AMK 1/48 MiG-31 BM/BSM Foxhound Preview by A Sklarski
Introduction: The Mig-31 was developed in the early 1970’s for the Soviet Union’s need to replace interceptors like the Tu-128 and Su-15, as well as its predecessor, the MiG-25 Foxbat, these aircraft now becoming obsolete. Full production of the MiG-31 began in 1979 with over 500 being made before ending in 1994. The kit represents the later MiG-31BM/BSM multirole version with upgraded avionics, new radar and liquid crystal color multi-function displays (MFDs) allowing the MiG-31 to remain in service until at least 2030. The MiG-31 is a large twin-engine aircraft with shoulder-mounted wings and twin vertical tailfins and two seats since the aircraft is an interceptor is not designed for close combat or rapid turning. Powered by two D30-F6 jet engines it has maximum speed of Mach 1.23 at low altitude. High-altitude speed is Mach 2.83. The kit: When I found out that AvantGarde Model Kits (AMK) were planning on making a Foxhound in 1/48 scale I was overjoyed. For too long this aircraft has only been represented in 1/72 scale and by only a few kits like the ancient, and hard to repair, Lindberg kit (of which I have somewhere but now I want it to remain lost). AMK comes to the rescue with a brand new state-of-the-art injection molded kit of this long neglected machine; let’s have a look at kit number 88003. The kit comes in a stout large top opening box; we are greeted with color gloss printed instructions over a box full of 7 bags of sprues, major fuselage components and missiles receiving their own boxes. All well packed making for minimal shifting during shipping. Decals, nose weights and a small PE fret round out the parts on the bottom of the box. Let’s start with the instructions, printed on glossy paper and CAD produced they set the industry standard for printing and “readability” of the line drawings. There are no brands of paints called out but they give you FS and RAL numbers. There are marking options for 4 aircraft from the 2000’s. On steps 14 and 15 parts C-10, 13 and C-7, 14 it isn’t made clear but they are for setting the deflection of the horizontal stabs. I am led to believe that this has been corrected for the next printing batch. The parts are molded in a medium dark gray plastic as with previous AMK kits. The moldings are crisp and clean with recessed panel lined that are the same depth as on their earlier releases, like the L-29 Delfin. Rivet detail is of various sizes depending on whether or not a screw or rivet is to be represented on the real aircraft. Some would say the panel line depth is just a hair deeper than they would like but I have found under coats of primer, paint, weathering, Future and dull coat they are fine, where as some other brands of kits with fairer lines seemed to disappear. Options for raised or dropped flaps/slats are provided. A full loadout of R-33, R-73 and R77 missiles are provided. Each missile being a work of art in itself, the smaller R-73 is a one-piece molding. The larger weapons are one-piece moldings with fin extensions or rocket exhausts being separate parts. The real gem of the kit is the attention to detail, with the full intake and exhaust depth as well as wheel-well detail really shining through. The sidewalls are well detailed with molded in ducts and piping. The MiG-31 has unique corrugated intakes with the wall making up the inside of the wheel wells. The detail here is far and away better than we have seen on lessor kits. The struts have 2 halves surrounding a core for added strength and aided alignment. The front office is represented well and even accurate instrument panels with the correct location of the LCD displays and gauges being accurate down to the selector knob. The kit comes with well-detailed K-36 seats, no belt detail is molded on them, which I prefer, but no PE belts are provided, only PE ejection handles. I cannot determine what variant of the K-36 seat is used on the real aircraft so you may want to add belts instead of replacing the seats, perhaps in future releases they could provide etched belts. Overall the cockpit detail is outstanding. The clear parts are crisp and clean, inside detail is provided for a canopy open kit or a one piece canopy closed option is provided. The front fuselage is a one piece affair made with slide mold technology and represents a leap forward in kit design; mod lines are ever slight and can be cleaned with a swipe of the sanding stick if desired. One thing I did notice it the kit has molded in reinforcing ribs on the inside surface, this should provide for a warp free and sturdy kit. The decals come on two sheets, one for full and I mean FULL stencils and the other for national markings for 4 examples. The decals are glossy and well printed and in register, they are separately bagged with waxy like paper to protect them. One thing I love about the stencils is missile details are provided. As for accuracy I can’t be sure of the scale size as I have yet to build the kit and measure it. Shape and dimensions of the major subassemblies seem spot on to my eye. Most of my books are a bit old on the MiG-31 and cover earlier variants. I had to turn to the internet for more information. It seems that someone at AMK had access to a real MiG-31 or knows some who does. AMK seems to have captured the shapes and subtle details right on. The shape of the slab sided front fuselage and small details, like the tire inflation valves and the differences between the antennas on each vertical stab, even the placement of the pop out pins (AKA ejector pins) is well thought out being in places like actuator mounts on the gear doors, suitably hidden when assembled. As I write this first look I also hear of earlier variants planned for the coming months. I eagerly await these kits and to see the differences in them. Cut outs in the fuselage and the fact the instrument panels are molded separately indicate future variant releases. I will be diving into this build soon and will try to provide a complete build review when finished. We have waited for a long time for a modern kit of this Soviet, now Russian interceptor and it was well worth it. Go and grab your example and enjoy placing this huge kit on the shelf next to your other cold war warriors. Thanks to AvantGarde (AMK) for the review sample.