Just arrived on my porch
The Bronco 1/48 MiG-15 (Fagot-A) has just arrived here today.
As I had surmised from sprue shots, it is the Trumpeter MiG-15bis kit without the engine and without the fuselage divided fore and aft, with the correct modification made to the speed brakes and gun locations, the two things visually that distinguish the two MiG-15 sub-types. Other than that, it is the Trumpeter kit (surprise surprise, since Bronco and Hobby Boss are all part of Trumpeter). This is not a bad thing, since other than the slightly-funky aft wing fairing to the fuselage, the kit is overall the most accurate MiG-15 out there in 1/48.
Markings are interesting: the three Chinese aces have never been done before. However, the dates on the decal markings sheets are wrong. Li Han, Zhao Baotong, and Wang Hai did not commence operations until the fall of 1951. Li Han was in the 4th Fighter Regiment, the first PLAAF unit in combat. They went into combat in June 1951, had very high losses, got pulled back for additional training, did much better that fall.Li Han was credited with 8 – 5 individual and 3 shared, including credit for the first USAF aircraft claimed by the PLAAF, an F-86 that the USAF lists as “returned to base so badly shot up it never flew again,” making his victory solid.
Zhao Baotong was in the PLAAF 3rd Air Regiment, which flew in 23 engagements with USAF aircraft between October 21, 1951-Jaunary 14, 1952, claiming 55 USAF aircraft including 17 F-86s (the others were F-80s and F-84s – fighter-bombers). He was the first PLAAF pilot credited as an ace, with a final total of 9, tying him with Wang Hai – also in the 3rd FRD – for PLAAF “ace of aces”. Wang Hai, the other top-scorer, was one of the first trainees in the PLAAF – it’s interesting that in October 1949 there was no PLAAF, and two years later they were flying combat in MiuG-15s; these guys entered combat with around 200 hours tops in their logbooks, flying one of the most difficult early jets, it would go out of control if kept too long in a pursuit turn. Wang Hai eventually rose to Lt. General and was the first aviator to command the PLAAF when he took the position in 1985. So, historically, all three of these markings options are interesting and important.
The two Soviet-flown MiGs come from the 196th IAP, which engaged in Korean combat between March 1951-February 1952.
The Pepelyaev airplane has been done before, but this is the first time it’s accurate, since all the others have had his markings on a MiG-15bis, which he never flew, since the 196th IAP left to return to the Soviet Union in February 1952, before the MiG-15bis showed up. His score of 19 makes him the second-ranked ace of the Korean War behind Nikolai Sutyagin with 21 (McConnell is actually the 4th-ranked ace of the war, behind three Russians – and their confirmation system was more accurate than the USAF’s; they went and looked at the wreckage).
The other Soviet airplane (823) was flown (probably) by Captain Lev Ivanov, who led the 30 MiG-15s that intercepted 12 B-29s on “Black Thursday,” April 12, 1951, when six of 12 B-29s from the 19th, 98th and 307th bomb groups were shot down, including one by Ivanov. This was the mission that ended the B-29’s career as a day bomber until the AF put up 12 on October 19 and lost 9 to the MiGs (with Ivanov scoring another one to be the only MiG pilot to get two B-29s) and never again appeared over North Korea in daylight.
So, this is the only “early” MiG-15 in 1/48, the fighter the Soviets used during 1951, known to Sabre pilots as “The year of the Honcho”, when the fight was so even the two sides scored 1:1 in claimed victories. All other kits are the MiG-15bis, which only started being used in 1952.
The kit could do with a resin cockpit, but if you close the canopy (which preserves the lines), what’s there will look OK. Overall, from my experience with the Trumpeter kit, it makes up into a very nice model. It’s available for a good price on EvilBay – I got this one shipped from China (in two weeks) for $39.00 – the promise was surface shipping and delivery in January, so getting it now was nice.
For those needing sprue photos, they are available on Scalemates.
UPDATE: the kit has real positive alignment pins – think the Meng P-51s. These kits were originally created this past summer to sell to visitors at the Chinese Aviation Museum, where they are celebrating the 70th anniversary of China entering and winning the Korean War, so the kits are made for “non-modelers,” which explains a lot of the design changes from the original Trumpeter kit, how it’s been simplified. (and yes, the Chinese have a pretty good argument for their position: they say, correctly, that since the Korean War, the rest of the world has treated China with respect, there have been no foreign depredations as in the “Century of Shame”, and the US has made no aggressive moves since)