Zvezda 1/72nd MiG-21bis

By Matt Bittner

Background

I'm not going to fill in this area much. There are tons (quite literally?) of reference material on the MiG-21. Since it was the one jet in the world that flew with more air forces than any other, pictures and books are not in short supply.

The MiG-21bis was one of the last upgraded versions of this aircraft. Many nations flew it, and the one country that flew it more than others (minus the USSR/CIS, of course) was India. In fact, many nations are still flying the type.

The Kit

The Zvezda MiG-21bis is finally the first 1/72nd kit to be released that is accurate, much more so than the Fujimi kit. I've read on various forums there may be a panel line or two out of place on the Zvezda kit, but at least – unlike the Fujimi kit – all outlines and shapes are correct. The only other area of "nitpick" would be the wheel wells – they're not deep enough. Other than that, the Zvezda kit is a beauty. It consists of 106 injected parts in gray, and two in clear – the windscreen and the canopy, separate. Decals are spot on and in register, and are for three schemes: one of the "Russian Air Force"; one Finnish example; and one Polish example. If you're looking for more schemes, you can choose from Linden Hill Imports, Begemot, or a number of other companies. In fact, I plan on finishing my example in Bulgarian markings using the Linden Hill Imports sheet "Millennium MiGs".

Construction naturally starts out with the cockpit. While not detailed, the parts do represent the tub layout. This is an area where either an aftermarket resin set, or even an Eduard Zoom set would help. Also, replacing the kit seat with an aftermarket resin one (it was a KM-1M seat) from the likes of NeOmega, etc. would be beneficial. In addition to inserting the cockpit into the fuselage halves, you'll also need to install the main wheel wells, exhaust and intake cone. The instructions mention nothing about needing weight in the nose, but if I were a betting man, I would bet it's a must so the model doesn't sit on its tail.

Once the fuselage halves are assembled, then the "hump", wings, fins, rudder, etc. are attached. Also note Zvezda provides most "bumps and protrusions" on the fuselage as separate parts. Be sure to pay close attention to the location of these via the instructions. After all main parts are assembled the instructions move you into finishing the kit with the landing gear (up or down) and a variety of weapons. It's here where you should start painting the model.

I'm not up on my Russian weapon designations, but the kit comes with missiles, fuel tanks, "a Gatling gun" (I think) and some sort of canister to hang underneath. Sorry I can't be more specific than that.

Conclusion

An excellent model, much needed since all other MiG-21bis kits in 1/72nd are inaccurate. You could build it close out of the box and be satisfied with it, or find aftermarket goodies to add. Not only the NeOmega seat, but PVD puts out a metal pitot for it, Equipage has wheels for it, and I suspect there is some photoetch for a MiG-21bis, although not specifically for the Zvezda kit. Hopefully that will change soon. It would be nice, though, if someone released a vacuform canopy/windscreen for it so one doesn't have to make a replacement themselves.

My thanks to Zvezda for the review kit.

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