Saturday, December 28

Finished: KittyHawk's 1/48th MiG-25 Foxbat build "On the Bench" by Gary Wickham. Parts I & II

If possible on The Modelling News we like to build kits to actually show you how the model goes together. We think it’s the best type of review we could do for you. With this in mind Gary Wickham has taken on the new Kittyhawk MiG-25 in 48th scale – not with calipers and plans but with cutters and glue in his hands – Now Gary has finished this build and so you don't have to go ferreting around to find the parts of the build we put them together into one article  - with the Gallery on a separate page..

Mikoyan MiG-25PD Foxbat E - Build Review “On The Bench”
Kittyhawk KH80119
Scale: 1/48
Available from: KittyHawk distributors Worldwide.
The MiG-25 Foxbat family of aircraft are by all means remarkable both technically and historically, and until the 1976 defection of Lt. Viktor Belenko, these large fighters commanded a respect which they hardly deserved in terms of real combat capability. The Foxbat is very much constrained in flight profile by its unique propulsion and is a dedicated high altitude short range interceptor.

The MiG-25PD/PDS Foxbat E (source:
By the late seventies, it was clear that the Foxbat A had outlived its usefulness, and an improved version was sought. This was achieved by fitting the engines of the Foxbat D and a revised weapon system, built around the J-band RP-25 Safir-25 look-down radar, NATO code High Lark. The High Lark is used in the tactical MiG-23 Flogger, the most common strike fighter in the FA inventory, and later models have a facility to project radar video on the HUD, whether this model is used in the Foxbat is unclear. The High Lark is complemented by an Infrared Search & Track Set (IRS&T), most likely the same equipment as carried by the Flogger B/G.

The MiG-25PD Foxbat E superseded the Foxbat A in production in 1978, with subsequent rebuilds of Foxbat A aircraft to Foxbat E standard receiving the designation MiG-25PDS….
The use of the MiG-23 Flogger's weapon system provides the Foxbat E with a capability comparable to or better than late model F-4E aircraft, and this is reinforced by the use of the same AAM fit as the Flogger. A typical load comprises a pair of SARH R-23 AA-7 Apex and two or four IRH R-20 AA-8 Aphid or AA-11 Archer, the latter a respectable dogfight missile. Later Aphids are all aspect capable, and can engage targets from 1,500 ft out to 3.7 NM. The Apex is considered comparable to the AIM-7 but is bigger and heavier at 705 lb, of which 88 lb is a warhead. The AA-7 comes in SARH and IRH versions, the SARH seeker is credited with a range of 20 NM against co-altitude targets and 12 NM against look-down targets, while the IRH seeker is limited to 8 NM.

The AA-11 is the latest IRH missile adopted by the FA, and is considered comparable to all aspect AIM-9.

The weapon system and weapon fit of the Foxbat E to intercept low-level targets and provides some measure of self-defensive capability if engaged by other fighters. Other avionics were also improved, with ECM and expendables carried, and an ARK-15 DF set.

The aircraft is by current standards a useful air defence interceptor with good supersonic dash performance, but its aerodynamic limitations preclude its use outside of this role. Its weapon system is inherently tied to a GCI environment and thus the Foxbat E is of limited usefulness outside of its IADS.
Modelling Reference Material
During my build I discovered several online resources that you may find useful:

Photos of Real MiG-25's
Accuracy/Corrections for the Kittyhawk MiG-25PD kit
Thoughts on Building the Kittyhawk MiG-25PD/PDS Foxbat E
The new Kittyhawk MiG-25 has been eagerly anticipated by modelling fans of soviet jets and cold war era aircraft in general.
Having now worked with the kit for several weeks my overall impression is that it's not a shake and bake kit and that once you move past looking at what's provided on the sprues and get to putting glue to plastic you realize that this model will need some tender loving care to bring out its best.

The fit of most parts is average (not bad but not good), there are accuracy issues (the engine nozzles and main undercarriage sit being the biggest in my opinion) and if you want to build an accurate MiG-25 PD/PDS from the box you need to check your reference and not always trust what's on the parts or in the instructions. Much has been said about the accuracy of the intakes and in particular the lack of trunking. I did not see this as all that big a deal because I always planned to use FOD covers.

One thing I did find was that the instructions did not always match up with what was possible with the plastic parts. Using the intakes again as an example, it's clear that the parts can be assembled to correctly represent the variable intake ramp present in the top of the intake, even the photo etch detail part is designed to attached to the plastic parts correctly, it's only the assembly instructions that mislead you into the believing it has to be done a certain way (the wrong way). It's almost like the person who designed the kit parts did not speak to the person who wrote the instructions (I doubt they were the same person).

As with any model subject you can scrutinize the kit to the nth degree, finding things that are wrong or missing. I want to build an accurate model just like the next man, but over the years I have gravitated towards spending less time analyzing and more time building. I appreciate the efforts of knowledgeable people on the internet who know the subject well and often have first-hand access to the subject matter. I look closely at their research and conclusions and then decide for myself which things are worth correcting/detailing to enhance my model. I almost never go all out to try and fix everything because I find often that you get bogged down or even worse talk yourself (or someone else) out of starting the model in the first place.

I've enjoyed this build and applaud Kittyhawk for continuing to give us subjects that are long overdue.
The Build
The following photos and comments relate to my build of the KittyHawk MiG-25PD which took me about 2 months elapsed time. I knuckled down in the last month and spent most of my spare time working on the model to get it finished prior to Christmas 2013. With the exception of the main undercarriage sits issue (see below) which caught me off guard, the build went together much as expected.

So there you have it. I've genuinely enjoyed working on this model despite pushing myself to finish it to a self-imposed deadline. This is not the first kit I would recommend for a beginner as it does require some medium to advanced modelling techniques to bring it home, and I'm not referring to the scratch building and correction work because that’s entirely optional, but rather the general fit and ease with which the model goes together.

I'm sure that Kittyhawk has other variants of the MiG-25 in the pipeline (I've seen pics of the two-seater for example) and that’s a good thing because when you compare this kit with the Revell offering in 1/48 it’s like chalk and cheese.

So if you made it this far through my article you know what you are up for to build this kit and I hope I've encouraged you to make the leap and build something with a big Red Star :)

The gallery of this kit showing a finished Kit is here at this link

Gary Wickham
Check out Gary's builds on his site

Thanks to KittyHawk for sending us this kit to build