MiG-23M Flogger-B

Published: November 13th, 2012     
Product Image
Box Art
Reviewed by: 
Michael Novosad, IPMS# 36721
Scale: 1/48
Company: Trumpeter
Price: $57.95
Product / Stock #: 02853

History

The MiG-23, NATO reporting name Flogger, is a swing-wing aircraft, designed by the Mikoyan-Gurevich design bureau in the former Soviet Union. It is considered to be a third-generation Soviet jet fighter aircraft. It was the first Soviet Union aircraft to utilize look-down/shoot-down radar and one of the first to be armed with beyond visual range missiles. The MiG-23 was also the first production fighter aircraft to have intakes at the sides of the fuselage. Production started in 1970 with over 5,000 aircraft built.

The design of the MiG-23 was influenced by the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II and the General Dynamics F-111. The Soviets required a lighter, single-engined fighter to maximize agility. The F-111 and the MiG-23 were initially designed as fighters, but the heavy weight and instability of the F-111 eliminated it from the fighter role. The Mikoyan-Gurevich design bureau kept the MiG-23 light and agile enough to dogfight with enemy fighters.

Although no longer in the inventory of many European countries, the MiG-23 remains in service in several Mid-Eastern, African, and Asian nations, along with the air force of Cuba.

Box Contents

There are 12 medium grey sprues, two clear sprues, two separate tail "spouts" (exhaust cones), a small PE fret, and three decal sheets included.  The parts appear to be crisply molded, with fine engraved panel lines and rivets.  Later, when attempting to apply a wash, I found the panel lines generally too shallow to retain the wash.

Underwing stores include two R-23R missiles, two R-23T missiles, two R-24R missiles, two R-24T missiles, two R-13M missiles, two R-13M1 missiles, two R-3R missiles, four R-60 missiles, a centerline tank, and two wing tanks.  A front view of the aircraft is included on the last page of the instructions, showing the location of the various stores.  In the end, the spares box will become the happy recipient of several unused missiles.  The MiG-23M would use the underwing tanks for a ferry mission, as the pylons on this variant did not swivel.

There are sixteen pages of instructions covering 38 steps to the build.  Fourteen of those steps are dedicated to the underwing stores.

Decals are included for the aircraft national markings and stencils, while separate decal sheets provide for the armament stencils and the aircraft instrument panel.

A color chart is included for an air superiority grey aircraft with various paint manufacturers noted.

Note:  I was about two weeks into the build when I was informed there were sprues missing from the kit.  I was to the point that the basic aircraft parts were complete and there was no problem there.  The shortcoming dealt with sprues WA and WB, both were the armament parts.  The instructions show one sprue of each was included in the kit, but the instructions were incorrect. With two sprues of each, the arming of the model becomes much easier.  If your kit is missing these parts, take the appropriate action to correct the problem.

Cockpit

The cockpit is comprised of a three-part instrument panel, the tub, a back panel, rudder pedals, control column, and two side panels, all glued to the fuselage sides.  The KM-1M ejection seat is built from several plastic and PE parts. The seat is lacking the survival pack located in the bottom of the seat.  I made this missing part with Milliput two-part epoxy.

Fuselage

Step 9: Parts B1 and B2 make up the ventral fin, and the instructions show this in the in-flight position.  This fin is normally folded to the starboard side when the landing gear is in the down position.  I assembled the fin and dry-fitted it in place when fitting the fuselage halves together, allowing the fin to be moved and painted on both sides.  Once painted, the fin would be set in the starboard position.

Steps 10 and 11: The two engine intakes are each built from three main plastic parts and one PE insert.  The orientation of the PE parts is shown in the exploded view.  A small plastic insert is placed into a recess on the back side of the splitter plates, leaving a gap all around the insert.  This needs to be filled, otherwise the gap will be visible once the intake subassemblies are fitted in place.

Step 16 addresses the fit of the wings and wing swing components.  One item missing from this step is the note to open the front open slot for the vertical stabilizer.  Do it now or suffer later.

Step 17: Parts C28 and C43 are scopes fitted to the top of the aft fuselage.  Each fits into a recess in the top of the fuselage.  I sanded the bottom of the insert portion of the scope for a better fit, but the part would not seat properly in the recess.  I tried to taper the insert port, but the part remained proud from the adjacent surface.  I took a rather drastic measure and opened the recess portion, then I was able to get the scope to seat properly.  A careful application of solvent fixed the part in place.

Wings

The wing assembly consists of a top and bottom for each side. Static dischargers are molded onto the rear of the wingtips and resisted several of my efforts to break them. Wingtip navigation lights are clear parts, but their thickness is less than the assembled wings. I aligned the top surfaces and filled the small recess on the bottom. There is a set of gears that allow the wings to move back and forth from a fully swept position to an un-swept position.

Landing Gear

The assembly for the landing gear is shown in steps 13, 21 and 22. The main gear is a bit complicated and careful study of the instructions is required to fit everything together properly. Once the parts were fitted together and the solvent applied, I dry-fitted the gear into the locating openings in the main wells and allowed the solvent to cure overnight to assure the correct alignment.

Underwing Stores

The wing parts are designed to be positional and should sweep back in unison. Although the underwing fuel tanks must be jettisoned before the wings are swept back, I decided to fit the tanks to the wings and leave the wings un-swept.

There are several choices for missile armament, with several missiles unused in this build.

Miscellaneous

I also received the Master Model pitot tube (AM-48-058) for the build.  See my earlier review for this product.  Kit pitot tubes often require mold line removal that for some of is a challenge and results in an unsatisfactory appearance, not to mention the fragility issue.  If you have never used a Master Model (http://www.master-model.pl) product, you are missing out on a superb detail.

Painting

I used Akan paints to finish the model.  I was not too pleased with how the Akan paint went down, but this was my first effort to use this product and I may be at the bottom of the learning curve.

Decals

The decals were applied over a glossy finish and went down nicely.  I used a Q-tip to rub the decals down and remove excess water from beneath the decal.  The carrier film virtually disappeared after the rub-down.  There are marking for one aircraft, and plenty of stencils to apply.  Plan to spend several hours to place all the decals.

Conclusion

Finally, a MIG-23 worthy of the effort!!  I was really excited and pleased to be given the opportunity to build and review this kit.  This kit looks like it could be the beginning of a family of MiG-23 variants.  Check out Wikipedia for additional information on the MiG-23, along with the many operators of this aircraft.   This model should lend itself to some very interesting camouflage schemes and markings.  If you are a fan of modern Russian aircraft, you will probably acquire several of these kits.

I wish to thank Stevens International and IPMS/USA for the opportunity to review this product.

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