1/48 Esci MiG-23MS Flogger-E

by Sean Langley

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This is Esciís original 1/48 MiG-23S Flogger-B, painted as a MiG-23MS (Flogger-E) of the Libyan Arab Air Force.  The only external difference seems to be the shorter radome for the downgraded MiG-21 radar, so itís a fairly easy adaptation.  I rescribed all the panel lines, which gave a few problems.  It was my first try, so some are a little Ö irregular.  I have a few references but none seems to agree on where any panel is, so the lines I used are the average of all of them.  Iím surprised that it looks fairly OK.  And the odd mistake and over-run, as you might expect, for which Tipp-Ex is a very handy filler.  According to many sites the kit (now available from Italeri) isnít very accurate, but on my scale of accuracy - it looks more like a MiG-23 than it does anything else - itíll do.  

The bigger problem with the kit is that the detailing is fairly thin.  Some parts are excellent; some trailing edges are sharp enough to be dangerous.  Other parts are toss, though, especially the cockpit, and butt-jointing the nose to the mid-section is no help.  Fit is variable - the intakes, for example, are dire - but it goes together in the end.  Iíve helped it along with a Neomega cockpit (very nice, but for a few bubbles) and two Eduard PE sets for the exterior and the exhaust nozzle.  I ordered these before my experience of actually using PE started to put me off the stuff, but I soldiered on.  In the end it was OK, and this is one kit where the enhancement is worth the expense. 

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Armament is four AIM-9Bs from a Hasegawa weapons set, pretending to be R-3s (AA-2 Atolls in old money).  Thatís all the MS can handle with the old radar.  Theyíre hanging from simple scratch-built launch rails attached to the kitís pylons, which are themselves attached with plastic pins because they donít have much to hang on to. 

Thereís a few other small changes.  I added trim tabs to the tailplanes, using foil from a tube of tomato puree.  This is handy stuff - itís very thin, it doesnít have a plastic layer like a lot of bottle tops do, and it tastes good.  Wingtip lights are tiny blobs of wood glue, painted silver and over-painted with ink (I was hoping the glue would dry clear, but it wasnít to be).  Static wicks are fine floristís wire with wood glue ends, attached by filing a tiny V in the trailing edge and adding the merest amount of CA.  Pitots are just plain floristís wire. 

Decals are a mix.  The stencils are from the kit - Iím guessing the Russians wouldnít have troubled to translate them into Arabic.  They went on fine on the wings but nothing I did would stop them silvering on the rest.  National markings are from an Eagle Strike Mirage F1 sheet.  Whether no.719 exists I donít know, but it might. 

Paint is brushed enamels, mainly Humbrol but with White Ensignís RLM 79 on the blue bits of the underside.  Again, the references are unclear about what blue to use, or even whether to use blue on a Libyan aircraft.  The one photo that always appears shows grey aft of the mainwheels and blue forward, so I went with that.  I can recommend White Ensign paint if anyoneís not tried it.  Weathering is Citadel brown ink for the panel lines, Tamiya Smoke for the oily bits, and pastels for the rest, which Iím sure is overdone.

Sean

Photos and text © by Sean Langley