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Eduard 1/48 scale MiG-21MF

Using a combination of plastic and photoetched metal, Eduard has produced a well detailed model kit of the Soviet Bloc mainstay, including sharp wheel wells and a cockpit that looks ready for a pilot to climb in and takeoff.

Kit:No. 8231 // Scale:1/48 // Price:$59.95
Eduard, 420-47-611-8259
High level of detail; excellent engineering, fit; error-free instructions; multiple display options; terrific decals
Tricky sequence to install instrument panel; poor-fitting main landing gear bay; nose gear well is too long; vague location for cockpit side consoles
Injection-molded, 486 parts (35 photoetched metal, 4 resin), 17 paint masks, decals
The arrival of Eduard’s initial MiG-21 has garnered a lot of attention and accolades. The kit lives up to the hype, and produces a detailed and accurate replica of the Soviet Cold War mainstay.

While Eduard’s MiG-21MF comes with 486 parts, not all of them will be used to complete one of the six aircraft for which markings are provided: Egyptian; Czechoslovak People’s Army; Slovak; Polish; Soviet; and an East German plane.

Every time I open a new kit from Eduard, I am immediately impressed by the self-sealing clear-parts containers. Parts can be removed from the trees and painted, then safely stored in the bag for later.

The 20-page, color-enhanced instructions begin with a brief history of the type. Safety warnings, instruction signs, a parts map, and a list of Gunze paint colors are found on the second page.

Assembly drawings are clear (subassemblies are broken down with extra detail drawings), error-free, and complete: interior parts have color callouts; kit-provided paint masks are shown; and the fuel tanks and various load configurations are detailed. Beginning on Page 14, four-view drawings show color and markings for each of the six aircraft covered.

The very last page has four-view drawings that place the hundreds of stencils found on a typical “Fishbed” (NATO reporting name for the MiG-21). A supplemental sheet identifies pylons, loads, and appropriate colors and markings.

Choosing to build a MiG-21MF of the Slovakian air force, I started by carefully studying the 10 pages of instructions. Assembly is straightforward, but there are places where decisions must be made and confusion can occur. For example, on the first page of drawings, you must decide whether to show the canopy open or closed by choosing whether to install Part D20 to the cockpit floor or not.

The nose gear well is installed on the underside of the cockpit floor. I had to shorten the gear well side walls (parts C49 and C52) about 1/32" for proper fit.

The pre-painted photoetched-metal instrument panel assembly is a work of art, and an obvious improvement on the alternate plastic part. However, because of the curve of the inside of the fuselage, I had difficulty installing the cockpit side consoles with their photoetched-metal upper panels. Fit was vague and was never completely satisfactory.

I used the photoetched-metal template to scribe in the missing panels on the wing upper surfaces, rather than use the decal provided. (This process is described on Page 7 of the instructions.)

I was careful to delay vulnerable parts, such as the landing gear struts, various antennas, static eliminators, etc. until all painting, decaling, and assembly was otherwise completed. For once, I did not break anything on this model through handling.

Mounting the photoetched-metal blades to the nose probe was the most frustrating sequence in the assembly. However, I must tell you that I discovered, while writing this review, I had failed to decal the small rockets. The instructions are on the supplemental sheet. The markings simply did not register in my brain before finishing the model … a lesson in being careful and checking everything.

I airbrushed my MiG with Testors Model Master and Floquil railroad enamels. Testors Model Master gloss clear lacquer provided a receptive finish for decals; I followed with Testors flat clear lacquer finish. The decals are thin and require careful handling, but they behaved well enough with a little Micro Set. Of the more than 80 hours I spent on my model, 12 hours went to the stencil decals.

The model measures out very close to specifications I found at Wikipedia. But will I build another? You bet I will! There are five more sets of markings in this version, and others are on the way.

The kit requires some modeling experience. Modelers will be challenged, but it’s worth the effort.

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