Most of us have seen at least one photograph of a Polish Air Force MiG-29 in recent years with a large multi-color circular badge adorning its upper surface. I know I had seen a couple of MiG-29’s with the special marking, but I assumed they were one-off special markings.
Mushroom Model Publication’s latest book proved me wrong in a big way. The book depicts the commemorative schemes worn by an entire squadron of MiG-29s, not just one or two. The book starts off with a brief history of the “Kosciuszko Squadron”. I was surprised to discover that the squadron was officially formed in 1919 when a group of American pilots volunteered to help Poland in a war on its eastern border with communist Russia. The American volunteers joined a group of Polish pilots to form the squadron. One of the first things that the American pilots did was to design a badge for the squadron. The background of the badge was red and white stripes from the American flag, but arranged vertically not horizontally. Over this was a pair of crossed scythes and a peasant’s hat, symbols of the Polish campaign against Russia. The squadron badge was displayed on all of the squadron’s aircraft from 1919 to 1939.
When the all-Polish No.303 Squadron was formed by the RAF during the Battle of Britain, it adopted the Kosciuszko tradition and the emblem was painted on its Hurricanes, Spitfires and Mustangs during World War II. When Poland regained her independence in the early 1990’s, the Kosciuszko tradition was revived by the 1 eskadra of the 1st Fighter Regiment and the emblem appeared on its MiG-29’s. In 2009, to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Kosciuszko Squadron and the upcoming 70th anniversary of No. 303 Squadron’s participation in the Battle of Britain, one of the squadron’s MiG-29UMs received a special paint scheme with a large Kosciuszko badge across its back. The aircraft was so popular, that the decision was made to adorn all of the squadron’s MiG-29s with the badge. In addition, many of the aircraft had portraits of famous members of Kosciuszko squadron painted on the insides of the vertical tails.
The book illustrates the paint schemes worn by 13 single seat MiG-29A’s and 3 MiG-29UM two-seaters. Surprisingly there are quite a few different versions of the scheme, some in full color and some in various shades of grey, especially after the Polish Air Force decided to repaint all of their MiG-29’s in much toned down shades of grey.
The book is not organized into chapters, but instead has a section on each of the 16 aircraft covered. The sections vary in length, but include color and black & white photographs of each aircraft and many have 2 or 3 view color profiles of the aircraft as well. The book has quite a few close up photographs not only of the versions of the Kosciuszko badge, but also the 1st Fighter Regiment badge. There are also a couple photographs of aircraft that had been “zapped” by other units while visiting bases around Europe, resulting in a collection of squadron or base stickers inside one of the wheel wells.
The book includes a lot of close-up photographs of the markings of the various aircraft and the different variations that some of the jets wore. There a just a few photographs showing the aircraft with any ordinance other than the centerline tank and there are no detail photographs of the landing gear or other parts of the aircraft, however, this is understandable as the focus of the book is the spectacular markings worn by these aircraft and their commemoration of the pilots who came before.
The book also includes an insert illustrating all of the stencils applied to the MiG-29A and a 4 view profile showing where each stencil goes! This will help quite a few of us to figure out where that vague arrow on the decaling instructions of most kits really points to.
On page 2 of the book there is an illustration of a decal sheet from Model Maker decals for 4 of the jets with one full color badge and one toned down badge. In checking the Model Maker website I discovered that this decal sheet is available as #48087 for 1/48th (10 Euros) and #72087 for 1/72nd (7.50 Euros).
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in these commemorative schemes and the stories behind them. Thank you to Mushroom Model Publications for the review sample and to IPMS-USA for letting me review it.