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Tamiya 1/48 scale MiG-15bis

Kit: No. 61043
Scale: 1/48
Manufacturer: Tamiya, distributed by Tamiya America, 2 Orion, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656-4200, phone 800-826-4922
Price: $27
Comments: Injection molded, 85 parts, decals.

THE MIG DESIGN BUREAU, created by Artjom Ivanovich Mikoyan and Mikhail Iosifovich Gurevich on Christmas Day 1939, is the producer of the most widely used jet fighters in the world. With the help of German aircraft designs captured at the end of World War II, this team worked on a swept-wing jet design that ultimately became the MiG-15 late in 1948.

Tamiya's kit represents an early MiG-15bis, identified by the two-piece gun blast panel, the landing light mounted in the upper portion of the air intake splitter, and the shell ejection ports. The kit features delicate raised and engraved panels, and the fit and finish of all parts are equal to the best I've built. Markings for three aircraft are included on the ScaleMaster decal sheet.

Minimal mold-separation marks can be cleaned up with a swipe of a fine-grit sanding stick. The joints formed by cementing wing panels and fuselage halves are nearly invisible: I didn't have to use filler putty anywhere on this model. I especially liked the strong plug/socket landing-gear strut-mounting system. The cockpit shows good detail for the scale.

My sample was marred by a short shot -- an incompletely molded engine-exhaust pipe. Disregarding that problem, the exposed engine is a nice feature. Closing the fuselage around the engine takes a little squeezing here and persuasion there, but once mounted, the break is no more apparent that the fine recessed panel lines. A dolly for the rear fuselage is included in the kit.

The 13-step instructions are easy to follow and show colors for all detail parts. Tamiya calls for a light blue cockpit interior, but the restored Chinese-built MiG-15 at the Experimental Aircraft Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, has a gray cockpit. Take your pick.

There's one problem you'll have to solve: what to do with the antenna wire running between the antenna mast at the canopy and the tip of the vertical fin. If you want to remove the rear fuselage to show the engine, you'll have to detach the wire at one end.

I used the kit's national insignia decals, but the rest of the markings came from AeroMaster sheet No. 48-229: I was intrigued by the tiger-stripe camouflage of the Russian-flown Red-Chinese MiG. I used Floquil olive drab, IJN green, and Italian sand for the uppersurface camouflage, and AeroMaster RLM 76 light blue for the bottom. The kit's national insignia decals snuggled down onto the surface detail with a couple applications of Micro Sol.

Compared to the dimensions in Hans-Heiri Stapfer's MiG-15 in Action (Squadron/Signal), the finished model is two scale inches too long and three scale inches too short in span.

Beginning modelers should be able to assemble this excellent kit in a few hours. Painting and finishing, however, will require more advanced skills. Multicolored camouflages and natural-metal finishes are daunting to even accomplished modelers. I spent 25 hours on my MiG, and it is a pleasure to add it to my growing collection of Korean War aircraft.

Al Jones

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