Tuesday, June 12, 2012

AMT MiG-15 'fagot'

For Christmas 1976 my Mom bought for me all six AMT 1/48 scale model airplane kits which came out that year. I already had the MiG-15, but it was nice to get the other five (F9F Panther, Hawker Tempest, P-36 Hawk, F4U-1 Corsair, and Lockheed Vega) in the set. She got them from a catalog store, and they came together in a cardboard box. When I tore off the Christmas wrapping and opened the box, I saw all six kits neatly packed together - what eye candy!

At the time these kits came out, AMT was better known for their automobile and "Star Trek" model kits. Perhaps the popularity of their Hindenburg kit in 1975 prompted the company to explore a wider range of subjects. The interesting thing about these early AMT airplane kits is they are very basic and easy to build, yet are very accurate in scale. They have minimum surface and interior detail. For instance, this MiG-15 kit has a 'bathtub' type cockpit you drop into the fuselage once the two halves are glued together. There is no wheel well detail whatsoever. The decals include just the basic national insignia and markings. AMT molded all their kits in white styrene, and their instructions give no painting guidance other than "look at the picture on the box"! The box art doesn't help much either as the illustrations are rather cartoon-ish. AMT packaged these kits in a collapsible 'cereal' type box, with a little schematic of the airplane on one edge, and a short illustration of how great their kits are engineered on the other. Still, with all their simpleness, they make nice looking models if finished well, and go together nicely as a set, especially the MiG-15 and F9F.
The MiG-15 shown here is the third I've built in my lifetime. My first two were hand brushed with Testors silver, and were very streaky looking. This latest one was sprayed with Testors chrome. I painted only a few minimum details such as black gun barrels, tires, and exhaust cone. The interior was painted with Testors Russian interior green, with a brown-suited pilot.
Monogram came out with their own 1/48 scale MiG-15 the same year, which seemed redundant; but theirs was far superior to AMTs. Monogram's had a fully detailed cockpit with sliding canopy, wheel well detail, and markings for three versions. Interestingly, their North Korean Air Force markings were the same as AMT's, even duplicating the plane's serial number "2057"! Monogram included national insignia for the wings, while AMT did not.
It was right after Christmas 1976 we moved from J-5 to another part of town. I didn't get all six kits finished before we moved, and I may have left the newer MiG-15 from the Christmas set for last since I already had one on the shelf. But seeing as how I had bought one separately for myself before I got the complete set, I decided to build this one first for this blog project.


  1. Another really nice build Don.Your site has inspired me to do some retro builds of my own.Keep up the good work and I've recommended your site to several model builder friends.

  2. My first 1/48 scale kit, when I decided to be a bit more "serious" about model building was the AMT Corsair. Painted it as well as my 13 year old self could (Pactra Light Blue over Pactra Confederate Gray). It looked okay, for the most part.
    I think that AMT's MiG-15 was actually closer to true 1/48 than the Monogram kit; the latter was almost the same size as their F-86, which the 15 clearly was not. I believe some say that it lies between 1/40 to 1/45. Nice kit, though.