by: Tim Hatton [ ]
In 1961, the Indian Air Force [IAF] opted to purchase the MiG-21 over several other Western competitors. As part of the deal, Soviet Union offered India full transfer of technology and rights for local assembly. By 1964, the MiG-21 became the first supersonic fighter jet to enter service with the IAF. Due to limited induction numbers and lack of pilot training, the IAF MiG-21 played a limited role in the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965. However, the IAF gained valuable experience while operating the MiG-21 for defensive sorties during the war. The positive feedback from IAF pilots during the 1965 war prompted India to place more orders for the fighter jet and also invest heavily in expanding the MiG-21's maintenance infrastructure and pilot training programs. By 1969, India had acquired more than 120 MiG-21s from the Soviet Union.
The safety record of the IAF's MiG-21s has raised concern in the media. One source estimates that in the nine years from 1993 to 2002, the IAF lost over 100 pilots in 283 accidents. During its service life, the IAF has lost at least 116 aircraft to crashes [not including those lost in combat], with 81 of those occurring since 1990. The expansion of IAF MiG-21 fleet marked a growing India-Soviet Union military partnership which enabled India to field a formidable air force to counter Chinese and Pakistani threats. The capabilities of the MiG-21 were put to the test during the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971. During the war, the MiG-21s played a crucial role in giving the IAF air superiority over vital points and areas in the western theatre of the conflict. The 1971 war witnessed the first supersonic air combat on the subcontinent when an Indian MiG-21FLs claimed a PAF F-104 Starfighter with its GSh-23 twin-barrelled 23 mm cannon. By the time the hostilities came to an end, the IAF MiG-21s had claimed four PAF F-104s, two PAF F.6, one PAF F-86 Sabre and one PAF Lockheed C-130 Hercules. According to one Western military analyst, the MiG-21s had clearly "won" the much anticipated air combat between the MiG-21 and the F-104 Starfighter. Because of the formidable performance of the MiG-21s, several nations, including Iraq approached India for MiG-21 pilot training. By the early 1970s, more than 120 Iraqi pilots were being trained by the Indian Air Force.
It was also used as late as 1999 in the Kargil War, in which one IAF MiG-21 was shot down. The MiG-21's last known kill took place in 1999 during the Atlantique Incident, when two MiG-21 aircraft of the Indian Air Force intercepted and shot down an Breguet Atlantique reconnaissance aircraft of the PIA with the R-60MK (AA-8 Aphid) air-to-air missile.
The IAF have phased out most of its MiG-21s although 125 MiG-21s have been upgraded to MiG-21 Bison standard. These aircraft will be phased out between 2014 and 2017. The MiG-21s are planned to be replaced by the indigenously built HAL Tejas.
This kit from Eduard offers one option of the MiG-21MF [option a] or four MiG-21BIS [options B, C, D and E].
The weighty top opening box is packed with some fine looking parts. Inside there is:
-9 x dark grey plastic sprues.
-1 x clear plastic sprue.
-1 x pre coloured photo etched fret.
-1 x non coloured photo etched fret.
-1 x small sheet of Kabuki paint masks.
-2 x sheets of decals.
-1 x 20 page A4 construction and painting guide.
The clear plastic bags are packed with either two or three sprues. The clear plastic and photo etched part are bagged separately as are the masks.
Cockpit Eduard offers three ways to depict the instrument panel and the side consoles with this kit: raised plastic detail, decals or pre coloured photo etched parts. Interestingly the plastic instrument panels are made from clear plastic. The instrument panels for the decal and PE pieces don’t have detail on them so applying them does not require any surgery. The cockpit arrangement for the MiG-21 MF and BIS are different and Eduard has included the different styles in all three mediums: plastic, PE and decals. As you are probably aware the MiG-21 has a very distinctive cockpit interior colour which is reproduced on the PE parts and the decals. Eduard provides information for a paint mix that will hopefully match the provided detailing parts. The quality of the detailing of the rest of the interior is excellent and will benefit from some highlighting. Whatever medium you use for the cockpit, it will look impressive.
The seat is made up from around 17 plastic parts and along with the twelve parts pre coloured PE parts for the harness and the ejection seat activation device. All in all the seat should build into one of the most impressive seats ever seen in a kit. In short the cockpit will look stunning.
The canopy and the windscreen are separate parts. The plastic is pretty thin and very clear. The mirror is a separate clear part for the canopy. The canopy can be displayed open or closed, it is hinged to the right.
The fuselage is split vertically and comes minus the vertical tail. The vertical tail and spine of the MF and BIS are different and Eduard has provided both styles. There is quite a lot of plastic to add to the interior of the fuselage before the fuselage halves are joined. That’s not including the main gear bay in the fuselage, which when constructed slides into the assembled fuselage. The surface detail is superb with a mix of recessed and raised where appropriate. The airbrakes can be deployed if you fancy although some surgery is required, the moulded closed air brakes flaps must be removed and replaced with two parts that create the inner bay. The rear air brake has two separate parts that fit into the hole under the fuselage. For the closed air brake there is a single part. If you decide to build the airbrake open then there are three parts including the actuating ram.
The nose probe is nicely done; there are four separate PE parts to represent the vanes to glue on.
The wingsThe lower wing is one piece and is moulded with part of the lower fuselage. If you are fitting pylons under the wings, then you need to drill holes into the lower wing. The position where to drill is marked on the inner wings. The ailerons and flaps are separate; each is one piece with nice thin trailing edges. The wing fences have been created in plastic or as PE items. The MF varies from the BIS in having a additional panel on the upper wing. This feature is does not exist on the kits wing, but Eduard has supplied a PE template so that you can scribe it yourself.
The horizontal stabilisers are each one piece and are superbly thin with sharp trailing edges.
The engine The main components such as the jet pipe, rear fan and spool of the engine, re heat fuel matrix, and nozzle are all plastic with PE parts adding further detail to the re heat fuel matrix.
The undercarriage main bay in the fuselage is built up from eleven superbly detailed parts. The front undercarriage bay has equally impressive detail and is made up from five parts. The undercarriage bay in the wing has quite a few pressurised bottles to add for extra detail and the side walls are separate parts. The nose and main gear is very well done. The tyres are made up from two parts and the hubs are separate. The legs, actuating rams and undercarriage doors all look very good. The small scrap drawing showing the position of the main inner gear doors and actuating rod is very useful indeed.
Ordinance is plentiful with this release and includes:
-2 x centre line 800 litre fuel tank [only one is used].
-2 x centre line or wing mounted 490 litre fuel tanks
-2 x S-24 Missiles.
-2 x RS-2US Missiles.
-2 x R-3S Missiles.
-2 x R-3R Missiles.
-2 x R-13 Missiles.
-2 x R-60 Missiles.
-8 x FAB 100 Bombs.
-2 x FAB 250 Bombs.
-2 x SPDR take off assistance rockets.
The ordinance guidance note is very useful indeed and features diagrams illustrating where and what combinations you can hang under the wings and fuselage. All the pylons are included for each type of ordinance. The fins for the missiles and rockets are beautifully thin.
The masks are made from Kabuki tape and can be applied to the windscreen and canopy.
The markings for this release really deserves the title “Special Edition”. The polka dot markings on two of the options are used for recognising friend or foe during ACM training. The markings are reminiscent to the Assembly ship used by the USAAF during WWII.
[A] MiG-21MF, C1531, No. 101 Squadron „Falcons“, Sirsa AB, early 90´s.
[B] MiG-21BIS, C2283 RATTLER, No. 3 Squadron „Cobras“, Pathankot AB, India, early 90´s
[C] MiG-21 BIS, C2113, No. 15 Squadron „The Flying Lances“, Jodhpur AB, 90´s
[D] MiG-21BIS, C2776, No. 26 Squadron „The Warriors“, Adampur AB, early 90´s
[E] MiG-21BIS, C2316, No. 24 Squadron „Hawks“, 90´s.
I won’t attempt to describe the schemes; the images opposite speak a thousand words.
The decals are printed on two sheets and are produced by Eduard themselves. All the polka dots [options A & C] and the fin lightning flash [option B] are reproduced as decals. Some of the dots that need to conform over tricky surface areas are printed in two parts. Colour density and registration look very good, and carrier film has been kept to a minimum. The polka dot pattern on the tail of option A is one decal, although Eduard has cut the carrier film to miss the more obvious raised detail. The same goes for the four dots on each side of the spine. There are many stencils included on sheet 1.
The instruction is in the form of a twenty page A4 booklet. The black line drawings and the instructional symbols as well as written instructions in Czech and English are very clear. The illustrations are particularly good as are the coloured four view illustration for the five options. The armament and stencil guide are very useful inclusions.
What a superb release this is by Eduard and a huge well done for researching some of these unusual markings.