When the time came for the Soviet military to decide on aircraft to compete against the American and European “5th Generation” fighters, they ended up doing what America did with the ATF program; they had a competitive build and fly off. Or at least, they were going to, kind of…
Sukhoi built their radical forward-swept –wing (FSW) S-37 Berkut as a technology demonstrator. This futuristic-looking plane looked like it was a prototype for a fully-fleshed out fighter, but that wasn’t the case. As time wore on, it became obvious that the bureau was using it as a publicity tool to get people interested in Sukhoi technology (like Chevy using Corvettes to draw in Cruze buyers). Mig, on the other hand, was a bit behind in the game. They had lost favour with the government, due to Sukhoi Management’s adept political maneuvering, and were doing poorly on the export market.
However, Mig rose to the challenge and created an aircraft called the 1.44. This was on offshoot of an earlier project called the 1.42, but tailored to the new contest in which Mig found itself competing. The 1.44 was, for a Mig, a very large aircraft. It was clearly advanced in approach, being something of a stylistic and aerodynamic mashup of the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Rafale and even the ill-fated IAI Lavi. With blended curves and sleek lines, the 1.44 certainly also looked the part of something from which a new fighter could sprout, fully-formed.
Unfortunately, the economic climate in the former Soviet Union was not conducive to the purchase of new fighters at the time, and Mig, being far more cash strapped, made only a few flights in the 1.44 before it was packed away into a hangar, covered with a tarp and left to collect dust. Still, its futuristically aggressive shape, a blend of typical Russian forcefulness and an aerodynamicist’s keen-eyed calculations, immediately caught the collective attention of the aviation world.
As a result, there have been a few kits of this unfortunately stillborn future fighter. Zvezda makes one in 1/72, and Revell Germany made on in 1/144. Today, we’re taking a look at the smaller, although by no means the lesser, of the two!
The Mig 1.44 is typical Revell Germany kit. There is a lot of fine detail on the parts, and there’s no flash to be found anywhere. The kit comes on a couple sprues of grey-beige plastic, with one very small clear sprue for the cockpit canopy. The colour is amazingly close to the actual tawny colour of the Mig, so in some ways, it’s almost a shame to cover it with paint!
Now, speaking of paint, it’s going to be important to airbrush paint onto this lightly. I’m used to larger kits of significantly less fineness, so thicker paint was never a problem. However, the panel lines on this model are extremely fine, due to the scale being so small. I think that this plane has more panel lines on it that all of my Matchbox kits put together! They are so fine that any excess paint or glue is going to cause a problem, and sanding is going to require a very soft touch, I think.
The canopy looks nice, although it is tiny. The frame lines are not very distinct, but the are distinct enough that there should be a good guide for re-etching the frames prior to masking. There’s a job I didn’t want: re-etching lines in 1/144 canopies! Gaah! You have the option of building the very fragile-looking landing gear raised or lowered, but there’s no such option for the canopy. It’s a one-peicer and it’s desined to be displayed closed. If you wanted to, you could razor-saw it open, but I wouldn’t bother.
Interior detail isn’t great, but the seat has belts moulded into it, and there’s a decal for the instrument panel. There’s a control stick too, and a bit of “armrest” detail on the side consoles. There’s a lot more detail in the cockpit that I’ve see in my recent 1/72 builds, so I was pretty pleased with that part of the kit! There aren’t any weapons, since the real 1.44 never progressed to the weapons trial state. That also explains the tiny nose dielectric cover; there is no room for a full fire control radar under there, but it is a separate piece. (I hope it fits, but I can’t tell from a quick look.)
The instructions are typical Revell Germany; there are a few pages of safety warnings and BS before you get to the plane. They are printed on a none-too-sturdy feeling almost newsprint paper, and they open like a book. I really hate Revell Germany instructions, and these are no different. There’s no difficulty in following them; they’re clear enough as to what goes where.
However, the instructions always look so unimpressive. Revell Germany kit instructions always seem to lack precision. They have an almost hand-drawn feel to them. Looking at them, they’re clearly not that bad, but when you compare them to instructions from other makers, they just feel cheap. Thankfully, with such a small plane (and with there being no options for equipment fit), you won’t have to deal with the booklet for long!
There’s a small decal sheet, but it only includes decals for the single prototype, 01 Blue. The decals are quite complete for the scale, though, and the Mig logos on the nose are even represented! Like most Revell Germany decals I’ve used, I expect them to be relatively tough, but prone to twisting and getting tangled on themselves, if given the chance. They’ll likely also have a matte finish, which is annoying.
The Revell Germany Mig 1.44 is a neat little kit of a rarely seen, and little-known aircraft. It’s large for a 1/144, being almost the size of a 1/72 Spitfire, so it’s not going to get lost on the shelf. (Let that tell you just how big a plane the 1.44 is in real life!) It has a lot of nice detail that is going to take a subtle hand to bring out properly, without making the plane too stark or ridiculous looking.
Because the plane is of such a small scale, things like wheels, gear legs and cockpit bits are tiny. Thus, I can’t recommend this for anyone visually challenged (unless you have a magnifier helmet, and then anything goes!) or anyone possessed of the fists-of-ham. For those inexperienced with modelling, the tiny parts are going to prove a pain, so this is also a bad kit for a child or someone new to the hobby.
It’s a good kit for an experienced builder, though. Revell Germany made a whole slew of kits in this scale, so there’s a lot to compare this to, and you can build a nice collection of planes that won’t take up a lot of room. This would undoubtedly look good beside its “rival”, the S-37 Berkut, also in 1/144 from Revell Germany.
Overall, I’d say this kit can be recommended for those with skill and patience, and is a good one to look out for. I don’t know if they’ve made it in the last little while, though, so finding it might be more difficult than it should be.