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Kitty Hawk MiG-25PD Feature Review

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Few aircraft typify the Cold War, and particularly the Soviet side of the Cold War, better than the MiG-25. It’s brutish design, and single-purpose intent makes it perhaps one of the most iconic aircraft designs of the post-World War II (or should I say post Great Patriotic War) era. Born at the height of the Cold War and used for the duration (and even into today) the MiG-25 is one of those subjects long neglected by the modeling industry. Fortunately Kitty Hawk has come to the rescue in grand fashion. It’s not a kit without faults though – let’s take a deeper look at this new kit of the iconic Soviet beast.

MiG-25 History
The Ye-155 (Ye, the transliteration for the Cyrillic “E,” pronounced “yeh,” stands for yedinitsa or unit – a designation used in the Mikoyan bureau to designate “one-offs”) was born as a response to the escalating speed of designs in the west.  With types like the Convair B-58 and Lockheed A-12 entering service, as well as the North American XB-70 in testing, the Soviet PVO, or air defense command, was in search of an interceptor capable of extreme speed (mach 3), a high service ceiling (20,000+ meters) and long range.  Range had been a severely limiting factor of previous interceptors in PVO service.  At the same time the VVS (Frontal Aviation – basically the Soviet Air Force) was in search of a reconnaissance platform with very similar characteristics.  As a result a joint service design was to fill both roles, and in February 1961 the Communist Party of the Soviet Union issued a directive to the Mikoyan OKB with the development of the Ye-155 prototype.

From this the Ye-155P (perekhavatchik – or interceptor) and Ye-155R (razvedchik – or reconnaissance) families were born.  And as a result, four distinctly different groups of MiG-25s were developed:  the MiG-25P interceptor and MiG-25PU/RU trainers (from the Ye-155P), MiG-25R reconnaissance and MiG-25B anti-radar (from the Ye-155R).  As this kit is the interceptor release from Kitty Hawk – we will concentrate on the interceptors for purpose of this review.  As the other variants are released, we will delve deeper into the history of those types.

So much can be written about the history and development of this fascinating type.  The MiG-25 caused quite a sensation in the West, and a lot of fretting from some analysts – especially for a service (the PVO) that had previously not provided much concern for Western planners.  The MiG-25, in many ways kicked off a new round in the arms race, and contributed directly to the start of the US TFX program that resulted in the McDonnell-Douglas F-15 Eagle.  Alas, there are many good articles and books available on the topic should you wish to learn more about the development behind the MiG-25.

The main production of the initial MiG-25P began in 1971 at the Gorky factory.  Serving around the Soviet Union it was the scourge of the skies and the subject of intense analysis by western observers.  The large wings pointed to high maneuverability which was not expected out of designs of the day.  It was not until 1976 when Lt. Victor Belenko defected to the west in a MiG-25P, landing at Hakodate airport in northern Japan.  Western analysts were afforded a firsthand opportunity to evaluate the MiG-25 and found that the type was not what was expected.

Resulting from this event a commission was formed in the Soviet Union, and based on the results of this commission, it was decided that unless the MiG-25s weapons control systems were drastically upgraded, the type’s combat effectiveness would be negated.  This resulted in the MiG-25PD.  Now fitted with the Sapfir-25 radar and a host of additional changes, this new type served as the basis for the Soviet interceptor force until the type’s retirement following the introduction of the newer Su-27 and MiG-31.  The upgrades made to the newly produced MiG-25PD were viewed as so important a field modification kit was created allowing already serving MiG-25Ps to be upgraded to the PD standard, these were designated MiG-25PDS.  We will be publishing a MiG-25 Interceptor variant briefing in the coming days that will delve into the detail differences between the types.

MiG-25 Modeling History
Okay, so I’m a bit excited about this release.  Earlier this year when I got the e-mail from one of my friends with the link to the initial announcement and CAD models for this kit, I did a mini-happy dance in my office.  This is one of those releases that has been at the top of my wish list for quite some time.  In fact, if you asked most Russian aircraft modelers or even “Cold War” modelers, this one has been a top want for some time.  To date the only offerings that have been available in the 1:48 MiG-25 space are the Revell and Lindberg kits.  The Lindberg kit is honestly not worth mentioning beyond the fact that it exists.  The Revell kit was actually a scale-up of the Hasegawa 1:72 kit that was hastily prepared after Lt. Belenko’s defection in 1976.  Hasegawa’s kit was made from photographs taken of the MiG at Hakodate airport, without the benefit of plans or any dimension other than the very rough numbers available at that time.  Revell’s kit took the Hasegawa kit, and scaled it up 150%, resulting in a basically bigger set of errors.  As somebody that has actually tried to “correct” the Revell kit into something more representative of a MiG-25, I can safely tell you that there’s pretty much NO correct dimension or shape anywhere on that kit.  In the interim, several decent 1:72 kits have appeared, primarily from Eastern European companies, but no replacement has become available in 1:48.

About the Author

About Paul Cotcher (RedStar)

I have been modeling since the mid-1970s, having learned pretty much all the different hobbies with my dad. My original fascination were kits of rockets and missiles, but soon after developed a fascination for jets, and have been modeling ever since. I primarily build 1:48 scale aircraft, and my c...


Great review Paul.
NOV 19, 2013 - 07:32 AM
Great review Paul! Looking forward to the build of this one. Doug
NOV 19, 2013 - 07:40 AM
I didn't see any mention in my quick read about the nose wheel FOD guard. The pictures I've seen online seem to show it as being a fair bit too large and not curved enough. Since it's pretty visible on the finished model, what's your take on the kit part? Can it be reworked, or is it another candidate for the aftermarket to address?
NOV 19, 2013 - 07:45 AM
It's not awful... If anything it's too thick. It's actually part of the gear doors for the forward nose gear. It doubles as a FOD catcher, but is not as "refined" as the screen/bar types that you see on newer Russian types. Here's a side picture of the real thing: LINK The curves that follow the wheel are fairing closely approximated, as are the other shapes. Probably as much a case of being the best they can do with an injection molded part as anything. I'm sure once we get some Eduard etch, or some resin gear doors as part of a Brassin set, we'll get a more refined part. Certainly wasn't anything that lept out at me like some other stuff I found. HTH
NOV 19, 2013 - 08:15 AM
I noticed it from the various pictures of test shots that I've seen where the bottom edge seems to be ready to drag on the ground. In this image it looks much taller and less curved than the one in your picture. I'm hoping that it's just sloppy assembly.
NOV 19, 2013 - 09:22 AM
Yep, that doesn't look right, and honestly, until you put the thing together, it'll be hard to tell. If it is over sized, it won't be hard to shave it a bit to scale it down. I can tell you, from comparison to the picture I linked, that it's much to thick, and will be a good candidate for photo-etch.
NOV 19, 2013 - 09:53 AM
Nice and thorough review Paul! 'Knowing onions' as we say! Alexei (NeOmega) Russiyan spotted the nose issue straight away as he started to test fit the NeOmega MiG-25 cockpit at Scale Modelworld, designed for the Revell kit BTW. It just took him 30 mins of fiddling and it fitted fine, although he is doing a Kittyhawk version as we speak. To try to correct the nose may be a trickier job though - it requires modifying the front fuz as well as the radome. Maybe it will be addressed in subsequent versions of the kit? Lets hope so! G
NOV 19, 2013 - 12:01 PM
To fix the nose would require the entire forward fuselage to be retooled, as the shape starts behind the "start" of parts PD1 and PD2. The radome itself is pretty much spot on, it's the nose section behind the radome that's the issue.
NOV 19, 2013 - 01:38 PM
Great work, nice review. Very useful review, especially for modelers that like to fix the shape problems of the plastic.
SEP 01, 2016 - 03:25 AM
BTW, I did the same comparison, the plastic with the drawing, and found pretty good matching. The intakes, the horizontal tail planes, the vertical stabilizers, the wings are pretty well match. The wing with bug, but sizes are pretty good. The discrepancies are up to a half millimeter.
SEP 01, 2016 - 03:56 AM