Clear Prop 1/72 MiG-23MLA Flogger G
The Mikoyan MiG-23 Flogger came about from a need to have an effective beyond visual range (BVR) fighter/interceptor. The short legs of the MiG-21 made in ineffective in that role, so Mikoyan started looking at an alternative. At the time, the concept of variable sweep wings was on the rise, and after a short examination of lift jets, the MiG-23 adopted that technology. A large radar and a big engine resulted in a Mach 2+ aircraft that, when coupled with the new R-23 and R-24 missiles, gave the Soviet Union and its allies a potent BVR fighter.
The success of the MiG-23 in the VVS soon made it popular with Soviet allies, and throughout the 70s and 80s, the type ended up in the service of several nations throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia, and some of those countries still are flying their MiG-23s today.
The Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-23 has been the subject of a fair number of model kits in 1/72 over the years, but given the type’s large production run, we haven’t had a really good kit. Clear Prop has filled that gap for us with what is hands down the best 1/72 MiG-23 kit out there. This expert edition plays up to that name as well, with the cockpit alone having more parts than most of the other MiG-23 kits out there have in their entirety. The kit comes with ten sprues of gray plastic, one of clear, two photoetch frets, and four decal sheets that cover the two Czech, one Soviet, and one East German options included.
Jumping into the build, the cockpit is, in simple terms, insane. The combination of photoetch, plastic, and decals will make this into one of the better out of the box cockpit interiors out there. Case in point, the instrument panel assembly alone features three plastic pieces, eleven photoetch parts, and twelve decals. This level of detail continues through the rest of the interior, with separate sidewall pieces, a multi-piece seat, and a bunch of photoetch detailing it all.
With the cockpit done up, the next big step is to decide how you want to display your MiG-23. This is because the kit comes with two options for wing display, either fully extended or fully swept, and that choice will require different amounts of nose weight. Once that decision is made the next step is the fuselage assembly. This is one of the most complex fuselage assemblies I have come across in a kit, made up of six major pieces. A quick test fit shows that these will go together cleanly, but with that many parts it will be challenging to keep everything lined up. The main wheel well and rear exhaust assemblies will help keep things in place, though. The intakes are an interesting construction as well, with the outside side provided as a separate part. While on the surface this seems odd, it does make it very easy to paint the intake interior, and the resultant seams are easily taken care of as they’re on a flat surface.
Back to the subject of the wheel wells, both the nose and main gear wells are built up from multiple pieces. The nose gear well has six main parts to get built up, while the main gear well has eight, and the landing gear is equally complex. Moving to the landing gear, one nice feature of the landing gear is the separate wheel hubs and separate tires. This will make painting these up so much easier. For the landing gear struts, these are very accurately captured with two styles of nose gear struts and plenty of photoetch. The MiG-23 has an interesting main landing gear setup, and the gear door arrangement is a bit complex with four gear doors per side. The combination of photoetch and plastic greatly enhance the realism of these parts as well. Other options included are open or closed air brakes and a separate rudder.
With the airframe together, the fun isn’t over, because this kit comes with just about everything that could be hung underneath the MiG-23. There’s a centerline tank and two wing tanks. For weapons, the kit comes with loads of missiles: two R-23R/Ts, two R-24R/Ts, two R-13Ms, four R-60s, and two Kh-23Ms. To go along with the Kh-23Ms, the kit also includes the Delta-NG pod. The missiles are nicely engineered with separate fins all around that will result in nice, thin fins and clean details on the missile body. A diagram shows all the possible combinations of these weapons so you can have an accurate yet unique loadout.
The decal options in this kit cover two Czech, one Soviet, and one East German option. All four options have similar camouflage colors consisting of an underside of blue-gray and an upper surface camouflage of two shades of brown and two shades of green. One of the Czech options is from 1983, with 4850 on the intake, while the second is from 1990 and features a tiger-striped rudder and 3303 on the intake. The Soviet option is a simpler finish, with just an outlined 31 on the nose, while the East German one has red 569 on the nose. The decals include a full set of aircraft stenciling as well, along with a full set of stenciling for the missiles.
This is a complex model, make no mistake about it, but the engineering should make it easier rather than challenging to assemble. Because of that complexity, you will want to test fit things repeatedly, but the initial examination suggest that there won’t be any real problem areas. If you’re interested in building a MiG-23, this looks like it’s the right kit to get. My thanks to Clear Prop for the review copy. Be sure to visit their website to see the other MiG-23 options they have produced to date.