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Louis Gardner
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MiG Group Build, North Vietnamese MiG-17, 1/48 Hobbycraft / War Eagle

November 30, 2019 · in Aviation · · 37 · 6K

Our is underway, and there are a lot of great builds happening right now... I have several MiG-15's that I'm about to wrap up. I built this one on a whim, and had not originally intended to do so.

This model was based off a picture showing a North Vietnamese , that was parked next to a MiG-21.

In order to better see what the plane looked like, I zoomed in and cropped it down to this.

To see just how close I came to the real plane, I took this picture of my model in a similar pose.

It's not perfect, but it's fairly close and that's good enough for me... and I'm really liking this new display base that was sent to me by "Mr. P-40", Tom Bebout. @tom-bebout

Thanks Tom ! You're the best.

In real life aviation, FOD, (or Foreign Object Debris) is enemy number one for turbine jet engines. This is why sometimes you see pictures of aircraft with covers installed over the intake and exhaust openings. So you probably wouldn't see a jet operated from a surface such as is depicted on this base... But I really like it, and I think it looks cool parked on top of it. Now I need to get in gear and build up some more planes and tanks that would look even better parked on top of this little masterpiece that Tom sent me. Here's a close up of what I'm talking about.

I was originally not going to add the under wing drop tanks... But when I saw this picture taken from an American gun camera footage, and after noticing the tanks were present in the original reference photo, I decided to install a set.

I used a chrome plated set of drop tanks that I borrowed from a Tamiya MiG-15 that is currently on the work bench as part of the "MiG" group build. They are much nicer looking and have better details than the original kit supplied parts. The only other change I made during this build, was to add a set of replacement resin main wheels, and a new resin pilot's ejection seat. The nose wheel is the original from the box.

More information on how this plane was constructed, along with 4 other Tamiya MiG-15's can be seen by following this link.

I hope to have 3 more MiG's done in a few days...

Overall I am very pleased with how this plane went together. It had not problems with fit, once I trimmed away the wing attachment lugs and sanded the ends of the wings flat where they join the fuselage. Once this was done, it was smooth sailing.

In order to keep this one from being a "tail sitter", I added some nose weight by hiding two large metal nuts and a piece of threaded rod to keep them together. These weights are hidden behind a nose blanking plate I fashioned from plastic sheet. This plastic sheet material was then painted black.

It also serves as a blank to keep you from being able to see through the intake.

I gave the airframe a coat of "Metallizer" Aluminum Plate once it was assembled. Then I polished the paint to make it shiny. Once the paint looked nice and shiny, I gave the entire plane a coat of light green. After this dried, I went back and sprayed on a different shade of darker green for the camouflage.

This plane with Bort Number "3020" is a subject of controversy. Some sources, including Hasegawa, show that it was flown by a North Vietnamese pilot named Nguyen Van Bay. I found this B&W photo that shows some interesting details that are not visible in the color photo I posted earlier.

Other sources state that this plane was flown by the legendary "Colonel Tomb". This is where the controversy kicks into high gear. It's entirely possible that a pilot named "Tomb" didn't exist. What is known is that there were several pilots flying for the North Vietnamese who achieved "Ace" status. This plane "3020" was displayed with kill markings on the nose. I personally do not know if this was for victories that were credited to the aircraft (since it could have been flown by several pilots), or was it the scoreboard of a single person.

Eventually when I have more time available I will do some more digging into this and see what turns up. I wanted a plane in my collection that was flown by a North Vietnamese pilot, and this one fits the bill nicely. I'll end up with another NV plane in the collection, and it will be a MiG-21. If I had more time available, I would have added it during this .

I think it will look fantastic sitting next to some Phantoms that will eventually hit the work bench. I want to build "Showtime 100" and "Scat" as flown by Robin Olds. In the decal stash I have a set of Werner's Wings decals for various Phantoms flown by "Steve Ritchie" and friends. Chappie's plane has been one I wanted to build for a long time after I found out that the character in the movie "Iron Eagle" was loosely based on him. Sounds stupid huh ? This movie had some cool flying scenes but other than that it is... well... I'll leave it at that.

Anyhow, here's the rest of my pictures for the MiG-17... It's not that bad of a kit. What surprised me the most was how the original kit supplied decals still worked. And they are getting close to being 30 years old !

Many thanks go out to Tom Bebout for graciously sending me another larger display base, and to all of my friends who assisted me with research information and advice for the proper colors that were used on these early MiG jets.

Thank everyone, it wouldn't have turned out as nice as it did without your help.

As always,
Comments are encouraged.

Reader reactions:
14  Awesome

1 additional image. Click to enlarge.

37 responses

  1. Sharp looking MiG Louis! That camouflage scheme looks great.

  2. Great job Louis! I like it a lot.

  3. sweet mig...the dio is terrific

  4. Striking camouflage, the best I’ve seen in a NV MIG. You, like other gentleman around here, have the ability to bring an old model way past what it can reasonably deliver... this is one of such models. Excellent work my friend!

    • Thanks for the kind words Pedro @holzhamer
      I was inspired to build this model after watching a TV episode of "Dogfights" on the History Channel. They went over the actual dogfight between the F-4 Phantom crew of Driscol, Cunningham, (in "Showtime 100"), going up against NVPA "Col. Tomb".
      There are a few other builds here on Imodeler which I thought were very impressive. Dan Desilva @danfrombermuda and Raymond Lomeli @anvil6 both built up some very good looking planes using the same markings. I wasn't sure about how the underside of the wings were painted or if they were painted at all. They very well could have been left in "Natural Metal".

      Thanks again !

  5. Great build Louis, very cool weathering as well, fantastic.

  6. GR8 work - looks fast with all that paint peeling off! It's been a joy to follow it in the group-build series indeed. And with more on the way it is still in progress. . . "MiG MiG" just to quote a cartoon character 🙂

    • Thanks Erik ! @airbum
      It does appear to be a rocket ship doesn't it ? It just looks fast even when sitting still. I'm happy to hear that you are enjoying the WIP's. Tonight I'll attempt the decals on the chrome plated MiG-15, and hopefully we will see it in the headline section in a few days.

  7. Mig, what Mig are you talking about? I don't see any Mig-17 sitting on that beautiful looking display base. Must be the excellent camouflage pattern that is hiding it.

    • Hello Tom, @tom-bebout
      It is a beautiful display base you created, and I have to admit, the camouflage is very effective... I hope to put the new display base to work even more often in the future... Thanks again for your generosity, and these comments are like icing on the cake.
      Take care buddy.

  8. Louis, a definite departure in style for you. Always great to get out of the comfort zone, and this is terrific. Beautifully made and painted. The comparison shot with the original photo is dialled in to ‘10’

    Oh, and Tom...

    “Mig, what Mig are you talking about? I don’t see any Mig-17 sitting on that beautiful looking display base”

    ...that really did make me laugh out loud.


    • David, @dirtylittlefokker
      My dear friend. It's always wonderful to hear from you. I sincerely appreciate the kind words. Yes Tom B made me laugh out loud too with his statements... Love it !

      I tried to make this one as close to the original as possible using the few pictures I had of the original bird... It turned out close enough for me. I am happy with the results, and I "winged it" with the color choices. I don't know for sure if the underside of the wings were painted as I did with my MiG-17 model or not.

      It's entirely possible they were left unpainted, in a natural metal finish.

      Thanks again buddy ! Take care and I hope to hear from you again soon.

  9. Hey Louis, that's a great looking MiG. Great job on the camo. Occasionally, I have a desire to build one, though there are none in my stash. I feel the pull getting strong today. 🙂

    She looks real nice, my friend.

    • Hey Gary ! @wiley2770
      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment on this MiG-17. I sincerely appreciate this. I have to admit, building up a few more is definitely a good possibility for me. They have so many options for a lot of different paint schemes. It's almost like you were building a Bf-109 or even a FW-190 in this regard ! I can understand the "pull getting strong", as it has happened to me as well. I wanted to build up an Academy MiG-21 that I have in the stash, and a Trumpeter MiG-1 for the MiG Group Build, but I ran out of time.

      Christmas is right around the corner, so give yourself a treat and pick up a MiG for the Holidays... They're addictive ! Right now I am about finished with 4 more Tamiya MiG-15's, and one just might make the headlines tomorrow night... so please stay tuned.

      Thanks again !

  10. Masterful Mig! Louis . Looks great on that base. Yes, FOD the big enemy of jet intakes, as a plane captain on F-4J's we had to 'walk the intakes before every flight, Once had to clean up the remains of a small bird that hit the intake ramp. and on the flight deck they'd have FOD walk down of the flight deck prior to the start of flight ops.

    • Robert ! @roofrat
      Good to hear from you my friend...and thanks for the kind words about this MiG build. I was watching a TV show the other night about modern day carrier ops. I immediately thought of you and your days as a Phantom Phixer... They were talking about exactly what you just posted. Forming a line and walking the deck, from bow to stern each day... and how a tiny little thing like a rivet can ruin the turbine blades.

  11. Well done Louis, taking the basic Hobbycraft kit, bringing it up to standard with some added bits and pieces and your skills to build a real nice model of the Fresco. Despite a lot more info available on NVA equipment and aircraft, still quite lacking on the MiG-17 especially clear images. Not very many images taken due to the security restrictions used by the NVA in those days in regard to photography around military bases. Still an excellent presentation going on the best information that is out there. Looking forward to the MiG-15's. Thanks for sharing.

    • Chuck my friend ! @uscusn
      I sincerely appreciate the compliments... I was expecting the worst with this old Hobbycraft kit, but instead I was pleasantly surprised. I built it like you would if you were building a "limited run" kit. Test fit, test fit, test fit... tweak this part a little, and replace that one. In the end I am very pleased with the results, and surprisingly enough, the overall fit was not that bad. I didn't have to use filler anywhere on this one. Just a little sanding here and there was all. The most amazing thing was these 30 plus year old kit supplied decals worked like a charm !

      One thing I learned during this build is something that you hit upon, and that was the lack of photographs showing North Vietnamese MiG's. They're not that easy to find original wartime era pictures of them online. What you said about security is most likely the cause...

      I hope to finish the "chrome plated" MiG-15 tonight, and if I do, I'll try my best to post it in the headlines section tomorrow evening. Thanks again buddy for the compliments. Take care and Merry Christmas.

  12. Looks great! I was stunned to see a non-prop build with your name attached to it! You are versatile at the "iron works!"

    • Hello Greg ! @gkittinger
      It's good to hear from you... Yes this isn't my usual style of build. Mine almost always have a prop up front. It was a little different for me this time, and the first MiG I have completed in many years. I sincerely appreciate the compliments. Please stay tuned for a few more MiG-15's that should be arriving in the headline section any day now. These things are addictive... Thanks again !

  13. Nice work, Louis. The paint turned out spot on. The Mig-17 is a plane I wish somebody would do a new tool of in 1/48. I haven’t heard good things about the HobbyBoss kit and the Hobbycraft kit is based on an early 80’s War Eagle vacuform.

    • Thanks John ! @j-healy

      I really appreciate the compliments on the paint work. Speaking about MiG's in general, I recently purchased a Trumpeter MiG-15 because there was one more paint scheme I wanted to build for the collection. I wanted a MiG with a solid red nose and the Trumpeter kit supplied decals were spot on for that. I wish things were that easy for the MiG-17 too... but just like you mentioned with the HB MiG-17 kit, I have not been reading too much praise about that one.

      Occasionally I have found out that these bad reviews were not all justified, and have been quite happy with the results no matter what the "kit bashers" have had to say, once I went against their advice and built one for myself.

      We all have different tastes I guess. It really would be nice to have a choice with a new tool MIG-17, but as of now we don't. What you said about War Eagle makes sense, as my old Hobby Craft kit said War Eagle right on the box... Who knows, I might even get a Hobby Boss MiG-17 and see if the kit bashers were wrong again... They can't all be that bad can they ? LOL

  14. Great looking Mig! That Hobbycraft kit really makes you work for a good result, but you nailed it. Excellent finish as well!

    • Thanks Ramon ! @anvil6
      Your MiG-17 build was part of the inspiration for me to build mine... Now that it is completed, I am very happy that I chose to follow your lead... so in turn I thank you !

      This one was surprisingly an easy build, and I didn't have to use any filler on it anywhere. Even the 30 year old decals worked ! I wasn't sure about painting the underside surfaces of the wings. You can see the fuselage appears to be completely painted so I rolled with it, said what the heck, and painted the wings too.

      Thanks again !

      • Thank you Louis, I am flattered to be part of your inspiration! I was on the fence about the underside colors, but I was able to find the same reference photos you did. That close up black and white was the one that convinced me to wrap around the camo colors, since the landing gear doors are the same shade as the topside, and not light colored or metallic. Like I said, Nice work dude, I think yours came out better than mine!

  15. Awesome build, Louis. The model and the photo of the real thing look spot on.

  16. Great looking MiG-17, Louis! Glad to see her finished!

    • Hello Seb,
      I was pleasantly surprised at how this kit went together. I was expecting a fight to the very end, but thankfully that didn't happen. I was also surprised at how fast it went together... much faster than I anticipated.

      Thank you very much for the compliments. I too am pleased with the end result. This new base that Tom Bebout sent me, helps to enhance the appearance of my builds. Take care my friend.

  17. Beautiful looking aircraft Louis. Hobbycraft take a lot of flak (mostly from me) but with patience and all of your modelling skills, a nice model is produced

    • George, @blackadder57
      Thanks for the compliments buddy... I am very pleased with how this MiG-17 has turned out. I have had some Hobbycraft kits in the past that were a little less than spectacular, but this one isn't one of them. The early 1/48 scale Bf-109's and Dornier 17's come to mind here...back then they were the only game in town. What really surprised me this time around was the lack of filler used on this one. None was needed anywhere...and it looks like a MiG once it's all said and done.

      Again thanks for the kind words...

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