by Thomas Chmelik
1/32 Mig-21MF and
Box's Cockpit are available online at
This is my latest model -
the 1/32 scale Mig-21 from Trumpeter. There has
already been a lot written about this model here
on HyperScale, so let just make
some points I observed during the construction.
The contents has already
been described here too, so
just to remind you that you get a large number of parts made from grey
styrene, packed in separate bags, one sprue of clear parts, couple of
resin parts, metal parts consisting of undercarriage struts and a nose
cone and a rubber tires. Decal sheet depicts two planes, one in German
(west) markings and one in Iraqi ones. Sides of box cover include colour
pictures of some details including engine and seat. And of course,
The model also includes a sitting
pilot plus four ground crew members undertaking
various activities around and on the plane.
The quick look into the box will
show you that all pats are nicely produced and
engraved up to today’s standards. The model comes with the optional nose
cone where you can choose from plastic or metal one. The plastic one
seemed me to have a smoother surface, but the metal one serves as a clever
nose weight so I decided to use this one. All my doubt
about the nose cone evaporated under a
coat of paint, so you do not have to worry.
I decided to finish my Mig
in Iraqi markings just because I liked the desert camouflage and wanted to
try some weathering techniques. Quickly after the release of the model
there are tons of aftermarket decals available (Russian, Czech, Romanian
etc.) but I decided to use the original ones.
The construction started with two
major subassemblies – engine and cockpit.
Those of you who expect as poor
cockpit as was in A-10 from Trumpeter will be fortunately disappointed.
The cockpit is much improved, includes cockpit tub, instrument panel (made
from clear plastic) and relatively nice seat (plus other details, all this
makes number of parts together). In my opinion the cockpit will look O.K.
directly out of the box, but still does not reach the standards we expect,
especially in this scale. There are two nice aftermarket replacements
available at he moment – Cutting Edge and Black Box. Both were compared a
few months ago on the internet and I think that both are excellent. I
decided to go for a Black Box for a simple reason – price.
What you get from Black Box is
their usual clear box filled with nice resin parts. For details, check the
Victory models web site. The parts are nicely moulded and especially the
seat is excellent. Black Box selected a different breakdown of parts than
Cutting Edge which is mostly visible with the seat which comes with
separate head rest and couple of other details. The instructions are clear
enough to guide you through the construction process, however there are
few points where it is not exactly clear how the parts should fit together
(drawings are simplified and you are a few times not sure whether this or
that should go exactly here or a few millimetres next). Check the fit to
the fuselage and leave some parts such as instrument panel left until the
The fit to the fuselage is good.
All you need is to remove all ribs inside the fuselage
(which is mentioned in the Black Box instructions) and carefully check the
fit with some minor sanding of the resin tub to jump inside. Nothing that
could not be fixed by an average modeller.
The casting of the resin parts is
excellent and matches the actual photos perfectly. For painting it is the
best to check references, a cockpit photo is also on the side of the box
cover. The question is the painting of the seat – various references show
a little difference in seat painting, especially on the back side. This
probably depends on actual aircraft (repairs, seat from different period
etc.). I decided to paint the seat according to one of the references and
not to think about too much.
thumbnails below to view larger images:
The cockpit was painted by Agama
Russian interior colour and received a usual mix of washes and drybrushing.
The results were really outstanding and the cockpit is definitively a
worth of money. I was really happy with the results and was excited to
continue the construction. Later on I realised that there is threat that
from a certain angle it could be possible to see the inside of the front
fuselage through the cockpit (under the instrument panel), so I decided to
cover this area to protect possible light come through. Whether it was
necessary or not is a question which I cannot answer – I have no chance to
compare that “before” and “after”.
The engine is another major
subassembly. The larger scales such as 1:32 just call for some additions
and opened avionics bays or engines are a good choice to add some business
to the model. The scale also allows to represent these in a good quality
so the results are often really nice.
From above mentioned reasons I
wanted to make the model with rear part of the fuselage off, which can
easily be done – the model is made to allow this with fuselage split into
front and rear parts. There is also a trolley for the rear part included
in the model. I wanted, but I finally gave up and made the model with
front and rear fuselage together. Why ?
Well, the addition of the engine
is a very good idea, but the manufacturing chosen for this one is a
modellers nightmare. The engine is crisply moulded, but split into four
parts along, which means four seam lines running along the whole length of
the engine through all details. Even if the fit is relatively good, one
cannot avoid some sanding and filling. And as there is due to some details
a very little space for sanding, the whole thing is even more difficult
(but probably not unfixable). But as the engine should be mostly in
various shades of metallic colours, every not perfectly smoothed scratch
will be very visible (there were some of course). Also, there are some
other parts representing cables, wires and other tubing attached to the
engine and it has to be said that their moulding is very crude and rough.
The main reason which take me off
the idea of displaying the engine open was the fact that there were
absolutely no details on inside of both the front and rear part of the
fuselage. Simply said the insides looked like as inside of any model part
which is supposed not to be visible when assembled – nothing inside, just
sink holes and such stuff. I am almost sure that the real Mig does not
look like this inside. For fixing of this it would be necessary to do a
lot of scratchbuilding together supported by adequate references. Well, I
didn’t have references nor the need to do some scratchbuilding so I
decided to put the fuselage together and hide the engine inside. The final
reason was that taking off the rear part would destroy the shape of the
Mig and I didn’t want that to happen.
There are a few other minor
subassemblies necessary before putting the fuselage together. This
includes wheel wells, nose cone and opened electronic compartment in front
of the windshield. Everything is straightforward without major problems,
but few comments can be made anyway:
Details on the wheel well bays and the thing in front of the cockpit are
bit heavier, especially when compared to Black Box cockpit. With
references some tubing can be added. I decided to leave it as it is.
instructions are vague – even if the instructions are clear enough to
guide you through the construction, calls for
painting is only here and there so most of the painting has to be
decided on the base of the references or guess.
struts sound like a good idea – the model in this scale are quite heavy.
Well I finally realised that the overall weight of the model is not as
bad. The problem with the struts is that they are relatively heavily
moulded (or how to call that) – I have almost no experience with such
parts so I do not know what the standard is – they contain seam lines
and even ejector pin marks (?). As they are from a relatively hard metal
(or heavy metal J),
they are difficult to sand and clean. In my opinion they should be (or
at least are in metal) thick enough that could be represented by a
regular plastic without problems.
wheel bay doors (main) are bit on a thick side. There are few ejector
pin marks inside which have to be carefully filled and sanded.
wondering about the fit of front and rear part of the fuselage, but it
was excellent. There were more problems with the vertical stabiliser,
but again nothing that could not be easily fixed.
problems with wing and fuselage attachment. I do not know what I made
wrong , but there was an ugly and relatively wide seam between the lower
half of the wings (on undersides). This can be fixed by careful sanding
of the upper halves of wings(it seemed to me that the upper and lower
part of the wing has a different depth) or by filling the gap. I decided
to fill the gap by a method described on aircraftresourcecenter using a
filler and nail lack remover. It worked fine and I was able to get the
seam filled without damaging the details on the wing.
had problems with attaching the windshield. The problem is that due to
opened avionics (or whatever it is) bay there is only a small stretch of
plastic holding the windshield which was originally bent (finally
broken). Careful bending, sanding and filling in this area was
The construction was
generally easy. Once the
fuselage with all the wheel bays, cockpit and engine plus some other few
things is glued together, the construction continues relatively quickly.
Wing problem is described above, horizontal stabilisers were attached
after painting. There are several small antennae on the fuselage which are
easily breakable (guess what happened to me) so think about their possible
removing and adding later on as every maintenance puts them into the
danger of breaking and disappearing somewhere on the floor.
I wanted to make my model
weathered so I decided to combine several techniques widely used here on
the HyperScale. Firstly I sprayed the whole
model by Model Master Buffing Aluminium
to have a base for later paint chipping. This was sealed by the sealer and
pre shading was applied. Then I sprayed a light blue on undersurfaces.
Instructions call for light grey, my other references call for shade
similar to “sky”, other light blue or light grey blue. I prepared a custom
mixture of various shades of grey and light blue to my satisfaction.
Also, from the instruction it is
not clear what colour the air brakes should have. Some pictures show the
inside in the same colour as the undersurfaces, some not . I decided to
paint the insides same as undersurfaces, but paint the inside part of the
brakes yellow zinc chromate which I saw on some pictures of actual
aircraft. Again, in my opinion, number of options is possible and I doubt
there were any strict rules for that.
My consideration about colours of
Iraqi plane comes from the following – pictures of Iraqi planes taken
under a reasonable conditions are very rare. I do not have a picture of a
Mig-21, but other planes I saw in some magazines show the planes from a
distance and in a poor quality, both from the detail point of view and
from the quality of colours as well. Also, I think that desert conditions
caused an extensive sun fading and weathering (even in European conditions
the Migs can be very, very weathered – once I saw a picture of a Mig-21
which was almost half natural metal – and it did not even enter combat or
extreme weather conditions !). So I finally decided not to care about
exact match of colours (anyway, match to what ?) and paint the model in
the way it represents an Iraqi Mig-21 in desert camouflage as it could
look like in my opinion.
So I prepared a custom mix of sand
(I made it more yellowish) and dark earth for upper surfaces, spraying
them freehand. The model was finally post shaded to accentuate sun fading.
Than it received a wash into some panel lines followed by pastels. I
wanted to make the weathering visible, but not too much. Finally I wanted
to do paint chipping by removing some paint to show the aluminium primer
underneath. Well, as I am not familiar with this technique too much, I
probably made a mistake by spraying to much layers of colours (sealer,
preshading, camouflage colours, postshading etc.) and scratching of the
upper colours became very difficult. After few attempts I gave up and left
the few ones I made as a representation of minor paint chipping.
After the model got a clear cote I
applied decals. My ones were on a register, thin enough. One of the
problem was that all the stencils included on the decal sheet are
readable, but in German. I do not know where the planes to Iraq came from,
but I doubt that they included German stencils. I decided to added some
unreadable stencils from a sparse box not to leave the model empty. I have
absolutely no idea whether the stencils even were or in which language on
The model got a final flat finish
from Humbrol 49 and was ready for final touchups.
Model includes an extensive
selection of weaponry, including air-to-air missiles, fuel tanks, bombs
and unguided air-to-surface missiles. The first problem I entered was that
a smaller fuel tanks (which consist of two halves and a front cone) have a
“suspicious” shape. Quick look into the drawings showed that (at least to
me) the front part, added as a separate piece does not match the rest
perfectly and makes the front part of the tank somehow “bulged” which is
in my opinion wrong. Lot of wet/dry sanding with extensive putying cured
this. Generally said, the fit of weapons is on the poor side of the kit.
There are no options of the
combination of weapons for the Mig in the instructions. This can be easily
fixed by references (4+ publication for example). I decided to make my Mig
in fighter version, carrying three smaller fuel tanks (forgot the volume
in gallons or litres) and two R-3S missiles. Instructions call for tanks
in the same colour as undersurfaces. As I initially wanted to do the same
attempt for paint chipping as on the whole plane, I sprayed them buffing
aluminium first. The scratches from extensive sanding became very visible
but I suddenly started to like the natural metal look of the fuel tanks. I
decided to deal with scratches again, then prime the tanks with Humbrol
gloss black (enamel !) and after drying spray the aluminium again to make
another try. Well, the result was satisfactory for me ! Scratches became
invisible, fuel tanks had smooth and uniform surface and after polishing
and final sealing looked like natural metal fuel tanks (at least to me).
They add something different to the model and its appearance in natural
metal is in my opinion very real (prove me that I am wrong !).
As I mentioned above, there is a
possibility to add some crew members to the model. The figures are
relatively good, they depict ground crew in putting the ammunition in the
fuselage (3) and putting the drag chute in the rear (1+ladder). Figures
are relatively well moulded and when compared to real photos of the
process they aim to depict, they represent that good. My problem was that
I was wondering whether they represent the European or Far East persons
(don’t call me racist !). I actually don´t know how the Iraqi ground crew
looks like (colour of the uniform – I guess green only). So I decided to
paint them somehow “neutrally” and put them aside to decide whether to put
them on the model or not later on. The only resin part of the model –
ammunition box with some other equipment was also left out.
There were some remaining details
added to the model and it finally looked as a weathered Iraqi Mig-21 which
was the purpose of this construction. I am very satisfied with the result,
it is probably my best model ever. I enjoyed the construction, tried some
new techniques and made something I am proud of.
Well, I decided to go further and
do some criticism of the model by myself to inspire you (just kidding –
your comments are very welcome). The overall impression can be made on the
base of the pictures, but:
I didn’t make any measurements according to plans or drawings, I
did not want to make any surgery anyway so I decided that it is better
not to know whether there is something wrong or not.
of my decals silvered, my solvaset treatment was not strong enough. I
realised this too late to fix it so I decided to leave it as it is and
hide the most visible ones by touchups of the surface colours and
weathering (which is similar to a crime in a modelling world).
added no additional details to wheel wells despite I had some
references, the same goes for gear struts and other details.
added no additional details to the electronic bay in front of the
windshield, I just painted that in a few shades of grey, added some
washes, some black paint to several wires and again left it as it was. I
gave up to make some additional research to get references for this
Camouflage colours are based on my assumptions, not on real references,
the same goes for markings and stencils (see text above).
added no details to opened access doors for refilling the ammunition.
not sure about painting of the air-to-air missiles, I made them white
and added black and red stripes to them according to instructions and
some references. But I am not sure whether it really looks like this or
Colours of inside of the wheel wells and such details is a mixture of
suggestions get from instructions, pictures and my own assumptions.
Again, I made no in-depth research for these purposes.
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Page Created 06 December, 2001
04 June, 2007
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