Sunday, April 9

Build guide Pt.I: ICM's "Ghost of Kyiv" in 72nd scale updated & improved...

Andy King has taken on ICM's 72nd scale "Ghost of Kyiv" release in his build guide. He has updated & improved on the kit in certain areas. See the spectre come alive in his helpful tutorial...

Build Review Pt I: "Ghost of Kyiv" MIG-29 of Ukrainian Air Force
From ICM
1:72nd scale
Model #72140
82 parts
24.1cm long, 15.8cm wingspan when completed
A special "Ghost" digital decal is included
Price: $34.45 USD from Hobbylink Japan
Product link on the ICM website
The subject - the "Ghost of Kyiv" & his MiG-29
ICM is bringing us a kit portraying one of the myths of the war over Ukraine. The "Ghost of Kyiv" was a story from the start of the Russian Invasion in March, with the tale of a brave Ukrainian MiG-29 pilot who shot down gained worldwide fame after shooting down 5 or 10 - depending on your source - Russian aircraft on the first day of the invasion. “People call him the Ghost of Kyiv. And rightly so,” the Ukrainian government had said at the time.

Footage of the MiG-29 shooting down Russian aircraft spread around the internet like wildfire, and although later on it was said the footage that was created in flight simulator DCS was not real, it was said it was created to pay homage to this now legendary pilot's skill and nerves.

Reports have come in today that the "Ghost", after shooting down as many as 40 Russian aircraft, was identified as Major Stepan Tarabalka, a 29-year-old father of one. A UK newspaper also said that the Tarabalka, whilst flying a MiG-29, was shot down on March 13 while battling an “overwhelming” number of enemy forces. His final tally of enemy aircraft is rumoured to be around 40 enemy aircraft & helicopters.

Although the facts about the pilot & his exploits are under scrutiny and we will never be sure of many of them, we are sure that the legend has inspired many Ukrainians and citizens of the world alike.

The kit: 1/72nd scale MiG-29 "Ghost of Kyiv" kit
Early on during the war in Ukraine (and it is a war, not a 'peace-keeping operation') a legend was spawned, 'The Ghost of Kyiv' and it was due to the amount of Russian aircraft 'The Ghost' allegedly shot down before the pilot ejected or was killed. Whether it was true or not or whether he flew a MiG-29 or Su-27 doesn't really matter because the important thing is that legends like this give people hope when their back is against the wall during conflicts.

With that ICM re-boxed their 1/72 MiG-29 in 2022 complete with a new decal sheet. The kit itself is one of their earlier models released in 2008 and to be fair it shows as ICM have improved their moulding quality a LOT since then.

Just four sprues (including a clear one) are in the box along with two decal sheets. I must admit when I first received the model from ICM, I was very hesitant about the digital camouflage scheme as it would have involved some very tedious masking and painting or obtaining a pre-cut masking set, luckily ICM have the digital camo printed as decals so that's the route I'll be going down when I eventually paint the model.
The "Ghost" scheme...
On the smaller sheet are a variety of I.D. numbers plus stencils;
Looking at the parts on the sprues and moulding quality is OK, but there is some flash present;
The aftermarket improvements I will be using for this kit.
Some parts are pretty simplified especially the exhausts, but I'll come to that later as I build the model. At the time of writing there was very little in the way of aftermarket items for this kit but I did read that an etch set for the Italeri Mig-29 can be used as it was claimed to be very similar to the ICM kit so I found the set along with a Quickboost ejection seat.
Starting then with the cockpit and this is a very simple construction comprising the tub, an instrument panel and ejection seat. I tried to add the etched parts for the Italeri MiG-29 due to the claim it fits this one....nope! In fact the only part that fits is the floor plus the ejection seat harness and that's it so scratch that idea.
I assembled the Quickboost seat to see how it fitted the cockpit but unfortunately it is substantially taller than the kit item and as a consequence the canopy wouldn't fit in place so scratch that idea (#2);
In the end I carved off the moulded on seat harness and used the one from the etch set so that it wasn't a total waste;
The instrument panel didn't fit either, so more etched bits for the spares box. With the cockpit in place, I glued lead weight into the nose before sticking the fuselage halves together;
The fit of the fuselage wasn't particularly good along the sides and particularly around the nose and required a fair bit of filing and sanding before I was satisfied with the joints. Once I had dealt with the fuselage I fitted the wings and again there were some big gaps along the wing roots;
These were filled with a polyester modelling putty from Mr Hobby as you can clean the joints up with a wipe over using IPA (Isopropyl Alcohol), that way you don't destroy any surface detail like you would with regular solvent-based modelling filler and sandpaper.

The nose joints require some TLC
With the wings on I added the vertical fins (or not so vertical in the case of the MiG-29) and the rear stabilators, again the fit of these parts wasn't great and required filling and cleaning up;
On the starboard upper fuselage near the cockpit there is a sink mark that needed filling too;
After all that the airframe was virtually built;
The next job was to assemble the air intakes and this presented a couple of issues as apart from the poor fit of parts and the lack of detail, the FOD guards (parts B22) are depicted as closed while on the upper fuselage the auxiliary inlet doors are moulded open. The problem with that is, on the MiG-29 the FOD guards are only closed and the inlet doors on top open when the engines are running, any other time the inlets are closed and the FOD guards open. This is OK if you are depicting the model on the ground with the engines on but you'll need to find a pilot figure to stick in the cockpit.

To get around this and using various online pictures as reference I made covers for the air intakes and inlets from plastic sheet and heat stretched sprue as these hide a few issues;

The new intake covers
The leading edge inlets needed populating... 
The next thing to address were the engine exhausts as the kit ones are very poor and have no resemblance to the real things. Fortunately while I was at this stage a fellow Ukrainian company, Reskit, had just released new resin replacements so these were ordered;

The difference between them is pretty stark - The kit part is on the left (like you needed to be told that), the Reskit (RSU72-0192) exhaust is on the right. 
What you will also notice is the massive difference in height between the two, which means of course some butchery of the model is required. This would have been easier to do before I glued the fuselage together however the plastic ICM use is soft enough that it was pretty easy to do even at this stage.

To start, you have to remove the lower exhaust panel on the kit right up to the first panel line;
The insides of the fuselage needs thinning down to accept the engines; a huge improvement! 
To get the engines to fit better you can leave off the parts that fit into the fuselage and just blank off the ends, not forgetting to add the spray rings as you won't be able to see much further into the exhausts anyway. I have to say though that the Reskit parts are VERY delicate and will break very easily, also one side was deformed but I was able to make it circular again by placing the part on the end of a suitable diameter tube and dipping it in hot water. The underwing missile pylons were next to be fitted and I had a problem with the centre ones (parts C16 and not C15 as shown on the instructions) in that the forward pylon mounting was too short, giving the pylon a 'nose-up' attitude;
Very strange! To overcome this I had to add some plastic strip to the top, sand it to shape and drill holes for the new locating pins;
Once done the pylons were glued to the wings;
I then realised that the pylons were the wrong way around and in fact it was the rear pylon mounts that were too short so this was fixed pretty rapidly, either way they still needed plastic strip adding to them....duh.....

As the undercarriage bays were more or less the same colour as the undersides I glued these into place and the build was done apart from a few little bits. The wheels look a little wonky as they were only held in place with Blu-tak for photography purposes.
In conclusion it may not be the best MiG-29 available in 1/72 and it requires a fair bit of work to bring it up to current standards, however the important thing to remember is that with purchasing this kit you are making a small but vital contribution to the Ukrainian economy when they really need it.

Considering that the country is fighting Russian aggression and all that entails such as power outages, it is remarkable that ANY of the Ukrainian model manufacturers are able to produce anything, let alone bring out new kits. Pretty amazing really and a huge testament to the Ukrainian people. 

Andy King

Thanks to ICM for sending this kit to us to build & review, you can find out about ICM's other releases on the ICM plastic model kits website

Instruction manual