1/72 Condor MiG-21 Bison, Indian Air Force

Gallery Article by Sherbir on Jan 26 2020

India Republic Day



"Am I supposed to tell you this?" A phrase that has been etched in the annals of Indian Air Force history forever. The fateful day, 27th of February, 2019. Wg.Cdr. Abhinandan Varthaman piloting a MiG-21 Bison shot down a PAF F-16 with an R-73 air-to-air missile post the Balakot air strikes earlier in the morning but as fate would have it, Wingco was also shot down and taken POW in Pakistan. Beaten and bruised, the video of his interrogation soon became viral. Wingco maintained a calm and headstrong demeanor and to every question he was being asked, the only answer he gave was "I am sorry I am not supposed to tell you this". So here, on the occasion of Republic Day, as Wingco Abhinandan is being awarded the Vir Chakra for his act of courage, I present to you, my MiG-21 Bison, S.No. CU2328, No.51 Squadron, "Sword Arms", Indian Air Force. 

Keeping the history and politics aside, I had wanted to build a Bison but never had the courage to attempt one. 

The Bison is actually a Bis upgrade and known lovingly amongst the flyers as the BUG (Bis Up Grade). As simple as it may sound, the Bison is a very different airframe from the -bis. So a -bis model kit cannot be used to represent a Bison. The Condor MiG-21-93 is the closest that comes to the airframe of the Indian Bison used by the Indian Air Force. Although there were quite a few modifications that were needed to finally make it look like one but thats the best kit available in 72nd scale if one wants to build a MiG-21 Bison. 

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The kit is pretty simple to build and put together with the occasional flash on some sprue parts. The mods required were as follows:

1. Chaff dispenser on the top of the wings had to be beefed up towards the trailing edge of the wing to give it that protruding look. The chaff dispenser included with the kit is just a plain straight piece of plastic

2. Odd-rod IFF antenna had to be removed off the top of the vertical stabilizer and bottom of the nose. The Indian Bisons do not have these.

3. Cockpit detail is just non existent. The instrument panel is a decal which is oversized and does not fit on the IP so I had to improvise a little and just painted the details onto the IP

4. The position of the nose cone is incorrect in the 1-page instruction sheet. The Bison's nose cone protrudes outward a little. Though there are 2 circular channels one behind the other but one has to position the nose cone at the extreme front outside the channels so that the nose cone protrudes a bit. The instructions show it to be positioned behind the channel which is not accurate.

5. The port side of the nose in the kit, has an AOA vane however, the starboard does not. The IAF Bisons have AOA vanes on both sides. This starboard side AOA vane was scratch built

6. The Bison has 3 VHF/UHF antennae on the nose. One is slightly offset to the left of the nose (the longest one), one is on the right (half the height of the longest one) and one is dead centre (the smallest one). These 3 are not available in the kit and I scratch built them with shaping some plastic off an old credit card.

7. The kit has a protrusion in the fin for the RWR radar. But the IAF Bisons have two round antennae mounted on either side of the fin protrusion followed by two little fins behind these antennae on either side of the fin protrusion. All these were scratch built.

The rest of the kit was pretty straight forward and came together with filler in the usual places (nose seam line extending upto the canopy, fuselage spine extending upto the root of the vertical stabilizer, underside wing roots).

I then used Bosny grey primer spray and my usual Fevicryl color for IAF Tipnis grey which was airbrushed. Pretty straight forward and completed in a single sitting of 2 hours. Bisons have a grey nose cone as opposed to all other MiG-21 variants. The dielectrics on the top of the vertical stabilizer and the front of the ventral fin were painted with Fevicryl Sap Green and the exhaust nozzle was painted silver. 

No weathering was used as the IAF Bisons are clean and well maintained so I preserved the look. All decals like the IAF roundels, the fin flash, the tail numbers and the ejection markings were printed at home.

All in all the scratch building was fun and the aircraft has come out to my satisfaction. The only grudge I have in the rather simple kit is the clear single-piece canopy which was very clouded. I sanded and polished as much as I could but still couldn't get rid of the cloudiness.

So I sign off now with a tribute to Wingco Abhinandan's service and courage under fire. Jai Hind !


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Photos and text by Sherbir