The MiG-31 Foxhound is the final and ultimate development of its Cold War-era predecessor, MiG-25 Foxhound. It was bigger, better, more sophisticated, more capable than the latter.
Like the interceptor, the box was large and gave a good impression of the size the actual kit once assembled. The kit was filled with lots of goodies: metal landing gears, photo-etch parts, rubber tires, lots of stencils, and a huge collection of underwing missiles. The kit had lots of parts. But once I started building, I found that a significant portion of them were more for the cockpit, landing gears, and various missiles than for the aircraft itself!
The MiG-31’s cockpit had very nice raised details and construction was a pleasure. The cockpit canopies were a bit more complicated. They were like small kits of their own, with each having a frame and PE details together with the clear parts. They were all painted Gunze Acrysion No.25 mixed with No.46 with a 1:3 ration.
I painted the instrument panels flat black and added the decals. It was a nice set but the problem was it came in one large sheet. The panels’ surface, however were in different levels. I solved it by cutting them into smaller pieces. They adhered very well with Mr. Mark Setter. A thin wash with AMMO MIG A.1602 PLW Deep Grey brought out the details.
There weren’t many interior parts to deal with so I went ahead to construct the landing gear bays and intake ducts. One thing that bothered was how I had to install the front landing gear early in the build. This would surely get in the way of other process. Don’t forget to add enough weights before joining the two fuselage halves!
I assembled the complete intake duct that went inwards all the way to the engine compressor blades. The interior was X-32 Titanium Silver and washed with Tamiya Panel Line Accent Black. There was very little to see from the outside once they were completed. The main landing gear bays had nice interior detail but all were marred by ejector marks. There were a total of 22 ejector marks that needed filling and sanding.
The fuselage came in two large top and bottom halves. The surface detail was just exquisite with fine rivets, panel lines, with very smooth surface. Once the landing gear bays were installed, it was a matter of putting the halves together. I used Tamiya extra thin and took my time, carefully gluing one section at a time. Some parts didn’t fit well and that slowed things a bit. When I was about to glue the wings, the starboard side was slightly warp downwards. I had to massage it several times to get it straightened.
Aside the usual gaps, the Hobby Boss kit had a horrible fit issue with the joining of the intake trunks to the main fuselage. This is what I considered the “Achilles heel” of the kit, as it literally almost paralyzed my workflow. It required an extraordinary effort to smooth out the joint.
I have analyzed the gaps and steps and attempted to fit the parts in various ways but there were no way to align both sides and get away with a clean fit. I jammed the gaping holes and leveled the surface with with 0.5mm-1mm styrene sheets. Then I filled the remaining imperfection with Tamiya epoxy putty, regular putty, sprue goo, CA glue, and Mr. Dissolved Putty. After all sides were flushed and leveled, I re-scribed and added rivets that were lost during the sanding process.
Before spraying Mr. Surfacer 1500 Black, I installed the windscreen and canopies, and closed the wheel bays to avoid over-spray. The primer was important for two reasons: firstly it was to help spot and deal with any imperfections; and secondly it was to be the basis for marbling the main paint. It was at this moment when I found an ugly step at the base of the windscreen, which I dealt with sheet styrene and a bit of epoxy putty.
Like the lower side, the upper parts also get several passes of the Mr. Surfacer 1500 black primer. You can see here again that I did’t cover the model thoroughly. Some areas were better covered under the black primer compared to other parts. The reason, well, I just got bored and wanted to move on.
My choice for the Foxhound’s exterior color was Mr. Color No.35 grey. For the love of God, this paint is smelly. It’s lacquer. It does it job very well. Sprays thin and smooth. Since I ran out of Model Master paints, Mr. Color has been my choice of brand when I am looking for specific paint colors. It’s just easily available locally and its cheap.
Marbling this kit required a lot of patience. It’s a huuuge kit! I took me several passes and some in-between breaks to finally cover the whole aircraft. Even at this stage, I found some small blemishes that I overlooked and they were dealt immediately.
In this following image, you can see that the marbling on top of the black primer is in a much advance phase: they grey is more opaque though you can still see the black underneath. I love the black-basing technique. It’s never about ‘just a waste of paint’ but its about getting the right look that I want to get. I’ve tried all the stuff out there: pre-shading, post-shading, black basing, three-tone approach. Heck, even no-shading! So just by experience, I think this is the best method that can help me get the right finished weathered appearance.
Meanwhile, in the small parts department, the task of preparing the loose bits is equally demanding: I gave the rudders, external drop tanks, bay doors, and wing pylons the same treatment as the main kit.
I treated the weapons the same way, though they were primed with Tamiya surface primer white instead of black.
The kit came with metal parts for the landing gears. And considering the size and weight of the kit, they were a godsend. Some of the metal parts resembled the landing gear, while some were in the shape of a rod, where they would later be encased by the plastic exterior of the gear struts.
Molding of the metal parts were a bit poor. The space between metal and plastic parts were very tight so I cleaned them using mini files. It took some time but they did their job well. I had them filled, sanded, and painted XF-19 Sky Grey. Oleos were Mr. Metal Color 211 Chrome Silver and tire rims were XF-5 Flat Green. All were washed with the same AMMO PLW I used for the cockpit.
I set the landing gear aside and added some color onto the air frame. This was probably the point where I did any masking of sorts. I panted the anti-glare and underside panels flat black; the radome and stabilizers’ leading edges Mr. Color 305 Gunship Grey. I used regular Tamiya masking tape (the yellow one) throughout this project, unless noted.
The pink canopy sealant were XF-7 flat red mixed with XF-78 Wooden Deck Tan. I couldn’t wait for the decaling process so I went ahead despite not having all the parts masked and painted in different colors.
I could say that the decals were thin, in register, and worked well with Mr. Mark Setter and Mr. Mark Softer. There was no gloss prior to the decals.
I decided not to pre-coats the surface with any gloss. But I did focus on smoothing the grey surface, checking for any blemishes, orange-peel, or any rough surface texture. Smoothing it avoided the need for an extra layer of gloss (and why not?). not surprisingly, the decals performed magnificently. They reacted very well with the solution and melted onto the surface.The key are good thin decals and properly prepared smooth and clean surface.
The goal for the oil wash was to give panel lines some subdued accent and nothing too contrasting. I varied the tones but the mix was A.MIG 1601 PLW Medium Grey cut with Tamiya Panel Line Accent Grey. I added Zippo lighter fluid to dilute and improve the flow of th mix.
All the small pieces were up next, which included the wheels, various probes, and blade antennas. I strengthened the antennas and probes with copper wire for a better grip. This was the same time I added the large exhaust cans. They were painted separately with AK484 Burnt Metal, AK486 Jet Exhaust for easing painting. The interior was given burnt out effects with streaks of XF-57 Buff lighted with flat white
The kit provided a generous amount of weapons, each four sets of R-33, R-40, R-60, R-73, and R-77 plus a pair of under-wing drop tanks. I installed them last.
I figured an asymmetric load would be interesting, though it might be completely bogus. But, I thought that would an interesting idea anyway so I went along with the idea
I sprayed the whole model with Mr. Super Clear Matte, decanted on my trusty airbrush for the final flat finish. All the masking were taken off, and navigation lights were painted X-27 Clear Red and X-26 Clear Orange.
The overall experience of building this kit was a real challenge. But if you are like me, the kit will provide you with a great platform to exercise and sharpen one’s modeling skills.