The MiG-19 is one of the most important of the early Soviet jets. It was the first Soviet production fighter aircraft to break the sound barrier (actually the first production fighter in the world period, I believe) and the first Russian plane to regularly carry guided air-to-air weapons (the AA-1 “Alkalai” or K-5) in the PM model. It was a fast and heavily armed aircraft, although not always easy to handle, it seems, especially for some Soviet client states such as Cuba which lost 2 of their planes.
Despite its importance, the MiG-19 is not as well represented in kit form as its brothers and sisters from Mig. The MiG-21, of course, has been kitted to death, and the 23, 25, 29 and even 15 are staples of hobby shop shelves the world over. Recently, there have been some better Trumpeter offerings of this important plane, but back in the early 1970’s, there was almost nothing. That is, of course, until Tamiya came along with its excellent, if not diminutive, 1/100 model.
A note about “MiG”: In the old days, like when the MiG 19 was produced, the standard way of writing Mig was “MiG”. Now the acceptable way is to write it “Mig”. However, since the MiG 19 is an old plane, I’ll use “MiG” for this review.
The Tamiya 1/100 MiG-19 PM is an excellent little kit. Despite the fact that it is a small scale and the Farmer is a small plane, there is a LOT of detail on this little bird. The kit itself is very simple; halves for the fuselage, one piece wings and tailplanes, simple landing gear and a one-piece canopy. The canopy is quite clear and distortion free, and the rest of the kit is moulded in grey plastic.
This particular model is one of the reissues of the 1/100 series, released recently (I got mine at Hobby Lobby in about 2010). Taking this into account, I was a bit worried that the moulds would be getting rather tired by now, and that the detail on the model would be either washed out, degraded or otherwise in need of repair. However, I was very pleasantly surprised to find that this was not the case! The detail on the kit was excellent and in excellent condition, and despite the age of the moulds, the kit looked as good as if it had come out of brand new moulds.
The MiG-19 PM’s armament did away with the powerful cannons in favour of guided missiles. Sound familiar? Even the Soviets seemed to have been charmed by the concept of the all-missile interceptor at some point, although unlike the US which seems to have taken a long time to learn that guns are a good idea, the Soviets quickly realized their mistake, and have put guns in most of their planes since.
As a result, the MiG-19 PM was severly handicapped. Armed with only a quartet of very poorly performing AA-1 “Alkalai” missiles, the Farmer E was NOT much of a threat to anyone. Of course, the fact that it sucked so badly immediately piques my interest, and I’m very grateful that Tamiya did this version of the MiG-19!
Painting and Finishing:
There are a variety of possible paints for the MiG-19, but like many fighters of its era, it was often operated in bare metal finish. I have never done a bare metal fighter before, and they’re not my choice; I prefer painted aircraft. However, having seen photos of Soviet bare metal aircraft (and having seen some in real life, as well), it seems that the Soviets didn’t go to the same extremes as the Americans when it came to polishing their aircraft. This isn’t surprising, given the workmanlike approach the Soviets took to tactical aviation assets. This means that even though the MiG-19 was indeed “bare metal” it would be by no means all that shiny.
Also, since the kit came with decals for a Cuban machine, and the only picture I could find of a Cuban MiG-19 showed it to be rather beaten, I figured that I could do the MiG in aluminum and get away with it.
I had never pre-shaded an aircraft before, and this little MiG seemed like a good time to try it out. I primed the aircraft in Colourplace Grey Primer. I then painted on patches of Gunship Grey, Dark Tan and Black (all Model Master Acrylics) to give some variations to the metal shade on the surface. I then used some Tamiya Flat Black acrylic to pre-shade the lines. This was considerably tougher than I thought it would be, since the plane is quite small and there’s not a lot of room for error. However, when I was done, I had a mess of a plane with black lines, so I guess that was good…
I then oversprayed the entire plane with the a light coat of Testors Aluminum oil paint, from the 7ml jar. I was amazed that, when it dried, the preshading had actually worked! However, the effect of the different colours on the fuselage was less pronounced than I had hoped, so it was a bit of a technical draw as far as techniques go.
I decided to do the MiG as a Cuban example. I had heard that the Cuban machines were not missile-armed, but I couldn’t find a conclusive piece of proof either way, and to be honest, I didn’t really care. A loser version of the MiG-19 in Cuban markings was just too cool, and so I went with it. The kit comes with decals for Russian, Polish and Cuban machines, so there is lots of choice at least.
I glossed the model with Future and applied the decals. I then oversprayed the whole kit with Future one more time, and then used a very light application of the Citadel Badab Black wash on the decals to tone them down. This added greatly to the rather grungy and neglected appearance I was going for. I also did the panel lines in the decals using a filed-down mechanical pencil, to give them ‘shadow’, since they were’t preshaded.
I coated the model with Delta Ceramcoat Matte varnish, which came up with a slight sheen, but less than a satin finish. This gives the impression of heavily oxidized aluminum, which is exactly what I wanted!
The MiG-19 is a very important fighter, albeit a transitional one. This little (and ancient) kit is still, surprisingly, one of the best kits of the MiG-19 around, and is amazing in its detail and precision, especially given its age. The kit is simple enough for a beginning modeller to enjoy, and detailed enough in 1/100 for even fussy modellers.
The only thing that would count against this kit is its odd scale. Tamiya tried to get the world to go to 1/100 for small plane kits, but it never took hold, and 1/144 scale dominated the “small end” of things. As a result, there isn’t much out there, other than other Tamiya 1/100 kits, that is in scale to this MiG. That is, of course, unless you’re also a Mobile Suit builder; there are TONS of 1/100 Gundam kits out there! That’s one thing I love about this kit; it’s in scale to my Master Grades, and gives me a great sense of perspective.
Also, this MiG-19 PM is generally easily found and is less than $10. Really, for a kit of this precision and interest, that’s a screaming deal.