Arriving in a good quality conventional box adorned with a dramatic picture of a MiG climbing into a lightning storm, the kit comprises:
112 x grey styrene parts (plus 4 spare)
6 x clear styrene parts
Decals for 3 x colour schemes
The moulding throughout is very good, with basically no flash and no problem with sink marks. The surface finish is smooth, with slightly soft engraved detail consisting of panel lines and a few fasteners. As you'd expect, the bulk of the kit, including the wings and tail, is shared with the original MiG-17F reviewed in detail HERE
The big difference is a new front fuselage with the Izumrud radar mounted in a bullet shaped fairing on the inlet duct splitter and corresponding ranging unit on the intake's upper lip, plus a canopy with an extended windscreen for the accompanying radar scope. So far so good, but I am indebted to Banto Csaba for spotting that Hobby Boss have misinterpreted the nose contours. These can be misleading in photos from any angle other than head-on, but the fuselage should have a circular cross-section, whereas Hobby Boss have moulded a curious flattened top running from the windscreen to the air intake. Correcting it won't be that easy, because simply inserting a circular styrene template and adding filler will throw out the top line of the nose. It's more a case of re-profiling the entire nose forward of the cockpit, so it's a job best left to experienced modellers.
Back to the kit as supplied , and the overall fit is pretty good. I found the fuselage halves join up very neatly, as do the wings, but a little work will be needed at the wing roots to get a flush join because I found the wings slightly thicker than the roots, but a minute or two's filing soon makes a dramatic improvement. The nose features a large separate lower section with the cannon troughs and blisters, and this seems a fair fit, but until this and the intake lip are in place, the nose section has a tendency to flex quite lot, so a little care lining everything up might be needed.
A few details
The cockpit is simple, but quite effective. The ejector seat is made of 3 parts and is a bit basic, but the addition of a seat harness (not included) should help dress it up a bit. The side-walls have some decent moulded detail and the main instrument panel features very lightly raised bezels. These again seem a bit basic - more like a '30s than a '50s fighter, but they may seem to match the overall layout reasonably – just rather 2-dimensionally. The radar scope seems very simple, but I haven't found a photo of the real thing to compare it with. The completed cockpit tub butts against the nose splitter and, although there's no mention of adding weight to the nose in the instructions, the kit seems an almost guaranteed tail-sitter, so I'd pack the inside of the nose splitter with shot to be on the safe side - otherwise space to add any weight is at a premium.
A showpiece of the kit is a very nicely detailed 39-part jet engine, so it's a real surprise that HobbyBoss show this cemented firmly inside the rear fuselage and almost entirely hidden. The engine is so nice, it's a shame not to display it and I think this should be quite possible by cementing its mounting bulkhead (part #F18) into the front fuselage rather than the rear, as shown, and leaving the tail as a clip-fit. The wings' locating tabs will double as supports for the rear fuselage to slide on firmly - it might not be accurate to the full-sized aircraft, but I'll definitely give it a try.
The wheel wells and undercarriage are quite nicely detailed and the wing flaps and air-brakes are both shown open - the airbrakes do reveal a little of the engine pipe if you choose to cement the rear fuselage in place.
Underwing stores consist of just a pair of drop tanks. I don't know whether these were fitted universally to MiGs in service; if not, and you don't want to use them, you'll need to do some filling because the mounting holes are already moulded opened up, as are three mystery holes in the starboard lower wing root. Nothing fits in these, so I presume they're intended for another version of the kit and should be filled. (Note: Al Crawford has informed me that these holes, together with the unused plain lower nose section on the sprue provide a good clue that HobbyBoss have the missle-armed MiG-17PFM planned for a future release)
The new style canopy is nice and clear and has the framework crisply defined with a frosted finish to aid painting. The fly in the ointment is the heavily depicted de-icing wiring that looks very over-scale. It's moulded on the inside so you could sand it off and re-polish the canopy (obviously, beginners are advised to leave well alone).
Instructions and decals
The assembly diagrams are well drawn and very clear, breaking construction down into just 6 stages and including Gunze Sangyo colour matches for most of the details. The sequence seems a little odd at times - as if to make life easier for the illustrator rather than the modeller - so items like the canopy and fragile aerials that you'd probably leave until last are attached before the fuselage is completed.
The kit includes decals for a trio of aircraft, two in n/m finish, the third camouflaged. The painting guide includes a cross-reference for Gunze Sangyo, Vallejo, ModelMaster, Tamiya and Humbrol paints:
1. Soviet Air Force MiG-17PF Fresco D - Blue 40
2. PLAAF J5-A - Red 2074
3. Polish Air Force Lim 5P - White 435
The markings are quite simple, and no stencils included, but the decals look very good quality, being thin and glossy with excellent registration. The carrier film is crystal clear and trimmed tight to the items, which will be a boon on the n/m finished options.
At less than £15, HobbyBoss's Fresco D is certainly very good value and looks set to build into an attractive model straight from the box that will be a very worthwhile addition to any quarter scale collection of Warsaw Pact aircraft at the height of the Cold War. OOB It's simple enough to appeal to modellers of all abilities, but experienced modellers may well want to resort to some quite major rhinoplasty to correct the problems up front.
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