by: Darren Baker [ ]
The advent of the Mig-31 into Russian service closed a gateway for NATO or more specifically America. The Mig-31 Foxhound can be considered a land based version of the F-14 Tomcat but much faster. The Mig-31 is basically a very effective radar platform that spots anything flying within 124 miles of the aircraft, computers on the aircraft decides which are the biggest threats and targets the four most threatening with R-33 long range air to air missiles. The aircraft is able to track 24 targets at a time and while unable to take on all of those targets the information is passed to other aircraft and anti-aircraft weapons systems automatically.
The Mig-31 Foxhound can be considered to some extent as the death nail for the SR-71 Blackbird. The SR-71 never had a loss due to enemy action and could fly over anywhere in the world with impunity, but starting in 1986 a number of flights started to be intercepted by the Mig-31 and so the writing was on the cards. Another ace in the hole for the Mig-31 is that flying at supersonic speeds is only limited by its fuel supply; most other aircraft have limits on how long they can fly at these high speeds. The Mig-31 can fly at in excess of mach 3 , but it is believed that these speeds restrict the life of the engines dramatically.
The Achilles heel of the Mig-31 Foxhound was the amount of maintenance the aircraft required and to a lesser extent the cost, as such I am led to believe that large number of the Mig-31 Foxhound ended up locked away on Russian airfields collecting cobwebs, but that these aircraft are now being returned to flight readiness. HobbyBoss has now released a 1/48th scale offering of the Mig-31 Foxhound and I am lucky enough to get a look at the plastic.
This offering from HobbyBoss arrives in a substantial cardboard tray and separate cardboard lid. Further protection is provided for the model via cardboard segmentation, cardboard sleeving, foam protectors where needed and individually bagged sprues except where duplication occurs. The overall effect of this is a well protected model that should hold up to the rigours of most postal services. The contents breakdown as follows:
21 grey plastic sprues
2 clear sprues
6 rubber tyres
2 photo etched frets
White metal undercarriage parts
2 decal sheets
An instruction booklet
Full colour painting guide
Full colour weapons painting guide
A4 sized box art poster
A promotional sheet
First things first and a look over the various contents in the box. I have already said that this offering is well packaged and an examination of the contents finds no damage to the model in any respects that I picked up. The mouldings are clean and free from moulding errors with the possibility of one section from the wheel wells to the engine exhausts; I will cover this in more detail in the review on that area. Otherwise at this point I am happy with the effort put into this offering.
Like most aircraft models the build starts with the cockpit and that seems an appropriate start location. The cockpit is quite well detailed from the box, the seats have moulded on harness detail and the instrument panels are provided with decals, yes these would like better if replaced with the photo etched offerings that come from companies such as Eduard, but nothing is available for this offering just yet. The Mig-31 is controlled from the front, but if needed the navigator/weapons officer in the rear can fly the aircraft. To that effect HobbyBoss has supplied throttle quadrants on the left side both front and rear, but they have included a control stick in the rear which is pulled up from the floor of the cockpit when needed only.
Interestingly for an aircraft model the canopies are only covered in an open position on this offering and I am not familiar enough with this aircraft to work out how easy or hard it will be to replicate the canopy in the closed position. Something that I think will impress modellers is the effort that HobbyBoss has put in the canopy generally. The rear canopy has no less than 17 pieces that come together and present you with a very detailed rear canopy, the front is not as heavy on the parts count coming in at 5 parts with good detail present.
The front fuselage section is split top and bottom centre and so joins together in the conventional manner that we are familiar. I like that there is a positive location for cockpit tub present on the inner faces of the fuselage. No mention is made of the need to weight the nose on this model but I would consider adding some to be sure of it sitting properly on its undercarriage. An unusual aspect of this model is that you are instructed to attach the front of the canopy and the divider portion, a little odd however it will protect the struts that are for supporting the open canopy parts.
Next up are the engine intakes and tunnels for directing the air into the compressors. The external area of the intakes would appear to be very good accuracy wise as shape and form matches the schematics that I have; even the panel lines are a good match for my reference material. The tunnels that direct the air to the engines have a lot of tiny raised panel details present, but a search of the internet reveals that these should be semi tubular and recessed rather than raised; I donít know how important this is to you all as a modellers, but I feel the level of detail is acceptable to me.
Moving onto the undercarriage is where I come unstuck, I have not been able to find reference beyond the struts. The wheel bays have a nice amount of detail present in all of the bays, but as usual they look very light on cable and piping. Again I have to emphasize that I can only say they look good and someone else will have to jump in as regards accuracy. The wheel struts are a combination of white metal and plastic parts, and that is a good thing as this is a large model and a heavy model at that. The struts look to be a good match for reference, but you have to appreciate that I cannot be 100% sure of the accuracy. An interesting touch is that there are 2 wheels staggered on opposite sides of the rear struts, I am led to believe that this arrangement lowers the impact forces on runways and makes the aircraft more stable when using iced runways.
Moving onto the rest of the fuselage and wings, the upper fuselage and upper wings are moulded as a single piece, this approach appears to have provided the modeller with correct amount of droop in the wings. The panel lines in this area look to be a good match for reference with a few minor exceptions. There are two raised squares either side of the aircraft spine and four more on each side where the wings meet the fuselage, I have checked schematics and a number of photographs of the Mig-31 and I cannot find anything that shows these details.
Moving onto the lower half of the fuselage and this is where I found some questionable detail; the nicely recessed panel lines that I have seen so far suddenly become raised on the sides of the lower fuselage from roughly the mid wing point back to the step down in the moulding at the rear, it is as if someone missed these areas when making the mould as I find it impossible to believe that should be raised. another concern in the same area is a recessed ghost line that runs from the undercarriage door openings all the way to the rear of the moulding, these being in the centre of where the curve of the fuselage is means I believe that these have been created by two parts of the mould not matching up correctly. These lines do not appear in photographs or schematics and so will ideally be filled and sanded out. In order to finish on a high here the flaps are supplied separately and so can be placed in your own preferred orientation.
Looking at the jet exhausts and an area where I have to give HobbyBoss a lot of credit for their efforts. Deep inside the body of the engine is an incredibly detailed cone, I have identified this part in the photographs in order than you can see why I am impressed with this moulding. The interior areas of the engine are well detailed and so should be pleasing if carefully painted. The detail is not 100% accurate due to the limitations of the moulding process, but they have tried very hard to get as close as they could.
The tail assembly is nicely detailed and has a good amount of panel detail present; I have heard a few complaints that more detail should be present on the vertical portions of the tail, but I am unable to visually see all of the detail that is provided and so that what is there is more than sufficient.
The instructions for this model are quite well done and I did not observe any obvious errors. None of the steps are overly tedious or for that matter complicated from what I can see, but the construction order is a little unusual for an aircraft model. There is a huge quantity of decals for this model and that may deter some from tackling what appears to me to be a promising model.
The last area that I looked at is the weapons provided for the model, my knowledge of Russian missiles is very limited and so I cannot comment on the accuracy of these offerings. I have to say that HobbyBoss does look to have gone to a lot of effort to add detail and what I presume to be accuracy. The contents are listed as:
4 X R-33
4 X R-60
2 X R-40T
2 X R-40R
2 X Fuel drop tank
The air intake image is from the website below and is for reference only.
This is a very large and for the most part well thought out model, yes there are some odd errors or if you prefer questionable attributes present, but taken as a whole I like what I find. The addition of white metal parts for the undercarriage is a very nice inclusion that will mean it is strong enough to support the model. The raised panel lines and ghost seam line that I believe to both be errors are a disappointment, but can be corrected with care. The large selection of missiles for the model provides the modeller with plenty of display options. I will say that the issues I have found makes me question the high asking price of this offering, but if you can find one at a reasonable price I would happily buy it.