The MiG-21 jet fighter was a continuation of Soviet jet fighters, starting with the subsonic MiG-15 and MiG-17, and the supersonic MiG-19. A number of experimental Mach 2 Soviet designs were based on nose intakes with either swept-back wings, such as the Sukhoi Su-7, or tailed deltas, of which the MiG-21 would be the most successful.
Development of what would become the MiG-21 began in the early 1950s, when Mikoyan OKB finished a preliminary design study for a prototype designated Ye-1 in 1954. This project was very quickly reworked when it was determined that the planned engine was underpowered; the redesign led to the second prototype, the Ye-2. Both these and other early prototypes featured swept wings?the first prototype with delta wings as found on production variants was the Ye-4. The Ye-4 made its maiden flight on 16 June 1955 and made its first public appearance during the Soviet Aviation Day display at Moscow’s Tushino airfield in July 1956.
In the West, due to the lack of available information, early details of the MiG-21 often were confused with those of similar Soviet fighters of the era. In one instance, Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft 1960?1961 listed the “Fishbed” as a Sukhoi design and used an illustration of the Su-9 ‘Fishpot’.
It eventually became one of the most widely built, exported, and upgraded of all Soviet fighters. This kit is the second generation PFM which had an improved avionics, the ability to carry a centerline cannon, and some later air to air missiles depending on when the airframe was built. NATO designation was Fishbed L and like other second generation 21s had the broader fin and side opening canopy. This version was the one most widely used in the Vietnam War against US F-105s and F-4s.
Judging from the part number, this was Zvezda’s second 1/72 scale kit following their early P-40. The kit offers finely engraved detailing and unlike their later MiG-21bis, there are no major issues with sink areas (a few on the gear doors) or any flash. and there also doesn’t seem to be any problems with mold misalignment.
The MiG-21 is a pretty simple jet and so is this kit. The cockpit consists of a tub into which a seat, which is a fair representation, a control stick and instrument panel are placed. There is no decal for instruments but the panel and side panels have nicely raised detail. A pilot figure is also included as Zvezda had thoughtfully included a display stand.
Landing gear is fairly well done with the nose strut including the wheel molded in place. The gear well detail is either non-existent or simply frames. The kit includes all three speed brakes and on the ground it was not uncommon to see the aft one lowered. The kit can be built with wheels up and the instructions show how that is to be built.
The two fuselage halves trap the exhaust section, the cockpit and the nose gear well. The main gear wells are inserted into each fuselage half before cementing. Wings and tail planes are a single piece. The nose radome is added after the forward intake ring is glued in place. This gives you the opportunity to take care of the seam. All the various vents and small intakes are separate pieces with only the instructions to show where they fit. The clear bits are nicely done.
For things under wings/fuselage you have a centerline gun pod and fuel tank. If mounting the model on the stand, neither of these can be attached. For the wings you have either AA-2 missiles or a pair of rocket pods. A RATO unit can be attached to the fuselage sides if you wish.
Instructions are well done and offer Model Master color information. Two markings options are given. One is the box art plane from an unknown Soviet unit. The other is a North Vietnamese plane. Both are in unpainted metal with the NVAF plane having pale green splotches over the entire upper surface and tail fin. Decals are nicely printed and quite matte. There are a bevy of aftermarket decals for MiGs so if you don’t like what is in the kit, there are other options available.