Archive for October, 2016


MiG-29 9.13 ‘Fulcrum-C’; Swifts

Mikoyan MiG-29 doesn’t need a special introduction. One of the most famous (and feared by the West) 4th generation jet fighters in the world, it first flew in 1977 and entered service with Soviet Air Force in 1982. Designed to replace the MiG-23 in Frontal Aviation units, the requirement to operate from rugged, damaged or unprepared runways resulted in reinforced landing gear and anti-FOD measures, including the mudguard and closing jet intakes with auxiliary intakes on the top of leading edge root extension.
First version to be put into service was MiG-29A, which was externally recognized by having small ventral stabilizers (like Su-27 series) and different landing gear and airbrake design. MiG-29B which soon followed was built in more than 800 examples, a lot of them downgraded for export, which are still in use today in many air forces including Serbia, India, Bulgaria, Iran, to name but a few.
The next upgrade that happened in the ’80s was the so called izdeliye 9.13, which is also the subject of this build. MiG-29S 9.13 ‘Fulcrum-C’ introduced an enlarged dorsal hump, which is the most recognizable feature compared to 9.12. 9.13 could carry the longer ranged air-to-air R-27ER missile, the enlarged dorsal hump carries an active radar jammer as well as additional fuel and the airframe strengthening brought the total armament capability to 4.000kg. This version also included an improved flight control system slightly improving maneuverability.

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Swifts / Strizhi / Стрижи

The beginnings of aerobatic group Strizhi go back to the late ’80s, when a group of pilots started training in precision formation flying through aerobatic maneuvers with their debut performance on May 6th, 1991 and their international debut a few months later at an airshow in Sweden. In the beginning, the group performed with 9.12 version of MiG-29, painted in white and blue, but later switched to 9.13 and repainted their aircraft into current scheme of red and white with blue swift symbol on top and bottom of the aircraft. UB (9.51) twoseaters were also used in both liveries. Strizhi recently celebrated their 25th anniversary and Zvezda celebrated this event by releasing their new 9.13 kit with Strizhi markings and box artwork.The team is based, like the Russian Knights Flanker equipped team at Kubinka Air Base and usually performs as a 5- or 6-ship while a 4-ship flight usually flies with a 5-ship Russian Knights team during celebrations of special events, like the 9th May parade over the Red Square in Moscow.

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The kit

There isn’t much to say to this kit, that I haven’t already said in my previous in-progress threads (PART1, PART2). Despite some small shortcomings, the kit is really a joy to build, is accurate and it’s the first MiG-29 kit in 1:72 that has correctly depicted open jet intakes and closed auxiliary intakes. The later are open only when the aircraft is on ground and the engines are running (from start-up to take-off and from landing to shutting down the engines). The engraved detail is well defined if a bit shallow, mostly on the curved surfaces like LERX. There are no engraved rivets present but I don’t mind that, as they are more often than not over emphasized and don’t look real. With a multitude of riveting tools present today on the market, making you own shouldn’t be a problem. If building the Swifts version, the easiest way of applying the top decals would be to wait with vertical stabilizers installation until after decaling. Decals themselves proved excellent, thin enough and didn’t require any setting solutions. All in all, an excellent kit and I’ll be sure adding a few more to my collection.

Model Data
Company: Zvezda
Scale: 1:72
Aftermarket: none
Paints used: Mr.Paint (MRP-4 White, MRP-45 Dark Blue, MRP-98 Light Gull Grey), Revell (36 Red, enamel)
Alclad (ALC-101 Aluminum, ALC-104 Pale Burnt Metal, ALC-111 Magnesium, ALC-123 Exhaust Manifold, ALC-405 Transparent Smoke, ALC-416 Hotmetal Sepia)

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MiG-29 9.13 Swifts pt.2

Painting is my favorite part of model building and this scheme provided some challenge.

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Some dread over painting white, but with Mr.Paint paints, opacity is not an issue – even with the dreaded White. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get the suitable red from their range and had to resort to a Revell enamel from my collection. Masking the tails for the MiG inscriptions was a process of its own – first tracing the decal on a piece of paper, then cutting it out, retracing its outline on the tail with a 1mm offset and masking it.

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Metal shrouds on the exhaust are were painted alternating with two different Alclad paints – Dark Aluminum and Magnesium, but unfortunately the effect is not really shown in this photo.

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Exhausts on MiG-29s are truly interesting from the painting perspective. I’ve used a bunch of different Alclad paints, chipping, Tamiya weathering sets and oil washes to bring the details out. No, they are not as detailed as resin replacement, but with proper weathering techniques, they look great nevertheless.

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Decaling was an interesting affair as well. They perform nicely and do not silver. However the design is a bit complicated. The bird motive on the top is made of only 3 decals – the body and separate wings. The problem arises when you apply the wing decals over the tail extensions. I actually cut the decals to remedy this problem. Fortunately Zvezda’s design team was clever enough to include spare strips of blue, white and silver to correct such problems.

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Despite being broken into more pieces, the lower bird motive was even harder to apply than the upper one – mainly due to the fact, the shape of the fuselage with engine intakes is more complex. In the end though, with the help of hairdryer, the decals settled down and into the engravings nicely enough.

MiG-29 9.13 Swifts pt.1

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Hi everyone! Another day, another project!

Earlier this year, Zvezda released long anticipated new model of the famous MiG-29 fighter, namely the 9.13 version with slightly bigger spine than the baseline 9.12 version. Just a few months later, a new boxing was released with decals for the Swifts aerobatic group, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary.

Upon first inspection, the model presents a typical new generation Zvezda kit. Finely engraved details but without rivet detail, nice wheelbay surfaces of correct shapes and dimensions but no wiring, basic cockpit and a nice selection of armament. Indeed, buying the Swifts version of the kit will considerably fill your armament spares box. Decals are printed in matt and appear slightly thick, but more on that when we get to decalling.

I will bring forward some downsides of the build so far, but follow closely, as not everything is as black as this post might suggest.

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Part of the main wheel wells. There are pin marks in there, but truth be told, when installed, they are hardly visible, they are easy to remove if spotted before assembly (or warned by me :D) and are the only visible pin marks I have noticed in the entire kit.

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Engine intakes are done similar to their Su-27SM – they are two part and split along the edge. I am not a fan of such design as it requires the seam cleanup along the entire length of the engine nacelle – luckily, there’s not a lot of details in this section, so the lost panel lines are easily rescribed and a plus – intake lips are really thin!

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An unusual design of the forward part of the fuselage leaves some gaps (I am quite sure it’s not my fault as I’ve seen other modellers with the same problem). Luckily, cleanup again is quite straightforward, especially using water based putty like (Deluxe Materials Perfect Plastic Putty).

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Cockpit and the ejection seat are basic – decals (slightly out of register) for the instruments mimic the photos of the real aircraft. As I am building this model OOB and with closed canopy, I didn’t bother with super detailing, but the next will certainly be improved.

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The new generation of Zvezda kits includes the transparent plastic which has a soft elastic feel to it. Good thing is that it is not as brittle as normally transparencies are but on the other hand, clarity of the parts can be an issue and in my case, the main canopy was sort of squashed a little, sitting too low and too wide. Due to its elasticity, I force-glued it to the fuselage but nevertheless I couldn’t get a really perfect fit.

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Despite my critics, I have to admit, those are the only ones I had during the construction of the model. Apart from some minor things mentioned before, the model really falls together, is very accurate and so far, I have been really enjoying building it.