1/72 ICM MiG-29

Gallery Article by John Green on May 26 2009


Russian aircraft arenít something Iíd normally build, but the IPMS(UK)ís Aerobatic Display Team SIGís theme for last yearís Scale Modelworld was Russian teams, so I volunteered to build a MiG-29 from the Test Pilots team, who famously collided with one another at Fairford some years ago.

I originally intended to use the Airfix kit, which my fiancťe had in her stash, but then learnt that the original aircraft were the humpbacked 9-13S variant, whilst the kit was the earlier 9-12A.  After fruitlessly seeking a conversion set to modify the kit, I then learnt that the ICM kits were of the 9-13S.  A check on the Models For Sale website revealed two different boxings, 72141 with decals for a camouflaged aircraft & 72142 with Swifts markings.  The camo version was £1 cheaper, so natural meanness took over & I opted for that, assuming the difference would be due to the Swifts kit having a more extensive decal sheet, which would be of no use to me anyway.  When the kit arrived, I found it to be extremely crude - I was not impressed, but set to work anyway.  A couple of weeks later my good friend Brad in Texas, who was planning to build the other aircraft of the pair, told me that heíd acquired the Swifts boxing & that his kit seemed different to the description Iíd given him of mine, so I ordered one myself.  A couple of days later the kit arrived & I was very surprised to find that it was actually a completely different & much better tooling, so the original kit was put back in the box & I made a start on the new one.

Click on images below to see larger images

Although the new kit was much more detailed & more crisply moulded, it still fitted together poorly, especially the main intakes, which required copious filling & sanding to get anywhere near an acceptable result.  Several fill/sand/prime cycles later, things were looking much better & it was time for paint.  Iíd looked at various photos of the real thing & the shade of blue seemed to vary enormously from one to another, though oddly the yellow seemed much less variable.  Eventually I settled on Tamiya spraycans of Camel Yellow & Light Blue, which were a reasonable match to some of the pics.  As usual, the yellow was translucent & covered very poorly, requiring several light coats over the space of an evening.  Eventually I arrived at a result with which I was happy & left it for a week to harden properly.

Once the yellow had set, I masked it off before I sprayed the blue.  In order to ensure that I didnít get steps in the paint where itíd been masked, I decided to soft-edge mask with Blu Tak, which turned out not to be one of my better ideas - either I hadnít pressed the Blu Tak down firmly enough, or the Tamiya paint reacted with it, but the blue bled under the masking in numerous places, leaving a real mess.  Fortunately, since Iíd masked down the middle of what would become the black area, most of the unwanted blue would be covered by the black, but I had to do some patching with yellow-painted decal on both fins & entirely cover the top of the starboard tailplane with it, but in the end it wasnít too obvious.

When it was time to apply the black, it became obvious that my chances of successfully masking & painting it were right up there with my chances of being made Archbishop of Canterbury on the day I won the National Lottery, ie extremely slim !!  Consequently, I fell back on Plan B & used black decal.  Most of it was outlined with a mix of Xtradecal & Kemco stripes & then infilled with brush-painted Humbrol gloss black & the sections on top of the engines, the centre section of the wing undersurface & the tailplane undersides were cut from a sheet of Microscale solid decal.  It was a rather long-winded process, but turned out to be relatively simple & generally successful.  A few coats of Future to level everything up & it was time for the rest of the decals.

Obtaining decals for the project ran much less smoothly than it should have done.  I sat on the info for much too long before I sent it off to my friend Jacob to produce the artwork, then asked him to perform miracles before I ran out of time.  The plan was that Brad would print them, but there was a problem with the graphics file & heíd gone away on a course when the revised version arrived, so I had to do the best I could myself.  The Russian insignia on the fins was printed from Jacobís artwork onto white decal using my inkjet printer & the logo on the upper starboard nose printed onto clear decal.  The fin serial numbers were Modeldecal RAF serials & the white Aviatika lettering on the intakes was white Letraset, rubbed down onto clear decal film.  Some of the photos show the Aviatika logo on the intake in front of the titles, but others donít - when I looked at the logos, they looked like self-adhesive stickers, since the area around them was discoloured & I came to the conclusion that they were applied to the aircraft after they arrived at Fairford.  Since I was modelling the aircraft with three droptanks, as if it had just arrived, I felt safe omitting the logos.

Once the decaling was complete, that just left the seat, canopy, undercarriage, jetpipes & droptanks.  The seat was True Details, donated by Brad, the jetpipes Bradís own castings to replace the less-accurate kit versions & everything else was from the kit.  It was all brush-painted 7 superglued into place, together with some simple plasticard intake blanks.  Lowering the finished item onto its wheels revealed the final problem - with all the tanks & the resin jetpipes, the accursed thingís a tail sitter.  It was too late to do anything before Scale Modelworld, so I put a prop under the rear of the centreline tank, but when I get round to it - probably any decade now !! - Iíll remove one of the intake blanks & add some lead to the intake to hold the nosewheel on the ground.

All of the above makes it sound like a real battle, but much of the trouble was of my own making, largely because I left it too late to start the project & everything was done in a mad rush.  On the whole though, Iím generally pleased with the model & itís certainly an eye-catching addition to the collection.

John Green

Photos and text © by John Green