Seldom does a military aircraft gain a reputation the way the MiG 25, NATO codename “Foxbat”, did. When it entered service in 1970, little was known in the west other than grainy satellite photos and radar tracks that showed impressive speeds at high altitude. It was originally developed as a counter to the American XB-70 Valkyrie bomber, Western analysts believed the MiG 25 was a highly maneuverable, high-tech fighter based on the limited intelligence they could gather. Fast forward to September 6, 1976 when Lieutenant Victor Belenko took a MiG 25 from Russia and navigated his way to Japan landing at the civilian airport in Hakodate. Belenko was granted US citizenship by then President Jimmie Carter and the MiG was dismantled and studied by US intelligence officials. Some of the speculation was quickly refuted. The MiG 25 was made primarily of steel and required powerful engines to push the airframe to its Mach 2 plus performance. Those engines required a lot of fuel and limited the MiGs range. The US response to the MiG 25, the F-15 was overdesigned in many respects.
In spite of its secrets being revealed, the Soviet Union upgraded the MiG 25 with modern look down shoot down radar and long-range missiles. The effectiveness of that combination was demonstrated on the opening night of the 1991 Gulf War when an Iraqi MIG 25 downed a US Navy F-18. The MiG 25 fleets have been retired in lieu of its successor, the MIG 31. Currently, no country has an active aircraft capable of the flight envelope of the MiG 25 or 31.
ICM has produced several versions of the MiG 25 including the interceptor this kit represents, as well as reconnaissance and two-seat training versions. Packed in a stiff cardboard box, the molded parts are current standard with exceptionally thin edges on the flying surfaces and engine intakes. What caught my attention right off is the unconventional way ICM approaches the subassemblies. For example, the cockpit is not a conventional “tub”, but is made up of parts on sides, rear bulkhead which carries the back of the ejection seat, and floor carrying stick and instrument panel. Decals are provided for cockpit instruments and controls. There is no seat harness. I made one up from spares box.
The unusual parts breakdown continues into the engine intakes and fuselage. Here the builder creates the shapes of these structures with multiple parts. Joining the fuselage to the cockpit and air intakes can feel as if you'll need more than two hands. This is where things got a little strange for me. Where one side would fit like a glove the other would have a gap that only plastic card or putty would fix. This was especially noticed where the intakes joined the fuselage at the top. More plastic card was used to fix that. The wings had the same issue. One fit tight and the other floated in the tab slots. ICM does not provide a frontal view anywhere in the instructions to set the correct anhedral on the main wings. They did fix the twin tail angles by incorporating them into a side panels of the rear fuselage. The exhaust nozzles are a multi part thing of beauty. One more strange assembly was the R-40 missiles that are made up of four parts spilt lengthwise requiring clean-up from the modeler. I replaced the attachment pins on the stabilators with brass wire to add strength to what would have been a very weak joint out of the box.
Painting your MiG-25 in one of the four marking options (Soviet X2, Iraqi, Libyan) is easy since they are essentially the same. One criticism here is the lack of a top and bottom view for painting. The top and bottom have metal panels forward of the exhaust nozzles and a black panel under the radar dome that you will have to reference somewhere else. The color callouts are for Revell and Tamiya paints. I used Tamiya for external colors except Alclad for the exhaust panels and an old bottle of Model Master for the Russian interior green color. There’s a lot of masking to recreate the various panels on this airframe. The decals come off the sheet easily, lay down with a coat of decal solution and do not silver. A full sheet of stencils is included.
Despite the issues described above, this is the nicest MiG 25 kit that I've built. The unconventional assembly allows the creation of some complex shapes in scale thicknesses. Patience and some basic modeling skills will reward the builder with a nice replica of this historic aircraft. Thank You to ICM for providing this kit and to IPMS for allowing me the extended time to build it for you to see.