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AMK MiG-31 Foxhound

RELATED TOPICS: AIRCRAFT | MILITARY
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Publicity for AvantGarde Model Kits’ (AMK) 1/48 scale MiG-31 promised it would be “very easy to build.” Did AMK deliver with that tagline? Yes it did!

The kit arrives in a sturdy, tightly packed box, and it’s obvious that a lot of thought went into the engineering and production of this kit. Parts breakdown addresses alignment issues: The one-piece upper wing establishes the anhedral; the vertical tails and lower strakes are molded with sections of the rear fuselage.

Leading- and trailing-edge flaps are provided in both neutral or drooped positions with tabs for alignment.

Construction of the intakes is a treat because the parts click into place. Some of the detail inside the intakes won’t be visible, but you’ll know it’s there!

The main wheel well components attach to the intake trunks and are equally detailed; the structural molding pops under washes and dry-brushing.

The nose wheel well looks good, too, but that’s where I ran into an issue. The instructions have you assemble and install the strut before the bay is attached inside the fuselage. However, the nose-gear leg is fragile and I snapped off the lower portion early in the build. I repaired the break with wire.

The main gear legs feature outer halves that encase an inner strut. This would be great if the strut were made of metal, but it’s plastic and doesn’t add strength to the part. Overall, the undercarriage is the weakest aspect of this kit in terms of execution and final strength.

AMK surpassed itself with the engineering of the forward fuselage, slide-molding the cockpit section as one part. The cockpit slides into the nose, providing a positive, strong assembly. Brilliant!

The well-appointed cockpit features an accurate representation of the layout of the panels and side walls. However, no decals are provided for the flat dials; I applied Mike Grant instrument decals.

The K-­36 seats went together easily. The dimensions seem off — the bases look too wide — but they fit the cockpit. No harnesses are provided. (Since I built this model, AMK released a kit of the earlier MiG­-31B/BS, which includes photo-etched seat belts.) The color callouts indicate painting the seats black. But many MiG­-31s are fitted with a later version of the K-­36 ejection seat that uses a dark forest green on the cushions.

In addition to the wing flaps, the kit includes several options: opened or closed canopies supplied as separate pieces for the former and one piece for the latter; posable tail planes; and separate rudders. Five options are given for the refueling probe. The instructions show the infrared search pod under the nose only in the deployed position, but it’s easy to display it retracted as it’s typically seen on the ground. Just omit part I22 and glue the pod inside the recess.

Slide molding produced weapons with all of the fins in place, and they require little assembly.

Fit is so good that most of the parts virtually snap together. I ended up with a gap under the wings where they meet the fuselage that I filled with epoxy putty. (This may have been “operator error,” considering how well everything else fit). At one point, I lost track of a seam to be glued — it looked the same on both sides, the fit was that good!

The panel lines are wide, soft-edged, and deep. This makes weathering the model super easy as the recessed details accept washes beautifully. But they could be a little finer and more delicate.

I spent a fair chunk of the more than 60 enjoyable hours I took to build this project applying the several hundred decals. The markings performed flawlessly with no silvering.
 
The MiG-31 has only worn gray camouflage in squadron service. But these aircraft get dirty, so the scope for weathering is large. I was a little indulgent here, too, putting a fair amount of effort into wear and tear.

What a ripper of a kit! I see myself building another and really going to town on it.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the September 2016 issue.

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