Saturday, January 26

Dry Fit Review: Kittyhawk's 48th scale MiG-25 RB/RBT Foxbat B

Kittyhawk's new 48th scale MiG-25 RB/RBT Foxbat B was recently released, and we thought who better to review it than the guy who has made the first release of the Foxbat by Kittyhawk Mr Gary Wickham? See as Gary compares and contrasts this with the earlier release in his excellent review...

Dry Fit Review: MiG-25 RB/RBT Foxbat B
Kitty Hawk (KH80113)
Scale: 1:48th scale
Price: A$145.81 AUD / $104.66 USD/ £79.41 GBP/ €91.74 EUR
Product link at Hobbylink Japan

The MiG-25RB was a single-seat reconnaissance-bomber derived from the high-altitude daylight reconnaissance variant MiG-25R. The RB was fitted with improved reconnaissance systems and a Peleng automatic bombing system. In addition to its main recon role, the RB was designed to also be capable of carrying a bombload of up to eight 500 kg (1,102 lb) bombs. The MiG-25 RB entered service in 1970 and was assigned the NATO codename Foxbat-B
The MiG25-RBT was a further improved reconnaissance-bomber, being fitted with Tangaz ELINT equipment. The RBT retained the NATO codename Foxbat-B.
INTRODUCTION - KittyHawk 1:48 MiG-25 RB/RBT Foxbat-B (KH80113)
Much like their 1:48 Voodoo kits, Kittyhawk have now decided to resurrect the MiG-25 range they started back in 2013. The first KH MiG-25 release was hotly anticipated because at the time the only other 1:48 game in town was the ancient Revell kit. Alas the KH MiG-25 PD kit left a lot to be desired. It had plenty of shape and accuracy issues which many modellers were not willing to tackle (and fair enough).
Back in 2013 I did a full build of the PD/PDS kit and whilst I thought it scrubbed up ok, it was not an easy build.
Fast forward five years to 2018 and the main question on my mind when this new RB/RBT boxing arrived was: What, if anything, had KH done to increase the appeal of their MiG-25 family?. You see, unlike back in 2013 when the competition was slim, in 2018 things are quite different as we have a brand new tooled family of MiG-25's from ICM

Well, after having a good look in the box I'm comfortable reporting that KH has done a fair bit of work to lift this kit compared to the first release. This has mainly been achieved by the inclusion of a bunch of resin goodies, and some tweaking of the plastic parts.:

- Single piece detailed resin exhaust nozzles
- Detailed resin cameras and camera bay
- Metal reinforced, resin undercarriage
- Resin exhaust FOD covers
- Two resin standing pilot figures
- The plastic used in this new kit is pretty standard these days for KH but does represent a step up from the hard blue-grey plastic used in the original kit.
Finally, the printed instruction booklet is much larger (A4) which makes things that much easier to read than the very small instructions provided back in 2013. My point is that KH have naturally evolved over the years and credit where its due.

All the resin parts are quite securely packaged and for the most part are well cast and detailed. To my mind, the two which will save modellers a lot of time are the single piece exhaust nozzles and the undercarriage. For super detailers, the camera packs look great but will require you to display them out of the airframe in some fashion. The pilot figures are also a welcome inclusion as I find they provide a true sense of scale for this monstrous aircraft.

When it comes to the actual plastic parts, Kittyhawk has (naturally) re-purposed most of the sprues found in the previous release and due to their modular engineering approach only the nose (Sprue RB) has been replaced. A new set of weapons sprues (WEAPON_1) is also included in the box alongside the previous I & J weapon sprues. Kitty Hawk have also significantly reworked the main and nose wheels in this new kit. The previous overdone recessed surface detail on the tyres has been replaced with subtle raised ribbing to give a much more realistic result.
Sprue RB contains the parts that are required to build the RB/RBT or an RBF. The RBF was an upgraded RBK which itself was an RB converted to carry SIGINT equipment in the nose camera bays. Some of the cameras were deleted and the ports faired over.

DRY BUILD - KittyHawk 1:48 MiG-25 RB/RBT Foxbat-B (KH80113)

As this new MiG-25 RB/RBT/RBF boxing has so many parts in common with the earlier kit I am not going to go over old ground and review these again. As mentioned above, the rear fuselage/tail and wings/undercarriage are all common to the previous kit, so if you are interested in more than specifically the new RB/RBT/RBF parts in this kit then I'd suggest you first check out my full Kitty Hawk MiG-25PD build review for a complete end to end build and assessment. After that come back here to see what the RB specific parts are like.

As the biggest visual difference with the Recon/Strike (RB) versions of the MiG-25 is the nose, let's start there. In addition to the actual camera packs, KH kindly provides detailed fore and aft resin bulkheads for the camera bay. If you plan to leave the camera bay closed (part RB3 glued in) then save yourself some effort and leave the bulkheads and camera packs out of the model, you just won't see them.
Rather than tool up sprue RB to include the camera bay bulkheads in plastic, KH have opted to provide these in resin. They look pretty convincing (no, I couldn't find any reference photos of the camera bay) and the fit is spot on. You really only want to deal with these parts if you plan to display the camera bay open in some way or another.
Speaking of opening up the camera bay, this photo certainly gives enough detail to get me thinking about options for the model. It's a pity that KH gives the modeller no assistance what so ever to optionally display the camera bay open. Yes, they give us the camera packs but no supporting framework onto which to glue them, this is left to the modeller to sort out. It kinda feels a little half done to me, almost like a last minute idea.
For this photo of the camera packs I loosely held them in place with Blu-Tack, but in the event, you wanted to display them properly a better solution would be needed. As you can see the resin is nicely detailed and really deserves to be shown off.
Once you decide how you plan to deal with the camera bay, the mating of the nose to the forward fuselage is very good. Here you can also see the resin Nose Landing Gear (NLG) fitted snuggly in place.
A useful reference shot of the panels and camera ports under the nose. For the most part KH seem to have gotten things in the right place, with the one notable exception being the very aft camera port.
To avoid having to tool up a new forward fuselage section from the previous (and no doubt future) kit Kittyhawk have lazily just ignored the aft camera port. Instead of properly moulded circular port (with clear glass) we have instead a circular port (complete with rivets). This will need to be cut out and a clear lens fashioned from a clear sheet. Unfortunately, this sort of half-effort is becoming a bit of a KH trademark. I mean I'm no MiG-25 expert but it took me about 30 secs to see what KH had done. Not the end of the world, but not really good enough either.
A little grainy, but this photo is one of very few that shows a real MiG-25RB from underneath. Trying to find clear photos of cold war era Soviet aircraft is challenging to say the least.
One of the colour options provided on the decal sheet is listed as an RBF. The MiG-RBF was a converted recon aircraft which had most of the cameras removed and replaced with Shar-25 ELINT/SIGINT equipment. The circular camera ports were subsequently removed and replaced with rectangular dielectric panels. Interestingly the RBK/RBF was sufficiently different enough for NATO to assign it the Foxbat-D designation. Accordingly, KH has provided an alternate part (RB4) for use should you decide on the RBF variant. Sadly KH does not provide any guidance on this in the instructions, you just need to figure out yourself which nose should be used for which paint scheme. Another example of KH only half doing the job.
This photo shows to good effect the dielectric panels of the RBK / RBF.
The fit of the nose parts is very good with no visible gaps or steps. Looking closely at the recessed detail of the dielectric panels KH seem to have added rivet detail, which hardly seems accurate and will need to be removed with some putty. The shape and size of the various lumps and bumps on the underside look about right to my eye.
A final shot of the nose from the topside and as you can see there are no fit issues here. I do think the recessed panel/rivet detail is a bit soft and will need some gentle re-scribing before paint. This in my experience is pretty typical for KH.
A major change (improvement) over the original KH MiG-25 kit is the nose and main landing gear. All three have now been provided in resin, with what appears to be internal metal strengthening pins. My only hesitation with these new resin parts is that they are designed to be sandwiched between the sidewalls of the gear bays, meaning you can't really leave them off till the end (can anyone say broken undercarriage ...)
The resin NLG is literally a drop in replacement for the previous plastic parts and fits perfectly (no, really its an excellent fit). Not only is it a good fit it also feels very solid, something I like very much in my model undercarriage. You can see the wheel axles are made from a metal pin which has been integrally moulded into the resin. Kudos to Kittyhawk for this one.
As mentioned previously the surface detail on the tyres for both nose and main wheels have been significantly upgraded from the original kit. I still had to glue a plastic card disc over the axle hole as KH do not provide this (I assume they expect the end of the metal axle to be good enough, which it most certainly is not).
With the NLG bay closed up, the fit of the whole bay into the fuselage is once again spot on. Note the complete lack of gaps or misalignment between the NLG bay and the fuselage.
The camera bay aft bulkhead and NLG resin parts fit with no issue into the plastic parts as shown here. Credit to KH for making these downstream add-on parts integrate so well with the original plastic.
Much like the NLG, the original multi-part main landing gear struts have been replaced with single-piece resin parts. These are also are designed to be sandwiched between the MLG bay walls. This results in a very solid and strong attachment, which is an improvement over many previous KH releases.
The single-piece resin MLG strut is a simple drop-in fit. The axle is a metal pin, which hopefully will provide enough load bearing strength for this large model over the long haul.
I'm really glad that KH made some effort to upgrade the plastic tools in this release. The most obvious to me was the surface detail on the main wheels. Compare here the original tyre (inset) from my 2013 build with the new detail (with raised ribs and lettering) of this release. Aftermarket resin wheels are now available for this kit but I'd be quite happy to use the new kit wheels given the improvement.
Arriving at the business end of the MiG-25 we have another welcome time-saver from KH in the form of a single-piece resin exhaust nozzle. In the original kit, these were only provided in multi-part plastic (which BTW are still on the sprues if you prefer these over the resin). As a bonus, you also get a set of FOD covers, which would hide all that nice engine interior detail, but at least you get to decide.
The fit of the resin exhaust part is good, but does require a bit of cleanup and trimming of the plastic parts to get a super snug fit. I remember how much effort went into this part of the original model so can say with confidence that this addition will make a world of difference to the enjoyment of your build.
A quick check of the resin against the real thing shows that the KH master parts are pretty spot on, even down to the raised rivet detail on each nozzle petal.
A nice inclusion I the resin goodie pack is a pair of engine FOD covers. These come complete with two little grab handles (not fitted for this photo) and once painted red will make an eye-catching addition to the finished model. Of course, it's stating the obvious but if you fit these covers it hides all that detail inside ­čśĽ.
A few more general photos of the assembled rear-end and installed resin nozzles. I'd have to give KH a 9/10 for this item as it looks good and the fit is spot on.
I'm not normally one to be worried enough about the general shape of a kit to compare it to drawings. However, in this case, I was curious if KH had done a passable job with the RB nose. The original KH MiG-25 release was savaged pretty badly on several of the Russian modelling forums for major shape issues so I figured anyone reading this review would probably be interested.

I'll let you be the judge, but to my eye, the shape is pretty darn good, certainly not needing any kind of major correction work.
Viewed from the top I think that KH has mostly captured the pronounced bulge in the nose forward of the cockpit.
I've zoomed in a bit on the bottom view so we can compare the position of the various camera ports. Again for the most part (not withstanding that missing aft camera port), I think its ok.
To close out the resin goodies, let's take a look at the two included pilot figures. The first figure is a standing pilot wearing a GSH-6 High Altitude Helmet & VKK-6 "Altitude Compensation" Pressure Suit. There are plenty of period photos of MiG-25 pilots wearing this flight gear. I'm not really fussed on the stance of the figure, but if you stood him near a boarding ladder he might look a bit more at home.
The second pilot figure strikes me as a much more modern flight suit and not something that would have been worn by MiG-25 pilots circa 1970s. Of course, I am no expert but I would exercise caution and put this pilot figure aside and use for another Russian project.

COLOURS & MARKINGS - KittyHawk 1:48 MiG-25 RB/RBT Foxbat-B (KH80113)

Kittyhawk provides a total of six marking options in the kit. Four Russian, one Indian and the last Bulgarian. Each paint scheme is provided in a full-colour glossy spread across two A4 pages (so nice and big). Colour call-outs are all using Gunze Mr Color paints. As always, I would advise caution when using the colours indicated and do a healthy amount of testing to match sure the match is optimal based on actual reference photos.
Much like previous KH releases, the kit decals seem to be well printed with no obvious registration issues. Though not as thin as you would expect from a set printed by say Cartograf or Microscale, I can confirm from previous KH builds, that the kit decals work well and respond as expected to setting & softening solutions. The small PE fret contains parts for the variable intake ramps and options for the instrument panel, should you prefer this over the raised plastic parts also provided.
FINAL THOUGHTS - KittyHawk 1:48 MiG-25 RB/RBT Foxbat-B (KH80113)
Kittyhawk seems to have hit full stride with their release schedule. They are finally catching up with long overdue variants from previous releases like the MiG-25 and F-101 Voodoo.

Not sure what caused the delay but in many ways, it's probably worked to their advantage as they have been able to introduce new features into these kits that would not have been done back in 2013.

I think the biggest impediment to KH selling plenty of these kits will boil down to competition from ICM. I've not got one of the ICM 1:48 kits but everything I've read indicates they are pretty good.
A quick price check on Hannants reveals the ICM kit going for around US$42 while the Kittyhawk kit is US$72. Likewise, on HLJ the prices are US$65 (ICM) vs US$105 (KH).

Having looked pretty closely at the KH kit now I'm just not seeing how KH can justify that sort of price premium when they simply haven't done the work on the kit to warrant it.

Whilst I do appreciate the effort KH have put into this new boxing with the inclusion of the resin parts and rework of some of the plastic, I'd just like to see them do a little more and make their pricing a little more realistic (competitive). 

Gary Wickham

Thanks to Kittyhawk for supplying the review kit for our examination...