Arguably the ultimate MiG-21, at least in European skies, Romania's LanceR conversions combine classic Eastern Block hardware with the compatibility for Western avionics and armaments. According to Wikipedia
, 110 conversions were completed, and 48 of the LanceRs remain in service and are expected to be replaced in 2012.
Icaerodesign's conversion set for the Trumpeter MiG-21M/MF is distributed by RB Productions, and just as Radu Brinzan's own work displays remarkable innovation, so the same can be said to be true for Icaerodesign's first release.
The set arrives in a sturdy little flip-top box with all the parts and accessories bagged separately for their protection. Kit No. 001 comprises:
10 x beige resin parts
21 x etched brass parts
A printed instrument panel and film
Decals for a single aircraft
A walkaround DVD (Note: the set is also available without the DVD)
Designed and produced in Romania by Catalin Lates, the set provides new parts for the cockpit, plus a number of details for the exterior of the airframe. The resin parts are very finely detailed and cast excellently, with no signs of bubbles, and minimal flash to clean up.
The cockpit parts are to be used with the kit's existing ejector seat and rear bulkhead/mount, plus the control column. What's new are a main tub, sidewalls, all beautifully modelled with banks of switches and circuit breakers, plus the main instrument panel. The latter is rather cleverly done; the resin part is moulded with a hollow back and open bezels. Into this recess fits a clear film for glazing and then a very crisply printed set of instrument faces. There are separate printed inserts for the front of the multi-function display screens. The resulting "sandwich" should look very effective indeed. There's a new resin instruments coaming, which serves as the base for the HUD made up of etched brackets and a rectangle of film.
Accompanying all this are a clearly illustrated set of instructions that include full colour diagrams of the consoles and main panel, so you have everything you need to really bring the office to life with careful painting.
The rest of the parts are devoted to the exterior, with new etched aerials and mounting plates, and resin lamps, plus what I presume are chaff or flare dispensers. The instructions for the exterior details comprise finely drawn "sketches" that seem to be based on photos. The style works very well, and it is certainly distinctive - whoever did these is a very fine artist.
Decals are provided for a single aircraft, serial number 8824. The small sheets are printed in perfect register, but the carrier film continues across each sheet so you must cut out each item carefully. This is no problem for the black serials, but the Romanian roundels are printed on white decal backing to avoid being translucent. This means cutting them out absolutely precisely with a compass cutter - not always foolproof by any means. Experienced modellers may choose to mask and paint the national markings instead, but another solution may lie in Radu Brinzan's own Romanian roundel
Completing the package is a DVD, and this is a real must for MiG 21 enthusiasts. Along with files containing back-ups of the instructions, cockpit illustrations and a nice profile of the featured colour scheme, there's one of the most comprehensive walkarounds I've seen. 12 main sections cover the aircraft in detail, inside and out from nose to tail. As far as I can see, there are a mind blowing 895 photos on the disk!
There are at least two different airframes featured, and one is rather the worse for wear and partially dismantled. This gives some excellent opportunities to see some heavy weathering, plus of course countless details normally hidden. The photography is excellent, and a real boon for modellers is that many shots include a centimetre-measure in view, so adding correctly scaled details will be that much easier.
Icaerodesign's first upgrade set is a real beauty. The resin and etched parts are excellent, and the inclusion of the DVD is a superb idea. The set is also available without the disk, but the DVD is so good, many modellers will actually want it as a general MiG-21 reference - so, I think there's probably also a market for the disk in its own right. Highly recommended.
All in all, this is a fantastic set for anyone who has the Trumpeter MiG-21. The only difficulty I can see for anyone who hasn't, is how to get hold of the kit; I've found a couple available online, but the kit is out of stock in most places I've checked, so if you see one - grab it.
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