This is the first of what will hopefully be many build reviews on this blog.
Airfix’s new Mig-15 was recently released to generally favorable reviews, and hopefully is a glimpse of things to come from them. The kit features approximately 50 parts in a robust kid-friendly plastic, a nice clear canopy, the deeply recessed panel lines characteristic of recent Airfix offerings, and beautiful decals for three aircraft.
When you open the attractive red box you can almost immediately see that this kit will just fall together. The kit is made of up two fuselage halves, two horizontal stabilizers, four wing halves, a tail pipe, jet intake, three separate cannons, positionable speed brakes, about a dozen landing gear components, one piece canopy, two antennae and a simple but effective cockpit consisting of a basic tub, instrument panel, control column and seat. Instruments are rendered with some very detailed and attractive decals. Also present are parts for two styles of drop-tanks.
I started construction with assembling the cockpit and painting it in a light greenish blue. Once dry I applied some Future floor polish and then the instument panel decals. I painted the seat black and dry brushed in in very dark gray, then added some harnesses made from masking tape.
Airfix includes an old friend; Johnny Pilot, but he hasn’t aged well, and his face is now almost featureless. JP got pressed into service flying an old Frog Miles Magister, but I did test fit him into the seat and cockpit and he looked fine.
Once completed, the cockpit was inserted into the fuselage, which is a tight fit, and could probably done without the use of glue. I glued in about 7 grams of lead weights into the forward fuselage below the cockpit floor, glued in the tail-pipe and then closed up the fuselage halves. They fit like a glove, and only minor sanding and filling was required to clean up the seam. The wings, nosecone and horizontal stabilizors were added next, and they too fit very well. I then glued on the three cannons below the nose, and the stub antenna on top of the fuselage. I decided to glue on the large drop tanks, inner main gear doors, and nose gear doors prior to painting. Finally I glued on and painted the “HUD” portion in front of the instrument panel, and masked and attached the canopy with Micro Krystal Klear and was ready for painting.
Airfix gives you decals for three options on the decal sheet; an overall silver Soviet aircraft from the early 1950s, a 3-tone camouflaged Hungarian bird from the 1970s, and a Korean War era North Korean (flown by a Soviet pilot) aircraft with black undersides and sand-yellow with green squiggles uppers. The silver Mig is perhaps the most iconic, so I chose the first finishing option (I thought it would also be the easiest to paint) and sprayed my model with Citadel chainmail silver.
A note to beginners; if you decide to model your aircraft in silver, do yourself a favor and get a spray can of enamel or laquer based paint. As much as I swear by acrylics, acrylic metalic finishes are very fragile. For the remainder of the project I was continuously rubbing off paint, and had to touch up wing edges and other spots numerous times. Had I used a laquer like Tamiya’s silver leaf, the project could have been finished over a weekend.
The jet intake on the nose was painted red, and the landing gear components and insides of gear doors with a dull dark aluminum metalic paint. The instructions suggest using Humbroll 56, go with it. Finally, the tailpipe was painted with a dark metalic brown color called burnt iron. It was time to apply the decals.
Airfix has a spotty history when it comes to decals. At times they were very nice, while at others not so much (the dreaded brown backing paper era of the mid 2000s probably being the lowest point). The decals which come in the new red-box kits are just wonderful; certainly on par with what you might find in a Trumpeter or Dragon kit. The red stars, numbers, and lightning-bolts on the tail all went on without a hitch. There really isn’t much more to say. I used some decal softener for good measure, but I’m not sure it was necessary. Airfix gives you a full set of stencils (two versions actually), but I left them off, as I find stencils on 1/72 to be a bit too busy looking in most (but not all) cases.
Once the decals were dry I brushed on a coat of Future floor polish to protect the finish. I know relatively little about the Mig-15, and I don’t know if the silver finish on the real aircraft was just unpainted metal, or an aluminum lacquer as on some aircraft. The future coat gave the model a lacquered look, so I hope the latter is true. At the same time I really don’t care much if its not.
After all of the decaling and painting was done, I removed the masking from the canopy (which proceeded to fall off and had to be re-glued) and attached the previously painted landing gear components. The small outer gear doors are a bit tricky to fit, but everything else is very easy and lines up perfectly. I painted the various oleo struts with chrome paint, and the tires (tyres on an Airfix kit) with a very dark gray which was later drybrushed with a lighter gray to simulate wear.
Final finishing touches included a second antenna mounted near the canopy, painting the cannons dark gray and then rubbing with pencil graphite, and my one small modification on this kit. Airfix does not include any navigation lights on this model, but they’re very easy to make from scratch. The Mig 15 had little bulbs on the wing ends, which I reproduced by cutting a tiny notch into the outer edge of each wing. I put in a dab of clear red and clear green paint into the notches, and then “filled” them with some Krystal Klear.
That’s all there is to it. A very simple but satisfying build. Some reviewers have whined about the deep panels, but they look fine as long as you don’t try to add a dark wash. The kit looks like a Mig-15 to my eye, and I think the silver and red finish looks very attractive sitting on my shelf. I will not hesitate to buy at least another one, and recommend it to both beginner and experienced modelers looking for a fun carefree build.