1:72 Atanasov 'близнак (Bliznak)' BAMiG-15MT, aircraft '38 White' of the 3rd Squadron, 22nd Fighter Air Regiment, Bulgarian Air Force (Военновъздушни сили), Bezmer Air Base, summer 1964 (Whif/Hobby Boss kit bashing)
+++ DISCLAIMER +++
Nothing you see here is real, even though the conversion or the presented background story might be based historical facts. BEWARE!
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 (Russian: Микоян и Гуревич МиГ-15; NATO reporting name: "Fagot") was a jet fighter aircraft developed by Mikoyan-Gurevich OKB for the Soviet Union. The MiG-15 was one of the first successful jet fighters to incorporate swept wings to achieve high transonic speeds. Introduced in combat over the skies of Korea, it outclassed straight-winged jet day fighters which were largely relegated to ground attack roles. The MiG-15 is believed to have been one of the most widely produced jet aircraft ever made; in excess of 12,000 were manufactured. Licensed foreign production may have raised the production total to over 18,000.
One of the foreign operators was the Bulgarian Air Force. In 1955 a massive modernisation program started and a wave of deliveries began that would replace many piston engine aircraft from the WWII era. This included the MiG-15, and later also the MiG-17 and MiG-19 fighters and Ilyushin Il-28 bombers, as well as the first helicopters (Mil Mi-1).
In late Fifties the Bulgarian Air Force already had a number of obsolescent MiG-15s with only some 30% of their flying hours used. Dimitr Atanasov was the head of the Bulgarian Air Force's 149 Aircraft Repair Base at Tolbukhin, and he became known through several suggestions for upgrades of the MiG-15 fighter.
One of these works was the conversion of surplus fighters into two-seated fighter bombers/trainers, called the UMiG-15MT, which were more or less a MiG-15 UTI trainers with full weapon capability. The 'MT' suffix simply stood for модифициран в Толбухин ('Modified at Tolbukhin'). The most radical proposal of Dimitr Atanasov was a twin jet fighter bomber, though, based on two MiG-15s mated together through a short, straight central wing and stabilizer. This would allow the new aircraft to carry an external ordnance of 1.500 kg (3.300 lb) while maintaining the MiG-15's performance, especially range and take-off/landing. This was a considerable offensive improvement, since the original MiG-15 could only carry light loads like a pair of 100 kg (220 lb) bombs or unguided rockets on 2 underwing hardpoints - or, alternatively, drop tanks.
Initial studies for the 'близнак (Bliznak = Twin)' derivative envisaged two standard fighter airframes to be used, with two separate cockpits, or just a single seat cockpit in the port fuselage. Calculated performance figures for the twin MiG were even better than required by the Bulgarian Air Force, so some extra equipment like more fuel or armour could also be carried. Consequently, the space in the starboard fuselage formerly occupied by the cockpit was used for an additional fuel tank and an avionics bay, while the leftover cockpit received additional armor. The full cannon armament from both airframes was retained, and additional hardpoints under the central wings as well as in- ndd outside of the original wet wing pylons for light loads were added, for a total of seven plyons. In this form, two Atanasov BMiG-15MT protytypes were built and tested in 1958.
Much like the indigenous UMiG-15MT, the "new" aircraft was no offcial product of the OKB Mikoyan-Gurevich, but it received a 'thumbs up' and support from the original manufacturer.
Flight tests and acceptance trials lasted until 1960, when the MiG Bliznak was finally cleared for production/retrofitting at the Krumovo repair plant.
Thirty MiG-15Bs were created until 1963, not only from Bulgarian airframes, but also from other Eastern European Air Forces' stocks, e .g. from Czechoslovakia, where the MiG-15 was under license production. NATO's ASCC reporting name for the BMiG-15MT became "Fagot Z".
The Bulgarian Air Force remained the only operator of this exotic aircraft, since many countries had already received the more modern and potent Suchoj Su-7 fighter bomber or already used the MiG-17 in the fighter bomber role.
The BMiG-15MT would eventually expand its role, though. It is a well-known fact that the Soviet Air Forces in Eastern Europe received a large number of nuclear weapons in the early 1960s. During this period, the Yak-28 'Brewer' tactical bomber and the first genuine Soviet jet fighter-bomber, the Su-7 'Fitter', were introduced to service and provided the most potent offensive capabilities. For the Soviet Forces in Bulgaria, several Atanasov MiG-15 twins were converted as tactical nuclear bombers, designated BAMiG-15MT (атомен/atomen = 'nuclear').
These machines received a similar conversion like the UMiG-15MT, with a tandem cockpit in the port fuselage. The cannon armament was reduced in order to save weight, only a single 23mm cannon remained in the port fuselage, while the standard armament in the starboard fuselage was retained.
A BDZ-56FNM pylon for nuclear stores was added to the central wing, and the wiring for an RN-25 or RN-28 tactical nuclear weapon was added. These weapons were equipped with a remote or a direct impact fuse that determined the moment of detonation in order to create an aerial or a ground burst. Tactical nuclear bombs could be dropped using a LABS maneuver or during horizontal flight. In that latter case, a braking parachute was deployed behind the bomb.
In order to be able to deliver a weapon with precision during a toss bombing or LABS manoeuvre, the original MiG-15 weapon system had to be supplemented by an additional switchbox and indicator. The latter was called PBK (Pritsel dliya Bombometaniya s Kabrirovaniya or toss-bombing sight). On jets like the Su-7, the PBK was a separate box which was added to the left side of the instrument panel, in the BAMiG-15MT it was operated by the WSO/navigator on the rear seat, leaving the pilot free to concentrate on handling the aircraft. The LABS avionics were installed in the starboard fuselage.
A fixed point had to be selected on the ground to start the bombing run. That fixed point could be identified visually or it could be a radio beacon put in place by a commando unit or an helicopter. The PBK gave the informations necessary to complete the final bombing run.
Even though these machines were operated by the Bulgarian Air Force, the crews - at least when carrying nuclear stores or just when operated at the air bases with storage bunkers for nuclear weapons, were Soviet, even though Bulgarian crews were trained in the procedures for nuclear weapon delivery, too, and the BAMiG-15MT was a very good trainer for this task, even though unique in handling, especially on the ground where its wide track caused frequently taxiing accidents with unfamiliar crews.
The BA and remaining BMiG-15MTs were operated until the late Seventies, primarily as trainers. In the strike role they were already withdrawn in 1970, though, because the performance had become totally inadequate for the potential European battleground.
Length: 10.08 m (33 ft 1 in)
Wingspan: 12.68 m (41 ft 6 in)
Height: 3.7 m (12 ft 2 in)
Wing area: 24.6 m2 (265 sq ft)
Airfoil: TsAGI S-10 / TsAGI SR-3
Empty weight: 5,800 kg (12,775 lb)
Gross weight: 8,000 kg (17,620 lb)
Max takeoff weight: 9,770 kg (21,515 lb)
Fuel capacity: 2,450 l (540 imp gal; 648 US gal)
2× Klimov VK-1 centrifugal flow turbojet, 26.5 kN (6,000 lbf) thrust
Maximum speed: 1,059 km/h (658 mph; 572 kn) at sea level
1,033 km/h (558 kn; 642 mph) at 5,000 m (16,000 ft)
992 km/h (536 kn; 616 mph) at 10,000 m (33,000 ft)
Cruising speed: 850 km/h (528 mph; 459 kn)
Range: 1,640 km (1,020 mi; 890 nmi)
Service ceiling: 15,500 m (50,853 ft)
Rate of climb: 51.2 m/s (10,080 ft/min) at sea level
36.2 m/s (7,130 ft/min) at 5,000 m (16,000 ft)
21 m/s (4,100 ft/min) at 10,000 m (33,000 ft)
3x NR-23 23 mm (0.906 in) cannon in the lower left fuselage
(one in the port side fuselage, two in the starboard fuselage, 80 RPG)
1x Nudelman N-37 37 mm (1.457 in) cannon, lower right starboard fuselage (40 RPG)
Seven underwing hardpoints for a total of 1.500 kg (3.300 lb) ordnance, including bombs,
napalm tanks, drop tanks, or unguided rockets.
The kit and its assembly:
The Atanasov twin MiG is a bit of a mystery. and controversial. Sources claim that the project is legit and 100% real, but anything known about is is based on information and a sketch from the Polish Krile ("Wings") magazine, issue 1 from January 2009.
Anyway, this thing is SO bizarre and Cold War, that I had to build one - be it real or not! I am not the first to do so, but I'd add a personal touch, though... The original drawing suggests two separate cockpits, but I found this layout to be a bit unpractical for service, either as a trainer but also as an attack aircraft, since obviosuly no radar or other aiming device could be discerned. Hence I dediced that the original crew number would be one, augmented to a tandem under one canopy in my nuclear fighter bomber version. As a benefit, the resulting asymmetrical layout adds to the design's overall oddness.
This route was made easy through the Hobby Boss kits of the MiG-15 - a fighter and a trainer, based on the same moulds, even though the fuselages differ. The kits are really nice and much more like traditional model kits than the usual Hobby Boss offerings that only consist of two parts and feature a rudimentary interior. Here, you have traditional fuselage halves, separate wings and stabilizers, even detailed cockpit tubs with dashboards and a splitter for the air intake. The landing gear is nice, too. A nice surprise, much like Hobby Boss' Bf 109.
Building the MiG twin went pretty straightforward, biggest conversion works were the covered single cockpit (done with a simple 2C putty plug) and the unswept wing connectors, which had to be improvised. The central wing actually is a piece from an ARTmodel Bv 155's wing, while the stabilizer comes from a Revell Focke Wulf Flitzer. In both cases the wing chord had to be enlarged, in order to match the swept outer wing parts, which were taken OOB.
Some PSR was needed all around the kit, more massive around the new wing sections.
Because only the outer main landing gear struts were left I also opted to beef the construction up, for a better weight distribution - otherwise, the orginal landing gear would have to carry almost twice the weight?
Similar to the Dassault Barougan I opted for twin main wheels (with narrower tires, two pairs from a Bf 109) for a bigger footprint - a small detail, but without I found the overall construction to be less plausible? The wells were deepened accordingly and the covers had to be modified and re-arranged, too.
The ordnance was adapted to the nuclear strike role, in this case as a trainer. Two underwing drop tanks appeared appropriate (since no AAMs for self defense were available in the Sixties), and the bomb on the central pylon is a scratched IAB-500 dummy round.
Painting and markings:
This one was to remain Bulgarian, and while Bulgarian MiG-15 typically were left unpainted, I opted for a camouflage paint scheme that was also introduced with some MiG-17 and -19 in their late career.
The striped/spotted scheme itself was lent from a Bulgarian MiG-21U trainer ('21 White')and consists basically of Humbrol 168 (Hemp), 102 (Army Green), and Humrol 65 (RLM 65, even though a rather bright version) from below. The pattern was painted with brushes free-handed and later, after a black ink wash for the recessed panel lines, brightened up through dry-painted panels and leading edges with Humbrol 121 and 103, FS 34096 and Humbrol 78 as well as FS 35414, but Federal Standard tones from ModelMaster. The result looks somehow Chinese to me, at least on a tubby MiG-15?
The cockpit was painted in PRU Blue, while the landing gear bays received a lighter Humbrol 87 (Steel Grey) and 115 (Russian Underside Blue) finish. The air intakes were kept in Aluminum, the wheel discs feature a classic bright green.
The drop tanks (OOB) were painted in Aluminum, since Bulgarian MiG-15s were typically painted with a simple clear coat, and the IAB-500 bomb was painted according to a color picture I could find with a dark green front end, an olive rear and silver stabilizers.
The few decals come from a Begemot MiG-25 sheet (Bulgarian roundels) and the OOB sheet of the MiG-15 single seater. On the bomb and all around the hull, small stencils were painted, just for a more interesting look.
After some soot stains ariound the guns and jet exhausts, the kit was finally sealed with matt acrylic varnish.
A bizarre aircraft, and an impressive result. This kitbash was easier than expected, thanks to the good Hobby Boss kits -finding the connecting wing parts was actually the most complicated task. A "real" whif.