scale models

Shenyang J-5 (MiG-17F)

923 Fighter Regiment “Yen The”, Vietnamese People´s Army Air Force, North Vietnam, 12 May 1967

As modelers we very often see (and build) models of aircraft that fought in the Vietnam war. However, the majority of the models depict American aircraft. For a change, I wanted to add to my collection the 2 main fighters of the North Vietnamese Air Force, the MiG-17 and the MiG-21. Two years ago, I built a MiG-21PFM using the excellent Eduard kit but a MiG-17 was missing from my collection. The announcement of the new MiG-17 kits from AMMO renewed my interest. Impressed by the “goodies” of the Premium Special Edition, I patiently waited until the one with North Vietnamese markings was released.


The MiG-17 (codenamed “Fresco” by NATO), was the successor to the legendary MiG-15. It was a single-seat fighter jet with swept-wings that gave it impressive maneuverability and speed, playing a decisive role in the air battles of the Cold War.

The first flight of the MiG-17 took place in January 1950, and production began in late 1951. The first operational MiG-17s appeared in 1952, but were not available in sufficient numbers to participate in the Korean War. Eventually, five versions of the aircraft were produced, each with its own improvements.

Although designed primarily for bomber interception missions, the MiG-17 showed unexpected success as a fighter as well. This was evident in the Vietnam War, where it was used effectively against US fighters and bombers, almost a decade after it was originally designed.

Beyond the Soviet Union, the MiG-17 was produced under license in China (as the Shenyang J-5) and Poland (as the PZL-Mielec Lim-5). With over 9,000 aircraft built by 1958 when production ceased, the MiG-17 served over 20 air forces worldwide. Its versatility, reliability and effectiveness in various Cold War conflicts make it a landmark in aviation history.

The kit

This MiG-17 model is AMMO’s first complete aircraft kit. Its two previous aircraft kits (F-104G and Harrier AV-8) were essentially re-boxings of Kinetic’s respective kits with new markings. This time, however, it is a completely new kit. The manufacturing was outsourced to a third party factory (Kinetic, according to rumors) but the molds are entirely designed by AMMO.

It was announced in 2023 and so far it has been released in 4 variants that differ only in the provided markings:

  • MiG-17F / Lim-5 (U.S.S.R. – GDR)
  • MiG-17F / Shenyang J-5 (Vietnam – China – North Korea)
  • MiG-17F (Egyptian – Syrian Air Force)
  • MiG-17F / Lim-5 (Poland – Cuba – Angola)

The hard cardboard box (top opening) includes:

  • 2 plastic frames with 88 pieces in hard gray plastic.
  • 1 clear plastic frame with 4 pieces (canopy, windshield, landing light, scope).
  • 1 metal frame (photo-etch).
  • 1 decal sheet (printed by Cartograph) with a choice of 5 aircraft (2 North Vietnamese, 2 Chinese and 1 North Korean).
  • 1 full color 16-page instruction book (common to all versions).
  • 1 full color separate 6-page painting instruction booklet.

At the same time, for each of the above versions, the corresponding “Premium Special Edition” was also released. In addition to the above pieces, the Premium Special Edition kits also include:

  • 3D-decals for the control panel and side consoles – by Red Fox.
  • Canopy Masks – by Ginger Cat.
  • 3D-printed ejection seat.
  • 3D-printed rocket launchers.
  • 3D-printed wheels (with weighted tires).
  • 3D-printed boarding ladder.
  • 3D-printed pilot helmet.

The basic versions of the kit cost around 35 euros. On the contrary, the Premium Special Editions cost almost twice as much, around 60.

Despite consisting of only 2 sprue frames, the base kit does not disappoint. It reproduces the lines of the real thing with precision and detail. The lines are finely embossed and good for scale. The special shape of the wings is accurately rendered. Control surfaces (ailerons, flaps, air brakes, elevators, rudder) can be set in deflected positions. The engine nozzle has decent detail.

The instrument panel and side consoles have satisfactory textured detail. However, no decals are provided for the instruments. The seat is made up of 9 pieces. Shoulder straps (just those, not the lap belts) are provided in photo-etch.

“Premium Special Edition” NOT!

As I just said, the basic kit does not disappoint. Unfortunately, the same is not true for most of the Premium Special Edition extras:

Essentially, the only problem-free parts are the 3D decals for the cockpit.

The canopy & windshield masks are not usable. Their shape is slightly smaller than required and they come off easily. Furthermore, one of them is incompletely formed!

The 3D-printed ejection seat has decent detail but the ejection handle is missing. The main problem, however, is that it is so wide that it does not fit in the cockpit! You need to sand-off the side consoles and remove the launch guides on the rear cockpit wall to make it fit. And that’s if we don’s plan to use Red Fox’s 3D-decals. In that case, each of the side consoles must be sanded thin by 1mm!

The 3D-printed rocket launchers are useless to North Vietnamese aircraft. In any case the 3D printing was problematic and one of them was broken.

The 3D-printed wheels are adequate but again, the 3D printing process was not very good. There was actual liquid (not cured) resin oozing from the bottom!

The 3D-printed access ladder is too short while the 3D-printed pilot’s helmet is completely wrong! MiG-17 pilots wore leather helmets. This helmet is for newer fighters.

Red Fox’s 3D-printed decals for the cockpit are the bright exception as they are very good and help to realistically represent the model.

Building the kit

The fit of the parts was exemplary and only minimal putty and sanding i required to join the two fuselage pieces.

Essentially, apart from the specifics of adding the 3D-decal and the 3D-printed cockpit seat, the build was quick and trouble-free.

I started with a coat of primer (GSI Creos Mr. Surfacer 1500 – Black) on the cockpit, seat, engine intake and fuselage interior.

The engine intake was painted with AK Xtreme Metal – Dark Aluminum (AK480). The exhaust was painted with a combination of Dark Aluminum and AK Xtreme Metal – Burnt Metal (AK484).

The cockpit and seat were painted with a mixture (20:1) of AK Cockpit Gray (AK2304) and AK Cockpit Turquoise (AK2301) which I eyeballed to match the color of the Red Fox decals.

Before the fuselage was closed, I remembered to put lead fishing weights in the nose so that the model could sit properly on the 3 wheels. AMMO suggests putting weight in the space in front of the cockpit but it was impossible to fit the required 15gr there, so I also used the space under the cockpit, behind the front wheel well.

Finally, attention needs to be paid to the 2 huge pitot tubes on the wingtips. They are integrated into the upper wing parts and are almost guarranteed to break during construction. I suggest that you cut them yourself from the beginning and put them back whan the rest of the model is ready. Going a step further, I chose to get Master Model’s AM-48-090 set with brass pitot tubes and gun barrels.

After the fuselage was closed, the wings and tail fins went in. On the top side of the wings I added the included photo-etch wing fences (3 on each wing) that fit perfectly into the provided slots.

Next, the landing gear legs were glued and after masking off the cockpit, nozzle and airbrake slots, the entire model was painted Dark Aluminum.

The landing gear slots, legs were then marked with blu tack and the flaps were roughly secured with blu tack in the closed position.

Pieces of blu tack were used to cover all parts of the aircraft that were to remain in the aluminum color and then the rest was sprayed with MR.PAINT SEA Camo Dark Green FS34079 (MRP-101). Afterwards, some panels were highlighted (post shading) with a mix of diluted Dark Green and White.

Since the model already had a glossy texture and the decals were large and few (6 national markings, 2 serial numbers and the kill-marks) I decided to apply the decals without first spraying the model with gloss varnish.

The decals adhered nicely, aided by the classic pair of Microscale’s MicroSet and MicroSol. They were left to dry and then the whole model was sprayed with a layer of Mr. Color GX Super Clear III UV Cut Gloss (GX112).

To highlight the panel lines and give the model a more weathered look, I applied an overall coat of Flory models Wash – Grime (FMW008). Half an hour later, the wash was cleaned with – barely moist – paper towels and cotton swabs.

Afterwards, the final details (flaps, airbrakes, landing gear hatches, antennae) were added, followed with a coat of VMS Varnish HD SATIN (VMS.AX15S).

Finally, smoke marks were added to the cannons and their ejection chutes with a careful application of black pastel powder. Diluted oil colors were used to represent liquid leaks and “dirty” panels.

Finally, the windshield and canopy were removed. The ejection seat was installed the canopy was attached in the open position with Microscale Micro Kristal Klear.

The MiG-17 was ready to take its place in the display case.

The finished model

Products Used

Ammo by Mig Jimenez Mig-17F Fresco C Shenyang J-5
(Vietnam-China-North Korea)
Premium Special Edition
Master Model MiG-17A/P/F (Fresco A, B, C) – 37mm and 23mm gun barrels set & Pitot Tube1/48AM-48-090