1/48 Trumpeter Chengdu J-7G

Gallery Article by Rob Nieuwenhoven on Sept 20 2019



A couple of years ago, I was working in Tanzania for Everett Aviation at Julius Nyerere international Airport in Dar es Salaam. The Tanzanian Air Defence Force had a number of their aircraft based there, among them the recently-delivered Chengdu J-7G variant of the MiG-21. When they started flying a few of them around, I felt I needed to build a model of one to remember my time there (I'll build an Everett AS365N2 at some stage, too). The Trumpeter kit seems reasonably accurate to my untrained eye and I built it mostly OOB. I did add Eduard MiG-21F-13 wheels as the rubber kit tyres were rubbish and I also added their cockpit detail set for the MiG, too.

The kit goes together well but there are a couple of little traps. The landing gear wells have tabs to locate them as does the cockpit - ensure they're engaged or they'll end up incorrectly aligned - I missed a nose wheel well lug and couldn't correct it by the time I noticed it. I closed the rear speed brake as they're locked closed when a centre pylon is fitted and cracked the front brakes a little open to represent the pressure leaking after shutdown. A mate donated a spare external tank as I wanted to display it with three tanks, as seen by me at the airport.

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Assembly is straight forward, with few issues. The main landing gear actuators didn't quite sit correctly and a bit of the lower wing needed to be cut away to allow them sit properly. I removed some antennae which aren't used on the Tanzanian J-7G and added a couple which are. I should have used the Master pitot probe as I've managed to break the kit one at least five times so far! The canopy was masked in a tedious fashion with masking tape and the whole thing was primed with Mr Surfacer 1000 and recoated several times as I found issues after each coat. Humbrol 78 seemed like a good match for the green used on the radomes, wheels and exhaust, so I used their enamel for those areas. Model Master Light Ghost Grey was used for the overall colour and their Jet Exhaust was used for the exhaust.

I dry brushed a couple of other metal enamels over the exterior metal areas for a better effect but I'm not entirely happy with the result. The whole lot was coated in Future for a gloss coat and the decals I made on my inkjet printer were coated with Future and applied. I used a few of the kit stencils but most are in Chinese and the TAFC aircraft stencils are in English or Swahili, so I didn't use most of them. Micro Set and Sol bedded them down. Oil staining was added using oil crayons and pastels were used around the gun barrel and in the wheel wells. A carbon pencil helped define the panels and control surfaces. A final coat of Future with a hefty dash of X-21 provided the matt finish overall. Tamiya clear enamels were used for the nav and anti-collision lights.

Overall, this was a fairly pleasant build and something different in my predominantly Australian Defence Force aircraft collection.

Rob Nieuwenhoven

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Photos and text by Rob Nieuwenhoven