Saturday, October 3, 2020

Algerian Air Force MiG-23BN in 1/32 scale

 Now is October, 2020 and I haven't published anything on my blog the entire year.  I actually have a legitimate reason for the long hiatus in that I developed a nasty blood clot in one of my legs ! If you've not had something like this happen to you, be aware that it can happen when you are feeling perfectly well, without any symptoms or warning that it's coming....  That's the way it happened for me...I was admitted to the hospital and some pretty amazing things happened during that week.  My artery was cleared with a medication applied directly to the clot via catheter.  That in and of itself is marvelous, the technology amazing and saved my leg.  In any other century I'd be getting fit for a prosthetic (if I survived at all).  Well, that wasn't the end of it, the doctors determined that there was a major issue with the arteries of my heart and would need a quintuple bypass !!  BAM!  Just like that, open-heart surgery and there went any future plans I thought I could make.  Totally lost control of my life in an instant of time.  You can understand that I had other things on my mind than building models for a while.  All this being said, I am truly, truly grateful to everyone, family, friends and the medical team for the support to help me get through a mentally frightening, physically miserable and spiritually humbling experience....Thank you !

So, this is what I'd planned before the interruption.... A 1/32 scale conversion set from "HpH Models" to replicate the Russian ground attack aircraft, the MiG-23BN.  The set provides a resin nose section applicable to the Trumpeter MiG-23MF kit.   Here are the photos I took during stages of this build and the final result.  Enjoy.

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Algerian Air Force MiG-23BN

These photos show exactly what is included in the HPH conversion set.  I will certainly recommend this kit, but only to a skilled modeler with experience in assembling resin conversions.

Of all the possible color schemes, (of which there are hundreds of beautiful ones), I chose the Algerian Air Force in a very unique sand and beige two-tone upper and because of the wicked weapons loadout.  These photos appeared on the internet and show a MiG-23BN armed with US style MK-82 bombs.  These bombs are manufactured in South Africa and were then provided to Algeria.  Appearance wise, they are duplicates of the US designed MK-82 bomb.  A very unusual load for a MiG-23BN.

Starting off, as always, the cockpit as a sub-assembly was finished before I could even begin any of the prep work on the new nose section. I used an "Aires" resin aftermarket cockpit set for the Trumpeter MiG-23MF.  Here are photos of that work.  At the time, I actually was working on two MiG-23s (an MF & an ML) simultaneously.  That, is like juggling but not as much fun.  This was time consuming because of the high parts count for both models and in the end I managed to finish just one of the models.....Cockpits. I love them.

I'll always spend some time to paint the engines, even if they are buried into the fuselage never to be seen again.  "I know it's in there" is the mantra.  I think that sums up the attitude of a detail freak who builds large scale aircraft models...Oh well, "get a hobby" they said...... 

Moving right along now, I went with aftermarket resin wheel wells from Aires for the MiG-23MF.  The details in these "almost" drop-in parts, are well worth the investment.  The complicated mechanism of the MiG-23 landing gear and the gear bay's busy appearance is replicated well enough to suit anyone's "discerning" taste.

At this point it was possible to fit the resin conversion nose to the center-body of the fuselage and the first of many test fits began.  Without too much effort the fuselage sections were mated together and the fit was pretty good overall.

At the same time, I had to think about how I was going to hang the bombs underwing.  The Russian MBD-3-UT-1 multiple rack is not produced in 1/32 scale, so I had to scratch build a couple from available photos.  Luckily,  "Brassin" made one in 1/48th scale which I bought and then copied as best I could from available parts and strip styrene plastic, scaling up to 1/32.  Here you can see the process.  It's easy to cobble one up.  It's a trick to make the second look exactly like the first....I work to my own satisfaction which makes it easy as I know what to expect from a model build before I even start.

I started by black basing the entire model which I have always worked by this method.  It came as a surprise when I hear that this is some sort of "fad".  I began painting this way many years ago when the idea of primer and base-coat with a dark color occurred to me as a way to eliminate a step in the weathering process.  That being the post shading of panel lines.  I think it has a place in the tool bag of techniques and looks good if applied with restraint.  Same with all the random spotting techniques I see these days.

And the fun part.  Applying the camouflage which I found to be so unusual and striking.  I custom mixed my enamel paint to get the tones as close as possible to the Algerian color scheme.  The pattern was freehand painted using my trusty Paasche H-1 single action airbrush.

The Algerian markings were airbrushed on using stencils created by my Facebook friend, Miro Medzihradsky, a talented modeler, an expert with 3D printing and Silhouette Cameo electronic cutter and he still has time to be a commercial airline pilot !  One Helluva guy.  Really without his assistance, I couldn't have finished the model in these markings.

I now prepared the bombs for hanging on the aircraft fuselage and the MER .  This is a task that I always take my time and have patience to get a good result.  Bombs and missiles on a scale model jet aircraft that show good detail always enhance the overall appearance.  It's repetitive work but I enjoy it. 

Here are the finished photos of this very enjoyable model build.  It was an easy conversion to achieve a great result.  A MiG-23BN in 1/32 scale and of a subject that is very uncommon.