July 2022

MiG-29 MU2 - Ghost of Kyiv

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Lviv State Aircraft Repair Plant - MiG-29 MU2

The Ghost of Kyiv, Spririt of the Ukrainian Air Force, 2022

ICM Special issue 1/72  (50% of profit from these kits has gone directly to the Ukrainian Armed Forces)

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During the early part of the Russian Invasion of Ukraine,in February 2022 ,the Russians undertook a major assault on the Kyiv region. Despite overwhelming Russian force and major damage, the attack was  fiercely repulsed by Ukrainian defenders.  

A key element of the Ukrainian response was the deployment of locally upgraded MiG-29 fighters in an air defence/air dominance role.  Word began to spread of a single Ukrainian pilot who had scored remarkable successes against the Russians.  This unknown pilot quickly became known as “The Ghost of Kyiv”, with their exploits becoming a legendary morale booster for the Ukrainian Forces and Ukrainian population.

Whilst it is doubtful that the Ghost  is one single person, there is no doubt that the Ukrainian Forces have put up a remarkable defence against Russian aggression, at great ongoing cost to themselves.  

Whether the Ghost of Kyiv is real or not, it remains a potent symbol of Ukrainain resistance, both at home and around the word.

The MiG-29 is the backbone of the Povitryani Syly (PS, Ukrainian Air Force) fighter fleet . In recent years, locally modernised variants of the MiG-29, the MU1 and more extensively modernised MU2, have been produced by the Lviv State Aircraft Repair Plant  (LSARP) for Ukraine and for other former Soviet client states.  As well as total overhauls of older aircraft, improved radars, sat nav systems, engine monitoring and modern avionics , ICAO compliant radios and transponders have been fitted.  LSARP have also developed modern reliability-centred, condition-based maintenance routines to increase the lifespan and cost effectiveness of the aircraft.  

MU2 aircraft also have limited ground attack capabilities.

Building the ICM “Ghost Of Kyiv” MiG-29 Kit:

The ICM MiG-29 is a well known and respected kit that was first issued in 2008. This issue appeared last month (June 2022), produced in Ukraine under wartime conditions and providing superb digital camouflage decals to represent the legendary “Ghost of Kyiv” that mattered so much to Ukrainian morale during the early phase of the war.

I believe ICM actually produce their kits in Kyiv, which is certainly the location of their head office.  If any of you follow the Facebook page of another Ukrainian manufacturer, Modelsvit, you may have seen their distraught live post in March from Kharkiv, showing Russian armoured vehicles firing on the building that they used to manufacture and store their kit moulds.  I really wasn’t looking for another MiG-29, but I hope that buying, building and displaying this kit can be a small token in support of the Ukrainian people, in defence of their country against Russian aggression and violence.  

The kit comes in a very nicely presented and illustrated high quality box, which in the UK is selling at a very reasonable price (UK £20), with the actual parts packed within a sturdy white cardboard top-opening box and sealed in cellophane.  The instructions follow the style of the box-top, reinforcing the impression of quality and occasion that this kit brings.   I'm no expert on MiG-29s, but the kit looks good and portrays the distinctive upper fuselage hump that separates this 9-13 "Fulcrum C" variant from earlier Fulcrum A models.

Surface detail consists of lightly engraved but sharp lines and a nicely detailed set of cockpit instruments are provided as raised detail and as a decal. The plastic is a very soft light grey - be careful how you wield that scalpel as it is some of the softest I have ever seen !  Build sequence is logical and the overall engineering of the kit is good, but as I have found previously with ICM kits, it can be fiddly to fit parts and to remove sprue attachments, probably requiring a little more skill and care than more mainstream manufacturers.  

I did have some difficulty matching the upper and lower fuselage halves; what seemed to have happened was that the upper forward section had splayed slightly, so that the locating pins didn't meet.  To overcome this I joined the aft sections first, then the nose, then a light squeeze on the forward top part as it was pushed together seemed to do the trick, followed by a spring clamp to hold it together until it was willing to stay there on its own!  Unfortunately I couldn't fully get rid of the step in front of the cockpit on one side, which needed a little filling (with Tippex) and rubbing back (be careful with this though, as the plastic is quite thin).

The breakdown of this kit is very different from the Italeri one that I built a few years back. The two wings are separate parts, and the intake sides are provided as a set of 6 very thin parts that need to be assembled carefully before attachment (having first removed the internal ejector stubs that will interfere otherwise); I doubt that many will manage to get these together without a seam down the bottom that will require filling and smoothing afterward. I attached the intakes to the fuselage before sanding, just to give them a bit more rigidity as I did so.   Note that the instructions forget to tell you to add the front undercarriage bay top piece.

© US DoD 4805805 Photo by Tech Sgt Charles Vaughn USAF

(The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement)

Background: An Su-27 of the Ukrainian Air Force.  This is the aircraft that displayed at the 2017 RIAT at RAF Fairford.  Its pilot, Colonel Oleksandr Oksanchenko retired shortly after this, but returned to active service following the Russian invasion of his country.  

On 25 Feb 2022, he lost his life when shot down by a Russian S400 missile to the north of Kyiv.  

Wings, fins/rudders and tailplanes are attached via small locating tabs - I found that all of these were too small for the relevant part and needed a little hacking to get them to fit, than some external support to hold them aligned whilst they set.  As the tabs provide so little support, alignment of the wings and tail surfaces will need some care.  The undercarriage fits well, but is very fragile and given the very soft plastic, it is easy to damage.

A reasonable load of ex-Soviet Vympel air to air missiles is provided, including the larger R-27 (AA-10 Alamo), mid-sized R-73 (AA-11 Archer) and the lightweight R-60 (AA-8 Aphid).  As an older missile, this last one is perhaps not appropriate for the current conflict, with the much more effective R-73 being carried in its place in the few armed wartime images I could find.

Apart from wanting to show support for Ukraine, I suspect that most modellers will buy this kit for the digital camouflage decals. I also suspect that these may put a few less experienced modellers off!  The really good news here is that they are very good decals, stretchy, thin, strong and relatively easy to apply.  They have been broken down into logical smaller sections that make application much easier than a large block decal. As always I used a mix of water and Johnson's Klear to help application and ensure I could still move them after initial application.  The decal shapes are good and conform well to the model surface. I had some small difficulty with the main central upper section, which went on well enough, but I'm not sure I got the alignment with the intake louvres correct.

The painting instructions are comprehensive and in colour.  The main upper colour is listed as "off white", which I have interpreted as a very light grey (I used Humbrol 166 Light Aircraft Grey).  For the underside I used (appropriately perhaps) Humbrol Ghost Grey.  After applying the decals, I weathered the aircraft with a grey oily wash in the panel lines plus a few smudges, then applied a top coat of Windsor & Newton Acrylic Matt Varnish to seal everything in.  All paints were thinned and brush applied, for once only needing a single coat.   

I’m pleased with my kit and send all my best wishes to Ukraine, with the hope that, in the not too distant future, this criminal and pointless nonsense by Russia will stop and allow Ukrainians, Russians and everyone else around the world to get on with their lives in peace.

My Ukrainian Fulcrum C alongside my Polish Fulcrum A