Archive for March, 2016


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!