by: Tim Hatton [ ]
Originally published on:
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 was a jet fighter developed for the USSR by Artem Mikoyan and Mikhail Gurevich. The MiG-15 was one of the first successful swept wing jet fighters, and it achieved fame in the skies over Korea, where early in the war, it outclassed all straight-winged enemy fighters in daylight. The MiG-15 also served as the starting point for development of the more advanced MiG-17, which was still an effective threat to supersonic American fighters over North Vietnam in the 1960s. The MiG-15 is believed to have been one of the most widely produced jet aircraft ever made, with over 12,000 built. Licensed foreign production perhaps raised the total to over 18,000. The MiG-15 is often mentioned along with the F-86 Sabre in lists of the best fighter aircraft of the Korean War and in comparison with fighters of other eras. The Mig 15 bis is strangely called Fagot by Nato forces. Incidentally 'bis' means second in Russian.
The engine, Klimov RD-45, powering the Mig 15 has an interesting history. By 1946, Soviet designers were finding it impossible to perfect the German-designed HeS-011 axial-flow jet engine, and new airframe designs from Mikoyan were threatening to outstrip development of the engines to power them. Soviet aviation minister Mikhail Khrunichev and aircraft designer A. S. Yakovlev suggested to Premier Joseph Stalin the USSR buy advanced jet engines from the British. Stalin is said to have replied, "What fool will sell us his secrets?". However, he gave his consent to the proposal and Mikoyan, engine designer Vladimir Klimov, and others traveled to the United Kingdom to request the engines. To Stalin's amazement, the British Labour government and its pro-Soviet Minister of Trade, Sir Stafford Cripps, were perfectly willing to provide technical information and a license to manufacture the Rolls-Royce Nene. This engine was reverse-engineered and produced as the Klimov RD-45, subsequently incorporated into the MiG-15. Rolls-Royce later attempted to claim £207 million in license fees, without success.
The box is very sturdy and will survive most trips by post. As is the norm with the new style Airfix box there is a fair bit of helpful information to help the inexperienced modeler construct their kit. All the plastic contents are placed in a single bag although the one piece canopy is in it's own bag within the main bag for protection, no sign of any damage to the canopy. There are three sprues containing 52 parts moulded in light grey plastic. Surface texture is smooth and matte. I did not detect any flash or sink marks at all on the plastic. Locating points look very positive as are the stubs for joining the main and tail wings. One pilot figure is provided, but looks very RAF World War two in style. There is a eight page instruction manual illustrating the building process in 18 stages. There is a three page colour guide for painting your Mig. Finally there is a small sheet of decals.
Cockpit tub comes as one piece. The instrument panel is glued to the tub. Three decals represent instruments and switches for the instrument panel and side panels. The colour guides on the instruction are numbered and refer to Humbrol paints. The colours on the painting guide name colours e.g. sand, army green as well as a Humbrol reference number. It is a bit disappointing that Airfix don't give named colours or reference them somewhere in the instruction. For example stage two you are instructed to paint the inside of the nose with '56'. I could not find within the instructions what colour '56' is. There are no FS or BS references. Ejector seat is one piece, no straps are provided. The canopy is moulded and beautifully thin.
Nose cone looks good, the gun camera on top of the nose lip is correctly depicted as being off centre to starboard. Nose air intake separator should have a landing light in the upper part. . In the kit this is represented as a small engraved square panel, it should be a circular lens, easy enough to change. Airfix advise that 3 grammes of weight just behind the intake bulkhead will be enough to keep your Mig on it's wheels. The bulkhead is just about far enough back not to be to obvious.
Wing is a bit too thin and is evident most at the wing tip judging from photos of the real thing. The wing tip as viewed from above is a little suspect. Difficult to explain, but the wing tip panel line looks like it's in the wrong place although the wing shape looks good. The panel line of the kit follows in a parallel line with the wing fences. The wing tip panel line if you look at photographs is parallel to the panel lines on the wing [see photo]. An easy problem to sort out with a bit of filling and sanding. On the theme of panel lines, the ones depicted in this kit I feel are too heavy. But Airfix are aiming their product at a less discerning customer who is likely to use paints brushed on straight from the tin. So the panel lines will be less obvious. As there are not too many panel lines/hatch covers the lines could be easily filled in and re-scribed. This kit is designed for modelers at skill level one, or with one flying hour as Airfix puts it. There should be a pitot tube in the starboard wing. Wing fences are a little thick, but could be easily thinned down. Under wing stores are limited to two fuel drop tanks and these look accurate. There are two bulges [ conformal fuel tanks! ] and these can be fitted under the wing in place of the drop tanks. There are four drilled out holes in each lower wing to fix the fuel tanks.
The main wheels are far too small, they should be approximately twice the diameter of the nose wheel. The main wheels of the Airfix Mig are almost the same diameter as the nose wheel. Changing the main wheels for something larger may have some consequences to the sit of the model. Airfix have accurately represented the three part main undercarriage doors. The shape is very good and there is some detailing of the inner surface. The nose wheel is moulded in one piece. The tyre looks a little bulbous although the tyre on the Mig 15 is fairly chunky. The front wheel bay is far too shallow, but this may not be too noticeable once the undercarriage and doors are glued in place. All the gear doors are moulded in one piece, so if you want your Mig wheels up it's not going to be too fiddly fixing the gear doors. If you want your Mig gear down there are obvious lines as guides for cutting the doors. There are very faint circular mould marks in the roof of the detailed main gear bay. These same marks are on the the joining surface of the wings and fin and I suspect some of them will need some sanding to ensure a good fit. The two horizontal tail planes are moulded as one piece. Air brakes can be depicted open or closed. There is some nice detail on the inside of the air brake wells and the air brakes themselves. Jet pipe in the rear is very shallow and probably better replaced with some suitable plastic tubing to give more depth. Don't forget to attach aerial wire from the starboard canopy rail to the tail. There are a couple of vents missing just aft of the canopy. These can be easily drilled out. The fin does not look quite right, it's not bad, but the chord of the top of the fin looks a bit narrow.
A. White 384 of the Russian Air Force, 1950. Natural metal finish, with red lightning flash on the tail and a red nose,
B. Red 546 of the Peoples Republic of Korea Air Force, North Korea, 1952. Camouflaged with green stripes over sand on the upper surface and black under surface. This aircraft was believed to be flown by I. P. Galyshevesky of the 351 IAP.
C. Red 677 of the 101st Reconnaissance wing, Hungarian Air force, based at Szolnock, Hungary, 1971. Three colour upper surface camouflage: green, brown and sand and pale blue under surface.
Decals look very good and marking are given for three aircraft:There is little sign of carrier film on the decals. Density of colour looks good and they all look perfectly centered. The green centre of the Hungarian National emblems are separate. There are also a number of stencils to be added and all of them are all legible. The tail lightning flash on the Russian aircraft is supplied as a decal. The wing walk ways are also supplied as decals.
This seems like a list of problems, but what is in the box is a little gem. With a little bit of work a stunning model could be made.
With the forthcoming release of the F-86F Sabre by Airfix, the two would look good together. It might even be an idea to release one of Airfix's famous dogfight doubles series containing the two aircraft. It would be a change from the World War Two themed dog fight doubles. I am marking this kit from the point of view of being a kit for the novice modeler.