1/144 Academy MIG-23ML Conversion

Gallery Article by S K Loh on Nov 8 2013



The kit is an Academy 1/144 MIG-23 Flogger. The picture on the box and paint instruction suggested what seems like a MIG-23M variant. However, upon inspecting the kit, I discovered quite a number of flaws. Firstly, the pitot tube was not there. The radome cone was too tapered and small resembling that of a MIG-23BN variant. I did a search but could not find any info on the ‘Red 56’ Russian MIG-23 to confirm its variant.

It was during the search that I came across an interesting event involving a Syrian MIG23 in October 1989. A Syrian MIG-23ML flown by 34-year old Major Bassem Adel during a routine training flight defected into Israel on 11 October seeking political asylum. This MIG-23ML is a new variant code named Flogger G by NATO. The aircraft landed in Meggido landing strip. It was then flown over Israel by an Israeli pilot. The aircraft is now on display at Israel Air Force Museum at Hatserim Air Force Base.

There has been quite a number of builds done by numerous hobbyists on this Syrian MIG-23ML in 1/48 and 1/72 scale. I thought it would be nice to do one in 1/144 scale. The following modifications/enhancements were made to the original kit:

  • a. Scratch built the radome with pitot tube to depict the Ml variant.

  • b. The vertical fin fillet extension was removed by cutting and sanding down as per the ML variant.

  • c. Inscribed the upper and lower rear end air-brakes and added ribs on them.

  • d. Added the rear view mirror on the canopy, various probes and IFF antennas were added.

  • e. Added the flare/chaff dispenser on either side of the vertical fin as seen on the defected fighter.

  • f. Improved the shape of the intake splitter plates and added the airflow vanes.


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As the ventral fin was molded in the extended position, the kit is best assembled in in-flight mode. I had to create the cockpit by cutting and shaping and added the scratch built ejection seat and pilot for this. The canopy was a tad too thick so I sanded it down and polished it and coated it with acrylic clear to restore its shine.

The armaments provided in the kit somehow were not accurate at all. They were supposed to be the R-23 (AA-7 Apex) missiles for the wing glove pylon as seen on most MIG-23s. I scratch built two of them by eventually decided against fitting them. Images I found showed that the aircraft was clean without any missiles attached. I only glued on the wing glove and fuselage pylons. 

The paint scheme was a three-tone camo of Green/Brown(Tan)/Sand(Light Brown) on the upper surface and Light Blue on the lower surface. The radome and tip of fin were painted Dark Grey (Gunship Gray). I mixed the shades using Tamiya/Mr Hobby basic colors and airbrushed freehand; touching up with fine brush for a tighter feather-edge look. 

The decals and stencils were self-made. Two coats of dull coating were applied to give it a matt finish.

The IDF F-4E shown alongside the MIG-23ML was my previous submission. I especially like the dual roundel insignia on the MIG-23ML. Comments are welcome if there are any omission or errors. Enjoy the photos!

S K Loh

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Photos and text © by S K Loh