Eduard’s 1:48 scale MiG-21bis Around the World Limited Edition kit comes on 8 injection molded polystyrene sprues containing 439 parts. Approximately 120 of the plastic parts (mostly small detail parts and some of the weapons) won’t be used on the -bis variant. Twenty-six clear parts come on one clear sprue. Detail parts abound, with 14 cast resin parts, 31 pre-painted photoetched metal parts on one fret, and 58 unpainted parts on two frets. There’s also one die-cut self-adhesive masking set and one very large decal sheet. The full color instruction booklet organizes the build over 12 pages. Markings for seven airplanes are included:
- MiG-21bisD Eskadrilia borbenih aviona, Hrvatsko ratno zrakoplovstvo I protizachna obrana, Zagreb-Pleso, Croatia, December 2016
- MiG-21bis, 11th GIAP, Soviet VVS, Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, 1980
- MiG-21bis, s/n 75061904, 2nd Fighter Squadron, Tasár Air Force Base, Hungary, 1992
- MiG-21bis, Free Libyan Air Force, Tobrik, Libya, November 2011
- MiG-21bis, s/n 75080880, 1. Pucki DLMW, Wojska Lotnicze i Obrony Powietrznej, Gdnia-Babie, Poland, June 2000
- MiG-21bis, No. 47 Squadron, Iraqi Air Force, Al Hurrya AB, Iraq, 1980s
- Mig-21bis, San Antonio de los Baños, Cuba, 1990s
Strengths: Across the hobby, Eduard’s 1:48 scale MiG-21 has earned the reputation of being the best Fishbed on the market since the first kit in this family was released in 2011. The Eduard MiG-21 tooling is further well known for its excellent quality and high fidelity. It is also very accurate by all assessments, and the shapes, sizes, and panel line configurations of the Eduard MiG-21 all appear flawless. The clear parts possess excellent optical quality. The canopy, rudder, flaps, ailerons, and horizontal stabilizers are all separate parts and can be positioned as desired, but the mounting tabs have these parts going straight-in, so modifying those (simply, just remove them with a swipe of a knife blade) will be needed to achieve an alternative position. The three ventral speedbrakes can also be built as closed or deployed.
My test fits of the wings and fuselage demonstrate an airtight fit. Those who I know to have built this kit rave about how enjoyable it is to construct. The external surface details are subtle and beautifully executed. Some of the recessed rivets, such as on the wing surfaces, are very fine (shallow), so be mindful when painting so as not to fill them with paint or primer.
The specific MiG-21bis parts come on a Sprue J that has the spine and vertical stabilizer split into left and right halves. The kit also provides parts for external stores: two styles/sizes of drop tanks, along with parts for two R-3R, R-13, and R-60 air-to-air missiles, two FAB 250 bombs, two 490-liter and one 800-liter drop tanks, and a pair of rocket-assisted take-off (RATO) bottles.
The cast resin and photoetched metal parts both complement and build upon the strengths of the plastic in this kit. They also provide various MiG-21bis-specific details. The cast resin wheels and tires are in particular far superior to the kit parts. The pre-painted fret, which contains the instrument dial faces, instrument panel, side consoles, ejection seat harnesses and belts, and ejection handle is just amazing. The resolution of such fine detail that Eduard is able to represent on their pre-painted parts never ceases to amaze. The two unpainted frets contain parts for the afterburner flameholder, wing fences, antennas, pitot tube vanes, and other airframe details. Again, the quality is awesome. The pre-cut self-adhesive masking set is more than handy, and it will save a lot of time making your own masks for the clear parts and airframe elements such as conformal antennas.
The decal sheet looks really great. In terms of production quality, colors are excellent and everything is printed crisply, and all is in register. The choices of markings options are of course another very clear highlight of this set. The Cuban scheme is most interesting to me, as is the all-yellow Hungarian shark-mouth/Camel cigarette scheme (an airshow demo aggressor, actually). All are distinctive and they represent a really great variety of Fishbed subject matter. The decal sheet also contains an exceptionally complete set of airframe/pylon maintenance and munitions stencils. Some are quite fine, but the largest of the stencils are quite legible.
Weaknesses: I cannot offer any substantive critiques of this kit. Just note that this kit is a tail-sitter if you don’t add weight in the nose behind the intake shock cone. While the instructions do take note of this, a suggested quantity of weight would be very helpful to know how much to put in there.