72 - MiG 23, Libyan Civil War

The Dictator is dead!

Long live the revolution!


The Libyan Civil War 2011

Models and diorama by Bjørn Jacobsen

I saw the picture (to the right) of rebels celebrating the

death of Mohammed Gaddafi by climbing on the hated Libyan jet fighter.


The same fighters that

Gaddafi had used against

them not long ago.


I thought this scene would make an interesting diorama.

The Civil War

In early 2011, the Arab Spring started when people asked peacefully for their right of freedom and democracy after many decades of deprivation and poverty under the military dictatorship.

The first Libyan Civil War also referred to as the Libyan Revolution or 17 February Revolution, was fought between forces loyal to Colonel Gaddafi and those seeking to oust his government

Instead of starting a dialogue with the so-called rebels, Gaddafi tried to crush the uprising by brute military force – using both the army and

air force.

The Gaddafi military forces, however, were not entirely behind the attacks on civilian and rebel’s groups, and some military and air force units soon joined the rebel forces.

When Gaddafi started to slaughter his people and atrocities were committed (by both sides),

a multinational coalition led by NATO forces intervened in March 2011 to protect civilians against attacks by the government's forces.

The military operations began, with American and British naval forces firing over 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles, the French Air Force, British Royal Air Force, and Royal Canadian Air Force undertaking sorties across Libya and a naval blockade by Coalition forces.

French jets launched air strikes against Libyan Army tanks and vehicles.

Gaddafi's forces did not manage to shoot down a single NATO plane despite the country possessing 30 heavy SAM batteries, 17 medium SAM batteries, 55 light SAM batteries, and

440–600 short-ranged air-defence guns.

The initial coalition of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Norway, Qatar, Spain, UK and US expanded to nineteen states, with newer states mostly enforcing the no-fly zone and naval blockade or providing military logistical assistance.

NATO flew 26,500 sorties since it took charge

of the Libya mission on March 2011.

In June 2011, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant against Gaddafi.

In August, rebel forces launched an offensive

on the government-held coast of Libya, backed by a wide-reaching NATO bombing campaign, taking back territory lost months before and ultimately capturing the capital city of Tripoli.

Gaddafi evaded capture until 20 October 2011, when he was captured and killed by rebel fighters in Sirte.

The National Transitional Council "declared the liberation of Libya" and the official end of the war on 23 October 2011.

The Libyan Airforce

In 2010, before the Libyan Civil War, the Libyan People’s Air Force personnel strength was estimated at 18,000, with an inventory of 374 combat capable aircraft operating from 13 military airbases.

During the Libyan Civil War, Libyan warplanes and attack helicopters launched repeated airstrikes on civilian protesters and the rebel’s positions.

In February 2011, two senior LPAF pilots defected – flew their Mirage F1 fighter jets to Malta after defying orders to bomb protesters and the crew of a Sukhoi-22 ejected with parachutes after refusing orders to bomb the city of Benghazi.

A Mirage F-1 was shot down, and a Sukhoi Su-24 bomber and a Mi-24 helicopter were also forced down.

Exactly how many and what types of aircraft have been shot down were never confirmed by the government or independent sources.

In May 2011, the Libyan People's Air Force conducted a successful air raid over the rebel-held fuel depots at Misrata setting them on fire.


A rebel MiG-23BN was shot down over Benghazi by rebel air defence forces in a case of mistaken identity and the French Air Force reported that five MiG-23s were destroyed on the ground at Misrata airport together with two Mi-35 helicopters,

A Belgian Air Force F-16 hit a Libyan People's Air Force Su-22UM3K plane on the ground.

Building the Diorama

I plan to build the diorama as close to the pictures from 2011 as possible, using a MiG-23,

a technical with anti-aircraft cannon and a mixed bunch of rebels (or freedom fighters). 

The scale of the aircraft is 1/32, and the car and figures will be in 1/35

The Libyan MiG-23

Libya received a total of more than hundred MiG-23 between 1974 and 1976. Many of these were immediately put into storage, but at least 20 MiG-23 entered service.

In the civil war, Libyan Air Force MiG-23s were used to bomb rebel positions.

The kit is a 1/32 from Trumpeter, which is a nice and easy kit to assemble and plenty of options, with an open and closed canopy, speed brakes, wing spoilers, slats, and flaps.

The swinging wings of the aircraft are movable, and the engine nozzle can be displayed open or closed.

The wheel wells and landing gear are very well defined and capture the rough look of the MiG-23. The landing gear has optional metal inserts for added strength.

The detailed jet engine can be displayed on a dolly.

The cockpit features raised detail and a nice ejection seat with photoetched-metal seat belts.

The most impressive feature with the kit is undoubtedly the 14 sprues of weapons combined with an impressive decal sheet with stencils and markings.

A pity I can’t use any of the many weaponry. The aircraft will be unarmed and quite basic in the diorama.

I was unsure if I needed a nose weight for balance and added some lead in the nose to be sure.

The decals in the kit were for Czech and East German air forces, which is of no use for me.

Instead I got Libyan decals from Linden Hill Decals for different Libyan MiG’s and choose markings for the aircraft “0200”

The MiG-23 (#0200) was overhauled in Ukraine in 2004 and painted Sand, Beige and Light Green with Light Blue under surfaces.

The paint had initially been a “satin” finished but after being exposed to the harsh environment of the blazing Sahara sun, and ever blowing Sahara sand, it turned matt and bleached after a while.

I choose to hand paint the aircraft because I felt I had better control of the colours that way.

I had to mix the sun-bleached colours myself and made the paint so thinned I had to apply several layers paint to get the colours I wanted.

The last layer was a thinned yellow colour which was used on the whole aircraft to represent a layer of yellow Sahara sand.

The wheels were of soft rubber, and I had to cut away part of the tires to make it look like tires with extremely low air pressure.

Above: Note the lead in the nose

The Technical

A Technical is a made-up word for a light improvised fighting vehicle.

Typically an open-backed civilian pickup truck mounting a machine gun, anti-aircraft gun (or other support weapons), somewhat like a light military gun truck.

The term technical originated in Somalia in the early 1990s.

I used a 1/35 Toyota HiLux with a ZPU-1 anti-aircraft gun from Meng.

This kind of vehicle was an essential part of the rebel inventory and had scratches and dents and slogans written all over.

It is a vehicle which is loved by any rebel group or insurgents throughout Africa and the Middle East.

The Figures

I used figures (1/35) from several producers to form the rebel gang in the diorama.

Some were from Trumpeter “African Freedom Fighters”, some were from Master Box “Militia Terrorist, Insurgence” and some were made from old figures in my scrap box.

The Libyan flag under Kaddafi regime was a green flag which should symbolise a united Libya (that’s why the roundels on the MiG-23 is green).

The freedom fighters used the pre-Kaddafi flag (black, white and red).

The flags in the diorama were painted on thin paper, glued to a plastic rod and placed in the rebels hand.

The figures were painted with acrylic colours and given a coat with matte varnish.

The Base

The base was a 57 x 75 cm (23” x 30”) Styrofoam plate on which I glued some Styrofoam in one end to make some heights.

This base was unnecessarily big. It could have been much smaller but in this case. I felt that the extra space was okay because it gave depth to the pictures I was going to take.

The base should be the end of a military airstrip, partly covered with a layer of sand.

To achieve the sandy look, the Styrofoam was covered with a thin layer with wood glue, and fine sand was sprinkled over the whole area.

Then the mound at the end of the base was covered with Papier Mache, and the wet Mache was sprinkled with sand.

When everything was dry, the whole base was painted with yellow acrylic (with some brown and grey patches)

I needed some sparse desert vegetation on the height areas and used a cheap painting brush and some dry vegetation from my backyard.

These were glued in holes in the Papier Mache with clear glue.

The background is painted cardboard.

When everything was placed on the base,

the diorama looked like this:

I hope you enjoyed this website

Thank you for visiting.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions or comments



Bjørn Jacobsen

July 2018