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MiG-23ML in Angola

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Now to catch up on some other aspects of the build so far.


Despite some niggly fit issues with the sides of the Aires cockpit, it is definitely worth the effort. You can see the styrene shims that I used to fill the gaps, and they will become the inflating rubber seals for the canopy.






Having joined the nose halves, I could pay attention to the fit of the intakes. The fuselage is made up of three sections and the join between each of these requires much dry-fitting and planning. In order to get the back of the intakes flush with the central section, they require a shim of about a half a millimetre - here you can see my effort in sheet styrene.



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Hi Eric,


Judging from your builds that I have seen in the past, this kit should suit you. There is much you will be able to tinker with to make it better!



Trumpeter has done a good effort on the wings, however one or two little adjustments can made a big difference.


The trailing edge is a tad thick, so I sanded the inside of the ailerons before joining them. On this wing I was a bit hasty and stuffed up the little "tabs" on the hinges which is why you can see the white styrene bits. It took a while to understand why the rivets and panel lines don't run parallel, so I once again traced the Sinsheim ML to see what was going on. It appears that they run at 90 degrees to the various leading edges as one moves from LE to TE. There are some real industrial looking rivets close to the pivot point, which I added with a riveting tool.




The geared link to make the wings swing together is nice, but a bit Lego'esque for me. if installed, there is quite a gap between the wing and the shoulder fairing not seen in the real aircraft. Most importantly however, it causes the wings to have a slight dihedral, whereas they should have a slight anhedral! It is quite noticeable in many builds of this kit. I decided to glue them in the swept position as they would normally be parked.


I trimmed off anything that caused a gap and sanded the shoulder sections to form a snug fit for the wing. I also filed the top of the geared section of the wing until it sat correctly on the pivot points.






Here you can see the angle of the wing I was looking for.




Undercarriage and stance to follow...




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Hey Karl,


The wings on your Cuban MiG looks just fine to me. All that it needs is to be completed so we can all enjoy it!


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Nice work Max. The work on the nose was great and the end result looks great. I need to do the same in near future. So, keep up the good work as we are all taking notes!

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Thanks Youngtiger,


I had better improve my explanations in that case! 


My wing post is rather iffy. Let me try again - the MiG-23 has a noticeable anhedral as can be seen in this drawing that Karl kindly e-mailed me. Notice how the wing tips are lower than a neutral horizontal stab when viewed from the rear.




The plate on which the kit's wings are mounted is flat, and the pivots are moulded square to this plate. Despite my exaggeration of the wing having dihedral, in theory is is probably just flat. In addition to filing the toothed area on top of the wing, I also had to file the inside of the pivot hole in order to give the wing some anhedral. I don't know what the exact degree of anhedral is, but I lined up the leading edges of the wing to the leading edge of the shoulder. It looks about right. 


I hope this is more useful.



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Now for the undercarriage.


I recently looked in on a talented (albeit controversial) Texan's build the MLD version of this kit via his internet sites. He built the gear as per the manufacturers instructions, stood back to assess the result, and then deciding it was a lost cause - destroyed the model. Many of you have probably seen what I am referring to, and I must say that his summation has been quite useful.


The MiG-23 comes in a couple of differing versions, all with their own character. The M/MF is the easiest to identify, as it looks like a bit like a pregnant dragon to me. She really squats on her main gear, yet the nose gear seems unimpressed with the weight and stays extended. The ML/MLD is lighter than the MF by 1250kg dry weight, so the main gear is not as compressed and she has a more level stance. Same gear by the way. This stance does differ by degree however, depending on fuel and weapons load. Here are two photo's to illustrate how the gear reacts to the weight, most noticeable on the angle of the horizontal arms. Firstly a MF...




Then a ML...




The trailing link also comes into play, but appears more affected by the fuel, weapons load.


Trumpeter chose a very lightly loaded trailing link angle for this kit, which makes it look as if the aircraft is on tippy-toes. It may be possible, but not often seen. Here you can see it is about midway between the airborne and fully compressed angles.




Fortunately they include the trailing link for what I assume is the MF version. It is considerably more compressed, but with the horizontal arms angled slightly downwards could do the trick and look like a loaded ML. In the build link I posted earlier, you will see the modeller shorten the trailing link, which is cool but I chose not to. Here is how it should look when I finally get to installing the gear. 




I added a bit of detail to the legs, and some styrene to the gear doors that fit over the wheels. They are somewhat undersized. I also changed the attachment points so that they don't sit at too much of a rakish angle on the wheel.




Theses gear legs have a further complication. The horizontal portion is angled forward. Like this...




Between the resin wheel bays and the limits of the mountings, this is difficult to replicate. I put in a brass ferrule as close to the bay wall as possible to try and get an angle going. It didn't do much, but it is as far as I am going to go. Now lets hope that it all fits once the painting is done  :hmmm: At least the Aires wheel wells are great to look at.





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You are clearly not the only one who got held up at the gear installation Karl. I am mostly interested in the colour scheme of this aircraft as a reference for a book. Should the undercarriage not work out, well...

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The large ventral fin of the MiG-23 is one of it's identifying features.


I imagine it would make quite a furrow if one were to land with it extended, so it folds hydraulically whenever the gear is lowered. Trumpeter's instructions would have it extended even with the gear down. Maybe that is just because the kit stands so tall on its legs!  :huh:


The parts are fortunately moulded in such a way that it is easy to fold the fin. The hinge points provided should be modified slightly to match those on the aircraft. I added the hydraulic jack, a spring and the little access door to make it a little more convincing.






The Aires tailpipe, as beautiful as it is, is also to scale. This means that a lot of plastic has to be removed from the tail halves in order for them to fit together over the engine. Patience is definitely required here to avoid damage to the kit parts. 




It is quite tricky to get the engine correctly secured to the back of the wheel wells if the tail sections are already joined. I therefore decided to attach one half of the tail section to the centre section, then secure the engine, and only then add the other half of the rear. There is probably a better way, but this might at least get you thinking.




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Wow Max, I just went back and read this whole thread from the beginning.


Excellent work! I'm no expert on the Mig-23, but I know passion when I see It!


Looking forward to more progress

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Thanks for checking in Marcel.


Out2gtcha, I really appreciate your comment. In my house passion has been mislabelled as obsession! Tut, tut.


I found a great image to show the effect of weight on the main undercarriage. Clearly this Angolan MiG is as light as it gets, and notice how far downward both the horizontal arm and the trailing link are angled - particularly the trailing link which is at a similar angle to the one provided in the kit for the ML. It is a pity this aircraft is not standing on its wheels (in a normal sense), as I imagine it might be closer to level with the horizon.



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