look different from one angle than another, or if the lighting angle changes between pictures. I'm sure this is due to the grain of the metal and how it reflects the light. So, for example, the same airframe can have a darker panel in front and a lighter panel in back in one picture, and in a second picture (same day, same time) with a different angle have the front panel appear lighter than the back! This makes choosing paint colors a very frustrating experience as well.


For this current build, there are tons of pictures, but very few from when the MiG-15 was in service, which adds an additional complication: wear! Modern examples are either abandoned in a field and tarnished to gray, or are restored and polished up (or painted silver), or in a museum where you really don't know how much effort they put into restoration. So, there's plenty of evidence to show which panels are different from the others, but how different and what colors? That's the tough part.


I've read in a few places (a good example is at this forum thread) that Eastern bloc NMF aircraft could not be polished to the same luster as US aircraft.  In addition, they were painted with a silver paint when repaired.  The vintage pictures I've seen seem to confirm this.


So... what colors to use? First, let me show some examples (all from wikipedia).  These first two are the best vintage pictures I've found.  They show which panels were dull and which were (sort of) polished These will probably be my best resource:






The next one, while recent, seems to have the same general appearance:




These next two seem to be pretty close to their original appearance:






Finally, this one has been stripped down and polished but provides some more good evidence:




So based on these pictures (plus many more I didn't post), I came up with the following schematic.  Unfortunately, there are some panels that are seem to change colors between pictures!  These have question marks. Color is a bit of a guess too, but I've painted some test parts and I think the colors listed are fairly good matches to the pictures (Pardon the hand drawing)




The bottom is still a bit of a mystery, but I have a few airshow pictures to help a little.


That's the plan anyway.  What do you all think?

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Ugh.... So I sanded the model down and the rivets are still inconsistently filled. They're all knocked back a lot, which is good, but some are filled completely and others are still visible. This isn't going to go well with a natural metal finish, which will show every flaw.


I looked at other completed NMF Dragon Mig-15 models on the web and the rivets just don't look good. I believe, though, that I have filled them enough that they may look just fine if painted, especially with a busy camouflage scheme. So, I decided to switch gears -- I have plenty of Mig-15 decals from another Dragon kit, so I think I will now make this one a Chinese Jian-2. I still really want to do my Polish NMF Mig, so I went to Amazon and ordered the Eduard "weekend edition" kit, since I've read good things about it.


So, when life gives you lemons...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Progress has been slow.  I started a new job with 10 hour shifts, which really takes away from the time at the bench. Plus, I jinxed myself by saying I thought this would be a quick build. Ugh. I've had to put so much work into this to make it look nice.


First though, I'm going to complain a bit about cockpits. :) I love doing the research and making them as accurate as possible, but I hate closing the fuselage up and discovering that all that hard work is hidden!! On my Typhoon I could've painted the cockpit bright red and no one would've known.  Luckily, this one isn't quite as bad as that, so my hard work should be visible with a little effort.


Dragon made the instrument panel pretty accurate, but the side panel are... well... less so. Still, I was able to approximate the look of the side panels as they appeared in my reference photos. For the instrument panel, I painted it flat black, dry brushed it with Testors steel enamel, and then put a couple drops of Alclad aqua gloss on each dial to make it look like a glass cover.








In general I'm not as pleased with the wash I did. After painting, I coated the entire cockpit with Alclad Aqua Gloss. I used Windsor Newton "Ivory Black" that I snuck of my wife's craft table ;) and mixed it into paint thinner. Normally, I put a sludge wash of this mixture and then use a Q-tip to rub it off when it's dry, leaving just the corners and edges dirty looking. Unfortunately, it didn't really come off at all with the Q-tip this time, so it looks much more dirty than I wanted. I even tried to get it off with paint thinner and had no luck.  I think maybe I needed to put another coat or two of the aqua gloss on.








You might notice on the starboard side of the ejection seat there is a red part -- this is a red handle (ejection seat handle maybe?) that is prominent in all of my reference pictures.  It wasn't molded into the seat, so I had to try to replicate it with paint.  I think i did a fair job.  It looks better in real life than in the extreme close-ups here, which makes everything look half baked. :D


In general the fit of this kit is not very good. I put the wings together and where the bottom half of the wing butted up against the flap on the bottom, the part seemed beveled so it made a terrible seam.  I did the best I could to take a picture that shows what it looked like:




I had to fill that void up with super glue, sand it smooth and re-scribe the panel lines and flap hinge. I think it looks pretty good except for the flap hinge which is just OK (kinda outside of my abilities...):




Another problem that is looming is the fit of the wings.  When I dry fit them, I found that there was a ton of slop in the slot as shown here:




So, the wing can flap up and down by maybe 10 degrees either way (maybe I could make an orinthopter out of it?).  Here's what it looks like:




The seam where the wings meet the fuselage is terrible and will take more than a little work to look nice:




This weekend, besides all the sanding and filling :P I painted and did a wash on all the landing gear parts and the nose gear bay. I used some Pinewood Derby car weights to put under the cockpit to keep it from being a tail sitter ( I hope it's enough -- the instructions didn't say how much to use). I finally was able to get the fuselage glued together this afternoon (at long last). On the bottom of the fuselage the plastic curves into the seam making more of a trench than a seam:




I'm still working at fixing that.


My Eduard MiG-15 came in the mail this weekend.  I hope its as good as I've read -- I'm really tired of sanding and shaping and filling and generally putting too much work into making a model look passable!

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On 10/28/2018 at 9:56 PM, Corsairfoxfouruncle said:

Sorry to hear of the troubles, i have faith you will beat the Mig into submission eventually. 

Oh, yes... yes, I will! :)


I've been bending plastic to my will since I was 10 years old -- haven't had one beat me yet! :D

Edited by opus999
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Yay! Wings!






I'm not completely happy with the wash in the wheel wells -- it seems too dark to me.  Usually I can do a fairly subtle wash, so I don't know what my problem is with this model. Ah well.


Over the course of the week I got the fuselage seams cleaned up. Last night I scribed the panel lines across them. On the bottom, the panel lines matched up perfectly, but on the top they were off set, so i did the best I could. As I predicted, the wing fit was pretty bad:






Not sure if the pictures show how bad it was. I filled the wing seams with super glue and putty and I think I've got them about where I want them.






So... much... sanding... :sick:


Today, while waiting for the Aqua Gloss and then the wash to dry, I got some of the fiddly bits done -- painted the oleo struts, put together the fuel tanks, painted the tires, etc.  Hopefully tonight I can paint the bottom of the aircraft.


Also, while doing research on the camouflage, I found a build thread from someone making the same kit and paint scheme. He elected to keep the rivets. On the top it looks OK, but after seeing the bottom, I know I made the right choice filling them in (even if it added 2 weeks to the project). The thread is here: https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/72nd_aircraft/cyber-hobby-mig-15-17-combo-t8888.html


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