1/72 Academy MiG-23MS

by Raymond Biggs



The MiG-23MS was the first MiG-23 "Flogger" variant to be exported outside of the Warsaw pact.  Initial deliveries were made to Syria in 1973, as well as Iraq, Egypt and Libya.  A small number of Soviet MiG-23MS were based at Tokmok (now part of Kyrgyzstan) to provide training to foreign MiG-23MS pilots and their crews.

The MiG-23MS differed from the Soviet MiG-23M in that it featured the Radar, avionics and weapon systems of the MiG-23MF; its armament consisting of the older R-3, R-3P or R-13 missiles (NATO designation: AA-2 Atoll family). Despite this handicap a Syrian MiG-23MS was successful in downing two Israeli F-4 Phantoms before being itself shot down by a friendly SAM in 1974.

Libya was another prominent customer of the MiG-23MS; receiving around 54 machines starting in 1974. These served as the LARAFs primary fighter into the 1980s, and saw action against Egypt; where an example was shot down by a Aim-9J equipped F-6, as well against the USN; resulting in the loss of two aircraft to F-14s. It is unclear how many examples remain operational, though  Zimbabwe and Zaire both received small numbers of former LARAF MiG-23MS'.

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This is Academy's "MiG-23S" kit, built mostly OOB.  Its a repop of an early Hasegawa model, and despite popular criticism, the kits is basically accurate for a MiG-23MS. The main modifications to make a MiG-23MS from the kit consist of:

  • The removal of the IR sensor underneath the cockpit

  • The repositioning of the offset under-fuselage aerial to the centre

  • The replacement of the fuselage missile pylons with spares from another kit

  • Filling in the leading edge flaps on the wings

I also added a burner can and pilot from Zvezda kits and R-3 missiles from the spares box.

The kit goes together fairly well, though not as precisely as the Hasegawa original.  The kits biggest problem is the intake-fuselage join, which I had to use putty and plastic card to get seamless.

The model was brush painted with Humbrol enamels, and weathered moderately heavy.  For markings I chose the older, less known Libyan roundel of an aircraft deployed to Chad.  The Libyan roundel was later changed after the war with Egypt for easier identification.

Thanks for looking!!


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Photos and text by Raymond Biggs