Trumpeter 1/48 MiG-21 MF

KIT #: 02863
PRICE: $45.00 SRP. Can be found for much less.
DECALS: Six options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken


The MiG-21 was designed as a point defense interceptor to be used against the expected waves of American bombers carrying their nuclear destruction into the Motherland. As such, it was designed to be fast and to get to altitude as soon as possible. Armed with a single canon and two rather poor air to air missiles (thought they'd be fine against lumbering bombers), the initial MiG-21F and F-13 fighters were perfect for the job. 

Of course, all that speed came at a price. There was very little fuel carried, even with a centerline tank so their endurace was quite short. The aircraft had no on-board radar and the avionics suite was basic. Still, of all the thousands of MiG-21s built, these were the best flying aircraft. 

As with all planes, the aircraft got heavier as more equipment and capabilities were added. All this reduced speed, reduced its turning abilities, and did nothing for endurance. The MiG-21 MF added a second set of wing pylons to carry more fuel and it could be equipped with a centerline gun, the gun having been removed in the previous versions after the F-13. It was probably the most exported of all the MiG variants as it had turned into a proper multi-role fighter, capable of carrying bombs if needed. Still its missiles and avionics were far behind those of Western powers. While even later aircraft got more powerful engines and were able to carry more fuel and improved weapons and avionics, the type was always a step behind what the 'other guys' were flying. Not to say that the MiG-21 was a sitting duck as the type was surprisingly effective during the 1967 and 1973 wars with Israel, despite was Israeli propaganda would have one believe. They were also inexpensive to buy and operate, though even that often came with the price of having to deal with the Soviets.


Over the last few years, the MiG-21 has getting a lot of attention from both Trumpeter and from Eduard. Now I realize that Eduard has a pretty big fan base, but really Trumpeter kits are nice as well and generally less fiddly to build. I will leave all the picking of nits to others, but will tell you that at least they got the fin right on this one as on the MF, the fairing for the upper fuselage spine only goes partly into the fin.

As with most modern kits, this one has a very nice cockpit with a multi-piece bang seat, well detailed side walls and the option to put decals over the instrument panel and side consoles. It also has multi-piece nose and main gear wells that will fit into the fuselage halves prior to closing them. Trumpeter also gives you a complete exhaust system from the final compressor stage through the burner can. With this big piece in the back, I'd put in some nose weight, though the instructions do not call for it. The kit also provides a radio rack piece to fit in front of the cockpit section. This is then covered up with two upper nose pieces. A small p.e. fret is supplied of which you will use very little. 

MiGs seem to thrive on a lot of scoops around the engine and the -21 is no exception. These are all butt joins. I was a bit surprised to see a single piece windscreen/canopy as it tends to hide the interior detail. In order to do multiple variants from the same basic sprues, the fin/rudder are extra pieces. The speedbrakes can be modeled open if you so wish. The kit includes two fuel tank designs for the center rack. I found it interesting that one installs the inner main gear doors prior to gluing on the wings.

Speaking of wings, you need to drill holes for the lower wing pylons and rad alt antenn. Separate flaps and ailerons are given those these are to be glued into the neutral position. MiG-21s almost never appear on the ramp with lowered flaps so that isn't an issue. As with most MiG-21 kits, you have to bend the outer main gear doors prior to installation. You are provided with rocket pods or two types of Atoll missile for the pylons.

Instructions are standard fare for Trumpeter in that they are clearly drawn and provide a few detail illustrations to help. Gunze paint references are provided and I noticed that they'd have you paint the cockpit and all the gear wells in light blue. Do a web search for more exact shades. Markings are for six aircraft. All but the Soviet option are camouflaged. You get an East German, two Iraqi, a Polish and Czech aircraft for the camouflaged options. Decals are nicely printed and while some may not like Trumpeter decals, I've not had any really bad experiences, and there are lots of aftermarket to use.  


With the Eduard line being the darling of many modelers, this one will probably be overlooked except in the Orient where the price will be much lower. I have the feeling that this one will build into a very nice looking model when done. I've been happy with pretty much every Trumpeter kit I've ever built, despite the occasional glitch.

July 2017  

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