Mig-23BN Flogger H
This kit is a cooperative effort between the companies Platz and Italeri. The kit contents are well protected in a sturdy top-opening box. The plastic parts are provided by Italeri and are the same as in many Italeri boxings of the Mig-23. The kit includes four sprues of parts in light gray plastic, a clear sprue of canopy and landing lights parts, decals, a sheet of pre-cut masks, instructions, and four-view painting/decaling guides and decals to build either a Soviet or North Korean option.
The plastic parts provided by Italeri were first issued by ESCI back in the late 1970’s. The design and detail of the plastic parts reflect the standards of the ‘70s and ‘80s. Interior detail is sparse and exterior detail is depicted by fine raised panel-lines. Sprues C and E provide alternate nose and ordinance parts to build either a Soviet Mig-23BN or a North Korean Mig-23M. To build the exterior cockpit armor of the Mig-23BN the modeler needs to cut out their own parts from plastic sheet (not included). The instructions provide full-size templates for this. I liked the looks of the North Korean Mig-23M and chose to build that option. I didn’t notice until I got to the painting stage that the narrow chord vertical tail depicted on the painting guide for the North Korean plane is not provided in the kit.
The kit instructions are printed in an 8 1/2” by 11” booklet on glossy white paper. Text is in both Japanese and English. Painting call-outs are listed for GSI Creos Mr. Color, GSI Creos Aqueous Hobby Color, and Tamiya paints. The illustrations are clear and sufficiently large. Where assembly differs for the two kit options, the instructions have clearly labeled separate “Scheme A” or “Scheme B” illustrations.
There is a little bit of flash on some parts but this is not surprising given the age of the molds. My copy of the kit had minor sink marks on the top of the fuselage above where the wing pivots are molded. The two nose cones jut up at right angles from their sprues and are prone to twisting and damage at the sprue attachment points.
Cockpit detail is sparse. There are no rudder pedals or sidewall detail. Instrument panel detail is provided by a decal. The instrument panel decal is simply black and white and not very convincing. It would have been better to have a transparent panel with black instruments and white detail. Platz missed an opportunity by not providing decals for the sidewall detail. The joining of the cockpit halves creates a seam behind the seat. I recommend deviating from the instructions and waiting to add the seat until after the seam is cleaned up.
The fit of major airframe components isn’t bad but lacks the precision of modern kits. It is necessary to carefully remove flash from mating surfaces and test-fit before committing to glue. Seams between the cockpit, intakes, and fuselage will need filler. Most of the raised panel lines on the sides of the rear fuselage will be lost to sanding. Many of the detail parts have no positive location aids. The gun pod has to be located by “eyeballing” its position relative to other details. There are no locating pins for the missiles on their launch rails. If you use the big R-23 missiles you have to be careful that they don’t interfere with the landing gear doors. The front landing gear doors are molded with the cockpit sides. The main gear doors simply butt-join to the fuselage. The instructions show the locations of the inner gear doors (A17 and A20) incorrectly. The wider end of the doors should be at the front. The attachment of the outer gear doors (A18 and A21) requires gluing butt-joints to the ends of very thin struts.
There are no parts for an engine face but the intake trunks are deep enough that it takes a flashlight to see that they simply dead-end. The wings can sweep back and forth on the finished model and are kept in sync by interlocking teeth inside the fuselage.
For ordinance and stores the kit provides Three drop tanks, two 250kg bombs, two R-13M missiles, two R-23 missiles, and two R-60 missiles. There are parts for a rotary canon but they are not called out in the instructions. The wing-mounted drop tanks were used only with the wings un-swept. If you want to display your Mig with the wings swept, you will have to leave the wing tanks off. I found that mounting the centerline fuel tank interfered with the R-60 missiles, so I left the tank off.
The masks provided for the canopy and wheels are precut on kabuki tape material. Since the main wheel hubs project outward from the wheel face, the masks for the main wheels may want to wrinkle at the edges unless you slice them in the middle to let the hubs project through. The masks for the opening portion of the canopy didn’t fit very well and don’t make any allowance for the center piece of canopy frame, I added the center part later with painted decal film.
The decals are printed by Cartograf and worked perfectly with warm water and Micro-set setting solution. The printing of the decals is sharp and in register. The stencils would be legible if I could read Cyrillic. The carrier film seemed very thin and tight to the edge of the markings and disappeared underneath a matt varnish. The decal sheet includes an extensive set of stencils for the aircraft but no stencils for the ordinance or fuel tanks.
Although the plastic parts of the Platz/Italeri Mig-23 aren’t up to modern standards for interior detail and precision, some modelers may appreciate a simpler build that gets them to the painting and finishing stage sooner. Modelers may enjoy the nostalgia of revisiting a vintage kit from their youth with their current skills and resources. I am grateful to IPMSUSA for the opportunity to review this kit and to Platz Models for generously providing this review sample.