Started: Feb 2013
Finished: Apr 2013
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In late 1995, the Democratic Republic of Congo acquired eight ex-Czech MiG-21MF aircraft. During the 1997 civil war (also known as the War of June 5) the forces of the Congolese Labor Party led by President Col. Denis Sassou Nguesso used these aircraft along with Chinese made F-7 Skybolt in a series of brutal attacks raging across the country. Due to a lack of local skilled pilots capable of flying these aircraft, foreign mercenaries were regularly employed, most coming from the Ukraine and other former soviet block states.
In addition to the major fighting between the Lissouba and Sassou forces in the major capital city of Kinshasa, skirmishes would regularly break out across the country with local warlords hiring (or capturing) any nearby military assets. The extreme corruption of the air force meant that aircraft were more often used for private 'business' of their fliers and their superiors than operations against rebels. One of the more unusual disputes centered around the ownership of local carrot fields with neighboring country Angola. This fight, the so called "Carrot War" saw a short, but bloody, ground and air war in and around the border town of Tshikapa. One of the more colorful Ukrainian mercenary pilots (Igor Valenchenko) had one of the Congo MiG fighters painted in an outlandish "Bunny" scheme.
Valenchenko used this unusually colorful MiG as bait to lure Angolan aircraft into a fight. This proved to be a highly successful tactic which earned Valenchenko three kills, in addition to a number of ground kills on Angolan light armour.
As with most Congolese military aircraft, the service life of the MiG's was short. Like the other services, the Congolese Air Force was not capable of carrying out its maintenance responsibilities. Even today few of the Air Force's aircraft are currently flyable or capable of being restored to service and it is unclear whether the Air Force is capable of maintaining even unsophisticated aircraft.
Unfortunately, the fate of this distinctive MiG was the same as most Congolese aircraft. It now sits derelict in an aircraft graveyard on the outskirts of Kinshasa subject to the ravages of the harsh African climate and looters.
As I prepared for this build I realised that as I was not using the Brassin resin sets that came with the BFC edition the kit instruction sheet would be of little use to me (its written as if you plan to use only the resin parts and does not cater for using the provided plastic parts). Not too worry because Eduard is one of those great modeling companies that provide high resolution PDF versions of the instructions sheets for ALL their kits, and what I needed was the instruction sheet for the MiG-21MF Weekend Edition
To be honest I was not very wrapped in the crazy bunny scheme at first but after I started on it and came up with the idea of modelling it as a derelict with its glory days long behind I got invested in the build. This is meant to be a fun kit and I approached it that way, going fairly heavy with the weathering and using my own interpretation of the way the Bunny Scheme would have been applied in real life.
Even though Eduard provides loads of delicious Brassin sets in the box, I chose not to use them on this build and what you see here is 98% out-of-the-box.
Well the first thing I have to say having now built this kit is that whether you build this crazy Bunny Fighter or any of the other marking options Eduard has released over time, if you are a 1/48 jet guy get yourself one of these kits. The engineering and fit of this model is second to none. These models are every bit as good as Tamiya's latest offerings, no kidding.
I really have no negative comments about the build experience. Everything you need to build a fantastically accurate MiG-21 is right there in the box. If you choose you can enhance the model by using any of the resin goodies available both from Eduard themselves and other well know aftermarket manufacturers
What would I change ? Well I'd ask Eduard to ditch the colored sprues. I know it goes along with the crazy Bunny theme but no-one who buys this kit (with all the Brassin goodies) is gonna build it without painting it and boring old grey plastic is simply the best color to work with !!
I applaud Eduard for trying something a bit "out there" and from reading their blog site its been quite a success with over 700 kits being sold in the first few weeks. Combine the value you get with this kit by itself (which includes Brassin, PE and masks) with the ongoing 15% discount from the automatic BFC membership and its quite the deal.