Started: Oct 2013
Finished: Dec 2013
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The MiG-25 Foxbat family of aircraft are by all means remarkable both technically and historically, and until the 1976 defection of Lt. Viktor Belenko, these large fighters commanded a respect which they hardly deserved in terms of real combat capability. The Foxbat is very much constrained in flight profile by its unique propulsion and is by all means a dedicated high altitude short range interceptor.
The MiG-25PD/PDS Foxbat E  (source: ausairpower.net)
By the late seventies it was clear that the Foxbat A had outlived it usefulness, and an improved version was sought. This was achieved by fitting the engines of the Foxbat D and a revised weapon system, built around the J-band RP-25 Safir-25 look-down radar, NATO code High Lark. The High Lark is used in the tactical MiG-23 Flogger, the most common strike fighter in the FA inventory, and later models have a facility to project radar video on the HUD, whether this model is used in the Foxbat is unclear. The High Lark is complemented by an InfraRed Search & Track Set (IRS&T), most likely the same equipment as carried by the Flogger B/G.
The MiG-25PD Foxbat E superseded the Foxbat A in production in 1978, with subsequent rebuilds of Foxbat A aircraft to Foxbat E standard receiving the designation MiG-25PDS
The use of the MiG-23 Flogger's weapon system provides the Foxbat E with a capability comparable to or better than late model F-4E aircraft, and this is reinforced by the use of the same AAM fit as the Flogger. A typical load comprises a pair of SARH R-23 AA-7 Apex and two or four IRH R-20 AA-8 Aphid or AA-11 Archer, the latter a respectable dogfight missile. Later Aphids are all aspect capable, and can engage targets from 1,500 ft out to 3.7 NM. The Apex is considered comparable to the AIM-7 but is bigger and heavier at 705 lb, of which 88 lb is a warhead. The AA-7 comes in SARH and IRH versions, the SARH seeker is credited with a range of 20 NM against co-altitude targets and 12 NM against look-down targets, while the IRH seeker is limited to 8 NM.
The AA-11 is the latest IRH missile adopted by the FA, and is considered comparable to all aspect AIM-9.<
The weapon system and weapon fit of the Foxbat E enables it to intercept low level targets and provides some measure of self defensive capability if engaged by other fighters. Other avionics were also improved, with ECM and expendables carried, and an ARK-15 DF set.
The aircraft is by current standards a useful air defence interceptor with good supersonic dash performance, but its aerodynamic limitations preclude its use outside of this role. Its weapon system is inherently tied to a GCI environment and thus the Foxbat E is of limited usefulness outside of its IADS.
The new Kittyhawk MiG-25 has been eagerly anticipated by modelling fans of soviet jets and cold war era aircraft in general. Having now worked with the kit for several weeks my overall impression is that it's not a shake and bake kit and that once you move past looking at what's provided on the sprues and get to putting glue to plastic you realize that this model will need some tender loving care to bring out its best.
The fit of most parts is average (not bad but not good), there are accuracy issues (the engine nozzles and main undercarriage sit being the biggest in my opinion) and if you want to build an accurate MiG-25 PD/PDS from the box you need to check your reference and not always trust what's on the parts or in the instructions. Much has been said about the accuracy of the intakes and in particular the lack of trunking. I did not see this as all that big a deal because I always planned to use FOD covers.
One thing I did find was that the instructions did not always match up with what was possible with the plastic parts. Using the intakes again as an example, it's clear that the parts can be assembled to correctly represent the variable intake ramp present in the top of the intake, even the photo etch detail part is designed to attached to the plastic parts correctly, it's only the assembly instructions that mis-lead you into the believing it has to be done a certain way (the wrong way). It's almost like the person who designed the kit parts did not speak to the
person who wrote the instructions (I doubt they were the same person).
As with any model subject you can scrutinise the kit to the nth degree, finding things that are wrong or missing. I want to build an accurate model just like the next man, but over the years I have gravitated towards spending less time analysing and more time building. I appreciate the efforts of knowledgeable people on the internet who know the subject well and often have first hand access to the subject matter. I look closely at their research and conclusions and then decide for myself which things are worth correcting/detailing to enhance my model. I almost never go all out to try and fix everything because I find often that you get bogged down or even worse talk yourself (or someone else) out of starting the model in the first place.
I've enjoyed this build and applaud Kitty Hawk for continuing to give us subjects that are long overdue
Photos of Real MiG-25's
So there you have it. I've genuinely enjoyed working on this model despite pushing myself to finish it to a self imposed deadline. This is not the first kit I would recommend for a beginner as it does require some medium to advanced modelling techniques to bring it home, and I'm not referring to the scratch-building and correction work because thats entirely optional, but rather the general fit and ease with which the model goes together.
I'm sure that Kitty Hawk have other variants of the MiG-25 in the pipeline (I've seen pics of the two seater for example) and that's a good thing because when you compare this kit with the Revell offering in 1/48 it's like chalk and cheese.
So if you made it this far through my article you know what you are up for to build this kit and I hope I've encouraged you to make the leap and build something with a big Red Star :)