The next installment of the Academy MiG-21 family has now arrived! The MiG-21MF Fishbed J was one of the most widely exported variants of the venerable MiG-21 family and remains in service with many Air Forces around the world. Unfortunately, the only part of this kit that is a MiG-21MF is the boxart. The kit itself is the later model MiG-21bis Fishbed L.
The kit comes as five trees of light grey molded parts and a small clear tree with the clear parts as the photo depicts below. All panel lines and rivet details are nicely scribed.
The fuselage is still molded in four parts - two front halves and two rear halves. There is a new fret with two correct nose halves, a longer/deeper dorsal spine and new vertical stabilizer. But as Paul Cotcher pointed out on the rec.models.scale newsgroup, this kit is a MiG-21bis Fishbed L. Academy put the wrong dorsal spine and tail in this kit! The bumps in the rear fuselage halves that represent where the retracted main gear are stowed in the fuselage are not placed correctly. They were incorrect on the PF and they are consistent in this 'MF' kit.
A new canopy and KM-1 ejection seat are provided, but the cockpit is still spartan and begging for a resin replacement. The Neomega KM-1 seat is perfect for this aircraft and I suspect that someone will offer a resin cockpit tub for this version as well as for the MiG-21PF. Any takers?
The bumps on the wing still depict the version with the Fowler-flaps which were common to early MiG-21PFs and standard with all of the MiG-21F and MiG-21F-13 models. The flaps and ailerons are molded separately so there are positioning possibilities. The good news is that the flaps and the wing-to-flap mounts are of the SPS (blown) type which is correct on this bird. To correct the wing bumps, remove the "bump" on the underside of the wing between the flap and aileron cut-outs. DON'T remove the bump on the upper wing! Keep the leading edge of the flap butted against the wing and angle it down to the desired angle. Don't forget to open the holes just ahead of the flap and add part E9. This is the SPS flap actuator "bump". While you're at it, open ALL of the flashed-over holes on the lower wing, as you'll need to have two pylons per wing with the later MiG-21 versus only one per wing on the MiG-21PF kit.
The kit supplies the mandatory GSh-23 23mm gun (crudely represented), though the GP-9 gunpack is still leftover from the MiG-21PF kit. On the externals lineup, in addition to the guns, Academy has supplied two 16-shot 57mm rocket pods (UV-16-57) and two 32-shot pods (UV-32-57); two external tanks (on this model, you can only use one and only on the centerline (if the GP-9 gunpod isn't already in place)); 2 infrared Atoll air-to-air missiles (AAMs) and 2 radar-guided Atoll AAMS(the fins are incorrect on the AAMs).
The most common external configuration for the late model MiG-21 is with two IR Atolls on the inboard pylons (steal a pair of AIM-9Bs out of your Hasegawa Weapons Set), and three external fuel tanks (two on the outboard pylons, one on the centerline). Since there are only two tanks included with the kit, I'd pinch the spare tank out the MiG-21PF kit. For other configurations/ideas, check out the references listed below.
Markings included in this kit are for Soviet AF Black 28, Indian AF C2281, and Hungarian AF 9510. Since this version of the MiG-21 is one of the most widely exported around the world, you'll find a wide variety of interesting paint schemes and markings to choose from.
There are four choices for outstanding information on the MiG-21: Mikoyan MiG-21MF Fishbed (Lock On #21) by Zoltan Buza and printed by Verlinden; Mikoyan MiG-21 by Bill Gunston and printed by Osprey; and/or, MiG-21 Fishbed printed by 4+ Publications, and/or MiG-21 Fishbed by Yefim Gordon/Bill Gunston and printed by Aerofax.
FOOTNOTE: If you had your sights set on a MiG-21MF, all is not lost. The OEZ MiG-21 kit comes with three dorsal spines (MiG-21MF Fishbed J, MiG-21SMT Fishbed K, and MiG-21bis Fishbed L), two canopy options and a good tail. stick the OEZ spine and tail on the Academy kit and you're back in the Fishbed J market.
In fact, the only real problems I know of with the OEZ kit is the textured plastic which makes bare metal MiGs difficult to do without a lot of work, and the forward speedbrake boards are too narrow. The weapons included with the kit are some of the best selections available for 1/48 Russian armament. If you also have the OEZ Su-25 kit, you've got a ton of Russian air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons options that can be used on many other kits!
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