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Su-33 EggFlanker

A fun quick build to test the Su-33 line of Mr.Paint paints.

Hasegawa 1:egg scale Sukhoi Su-33 Sea Flanker.

Northrop XP-79B

XP-79B is one of the Northrop’s lesser known flying wing designs. Jack Northrop conceived the aircraft in 1942 as a rocket powered fighter, which would destroy enemy aircraft (primarily bombers) by ramming into them. The aircraft featured several advanced solutions – pilot would be flying in prone position to be able to sustain higher G loads, while the airframe would be constructed by welded magnesium instead of usual riveted aluminum, as the volatile rocket fuel would corrode the later too quickly.

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To test the radical design, several full scale glider models were built, which started testing in 1944. As the rocket testing turned out to be unsatisfactory, the aircraft was instead equipped with Westinghouse 19-B turbojets.

The first flight of the XP-79B was also its last. After days of taxi runs at Muroc Dry Lake (today’s Edwards AFB), the aircraft finally took off on 12th September 1945. 15 minutes into flight, the aircraft performed a slow roll, uncontrollably pitched nose down and crashed in vertical spin. Test pilot Harry Crosby attempted to bail out, but was hit by the tail and died on impact. As the result of the crash, the second prototype as well as the project were cancelled.

RS MODELS 1:72 Northrop XP-79B

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RS Models’ XP-79B is a typical short run kit. While not a multimedia kit, some experience is still needed to achieve best result. The surface of the plastic is not smooth – it actually reminds of a very fine sanding paper – some polishing is required before painting. Instructions call out for the Yellow Zinc Chromate as the interior color, but I guess Interior Green is safer bet. Another wrong color call out is for the exterior paint – RS Models suggest you paint the model white. A few available photos show that the surface was darker (compared to the white on the stars&bars), so I used a light grey, similar to the one used on P-80s. Construction is pretty straightforward and probably the most tricky part of assembly is the two-piece canopy. It was a two piece on the real aircraft as well, but the short run nature of the kit and the complex contour make a perfect fit almost impossible. Some blending in with a water soluble putty was required. Unfortunately due to the rather thick plastic and the curve, due to the light refraction, the join line is too pronounced.

Model was finished with Mr.Paint paints and finishes.

 

Saab 210 Draken

Swedish aviation designs have always been one of a kind and looking at the Saab J-35 Draken, 60 years after its maiden flight, the double-delta wing design still makes it look futuristic. As it was such a revolutionary design, Saab decided to build a 70% scale prototype to test the flight characteristics of such design. This was the only time, Saab designed a prototype testbed for any of its aircraft designs.

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Saab 210 performed its first take-off on 21st January 1952 in the hands of a test pilot Bengt Olow. The main goal was to test the flight characteristics at low speeds. Over the course of four years, the prototype made over 1.000 flights. With the revelation of J-35, the Saab 210 got an unofficial nickname of Lill-Draken (Little Dragon). The intake design was changed during the testing, my model representing the initial configuration. The aircraft can be now seen on display at Air Force museum in Linköping, Sweden.

PLANET MODELS 1:72 Saab 210-I Lilldraken “Initial Configuration”

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As this is quite an obscure aviation subject, chances are we will never see it in the injection molded form. But fear not – Planet Models deliver the kit in both Initial and Final configuration. Keep in mind though, that we are talking about a true multimedia kit – landing gear in white metal, canopy in vacform and all the rest in resin, which makes building this little model quite challenging. The resin itself is of great quality – no evident air bubble holes, finely engraved, thin edges. Unfortunately, building it was not as easy. The whole cockpit/front fuselage is too low, which creates quite a big step on the lower side of the fuselage. The same thing goes for the intakes as well. A lot of puttying and sanding had to be done to blend in all the steps. The fit of the intakes on the top also gave me troubles which even resulted in sanding through the top of the nose, followed by a lengthy repair works. Vacform canopy is also quite tricky to attach and lots of trimming was required along with the addition to canopy rail guides that fixed it in place. As for the accuracy goes – I don’t have any plans to compare it to, but according to the few available photos, the canopy appears slightly too long and not as bubbly as on the real thing. The front section from the windshield to the nose might also be slightly too long.

Model was finished with Alclad paints for the metal finish and Mr.Paint for Black and lacquer finishes.

Mikoyan MiG-31BM ‘Foxhound’

MiG-31 ‘Foxhound’ is a supersonic interceptor aircraft developed in the late 1970s for the use with Soviet Air Forces. It is an evolution of a legendary MiG-25 ‘Foxbat’ interceptor. After its first flight in 1981, it has entered the service in large numbers (more than 500 aircraft), protecting the vast borders of the Soviet Union. After the end of Cold War and breakup of the SU, the remaining aircraft continue to serve with the Russian and Kazakhstan Air Forces.

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Copyright – Yurij Vladimirovich – full res photo at http://russianplanes.net/id173408

MiG-31 is very capable interceptor. Using the datalink, four aircraft could cover the area 800-900km in length and could intercept cruise missiles, UAVs, all kinds of aircraft at any altitude. It’s great speed of M2.83, powerful radar with detection of 200km and IRST and advanced targeting computer that could track 10 targets and attack 4 of them in combination with Vympel R-33 long-range missiles, made the ‘Foxhound’ a really dangerous foe.

MiG-31BM (and BSM in case of aircraft without in-flight refueling capability) is an improved upgraded version of the baseline B version. It’s radar’s range was increased to 320km and its weapons computer can track 24 targets and simultaneously attack 6 of them. Its datalink system was improved, so it can interact not only with MiG-31s but also with other fighters and even surface-to-air missile batteries. BMs received new partially digital cockpits as a part of the upgrade. The most noticeable external differences between the B and BM are rear view mirror on the pilot’s canopy and 4 smaller under wing pylons instead of 2 larger. MiG-31BMs do not carry R-40 and R-60 missiles anymore, but they are equipped with short-range R-73s for self protection and medium-range R-77s, which are just entering service with the Russian Air Force.

Avantgarde Model Kits 1:48 MiG-31BM/BSM ‘Foxhound’

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There is little more that I can say about this kit. If you have followed this build through the last 3 months (you can still check the in progress posts up in the menu), you know what can be expected. I will first point out the “bad” things – panel lines could be slightly narrower, weak landing gear, no decals for the instrument panels (corrected for the upcoming B/BS kit), no photo-etched seat harnesses (corrected for the upcoming B/BS kit), omission of some smaller antennas (that could be included on PE fret) and there might be some other smaller details that have slipped my mind (but are noted in the in progress posts). Apart from these, as you can see rather trivial things, the kit is a joy to build. Very little filler was used, parts are nicely detailed, from the landing gear wells and struts up to missiles, exhausts and cockpit. If you don’t dig into the details, you can actually finish one in under a month.

It took me three months to finish this model. A lot of time was spent on searching for references and cross checking them with kit parts and painting little details, which will probably never be seen anyway. This model was also my first contact with the new Mr.Paint range of acrylic lacquers and all I can say is that I am sold! Hundreds of hours of work later, I can safely say that was my biggest modelling achievement yet and I am very thankful to AMK for sending me this sample and I hope, that I have done this kit a justice.

Tips on recreating realistic model

Each aircraft has a unique weathering scheme – check sites like russianplanes.net and airliners.net for reference photos. AMK give you multiplay display options, especially regarding maneuvering surfaces. If you are modelling your aircraft parked, slats and flaps should be in the up position. Flaps are deployed only during take-off and landing, while slats are deployed only during air-refueling. Horizontal stabilizers should be posed either neutal/level or with trailing edge slightly dropped. Air-refueling probe is most likely stowed, but can be deployed sometimes. IRST sensor is stowed 99% of time. Weapons system operators forward periscope can be either stowed or deployed.

Stepan Karnach

The model represents MiG-31BM ‘Foxhound’, Red 37, RF-90901 based at Novosibirsk airport in 2015. The aircraft carriers the name of a Hero of the Soviet Union awardee pilot Stepan Karnach. More photos of Red 37: http://russianplanes.net/regs/RF-90901

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Stepan Andreyevich Karnach was born in 1918. He graduated from the pilots school in 1940. He fought in the Great Patriotic War since its beginning in June 1941. He was fighting on Southern, Krim and Steppe fronts flying initially the I-16 fighter. On 9th August 1943, he rammed his fighter into a Bf109 fighter and safely landed his damaged plane. On 4th February 1944, he was awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union and Order of Lenin awards for flying 270 combat sorties, 70 air battles, 12 personal kills and 4 shared kills. After that, he served on 1st and 2nd Ukrainian fronts and finished the WW2 with 346 combat missions, 84 air battles, 16 personal and 4 shared kills. After the war, he continued his career in the Air Force until his retirement, reaching the rank of General-Major. He died in 1991 in Odessa.

 

MiG-31BM; pt.14

Last days, I took time and finish the missile loadout. Several modellers have asked me why I won’t use the R-77 missiles, you get in the kit. Well, I am building aircraft according to photos and I have no proof yet, that the unit this MiG is assigned to, have received R-77s yet. The R-77 missile is just entering service with Russian Air Force, so in the near future, I guess all MiG-31 units can expect to receive these missiles, so if you want to include them on your model, it will most likely be just a little “in the future” build.

Anyhow, here’s how I dealt with the missiles.

MiG-31BM; pt. 13

I can slowly see the light at the end of the tunnel. This previous week I have completed the canopies and I am now onto painting the missiles.

MiG-31BM; pt.12

Hi everyone! Just a short update tonight. I was working on landing gears and had quite some problems with them. I managed to break the pin on the front landing gear and had to improvise, but it turned out, the front assembly was suddenly all too high. I am quite sure, it was entirely my mistake, but to this day, I haven’t figured what I did wrong and I probably never will. Anyway, I managed to fix it – case closed! The other problem was sagging of one of the main gear dollies. The model is balanced in the way, that the main landing gear carry almost all of the weight. And I kid you not – this monster is heavy. Anyway, one of the dollies started to give way under the weight and with time, started leaning to the side. If I’d build another MiG-31, I’d definitely go for a metal gear, like the SAC one – it definitely is a sound investment.

On to the photos!

MiG-31BM; pt.11

With the decals done, it was time to put some pink on her, lay down a thin protective finish over decals and start dirtying her up with artists oil paints.

MiG-31BM; pt. 10

After a marathon 7 day sessions, all or at least most of the decals have been applied. I have to say I was really impressed with Begemot decals. They are very thin, much thinner than AMK ones, as mentioned in my review, the print is thinner too and they really look great on the model. They literally suck into panel lines by themselves and no decal softener was needed. I will have at least one more decal session when I’ll finish the weapons, but the main thing is done! The only criticism in practical application of Begemot decals was, that there were errors in the instructions – I’ve hit a few mislabeled stencil decals. On the other hand, placement instructions are clear, so you can figure the correct decal just by comparing the shape of decal to the instructions and if there are L/R side opposite decals, they are labeled as, for example, 89 for the left and 90 for the right side. Decals being done, it’s time to dirty her up a bit😉

 

With the release of a fantastic 1:48 kit of the mighty MiG-31BM/BSM ‘Foxhound’, it was only a question of time, when will the Russian decal manufacturer Begemot produce some nice marking options, to the three, already offered in the kit. It was a short wait indeed, as the new decal sheet hit the stores less than a month after the kit release.

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Decals come in a Begemot standard package – A4 zip lock bag, with several black&white A4 sheets of instructions and two larger (225x160mm) and one smaller (160x110mm) sheets. Decals appear to be finely printed and in register. Print of the decals is flat while the carrier film is glossy and appears to be really thin.

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Instructions give you option, to build 15 different aiframes, ranging from early BM prototype (592 Blue) up to the current operational airframes. Separate instructions are give for stencil application. Color callouts are given in FS numbers but I would exercise caution when using those – for example instructions suggest you should paint APU-73 and APU-170 missile pylons in aluminum, while they are dark grey on most aircraft (170s can also be white). I recommend checking references before painting.

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Where Begemot sheet really excels, is the number of option it gives you. I have already mentioned 15 options – those are just the printed ones. Actually, you can build almost any MiG-31BM/BSM ever build – you are given the big Bort numbers in 2 different shades of Blue and one in Red, three different styles of Russian stars (with and without the Blue edge) and you receive 3 different kinds of numbers for the RF- registrations as well as 3 different versions of VVS ROSSII signs. You also get a number of Guard’s badges and Hero of Soviet Union medal decals along with the names of different Soviet HSU decorated pilots that adorn some of the MiGs. Combining all these options, the options are almost countless – I suggest using aviation photo portals like russianplanes.net airfighters.net or airliners.net for choosing your preferred choice and check for references.

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There are also some omissions, that would make this sheet even better. Some of the ‘Foxhounds’ carry the bort number in white on top of the port rudder – decals for those are not provided – same goes also for nose wheel doors. Also Perm based MiG-31s have different style of markings on the intakes, which are not included on this sheet as are not several nose arts, found on photos.

Comparison with AMK decals.

Just a quick glance at the stencil placement instructions will show you, that there are a lot more of them on Begemot sheets. While AMK’s stencils don’t look bad at all, Begemot has gone one step further and made them even thinner, which should look even better as the final result.

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Bort numbers are slightly narrower on the Begemot sheet (7mm vs 8.3mm without white border) than AMK ones.

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Begemot Red stars have an off white color and slightly paler red color compared to a pure white borders and deep red stars. Checking the reference photos, both variants can be correct, depending on which airframe you decide to build.

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Savalskeya Air base flag with crest – neither company has nailed the colors, but I believe printing costs are the main reason. While the Russian flag colors are better with Begemot, Blue on Russian Air Force flag is better with AMK. Yellow is a little too light on both sheets. The crest of the Airbase looks much better on the AMK decal. In fact, it seems like Begemot’s decal was narrowed during processing – it is way too narrow as a whole, the crest in the middle looks oval and there’s a jagged edge on the bottom of decal. If you will be building one of the Savalskeya birds, use AMK decal instead.

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Red circular markings on the inner side of the vertical fins – there is a BIG difference in size of decals for those – Begemots are 17mm in diameter while AMK’s decal measures 23mm. Compared to the reference photos, I believe AMK’s dimension is more accurate.

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Despite some minor nitpicks, Begemot decals, with a little help from the AMK ones, will enable the modellers to build a vast pallete of improved Foxhounds, besides the often seen Red 34s, Blue 93s and Akthubinsk’s Red 25s.

You can get your decals from Begemot official site or use any of the listed stores, on their official page – http://www.begemotdecals.ru/

Special thanks to Andrey Kotkov of Begemot decals for sending me the review sample.

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