1/72 Kopro MiG-21PFV 

by Andrew Desautels


Indochina War -- 10,000Day War -- Vietnam War anniversary Jan 30 2007


As the Vietnam War dragged on, the North Vietnamese communists realized, probably correctly, that their silvery fighters could do with some sort of camouflage to tone down their appearance.  Never ones to conform, they did not give the planes an overall coat of paint, not in one, two, three, or even five tones of camouflage color.  Rather, they chose to keep the airframes' aluminum color as the first color of the camouflage, and then sprayed a blotchy green pattern all over the upper surfaces of the airframe.
Instead of masking each individual pane of plexiglass in the windscreen and canopy, they simply covered the entire windscreen and canopy area, and painted around it.
This was the Kopro MiG-21MF kit, which had the spine removed and replaced with the spine from an inaccurate MiG-21 kit perhaps more than 30 years old.
This, along with many other modifications, made this the Fishbed F that I so desired to build for many years.  Ironically, it was literally mere months after this model's completion that Zvezda released its lovely 1/72 MiG-21PFM.  It never fails.

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The cockpit was substantially detailed, including the Eduard set for the PFM, along with a slightly modifed True Details seat, Aeroclub vac canopy, and a good deal of scratchbuilding, especially the gunsight, which was mounted from above on the windscreen frame rather than simply setting it on top of the instrument panel.  The maingear were also replaced with items scratchbuilt from telescoping lengths of styrene tube.

Painting was simply ModelMaster enamels, including the bare metal areas, which were a mixture of chrome silver, aluminum, and varying amounts of gunmetal to tint for some panels, then oversprayed with Semigloss clear  lacquer.  I wasn't interested in a beautiful metallic sheen like from Alclad, as the Vietnamese put cosmetic appearance dead last for importance.  

Many photos show this to be very true!  Particularly shocking was discovering the often faded, stained and VERY crudely repainted by hand appearance of the national insignias...really, they often looked like art projects done by my elementary students!

 This is a subject I'd wanted to do for more than a decade.  All I can say is, if there's something you want to build, and it isn't available in the scale you want, kitbash or scratchbuild it, and it will be released within the year!

Andrew D. the Jolly Rogers guy

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Photos and text by Andrew Desautels