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Hobby Lobby Mig-15 Review Print E-mail
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History

The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 was a jet fighter developed for the USSR by Artem Mikoyan and Mikhail Gurevich. The MiG-15 was one of the first successful swept-wing jet fighters, and it achieved fame in the skies over Korea, where early in the war, it outclassed all straight-winged enemy fighters in daylight. With over 12,000 built the MiG-15 is believed to have been one of the most widely produced jet aircraft ever made. The MiG-15 is often mentioned along with the North American F-86 Sabre in lists of the best fighter aircraft of the Korean War and in comparison with fighters of other eras. The MiG is powered by a Klimov VK-1 turbojet capable of thrusting the jet to a max speed of 668mph.



Intro

After seeing a friend fly the Freewing F86 I was impressed with the little jet, good speed, steady flight characteristics and all for a decent price. I immediately began looking to purchase my own F86 until I saw that Hobby Lobby was releasing a MiG-15 from the same company that produced his F86. It was then I knew that I had to get the MiG so I could chase down his F86 and have our own dogfights in memory of MiG Alley.

Kit Contents

The kit comes with everything you need to build the MiG. It includes control horns, instruction manual, reinforced drop tanks, wings/tail feathers, the control wires for the elevator and even glue to stick it all together.

Assembly

Assembly is fairly straight forward since most of the plane and components are already installed. Servos, motor/EDF and the ESC are already installed ready to go. All that is required is to install the control horns on the elevators and ailerons, glue on the wings and tail feathers and install your own receiver. Most of the assembly was very simple until I got to the wires that attach to the elevators. I found the wires to be a little too flimsy for my taste and the assembly was a bit of a pain. The wires have too much give when pushing and pulling and although they do the job I wish they were stiffer. I spent quite a bit of time making sure everything was lined up properly before I epoxied the vertical stab onto the body, but despite my efforts it still appears canted from the center line of the fuselage. Beware the red paint feels very tacky when handling the new plane. I’m not sure if that is because I received the plane the day they came out so they were literally ‘hot off the presses’ or if it is the type of paint they used. Either way it doesn’t take much to rub the RED paint off, so be careful. The blue paint seemed drier and less tacky.

Features

The overall looks of the MiG closely match its real life counterpart, not bad for a $119 foamy! Even though the paint is a pain to handle while building the plane, it looks AWESOME in the air and with the sky blue underside of the plane you should have no problem keeping orientation with this plane. If red is facing you it means you are inverted and you should not pull up lest you meet the ground sooner than expected. In addition to the two-tone paint job the underside of the MiG is equipped with a nice skid plate that protects the foam on asphalt or non-grass landings. The drop tanks on either wing also have a hard plastic shell on the bottom that protects the foam from being ripped up during landings.

First Flight

For the first flight I headed out to a 60 acre plot of undeveloped land that is covered with rough terrain and tall grass. My flying buddy and I stand atop a 10 foot berm along the edge of the field which gives a great view of the entire field. After a quick pre-flight check I handed the MiG over to my official launcher, wound up the motor and told him to toss her into the sky. The MiG immediately pitched up, stalled and fell into the tall grass below the berm. I retrieved the model, checked for damage (there was none) and tried it again. I had my launcher throw the model at less of an angle and after releasing it, the plane dipped about six feet before finally gathering enough speed and taking to the air. It was a rough launch but once the plane was in the air it flew very smooth and nice. I flew the plane all around the field to get a feel for her and it didn’t take long to feel comfortable with her characteristics.

Flight Characteristics

Once in the air the plane is fairly stable. It’s definitely not the fastest EDF on the market and to keep her in the air with authority I needed close to ¾ throttle most of the time. Also compared to the F86 I felt that the MiG-15 was a tad slower. Often times when accelerating or slowing down there is a slight ‘wag’ in the tail of the plane; even though it is noticeable I’ve never had any issues with lack of control when it wags. The plane slows down ok, but it is best to maintain speed when entering turns. Due to the small wing area and swept back design it is not the best floater in the world, but if a consistent angle of decent is kept you can dead stick the landings with little issue.

Takeoffs and Landings

Landing the plane is really very simple as long as you have a long enough area to land. If you’re landing on a hard surface the skid plates and drop tanks provide ample cover to the plane. Make sure to use a large amount of epoxy to attach the drop tanks, otherwise they will rip out after 1 or 2 landings. After one ripped out on my 2nd landing I decided to remove the other tank and noticed a slight increase in speed of the plane. In my opinion the drop tanks are not totally necessary especially if you’re landing on grass, the plane will only slide a few feet and stop.

Takeoffs are a whole other issue.

Getting this plane into the air has been one of the most frustrating experiences in the hobby. Compared to the F86 the MiG-15 is like throwing a brick in the air and hoping it flies. The plane cannot be launched with hardly any angle above the horizon. A strong flat throw is the best and even then I found the results to be mixed. I am not the only one with this issue as Hobby Lobby made a special video on how to launch this plane:


I truly appreciate them taking the time and effort to listen to their customers and to create a response. From the video I have found that the easiest way to launch the plane is with an underhanded toss. It is less powerful than the overhand, but there is less chance of putting any spin on the plane and if you botch the throw, you’re only 2 feet off the ground so the aborted takeoff isn’t too severe.

Aerobatics

The plane is capable of doing mild aerobatics like loops, rolls and inverted flight. It rolls very well although flying inverted requires a healthy amount of down elevator. Loops are easy but make sure you have plenty of air between the plane and the ground since the loops are rather large due to the design of the plane. I unintentionally found out that the plane can do unrecoverable spins, but only after stalling. J Whoops.

Is This Plane For a Beginner?

No. Absolutely not. A beginner buying this plane would be frustrated and rage quit the hobby before even having a chance to be successful. If a beginner were able to get this plane in the air, it’d be too much to handle for a first timer. If you have aileron experience I’m sure you could manage this plane, it’s not too terribly fast just watch it on the hand launches.

Durability, Battery Tray and Nose Intake

Due to all the bad launches my MiG-15 quickly became very banged up. Despite the wings ripping out, the battery tray coming loose and the nose being crunched countless times, the little plane kept on flying (when I could get it in the air). That is very impressive for a plane to take so much abuse. I am disappointed with the wooden battery tray and feel like it could be a better design. The tray itself is fine but it is only secured in the plane by little foam holders. On the slightest hard landing or bad launch I guarantee that holders in the front will break and you will cry. I finally ended up gluing the entire tray to both sides of the body and it has held quite nicely. Another modification I did was to take out the Nose Intake Split. I love the stock looks of the plane but while flying one day I noticed how much louder the ‘sucking’ noise was on my EDF compared to the F86. I thought that maybe the splitter was causing more resistance so I took it out. I honestly felt like the plane flew better with the splitter out. Try it yourself and see.

Fiberglass mesh and epoxy I used to strengthen the balsa board:


Conclusion

Overall the plane is a really cool plane and looks great when you’re coming in hot and low on the deck. Once I finally got the hang of the underhand launch I took great joy in flying my plane until it met the F86 (read MiGvsF86). I am currently rebuilding the plane but will be securing the battery tray and leaving the drop tanks and nose intake off for better performance. The plane isn’t a terrible value for $119, but there are a few shortcomings that keep it from being an A+ plane.

Rating: C+

Pros

  • Great Scale Looks
  • Fun to fly
  • Not too fast, easy for intermediate pilot
  • Teaches the value of patience

Neutrals

  • Drop tanks and nose intake add extra weight and drag
  • Red paint still feels slightly ‘wet’ and easy to rub off

Cons

  • Weak battery tray
  • Difficult to hand launch





 
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