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MiG-21MF Fishbed J





S u m m a r y

Catalogue Number and Description: 02218
Scale: 1/32
Price: USD$59.95
Contents and Media: 322 plastic parts, 1 acetate sheet (instruments), 4 resin parts, 4 metal parts, 3 vinyl tires, 6 screws
Review Type: First Look
Advantages: Generally good surface detail, various weapons options, good cockpit detail
Disadvantages: Poor molding on rocket pods, soft detail on parts of engine, poor registration on some decals
Recommendation: Recommended


Reviewed by Dave Williams

Trumpeter's 1/32 scale MiG-21MF is available online from Squadron.com




For those in the market for a large scale Fishbed, Trumpeter has answered the call.

The only injection molded choice until now has been the ancient Revell offering. This kit started life as a –PF and later had some new parts thrown in for release as a –MF. The Revell kit can go back in the closet or get put up on eBay as the Trumpeter kit is superior to the older kit in almost every respect.


General Description

Surface detail is recessed and, although not quite up to Tamiya or new Revell quality, is pretty good. The kit features the option of displaying the rear fuselage on a trolley to allow viewing of the engine. The nose avionics bay hatch can be displayed in the open position. The landing gear is done in metal to support the weight of the model and vinyl tires are provided, although the tread pattern seems suspect.

The center shock cone is supplied in metal to help weight the nose, although a plastic cone also exists on the sprues (click thumbnail to left to view larger image).

Each wheel well is formed of multiple parts to increase the level of detail over what you would get with a single piece part. The right and left fuselage wheel wells are correct in having different internal details and, in case anyone is wondering, Trumpeter got the position of the wheel bulges on the upper fuselage sides right. The five spheres inside the wing wheel wells are provided, although the painting instructions are incorrect. Only the three center oxygen spheres should be painted blue, while the pressurized air spheres at either end should be painted black.

All the control surfaces are separate parts. The flaps have tabs to fit them in the lowered position and the horizontal stabs are designed to be movable. However, photographs almost invariably show parked MiG-21s with flaps up, ailerons neutral, and the stabs in the horizontal position. In contrast, these same photos usually show a large amount of rudder deflection on parked aircraft, so if you want to reposition anything, just do the rudder. Both the spill doors and suction relief doors on the sides of the nose are separate parts to allow them to be positioned open, but they are normally closed when the engine is not running. The speed brakes can also be shown in the open position.

 Click thumbnails below to view larger images:



Cockpit and Interior

Trumpeter's MiG-21 cockpit is a pleasant surprise after the featureless A-10 tub. Both the seat and tub are fairly detailed. While either the Black Box or Cutting Edge cockpits would be an improvement, the kit cockpit will be quite acceptable to many modelers.



The instrument panel is done in clear plastic with holes through the part where the instrument dials go. The rear of the instrument panel has a recess for the installation of instrument dial detail printed on a clear acetate sheet, similar to an Eduard PE instrument panel. However, the walls that form the sides of the recess are fairly thick and seem to encroach on some of the instruments near the edges of the panel.

The transparent parts are clear and consist of separate canopy and windscreen, the instrument panel, underwing landing lights, HUD glass, and seeker domes for the R-3S missiles. In case anyone is wondering, the part number for the rear view mirror fairing is A38, as Trumpeter forgot to include it in the instructions. The windscreen in both my –MF kits have a faint curved line across the center pane, which does not appear to be a surface scratch and may indicate a slight flaw in the mold. The line isn’t very obvious, but something similar appears in the canopies of the A-10 kits I have.

As previously mentioned, the kit contains a complete engine and the rear fuselage can be displayed separately to allow viewing of the engine. Strangely, Trumpeter has divided the engine into four quarters instead of the more conventional two halves, which means more seams to fill.

 Click thumbnails below to view larger images:


While the external detail on the afterburner section is nice and crisp, the detail on the forward half of the engine, which represents a multitude of wires and hoses, is somewhat soft and out of place with the detail level of rest of the kit. This softness of detail also extends to some the other parts with hoses and wires added on to the front of the engine. While a wash and some creative painting may improve how these parts look, I suspect that many people will just glue the rear fuselage to the front half. Also, while the exterior of the engine is detailed, the interior of the tailpipe is smooth and featureless except for some large ejector pin marks.


Stores and Ordnance

Five of the sprues in the kit are devoted to the stores options.

 Click thumbnails below to view larger images:


Three 490 liter drop tanks are supplied, plus one 800 liter tank, four R-3S (AA-2 Atoll) IR missiles, two R-3R SARH missiles, two RS-2US (AA-1 Alkali) radar beam riding missiles, two FAB-250 bombs, two UB-16-57 rocket pods, and two UB-32-57 rocket pods.

Although not mentioned in the instructions, there is also an additional pair of Sidewinder-type missiles on the sprue, which I suspect may be PL-2As used by the J-7III Chinese copy of the MiG-21MF. The weapons are basically OK, although the front openings on the rocket pods are notably uneven in size and fore-and-aft position which essentially makes them unusable, in my opinion. While the inclusion of the ancient RS-2US missiles on a third generation MiG-21 may at first appear out of place, photos appear to show that RS-2Us on the inboard pylons and R-3s on the outboard pylons was a fairly common loadout on Warsaw Pact –MFs assigned to interception duties. Although not many photos show the missiles actually loaded, the appropriate missile rails for this combination are usually in place. Countries like Poland and East Germany had previously operated MiG-19PM interceptors, and therefore had large stocks of the old missile on hand. As a note when hanging stores, rockets and missiles could be carried on all four wing pylons, but tanks were normally seen only on the centerline and outboard positions. At least one 490 liter tank was usually carried, on the centerline, but the large 800 liter tank was rarely used, except for ferrying.

The kit includes five figures - a seated pilot and four ground crew members. One member of the ground crew is shown reloading a packed braking parachute in the tail bullet, and the other three are molded loading the ammunition for the belly GSh-23 gun. One man is meant to be positioned on the left wing feeding the ammo belt into a small hatch just below the spine, while the other two are kneeling on either side of the gun attaching the belt to the gun breech through a pair of openings in the lower fuselage.

An ammo box and feeding device are included in resin, and segments of ammo belt are included on the sprue with the ground crew. The instructions and box show real pictures of ground crew performing these operations, which should be of help in setting up your vignette.



As a note, the fuselage hatches associated with the ammo loading operation are separate parts that are designed to be shown in the open position, however there is no detail inside the fuselage in these areas. Also, you’ll have to open up the muzzle area of the GSh-23.



Decals are provided for an Iraqi bird and a Luftwaffe post-reunification aircraft from JG-1 painted up with a sharkmouth to commemorate the retirement of the MiG-21 from Luftwaffe service.



The decals appear thin and glossy, and most of the stenciling data, which is provided for the JG-1 bird, is quite legible, although I can’t vouch for the spelling. I did note some registration problems with the Iraqi nation insignia on my sample, but the rest of the decals seem basically OK.



Overall, a nice kit. Hopefully their upcoming MiG-19 will be as good and they will continue making modern 1/32 scale aircraft.


Sample kit courtesy of my wallet.

Dave Williams

IPMS/USA 19050

Review Copyright © 2001 by Dave Williams
Page Created 21 July, 2001
Last updated 22 July, 2003

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