1/48 Esci MiG-23UB Flogger-C

by David Smigielski

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In early 2003--having stalled on Kazan's MiG-23MLD update--I found myself wanting to have a family model Flogger in the display case.  When it comes to MiG-23s in 1/48 scale, we Builders-of-the-Red-Star are stuck with Esci's much maligned MiG-23S, which has a number of issues (raised panel lines, no cockpit or wheel well detail, etc).  Having few references, and even less experience with conversions of any sort, I plunged headfirst into the project.  The fuselage was opened up to make way for the rear cockpit, and the dorsal hump was fashioned out of Magic Sculp epoxy putty.  After a few attempts at vacuforming new canopies and scratchbuilding the cockpits, the project stalled.

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Four years, and many F-16s and F-14s later, I decided I could no longer let the partially finished kit mock me from the boneyard section of my display case.  So, I plunged back into the project.  The cockpits were completely scratchbuilt (save for the ejection seats, which are Neomega), and the instrument dials were punched into sheet styrene using my trusty Waldron punch and die sets.  I had a hard time finding references on the rear cockpit, so I made an educated guess on the layout (this is the point where someone comes forward with 4 gigs of detailed photos of the rear cockpit of a UB, such is life).

Once the cockpits were finished, new canopies were vacuformed out of clear acrylic on my homemade machine (I'm not bragging, it's just a box with a shop vac attached to it). Panel lines were rescribed using the 4+ book as a guide. Details were added to the wheel wells using wire and styrene. Esci's stock engine nozzle was shortened and detailed using an afterburner from the scrap box. 

The model was finished--in the autumn of 2007--with Tamiya acrylics and weathered with a combination of postshading and artists oils. The Angolan markings are from Hi Decal's Su-27 sheet (thanks Diego).

So there you have it, a model more than four years in the making. I now have grandiose plans to build an accurate MiG-27 using Esci's other much maligned Flogger kit. If this project is any guide, you should be seeing the MiG-27 on these pages in late summer 2012.

David

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Photos and text by David Smigielski