- Published on Sunday, 08 January 2012 00:02 James Hatch
1:48 MiG-21BIS ProfiPACK
Catalogue # 8232
Available from Eduard for €44,95
The MiG-21BIS was the ultimate, most advanced version of the most produced supersonic jet fighter in history. Classed as a Third Generation type, the BIS (factory name: Izdelye 75) entered service in 1968, and its principle role was as a fighter aircraft as opposed to the SMT and MF variants which were also used in a ground attack role. The NATO codename for this type was 'Fishbed-L/N' dependant on the specific MiG's avionics installation. MiG-21BIS types were fitted with the Tumansky R25-300 turbojet engine, and advanced Lazur GCI avionics in two slightly different versions for export aircraft, and with Soviet machines utilising the Polyot ILS avionics system; hence the two NATO codenames for the BIS.
Principally, this type was operated by the Soviet Union, with exports being made to East Germany and Warsaw-Pact Countries. Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. licence built the Fishbed-N for the majority of the 1980's. An Indian Air Force pilot flying the MiG-21BIS famously and controversially shot down a Pakistani Breguet Atlantic aircraft, allegedly flying over Indian airspace in 1999.
This kit itself hasn't been without controversy since the initial CAD images and photos were released online. There were also some scathing comments about Eduard's approach to the latest in their MiG-21 family too when Eduard said they weren't going to re-tool the fuselage in order to incorporate a very slight difference in the shape of the forward fuselage, aft of the intake ring. There are a few fundamental changes to the shape of the BIS, as opposed to the SMT and MF variants. The first, and to me, most obvious change is with the shape of the spine, with the BIS being a little 'fuller' mid-spine, to incorporate the later avionics systems. The intake nose shape of the BIS is also slightly 'dumpier' than the more subtly tapered MF/SMT variants.
Eduard had decided that the difference, in real 1/48 scale terms meant that it wasn't worth the extra expense of tooling a new fuselage. By Eduard's calculations, at the most critical point at the intake ring, there was less than 0.5mm difference in diameter between the BIS and the versions already tooled by Eduard. Some modellers can be pretty anal about things like that. It all depends just how far you want to take the minutiae of accuracy. So you have several options:
- You can live with this minor discrepancy.
- Being a modeller, you can add a slight shim of putty around this area and fair into the fuselage.
- Buy the kit in the expectation that an aftermarket company will issue a fix.
- Simply don't buy the kit.
Having followed this discussion on the Eduard Blog, and also being quite a fan of the MiG-21 series aircraft, for me personally, there isn't any big issue here. I'm not belittling any other modellers concerns. I speak for myself here. It wouldn't stop me buying and building this release. With that, we'll take a look at the kit.
Eduard's MiG-21BIS release comes in the now familiar packaging appropriate to a ProfiPACK release, with an artwork showing two Finnish MiG-21's taking off in tandem. The box sides show the various schemes available within this release. Again, Eduard are using the QR Code facility, meaning that scanning the code with a mobile phone utilising the free QR Reader, then you should be taken to the Eduard product page for the MiG-21BIS. Here is the code below for you to scan. At the moment, it appears that Eduard still need to tie this to their product page, but keep trying!
A total of EIGHT sprues of dark grey plastic, and ONE of clear plastic are provided with this kit; not all bagged separately, but thoughtfully packed to no external surfaces can rub against each other. The clear sprue is packaged alone within a zip-lock bag. A set of masks, two etch frets and two sheets of decals are included.
Those readers who will have seen our previous reviews of the MiG-21MF, MiG-21SMT and MiG-21MF in Czechoslovak Service will instantly see that the majority of this kit is very much the same, but with some critical differences only applicable to this kit. For the plastic, there is a new sprue which contains the new shaped spine, integral with the vertical fin. The BIS intake ring which is shallower than its contemporaries, is also moulded on this sprue, plus a number of other small parts applicable to either all schemes, or to specific ones. There are differences within the cockpit, but we'll come onto that shortly.
Construction of this kit is mostly identical to the previous Eduard releases, and the constructional sequences show very little different to them in drawing format, but your finished model will reflect the BIS variations very well.
Building the MiG-21BIS begins with the nose gear bay and cockpit module. You can either construct the cockpit from the standard plastic parts and paint those, or you can choose to decal the instrument panel and consoles. With this though, you only have the option to build five of the 6 schemes. If you opt to use the colour photo etch metal parts, then you have TWO choices of etch metal side consoles and lower instrument panel consoles. While five of the schemes are standard BIS machines, there is also an export machine, known as BIS-D, and this had uprated instrument consoles to cater to the non-standard avionics fitted during modernisation. The differences in detail on the consoles are small but significant. Top marks to Eduard for taking the trouble to supply both. You will need to scrape moulded detail from the plastic parts in order to fit the photo etch parts.
The colour etch fret also contains a set of seatbelts for the ejector seat, as well as various other cockpit instrumentation parts; some of these being specific to either one or all schemes available.
Eduard's attention to detail carries onto the rear jet pipe of the Tumansky R25 engine, with fine detail apparent on the exhaust petals, and turbine face. A photo etch part fits within this tube too. For quite a small assembly, Eduard seem to have done as much as is reasonably possible here.
The main gear bay is assembled as a module which fits to the upper-side of the lower wing centre section. This comprises of two side-walls showing some engine detail, plus two detailed bulkheads and plumbing. The main gear bays on the MiG-21 are quite cavernous, and with a little extra wiring detail, these should look excellent.
With the cockpit and nose wheel well module completed, along with the main gear module and rear tail pipe, the fuselage can be closed up. As stated though, the main gear module fits to the wing, but sits in between two fuselage bulkheads, to help with both alignment and fuselage rigidity. Again, Eduard remind the modeller about the need to fit nose weight, but neglect to say exactly how much. Just stuff as much as you can in there in order to prevent tears and gnashing of teeth later on!
The BIS spine and tailfin section can fitted to the fuselage at this juncture. This is provided in halves, and with two internal formers to give rigidity to this section whilst you fit it. The rudder is again a separate part, as with the other MiG-21 releases.
The main wing section has quite a lot detail to be added within before you can fit the upper wing parts. This detail is concerned with what is viewable within the wheel wells, such as the well walls, and other equipment and avionics. Wing flaps and ailerons are moulded separately too, and a choice of either plastic or photo-etch fender is given.
For the main belly mounted airbrake, you have a choice of parts. You can use the single part depicting this in the closed position, or if you wish to show this deployed, you can use a separate belly part, plus a separate brake with internal detail, and the hydraulic actuating piston. The two forward airbrakes, however, are moulded in the closed position. To show these deployed, you will need to remove the closed brakes from the lower wing, and fit an interior part from within. Later in construction, you may then add the separate brakes and actuator pistons.
Eduard's interpretation of the undercarriage is also accurate and detailed. Again, you don't get weighted wheels, so you'll need to do this yourself, or seek a resin alternative. The various struts and oleos are sharply rendered, and the main legs also include an elaborate photo etch linkage system, which you'll need some serious patience to attach properly. Other than weighted wheels, no other addition other than any hydraulic lines that may be present should need to be fitted.
Two sprues are supplied which contain the various pylons, tanks and ordnance. Here you'll find:
- 1 x External Fuel Tank 800 litres
- 2 x External Fuel Tank 490 litres
- 2 x S-24 rockets
- 2 x RS-2US rockets
- 2 x R-3S rockets
- 2 x R-13 rockets
- 2 x R-3R rockets
- 2 x R-60 rockets
- 8 x FAB 100 bombs (plus detailed pylons to accommodate)
- 2 x FAB 250 Bombs
- 2 x SPRD Solid Fuel rocket engines
- 2 x UB-16
Surface detail across all the grey sprues is excellent and very sharp. No rivet detail is incorporated, per se, and all panel lines, access ports and such detail is crisp and not over-stated. With regard to quality, nothing in the way of flash can be seen, and ejector pin marks shouldn't concern the modeller. Seams are at a minimum, and no sink marks can be found. This is pretty much synonymous with Eduard releases these days.
The clear sprue has a number of parts included which aren't for use with this kit such as a couple of canopy options and instrument panel variations. Moulding here is excellent, with exceptional clarity and no defect.
Two photo etch frets are included, with one of these being the fully colour printed one containing the various cockpit instrument panels, consoles, switches etc, whilst the second fret holds the fenders, undercarriage linkages and the flame spreader ring etc. In total, this fret contains over forty parts alone. The quality of etch is as you would expect from Eduard, with the colour printing being solid and very authentic looking.
A single sheet of die-cut masks are included for the canopy parts, avionics plates, gun sight face etc. Production is sharp, and notation is made throughout the manual as to where the various masks fit.
The instruction manual is typically of a very high standard and printed on glossy paper, over twenty pages. The various constructional sequences are easy to follow, with the various options and choices given being easy to follow. Just make sure you look at all of the drawings within a particular constructional stage before committing to glue. The last pages within the manual are dedicated to five of the six schemes, with one scheme being printed on the front cover. Profile depiction is clear, with all paint code references supplied for GSI Aqueous and Mr Color, along with the metallic colour references for this brand. Colour reference is made throughout construction also. The last page itself contains the stencil location drawings.
The decals are printed over two sheets. The first of these contains all of the airframe and weapons stencils and other small items such as cockpit and canopy placards. The second sheet has the various national and unit markings printed upon it, as well as the optional cockpit instrument consoles. Printed by Cartograf, the decals are suitably thin, and in perfect register. Carrier film is minimal also, and colour is both solid and authentic. The six schemes included are:
- MiG-21BIS, Izdelye 75A, 31st Fighter Squadron, Kuopio airbase, Finland, 1980 – 1981
- MiG-21BIS, 1st Air Division of the Polish Navy, late 90's, Gydnia – Babie Doly airbase, Poland
- MiG-21BIS, Izdelye 75B, 47th Combat Air Regiment, Griff Squadron, Pápa airbase, Hungary, 1991
- MiG-21BIS, Tactics & Air Combat Development Establishment, Jamnagar airbase, India, September 1986
- MiG-21BIS-D, Izdelye 75A, 22nd Fighter Squadron, Pula airbase, Croatia, 2008
- MiG-21BIS, Izdelye 75B, 3rd Air Base, Graf Ignatevo, Bulgaria, from 2002
So what do we think?
Yet again, another exceptional release from Eduard, irrespective of the issue with the forward fuselage shape. I can't get enough of these releases of one of my all-time favourite aircraft. Whilst thoroughly detailed, and with various options, plus the newly tooled BIS sprue, Eduard have kept the price for this release at the same levels as the other MiG-21 releases. The supplied schemes are all varied, so there must be something here for just about every taste, from natural metal through to the three colour camo of the Croatian machine.
Very highly recommended.
Our sincere thanks to Eduard for supplying the review sample used here. To purchase this directly, click THIS link.