1/48th Trumpeter Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23ML Iraqi Air Force January 1991, The Great Escape
It’s 5:00 Am in late January, Capt Ahmad Al-Saladi is still contemplating what he and his brothers are about to partake. 2 days prior the Iraqi Air force had launched a rather ambitious attack against coalition ground forces that had failed miserably with 2 Mirage F-1’s shot down by of all nations a Saudi F-15C. Humiliated and disgusted the Iraqi’s pretty much gave up hope of mounting any kind of air operations. With the U.S. led coalition forces now having complete air superiority. So arrogant and stubborn his superiors were thinking that we can defeat the American led coalition. Closing his eyes he remembers the 4 years attending Texas A&M and living among the Americans. That particular town so friendly and kind. Not the people as described by his aristocratic family and government. He knew deep down that if the Americans decided to side with the Saudi’s and provide defense for them it would be quite difficult to achieve the primary objective that Saddam had wished for. But as he prolonged the effort to continue and held up his combat operations as the American president demanded. We had lost the initiative. And yet his superiors still believed we can win this war. But from day 1, seeing his brothers fly into the skies and bounced by F-15’s, F-16’s,F/A-18’s and F-14’s everywhere they went and some never to return. It was soon known by most that the Iraqi Air Force was no longer a factor and a threat. With command and control no longer able to direct combat aircraft to intercept threats in the air. The few missions conducted were basically on their own with no direction and they did not go well at all. So today the only alternative that was hotly debated among his superiors and his squadron was to run. The Americans suspected this but felt that if such an action should happen that the Iraqi’s would fly to Jordan who was friendly with Iraq. A wall of coalition combat aircraft were flying CAP in that airspace to guard for such an event. So the Iraqi’s threw a curve ball. The mission was to fly the other direction. To Iran, still dangerous but doable, a small window an opportunity to pull it off. The one time the coalition didn’t anticipate this. Capt Al-Saladi was torn, he was trained to fight, even if he was successful and reach Iranian air space, then get shot down by Iranian fighters. So armed with Apex and Aphid missiles for self defense he was flying his MiG-23ML, along with 18 other MiG-23’s, Su-22’s and MiG’21’s they were the first set to head off to Iran. Hoping to catch the Americans by surprise. A diversion of MiG-29’s and Mirage F1EQ’s were launched towards Jordan. His flight soon after launched and staying low high tailed it towards Iraq. Knowing the eyes of AWAC’s was everywhere. Still hopefully the diversion works and the coalition would be slow to react. To end the story the diversion worked and the first 19 aircraft did make it. 2 Saudi F-15C’s were directed to the escaping aircraft as well as 2 VFA-84 Tomcats which for some reason didn’t launch any AIM-54 Phoenix as they were able to get within range of the escaping Iraqi jets. In the end Iraq managed to get over a 100 aircraft to Iran. Except for a few Su-25’s that Iran returned back to Iraq recently. The rest of the aircraft were interned and kept by Iran. The pilots returned shortly after the war was over.
The Trumpeter kit despite all the bits and pieces was quite a nice challenge and fun to build. Being a swing wing also does provide a little complication to the engineering of the kit. Using the old ESCI MiG-27 kit as a comparison, what a difference how basic it is. While the Trumpeter kit is a little over engineered as they are known for. Missile pylons have multiple parts to make one. The cockpit is quite detailed and really enhanced with Eduard’s PE set. The kit itself provides PE as well. The main landing gear on the real aircraft is complicated, so is the one in the kit. Which is the only weak point. Which one of our Imodeler member did point out to take your time here as the attachment point is weak and will fail if not set correctly. Ask me how I know as I look at it right now and the RH main has already collapsed. Aeromaster Acrylic Russian Interior Blue Green was used for the cockpit. Aeromaster Light Grey for the landing gear bays, landing gear and doors was used. Aeromaster Russian Underside Lt Blue. Polly Scale Tan, Tamiya Dk Green and Tamiya Dk Earth for the paint scheme. Linden Hill Iraqi Air Force decal set provided the markings. Overall a fun and fulfilling build. The kit provides a complete set of stencils which can make an F-4 look like it don’t have any. It took 2 weekends to apply all the markings and I didn’t use all of them. The name of the pilot is fiction and his thoughts are entirely mine. But the scenario is true. No one can know what his thoughts were, my vision is what I know and what took place in January 1991. This I do know, a combat pilot is a combat pilot no matter who he flies for. He is trained to fight, and if he is like any aviator that is gifted to fly a jet, that its sole purpose is to bring death and destruction to the enemy then his thoughts are like mine. We fight to win no matter the circumstances. Thanks for viewing.
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