Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-23
and MiG-27 in 1/72 scale

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1/72 scale kits of the MiG-23 and MiG-27 family  (NATO "Flogger")  
kit review / modelling report

The famous Mikoyan-Gurevich design bureau of the Soviet Union designed in the nineteen-sixties a high speed MACH2 fighter design as successor of the MiG-21. The new single pilot design should have more firepower and range but also short take-off field distances. It initial design Model 23-01 ("MiG-23PD") had a delta wing which was no success and the later 23-11 design of 1967 got a variable geometry swing wing for better take-off and landing performance which was revolutionary at that time. The new wing got full span flaps and no ailerons, this function was done by the rear horizontal stabilizers referred to as tailerons.  

Photo of a MiG-23UB I took (I think it was at Finow?) in the former DDR

The later MiG-23 got the NATO reporting name "Flogger". The type came into production in the late sixties and seventies and thousands of aircraft were manufactured in various versions and exported to Warsaw Pact countries and other Soviet "friends". Also, a ground attack MiG-23 version was developed that later on evolved into the MiG-27 series. 

Versions of the MiG-23 fighter are: 

MiG-23S: the first operational MiG-23 with Lyulka R-27 engine had a clear a fighter role. First flown mid 1969, it got the NATO designation "Flogger A" but only produced in limited numbers and with a lot of teething problems; it often had a MiG-21 radar fitted with in its very pointy long radome but could fire 2 "Atoll" missiles. A twin barrelled 23mm GSh-23 gun was installed on the lower fuselage. Four pylons could be fitted, two below the wing glove and two below the fuselage. It had the first "type-1" wing had leading edge slats and straight leading edge. It also got four speed brakes at the aft fuselage that became standard for all MiG-23 production versions. The air intakes for the engine were relatively small with a simple splitter plate design.

MiG-23SM ("Flogger-A" also) of 1971 was an upgraded S that had the first good usable Sapfir "high lark" radar and could fire the R-23 missile (NATO: AA-7 "Apex"); 

MiG-23M ("Flogger-B") fighter flew mid 1972 and the wing was the "type-2" wing; it got an inboard leading edge sawtooth that resulted in a larger area with extended leading edge. Wing sweep could be increased a few degrees more but the separate leading edge slats were removed. 
It got a far better radar that was much more powerfull and a radar radome that extended more to the rear and with larger radome width. The ejection seat was now the KM-1. The rear fuselage brakes got external ribs for strength and a new engine, the Khatchatourov design buro "Tumansky" R-29-300 engine with a shorter jet afterburner nozzle. This required larger intakes to be fitted that later became the standard with also a slightly different splitter plate design with boundary layer provisions. 
The horizontal stabilizers were moved more aft so the distance between wing and stabilizers improved controls. Cable ducts were required below the stabilizers. The vertical tail parachute fairing got a bit shorter shape. 
Many aircraft were produced but fatigue problems were large; during production the metals used were changed. Also during service life, the pilot canopy got a "mid frame" and trim tabs were fitted inboard to trailing edges of the horizontal stabilizers/tailerons and the tail rudder got an extra hinge. The ventral lower fin fixed fairing got a leading edge extension.  

Systems allowed the short range R-60 (NATO: AA-8 "Aphid") missile to be fired, replacing the earlier K-13 (NATO:  AA-2 "Atolls") missiles. Also the R-23 (AA-7 "Apex") long range missiles could be fired, positioned on a new pylon "with a gap" below the wing glove. On two outboard wing pylons, rather large fuel tanks could be fitted but these would need to be jetttisioned before swinging the wing aft. As a secondary role, also bombs like the FAB-100 could be fitted and dropped as well as unguided rocket pods. Often, a Doppler system was fitted with a small port fairing at the lower forward fuselage far below the cockpit and antennas were repositioned. 

MiG-23MF ("Flogger-B" NATO code retained) was the export version similar to the MiG-23M and widely used by the Warsaw Pact like Bulgaria, CzechoSlovakia, East Germany DDR, Hungary, Poland, Romania and countries like probably Angola, Cuba, India, Syria. 

Photo of a MiG-23MF I took at the museum in Kbely (Czech republic) in 2005 

MiG-23MS ("Flogger-E") was the export version of the M. It had the simpler Jay Bird RP-22 radar (with a bit shorter fiberglass radar radome but same nose length) and it could not fire the AA-7. MiG-23MP (Flogger-E")  was an MS with a dielectric head above the pylon. Used probably by Cuba, Libya, Syria. 

MiG-23U ("Flogger-C") was the two seat trainer version probably based on the "S" but with lengthened forward fuselage and the R-27 engine. It had no Sapfir radar. The cockpit for the instructor was aft of the pilot cockpit that required removal of a fuel tank and the dorsal streamline spine was also adapted. The rear cockpit canopy had a retractable periscope fitted for the instructor to see forward of the aircraft. 

MiG-23UB ("Flogger-C") was similar to the MiG23U but with R-29 engine. It had no Sapfir radar but got a illumination pod below the starboard wing root to allow for the AA-7 "Apex". The MiG-23UB also had double slotted trailing edge flaps. Later aircraft got the "type-3" wing that also enabled 3 external fuel tanks (as the "U" design required the internal fuel tank to be removed for the rear cockpit). Of the UB was many hundreds were produced and the aircraft was used by many countries for jet training. 

MiG-23UM ("Flogger-C") trainer was based on the MiG-23M but was a two seat trainer using also the changes of the earlier U. Early aircraft had the R-27-300 engine but this was soon the R-29B that looked very similar and early aircraft had a single hinge rudder and no trimtabs on the tailerons. The small Jay-bird intercept radar was installed in a similar nose as the "Flogger-E". The lower ventral has a straight leading edge. For training, it had required systems and pylons to fire the "Atolls" and "Aphid" missiles as well as bombs or rocket pods. A GSh-23L cannon could also be fitted. This UM was exported in large numbers as trainer also for other type of Soviet aircraft. 
MiG-23MP fighter was similar to the MiG-23MS but with a die-electric head above the pylon. Only a few were built. 

MiG-23ML "Flogger-G") fighter was first flown in 1976 and was a version with a redesigned lighter structure in places for more close-in combat and weight savings. Better systems were installed but the fourth internal fuel tank removed. The vertical tail upper dorsal fin was removed (but still there is a small kink in the leading edge) and the foldable lower vertral fin a bit smaller. It now got the more thrust Khatchatourov design buro "Tumansky" R-35 engine and could fly over MACH 2.3. The wing got now not a four part but 3-part leading edge slat. The nose wheel oleos were strengthened with large torque scissors with larger nose tyres for better field performance. When on the ground, this MiG-23ML sits more "horizontal" due to the changed weight distribution. The cable ducts below the stabilizers were not required anymore. The small intake starboard of the vertical tail was removed. 
The cockpit was also improved with displays like a HUD and usually a large new IR fairing under the nose was installed (Note that the first appearance in the West of the "Flogger-G" was during visits in 1981 to Finland and France had the IR fairings removed). The "odd rods" IFF antennas were moved aft with some relocated smaller AoA vanes and data probes. In front of the aft lower airbrakes, usually two RWR "Reper N" fairings were installed. The retractable landing lights in the lower intakes have each a different size. Two stronger lower fuselage pylons could be installed (replacing the rarely seen smaller hardpoints below the intakes). 
The type was also used in Afghanistan by the Soviets with also chaff/flare dispensers installed on the upper fuselage. Also used by CzechoSlovakia and East Germany DDR as well as probably Iraq, Syria, North Korea and Yemen. 

MiG-23P was a dedicated air defense interceptor for the Soviet "PVO Strany" and similar to the MiG-23ML but got a datalink. It only served in the Soviet Union. 

MiG-23MLA ("Flogger-G") was a later production version of the ML from 1978 with newer avionics, Saphir-23ML radar and HUD. It could also fire R-24R/T missiles. Many MLA aircraft were manufactured and also exported to both Warsaw Pact countries like Bulgaria but also to Third World countries but with some simpler systems and radar; 

MiG-23MLD ("Flogger-K")  was an updated ML for better manoeuvrability with a "notched" leading edge root to generate vortices; the pitot also got vortex generators. It was not a new production series, but aircraft were upgraded ML aircraft starting from 1982. On the wing, a different leading edge slat was installed. On the outboard wing, fuel tanks can be installed on an adjustable sweep pylon so they can remain to be used with the wing swept back. 
A new IFF antenna replaced the IFF "odd rods" and often chaff/faler dispensers. The radar is the Sapfir-23MLA and also the R-73 (NATO: AA-11 "Archer") short range air-to-air missile could be fired. Some aircraft were new build for export (such as Bulgaria and Syria) with simpler systems. The MLD was the final version with production ending end 1984 as the MiG-29 took over many roles of the MiG-23. Used by also Syria. 

The MiG-23 as a fighter is still widely used around the World but in the Soviet Union has been replaced by other aircraft like the MiG-29 ("Fulcrum"). 

Using much of the MiG-23 design a dedicated "ground attack" version was developed. OKB MiG studies already started in the late sixties. 

"Ground attack" versions were:

MiG-23B (OKB type 32-24) with NATO code "Flogger-F"  was based on the MiG-23S but significantly modified forward fuselage to become the first dedicated ground attack version. It flew first mid 1970 and got a completely new "duck" nose contour as the fighter radar was deleted and a nav-attack system installed. The nose particularly improved pilot visibility for ground strafing runs. Engine used was probably the R-29 with the shorter jet afterburner nozzle and the maximum speed is about MACH 1,6. The larger intake splitter plates with use of boundary layer were retained, but the intake sensors were replaced with a single one to the port side of the canopy. It had first the "type-2" wing as the MF and later the "type-3" wing. A each cockpit side, armour plates were fitted. Armament was still the GSh-23L cannon below the fuselage. It retained some systems to fire the infrared guided missiles like the AA-2 "Atoll" and AA-8, AA-11 "Archer". The missile guiding pod was moved just in front of the starboard wing glove pylon but longer range TV systems were not used as the radar was not installed. Pylons below the fuselage (also under the rear of the fuselage) and wing gloves could carry a wide variety of armament of bombs like the FAB-100 and FAB-500, canon pods like the UPK-23 and rocket pods like the UB-16, UB-32 and S-240. (only a few dozen MiG-23B aircraft were manufactured). 

MiG-23BN ("Flogger-H") ground attack version was based on the MiG-23B with a different nav-attack system and probably laser window in the nose. It got a slightly derated R-29B engine with short jet pipe (as the MiG-23M) with the original large splitter plates with boundary layer control. The wing "type 3" was probably used. Below the starboard wing root glove, a leading edge bullit fairing was installed for the AS-7 "Kerry" missile guidance with sometimes also a TV camera on the port bullit. The type was a bit disappointing and probably only very limited used by the Soviet Air Force. The Warsaw Pact countries like Bulgaria, CzechoSlovakia, and also East German DDR Air Force also referring to this version as the MiG-24BN ! And it was exported a lot as to India and Third World Countries like probably Afghanistan in their own AF, Algeria, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Libya, Sudan. 

MiG-23BM (OKB type 32-25 also "Flogger-H") was spotted earlier than the B and BN.... so it was thought that this was the "first" attack version and called MiG-27 "Flogger-D". It apparently was first flown 1972 and used the R-29-300 with a simple afterburner nozzle and got a fixed small splitter plate and fixed intake. It introduced the canopy without "central frame" and different thick windscreen.The vertical tail is very similar to the MiG-23 fighter with still its dorsal fin, but the small auxiliary intake starboard of the vertical tail was removed. The undercarriage was strengthened and the nose wheels also enlarged with bulged nose wheel doors. The fuselage sides at the main gear also shows some bulges, suggesting larger main wheels. Later aircraft also got the taileron trimtabs. 
It was armed with the GSh-6-30M "Gatling like" gun. Pylons were redesigned to carry larger and a variety of bombs and also two pylons could be fitted aft of the main gear bays. Below the starboard wing glove (above the wing pylon) a fairing is often fitted for the data link for the AS-7 "Kerry" and AS-9 missiles and a TV camera on a similar fairing below the port wing glove. Later on these were sometimes removed and the mud guard on the nose undercarriage was also sometimes removed. Also, sometimes provision for the AA-8 "Aphid" missile. This version was probably used only by the Soviet Union (and some also in Afghanistan war from 1987). 

MiG-23BK (OKB 32-26 "Flogger-H" also) was similar to the MiG-23BM (with thus the simpler fixed intakes) and the ground attack version for the Warsaw Pact countries with some systems and additional radar warning receivers on the air intakes. 

MiG-27K got a laser designator and could fire TV guided air to ground weapons and also had the GSh-6-30 gun.

MiG-27M "Flogger-J" ground attack version got newer systems including ECM. It was based on the MiG-27 "Flogger-D". It had a chin blister with laser in a much larger fairing and the ILS antenna moved to the upper nose. The missile pod below the wing glove as well as starboard TV pod were deleted. It got a LEX extension at the wing glove and often chaff/flare dispensers were fitted on top of the fuselage at the sides of the dorsal fin. The rudder got two hinges and the vertical tail leading edge was now used as die-electric panel. Also it got the GSh-6-23M "gatling like" canon and later the 30 mm GSh-6-30 six-barrel cannon (with two blast shields and it's rear section was covered). Used probably also used by Sri Lanka. 

MiG-27D was the upgraded version of mostly MiG-23BM aircraft to the same MiG-27M standard and thus looking very similar. Probably also used by Kazachstan. 

MiG-27L / ML was the export variant of the MiG-27M "Bahadur" for India starting from 1986. It had a "single window" for the infra-red search and track (IRST) sensor. India used large numbers of this version that was license built by Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL). 

MiG-27H was an Indian version of HAL with other (French?) avionics established in the early nineties (after the collapse of the East Europe block). 

These ground attack MiG-23/ MiG-27 versions were used by the Soviet Union (later Russia, Kazachstan, Ukraine) , Warsaw Pact countries and also in large numbers in India and also by Sri Lanka. Many Third World countries still use them today. 

See further references listed below.....

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OK, now the kits..

In 1/72 scale there are numerous models. Even in 1/32 scale there is a Trumpeter model which I allready completed a few years ago in a Czech scheme (look at my modelling report here...).

These are some of the 1/72 MiG-23 kits ....

The very old Airfix probably from 1980 and USAirfix releases: 
and probably the same kit in the Heller rebox with new decals:

The old Hasegawa kit:
and the same old kit at double "special livery" prices in 2008...

and its same Hasegawa kit in the Minicraft series:
The old Academy kit which looks very familiar to the Hasegawa kit and probably is a "copy" of the old Hasegawa kit:

The Academy kit for a MiG-27 "Flogger" attack version: 
The Zvezda kit of Russia of the MiG-23 (but parts look to be for a MLD and not a MF): 

and for the MLD (now quoted correctly and probably the same kit): 
(The same mould is also probably used in the BILEK kit )

and the Italeri kit using the Zvezda moulds: 
and the more recent and far better kits, starting with ArtModel for a two seater UB:
and accurate RV Aircraft kit in different versions: 

I did not have all these kits on the stack, but quite a few... so let's start modelling the MiG-23 kits......

On to next [ Page 2 ... ]

  • OKB MiG, Butowski and Miller, Aerofax inc, 1991
  • World Air Power series, special article, Vol. 08 , page 40-95 etc., 1992
  • Air international magazine, vol 66, pages 44 etc
  • Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-23 in action, Squadron Signal, 1990
  • Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-23MF , 4+ publications
  • Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-23BN, Hera publications, Czech, 1993
  • Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-23 , bibilothek lotnictwo, Poland, 1999
  • Soviet and Russian Military aircraft series: (1) in Asia, (2) in Africa, (3) in Middle East; by Yefim Gordon and Kommissarov, Hikoki publications
  • African MiGs, Volumes 1 and 2, Tom Cooper, Harpia publishing, 2010 


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Created this page
February 8, 2016