MiG-19PM "Farmer E"
When it comes to Mikoyan fighters, few have more eye appeal to me than the MiG-19. The sharply swept wings, short vertical tail and twin engines just give it that sleek look. But the MiG-19 wasn't just a looker. It could perform, too. In fact, the MiG-19 represented the first time the Soviet Union possessed a fighter that was better than anything in the West. Designed as an interim fighter to blend the transition between the MiG-17 and MiG-21, the MiG-19 easily outperformed its Western counterpart, the F-100, with a higher rate of climb, faster level speed and better landing characteristics.
The MiG-19P (Farmer B) built on the original fighter by adding radar in the nose. Moving even further along, the MiG-19PM (Farmer E) added air-to-air missiles, but deleted the wing-root cannons. This missile, the AA-1 'Alkali' was a semi-active radar homing missile with a top speed of over 1,000 miles per hour, giving the MiG-19 a potent weapons system against Western bombers. Against fighters, however, the AA-1 was a poor performer, as the host plane had to maintain radar contact with the target until the missile struck.
The MiG-19PM saw service in many air forces in addition to the Soviet Union, including East Germany, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Albania, China and Romania.
After suffering with the old Heller and KP MiG-19 kits, finally someone has released a new kit of this famous fighter. My first reaction upon opening the box was good, as the plastic was crisply molded with finely recessed panel lines and little flash. The breakdown of the parts clearly shows that we can expect several variants from this kit (in fact, I've seen the box art for the MiG-19P kit). The fuselage is broken up into left and right halves, with additional separate sections for the nose. The radar section for the nose is the only resin part included in this kit, and it fits flawlessly into the intake ring. The parts for the more narrow intaked Farmer C are also present, making it possible (with a bit of rescribing on the fuselage) to do a Chinese Shenyang F-6. The exhaust section of the fuselage is split into upper and lower sections, with separate engine exhausts.
The wings are split into upper and lower halves, with the control surfaces molded into the upper surface half. There is some wheel well detail molded into the upper wing halves, with the sides of the wells being made up by the thickness of the lower wing. The vertical stabilizer is split similarly to the wings, with the control surfaces molded onto the left half of the two pieces. The horizontal stabilizers are one piece and include the fuselage fairing. There are no locating tabs or pegs for any of these pieces, but getting these parts aligned should be no problem. There are scribe lines on the fuselage for the stabilizers and a quick test fit shows that these pieces will fit beautifully.
For underwing hangings this kit provides a pair of fuel tanks and four AA-1 missiles, giving you a full load for your MiG-19PM. You'll probably want to replace the front missile fins with thinner plastic, but the rear fins look to be just fine. The railings have a thin probe extending out the front and you'll want to take care in removing these parts from the trees. If you have plenty of MiG-19 resources, it appears that all the parts are present for the MiG-19P, including the ORO-57 rocket pods. Whatever way you go with this kit, you'll have some parts to toss into the spares box.
The decals provide choices for Soviet, Czech, Polish, East German and Bulgarian MiG-19s. All but the Bulgarian one are finished in natural metal (the Bulgarian one is in aircraft gray). The decals are very well printed by Tally Ho! and are in excellent register. They took no chances, though, with the Bulgarian markings, having the green circles of the stars being provided separately. Both the Czech and Soviet examples feature stars on the nose, but no explanation as to whether they're kill markings or something else. Unfortunately my references on the MiG-19 are slim.
This is a very welcome kit and I know that I'll be purchasing several more of these. It appears that this kit has all the parts to make just about any version of the MiG-19 with the long tail, including the Farmer C and Farmer B. You could also do some Shenyang F-6s from this kit, before they added the parachute housing to the base of the fin. Even out of the box as a MiG-19PM this kit will be a great build and definitely fills an empty spot in Soviet jet aviation.