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Mirage III

by Jose R. Rodriguez

 

Mirage III

 


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Background

 

I originally started to write this feature with a long history on the Mirage but because I found myself constantly referring to Greg Goebelís excellent site as a source of information, I decided that it would make more sense to refer you to his site directly where you can find the Mirage III history. 

http://www.vectorsite.net/avmir3.html

Greg Goebel maintains this site and he is the author of the articles found on said place. His site is a mother lode of information on many aircraft types and I highly recommend it if you are an aviation history buff. 

The Mirage legend grew out of its use by the Israeli Air Force. The IAF used the Mirage as an air superiority fighter and as a ground attacker even though the ďexpertsĒ had dismissed the little Mirage with its lack of range and sophisticated electronics as a wanna-be fighter that could not perform the tasks of a ďrealĒ fighter, i.e. a much more expensive and heavier machined stuffed with avionics and missiles.

War after war in the Middle East the Mirage proved the experts wrong, and to add insult to injury, the IAF asked from Dassault to build Mirages with all-weather radars and Doppler deleted because the sun always shined on the desert and they felt radars were dead weight. The Mirage 5 was born to an illustrious career and the saved weight was used to carry more fuel.  

The fighting style of the IAF was simple; ground controllers vectored the Mirage to intercept enemy formations and the Mirage pilots approached their enemy at full speed with cannon blazing. The ensuing melee had nothing to envy a WWI or WWII dogfight. Missiles were fired but the preferred weapon of choice was the twin 30-millimeter DEFA cannon as Mirage pilots liked to get close and personal.

For an account of the Mirage in Israeli service use this link to the official IAF site, 

http://www.iaf.org.il/iaf/doa_iis.dll/Serve/item/english/1.3.3.6.3.3.html

The top jet pilot ace in the world is IAFís Giora Epstein with 17 confirmed kills, all in Mirages using mostly cannon fire. Again, Epsteinís accomplishments fly on the face of the accepted wisdom that sophisticated avionics and weapon systems is what makes the fighter, not the hand to eye coordination and skill of a regular Joe firing a cannon up the tail pipe of an enemy jet.

For an account of Giora Epstein's exploits use this link to the official IAF site. This is highly recommended reading for those advocates of fire-and-forget missile technology. His flight log accounts make a Tom Clancy novel a lame read. 

http://www.iaf.org.il/iaf/doa_iis.dll/Serve/level/English/1.3.2.3.2.html 

After you have read the information on these sites you will get a good picture of why the Mirage III occupies such a prominent place in the history of aviation. Sadly, here in the USA the Mirage is just another one of them weird French planes. Because American consumersí taste and money drives what the mainstream kit makers put on the market, you wonít see a good offering of the Mirage III as a kit in 1/48th scale. The Heller M.IIIC/B offering is decent but long in the tooth and a new tool Mirage III would be welcomed by us Mirage enthusiasts. Because we Mirage fans seen to be a silent minority without deep pockets, we will continue to see new kits of aircraft already available or new kits of aircraft with rather short and lackluster careers but which have a higher ďcoolĒ appeal. I wonít name any names. The only hope lies in the kit makers from Europe to take on the Mirage cause and give us a decent M.IIIE and M.V, at an affordable price I pray. Eduard has announced that it is working on a Mirage III, variant unknown, to be delivered by 2003. Like the disciple Thomas who had to stick his fingers in Jesusí wound to make sure he was talking to his master, I will believe it when I lay my fingers on the plastic. I just donít want to get my hopes up and then be disappointed. 

 

 

This ďnot made in AmericaĒ stigma seems to follow the Mirage when you do a casual search of the web. I have found sites that just crucify Marcel Dassaultís design for being too small, too simple, and for not having an all weather radar capable of tracking and shooting multiple targets at once. If is funny to read how these ďexpertsĒ dismissed the Mirage off hand as not a serious contender to the title of ďrealĒ fighter jet.

Of course, the facts and the records contradict the written opinions so I rest my case. 

Here is a link to a brief bio of Marcel Dassault whose real surname is Bloch; yes, the same Bloch associated with the Bloch aircraft of the thirties and forties.  

http://www.allstar.fiu.edu/aero/dassault.htm

Granted, the Mirage was not perfect. The delta wing does not fly at low speed so take off distances are very long, painfully long with a heavy load on board. Approach speeds are high and at a very high angle of attack. The delta wing generates high drag during high-g maneuvering thus slowing down the aircraft (a trait the IAF pilots used to allow a pursuing enemy to overshoot a turn and place them in front of them). The range was always a problem due to the lack of space to hold fuel. But the Mirage was the little fighter that could, over and over again. 

Perhaps the Mirage III family was the last of the true fighter plane breed were the pilot mattered and electronic gadgetry was of no use.

 

 

Mirage III in Plastic

 

I had the Academy kit for the Mirage IIIC and bought the Fujimi kit thinking that it could be better than the one from Academy. Donít be a fool and keep your money because the Academy kit is a copy of the Fujimi offering, as I found out when I put both kits side by side.

The Academy kit is not a 100% faithful copy of the Fujimi. It is obvious that the Korean company created its own molds but that they used the Fujimi kit as the master. Fujimi uses a finely raised panel lines and rivets while Academy went to recessed panel lines and rivets. Much of the finely raised detail of the Fujimi kit is gone in the Academy as the Koreas simplified the finish of their molds. All sprues contain the same parts on the same places but the Academy sprues are a mirror image of the Fujimi sprues (locations of parts are reversed).

If you try to mate an Academy fuselage halve to a Fujimi halve, the Academy part is slightly longer and the cockpit location is slightly off but the locator pins and mostly the whole fuselage is a match. 

These kits show their age. I will list their obvious shortcomings,

  • They are in 1/50th scale. Ignore the 1/48th labels on the box.

  • One-piece canopies. There is no option to have an open canopy.

  • A poor cockpit with a toy-like instrument panel, no sidewall detail, an ejection seat that looks like a tombstone and no detail worth mentioning.

  • No wheel wells. Iím not talking about missing detail; Iím talking about missing the whole wheel well and having a gapping hole where the wheel is supposed to retract.

  • No engine or afterburner detail. Another gapping hole that letís you see from the exhaust opening to the back of the cockpit.

  • Decals are toy-like and out of register. No stencils. They are not usable if you want a serious model.

To be fair, I can say that these kits are a faithful representation of the M.IIIC. There are no obvious shape problems and they accurately represent a Mirage. There is no need to ďfixĒ any parts other than the nose landing gear strut. More on this later.

 

 

Construction

 

By now a sensible person would have decided to toss these kits into the trash or give-away heap. My common sense was superseded by my thriftiness. Darned it, I paid for these things and somehow I was gonna make them work! I always thought about using aluminum foil to finish an airplane thus this project looked like a good idea to experiment with the technique. If the experiment failed, good riddance; I would just put the failed project in the trash. I still think that a more sensible approach would have been to put the kits in the trash and build the Heller M.IIIC/B that I have in my closet. At least it has an afterburner, multi-piece canopies, wheel wells and it is in 1/48th scale, plus it is French like the real thing. 

After dry fitting parts I decided that the Academy fuselage fitted better than the one from Fujimi but that the Fujimi wings looked better than the Academy ones so I ended up building a mutt with an Academy fuselage, Fujimi wings and intakes and a mixed of other parts from both kits. To this brew I added the Eduard photo etched set 48 128 designed for the Heller kit and a Martin Baker MB Mark 4 ejection seat from Airwaves (SC48020). 

I  removed the lower part of the original bang seat from the floor using my motor tool because they come molded as one piece. Using plastic card I created a radio rack behind the pilot and enclosed the front wheel well. Using Eduard parts I added some detail to the wheel well and I filled the newly created space with brass wire to simulate hoses. The hydraulic actuators are hollow aluminum tubing with brass rod pistons. I enclosed the back of the cockpit with more plastic card. I used the Eduard instrument panel and side panels. Because the Eduard parts were not designed to fit a 1/50th scale Academy/Fujimi kit I didnít expect a perfect fit, and I didnít have one. I used Verlindenís excellent book on the Belgian Mirage 5 to guide me through this cockpit nightmare. After many hours of monkey see- monkey do I created something that resembled a Mirage cockpit from two feet away, which was good enough for me. 

 

 

The ejection seat was a fiasco. I started with a white metal seat from Aeroclub. After I had this thing done with Eduard p.e. seat belts and painted I stuck it in the cockpit. To my horror, the top of the seat was so high above the fuselage that it would be impossible to ever make it fit. I grabbed the Airwaves resin seat that I had reserved for the Heller M.IIIB project really thinking if it was worth to use such a nice seat in my Frankenstein project. This seat didnít fit either so out came the sand paper, knife, files and motor tool. I cut the cockpit floor with the motor tool so that the seat would rest on the fuselage bottom. I trimmed the side detail from the seat so it would squeeze into the tub, and I sanded the living heck out of the bottom of the seat so it would sit at the correct height. I donít want to ever hear somebody complaining about a Tamiya or Hasegawa cockpit as being ďsparse.Ē 

 

 

I wanted to have an open canopy, donít ask me why. The mold makers at Academy/Fujimi molded the canopy frame onto the fuselage so I had to use my motor tool to remove this frame out. I cut the Academy canopy with a saw to get my front windscreen. I glued the Fujimi fuselage with its canopy and removed the intake support tabs incorrectly molded onto the canopy frame.

 

 

Using Squadronís thermoplastic clear sheet, I heated and smashed a new canopy using the Fujimi fuselage and canopy as a mold and then cut my rear canopy from the resulting stretched clear sheet. I engraved rivet lines on the canopy frame using a steel owl. This homemade canopy is very flimsy and thin, but it is clear and it looks the part. 

A funny thing happened. The canopy frame molded into the Academy fuselage doesnít quite match the intersection of the front windscreen and the rear canopy. When I placed my cut windscreen on the Academy fuselage, it was too long. I had to scratch built part of the fuselage frame that I had taken out with my motor tool. The Fujimi fuselage does match the clear canopy lines.  

If this sounds like a pain in the neck, remember that I just got started. For the burner can I used the Eduard p.e. burner can liner sheet rolled into a pipe together with other brass bits. After painting the whole assembly gunmetal I stuck this homemade pipe onto the rear fuselage tail cone. Now at least I had plugged the deep hole at the rear. 

I covered the bottomless main wheel wells with plastic card and added wire to simulate plumbing. I would give this section a one-footer seal of approval. There is a lot of detail missing that is hard to scratch build with just plastic card and wire. I cut the flaperons from the wings because I wanted to drop them just like the real thing when parked on the tarmac. I cut the speed brakes out with my motor tool because I wanted to show then in the open position using the trimmed down Eduard brass parts. For all these steps the Verlinden book was a savior as it has clear, quality color pictures of all these areas. 

 

 

The front landing gear is wrong. As the strut goes into the aircraft it bifurcates (fancy way of saying it ďYísĒ). This creates a hefty joint as the landing gear strut goes into the well. The Academy/Fujimi thing goes straight in as it were a long pipe. Because I thought that this section was a little bit hard to see, I decided not to mess with it but in hindsight this was a mistake because this part is indeed noticeable. As it is it makes the landing gear leg look too skinny. Again, I created hydraulic actuators using hollow aluminum tubing and brass rod. I added the very prominent twin landing lights and some bits of wire. These landing gear mounted twin lights seem to be in almost every Mirage but I did find a picture of an early M.IIIC without them. I have no pictures of the aircraft I modeled so I donít know if it had lights or not. The front landing gear doors were scratch built using beer can aluminum. I didnít paint the bare metal so the finish is real. 

The main landing gear legs were dressed up with brass scissors (torsion braces) from Eduard and black anodized wire from my local hardware store. Hydraulic actuators were again created using aluminum tubing and brass rod. The wheel is designed to stay put on the spindle by taking a hot knife to the overextended spindle and melting it into a cap. I just cut the spindle flush with the wheel and glued in place. My wheel wonít spin now but I can live with that. 

The cannon openings are below the intakes and are molded as a closed slit. I drilled the hole for the cannon barrel. The original support tabs for the split plates at the intakes are inaccurate so I removed them.  

Mating the Academy fuselage together, the fuselage to the Fujimi wings, the Fujimi intakes to the Academy fuselage, Fujimi ventral fin, and the Academy tail cone to the Academy fuselage took liberal amounts of plastic card, superglue, putty and sand paper. I donít want to hear complaints about a little seam left after putting together Tamigawa parts. Remember to add some weight to the nose before you glue the fuselage halves together. 

The center missile is a Matra 530 and it is molded well enough that I decided to add it to the model. The missile body is Academy and the fins are Fujimi. The smaller wing mounted Sidewinder/Matra Magic? missiles have fins that are too thick and no exhaust hole and they look like toys so I decided not to use them. I have a few pictures of early M.IIICís with only the ventral Matra missile and no smaller missiles under the win tips so this is a genuine set up. The Fujimi missile color chart for the Matra matches my photographs. The Academy instructions are a copy of Fujimiís albeit with smaller size graphics but it has no missile color references. 

 

 

Because I decided to skip the wing-mounted missiles, I had to modify the outboard pylon. Under wing storage was at a premium in the little Mirage so the outboard flaperon hinge was modified into a pylon-hinge assembly. I used the extra hinges I had instead of the pylon-hinge contraction. I had to cut the hinges in two pieces, sand them and reposition them because my flaperons were in the down position and the original straight hinges would not fit. The joy never ends. 

I had to scratch built the two small fins near the tail cone. They are in all photographs I have. I donít know what they are for but they are there. I used plastic card and stretched sprue to build them.

 

 

The Failings of Foiling

 

I got the nerve to try aluminum foiling after reading the article written by Bucky Sheftall on his P-38 finished in aluminum foil. This article appeared in the July 2002 issue of Fine Scale Modeler. Just to be sure, I got both household aluminum foil from my pantry and Bare Metal Foil sheets in matt aluminum from my local hobby shop, where I also got my Micro Scale foil glue. This stuff comes in the same type of bottles that the decal setting solution comes in and it looks and smells like white glue (maybe it is overpriced plain white glue). 

I started with the Academy drop tanks. I applied the glue to the household foil and plastered the foil on the tanks using a cotton swab and a flat wooden stick to wrap and smooth the foil on the plastic. My first try ended up with too many wrinkles because I used a large piece of foil to cover a large area at once. Next move was to try the Bare Metal Foil on the Fujimi tanks. This stuff is thinner than household stuff and it is self-adhesive, and it is also expensive at USD 5.00 a sheet. This time I cut smaller sheets and applied then by sections, bottom, middle, and top. This time the wrinkles were gone and the tanks looked good. There is a seam where the different sheets overlap but it is minor and it doesnít bother me as much as a wrinkle. 

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:


After cutting and pasting foil for a while, these are my lessons,

  • Wipe model clean where you are going to apply foil to eliminate oils and dirt. I used a rag wetted in rubbing alcohol.

  • Do small sections at the time. Recessed panel lines are an excellent place to start/finish a foil sheet as you can cut the foil using the panel line as a guide. I recessed my own panel lines when necessary. The sure way to end up with a wrinkle is by trying to foil a large, curved area at once.

  • Have a sharp knife ready to cut the foil without tearing it.

  • For each panel use a different foil. For this one I used Bare Metal Foil. For the next one I used the matt side of the household foil. For the next one I used the shinny side of the household foil. This gives the finish a patchwork look of aluminum pieces.

  • Foiling maybe required before gluing parts together. I foiled the inside of the intakes and the fuselage section in front of the split plate before gluing these components together.

  • I applied the glue to the panel section first, not to the foil. This way you donít get foil stuck on the wrong parts (they are tough to remove). I used a small flat brush to paint the adhesive on. Adhesive must be applied as smooth as possible otherwise the brush swirls will show up under the foil. A thin layer is enough to hold the foil.

  • When applying glue with a brush, keep a water container nearby so you can dunk the brush in it and keep it wet between foil applications. This way the glue wonít dry on your brush and ruin it. Regardless of how many times you wash the brush, it will become sticky so donít use your best brush for this job.

  • Any and all imperfections on the plastic surface will show up. Make sure that your plastic finish is blemish free. Even dust will show under the foil.

  • You cannot glue parts that have foil on then. Remove foil before gluing parts together.

  • Tough, pointy areas are better off with paint. The tip of the tanks and the tip of the parachute housing are finished with silver paint. Use silver paint to touch off spots missed by the foil or where the foil didnít stick, like corners. Paint and foil blend so well you wonít be able to see the touch ups. I used Testor silver enamel as touch up paint.

  • The excessive shine of the household foil can be tone down with careful burnishing using steel wool. I used both a circular motion or just up and down the direction of airflow. With enough burnishing you wonít be able to tell the difference among the shiny and dull side of household foil and Bare Metal Foil. By changing the direction of the burnishing you can give each panel a different metallic look.

  • Have a box full of cotton swabs (Q-tips) because you are going to use them to smooth out the foil on the model, and you are going to need a lot of them.

  • Wait a few seconds after you apply the glue so it can become tacky and smoother and then apply foil.

  • I applied foil first to the leading edge of the wings and then carefully folded the foil on the upper and under surfaces of the wing, always pushing back the foil towards the trailing edge with a cotton swab. Anywhere the foil started to wrinkle because it wanted to change direction, I cut a slit with the knife along the fold line. This also worked for the vertical fin. Of course, you may have to experiment if you are foiling a wing with a deep airfoil, but I think that his method should also work with fat airfoils.

  • If you touch the foil with your fingers it will leave your fingerprints on it, a black smudge on the shiny finish. I think it is some sort of aluminum oxide. This can be cleaned up with a swab wetted in alcohol. The last part I foiled was the fuselage mid-section so I could have a place where to grab the model without leaving fingerprints behind.

  • BE PATIENT. If you are in a hurry, then spray the model with your favorite metalizer and forget about the foil. Foiling is a very slow and time consuming enterprise. If speed is your game, foil is not for you.

Did I achieve the perfect bare metal finish? No. If you examine the photographs you will notice a few wrinkles, small but noticeable. I can blame every one of them in trying to foil too much at once. Smaller pieces of foil avoid wrinkles but give you seam lines where the foil pieces overlap. I think that the seam lines are far better than the wrinkles. With careful planning and some experience you can predict and avoid wrinkle zones, or perhaps the best method would be to use paint in the high-risk wrinkle zones and use foil in the easy flat panels.  

What is better, household foil or Bare Metal Foil? Bare Metal Foil is thinner, smoothes out rather nicely on difficult spots and it is self-adhesive, and it works great on canopies. Its only drawbacks are price and the fact that it tears easily. Household foil with Microscale adhesive is dirt cheap and stronger. Either side of the foil works fine so you can have a really shinny or a dull effect from the same roll. I used both and I learned that for the tough curvy spots and canopies, Bare Metal Foil works great; for large, mostly flat or slightly curved areas the household foils works rather well. My Mirage is 90% household foil and the rest is Bare Metal Foil. I will continue to use both in future projects, and Iím going to experiment with Bare Metal Foil as a canopy mask. I was impressed by the easy and effective way it worked on the Mirage canopies. The glue residue left behind was very easy to clean. A hint: after I foiled my canopies, I dipped them in Future; the idea was that the acrylic coat would keep the narrow aluminum frames from coming loose. So far it is working. 

 

 

Would I foil another model? Yes but not right away. I need a break. This was a very time consuming task. It took me three months to finish this thing, working a few hours almost every night. I could have sprayed paint in one night but instead I spent weeks gluing and rubbing foil to each panel of the model. I think that the happy medium would be to use both paint and foil to speed up the process.  

The last step is to preserve the foil in place and keep it clean. Go over the model one more time and fix any loose bits, chipped spots, and give the finish a rub down with a rag wetted in alcohol to clean all fingerprints and smudges. Now you are ready to shoot a layer of Future floor wax. This coat will seal the panel lines and will prevent your fat fingers from leaving fingerprints behind. I let my coat dry for 24 hours. The metallic finish under the Future was not diminished but it was altered. Imagine that you have a burnished piece of aluminum on the table and then you place a clear piece of glass over it. You will still see the metal below but you will also notice that there is a piece of glass above. This is what a thick coat of Future did to the foil. The metal is still there but you can notice the hard, clear coat above it. As an experiment I used Testor metalizer sealer on the fuel tanks instead of Future. This stuff sealed the foil and dried thin enough that it did not create the glass-over-aluminum look. The grain and sheen in the aluminum was preserved. For my next projects I will stick to the metalizer sealer even if my wife complains about the stench. This is what this project was about, experimentation. 

Perhaps the Mirage III was not the easiest kit to learn foiling with. The area around the intakes and exhaust nozzle was a lot of work. A single engine prop monoplane may be an easier subject Ö in 1/72nd.

 

 

Decals

 

Both the Academy and the Fujimi decals are mostly useless. The only option in the Academy sheet is for an IAF M.IIICJ with ID 741. This same aircraft is an option in the Fujimi sheet. I found a few black and white pictures of this aircraft. You cannot really tell if the tail colors are blue or black. The blue hue is different on each sheet. The Stars of David in the Academy sheet are royal blue while the ones in the Fujimi sheet are baby blue. 

The Fujimi sheet has options, besides IAF 741, for a South African M.IIICZ and a French M.IIIC. All markings, regardless of nationality, use the same baby blue color. The gazelle in the South African markings does not look like a gazelle. The French rudder tricolor is provided but the writing on it is misspelled; it should read ďAvions M. Dassault M.IIIC,Ē not ďAviation Dassalt.Ē  

None of the sheets provides any stencils. Easy, you say, just get aftermarket decals. I searched high and low for all the usual suspects that purvey decals to the U.S. market and came with nothing. I got lucky with Hannants of the UK. You have to be careful when you see a decal sheet advertised as for the ďMirage III.Ē Even though there are not kits for the M.IIIE and M.V, other than expensive resin conversions, many of these decals were for these versions. The only M.IIIC decals I could find at Hannants were from Decal Carpena, a sheet that had one bare metal French M.IIIC, a Swiss M.IIIS (based on IIIE airframe) and a couple of M.IIIE and M.V options. Iím sure that there are more decals out there, and the people on the know will come up with exotic companies and specially made-for-one-occasion decals but the hard fact is that for the average U.S. modeler, mostly all these fancy decals are out of reach or out of production and the pickings are rather slim. 

I ended up using the M.IIIC in the Carpena sheet Ė like I had too much choice - for an aircraft circa 1962. Here is another complain. It is obvious that the folks at Carpena did their research and provided all the stencils for all versions. Very good. Then, why print the decal instruction for all aircraft on the same low quality, blurry photocopied 8x11 sheet? Carpena does not provide index numbers or letters for the decals on the sheet that reference the locator sheet; instead, the locator sheet has tiny, almost impossible to read representations of the stencil. I had a hard time finding out where some of the stencils were supposed to go, and which stencils to use. As an example, the big ejection seat warning triangle on the intakes is shown as a non-descript black triangle on the instructions. The decal sheet has three styles for this triangle. It is impossible to tell from the instructions which one is the one that goes in the version you are building. I donít need glossy color graphics, but a decent instruction sheet indicating where ALL decals go would be rather welcome. If there is no space to index the decal sheet at least the manufacturer should place the decals for each version in separate, well demarked sections so you know were to grab the stencils from.  

This was my first time using Carpena decals and I was not too happy. The ď13PAĒ ID was a disaster as it fell to pieces as I tried to place it on the fuselage. I had to put it together as best as I could. The stubborn pieces stuck to the fuselage where they landed when coming off the paper even though they were soaked in soapy water and setting solution. The solid decals like the fin squadron patches did not break. I think it is the ink that keeps these decals from becoming fragments; the clear carrier is just too thin and it disintegrates once it leaves the paper. 

The red trim around the inlets were missing in the Carpena sheet so I used the ones from Fujimi instead. Ironically, the toy like Fujimi decals worked like a charm. Carpena did not provide the fin flash colors, only the blue stripe. Because of this I had to paint my own rudder colors with my Aztec 410 airbrush. I also painted the yellow and red air brakes.

 

 

Weathering Bare Metal

 

Once the decals had dried on the model for 24 hours I used a wash of burnt umber acrylic artist paints to highlight the panel lines. Pictures of French Mirages show the bottom of these aircraft to be rather dirty with oil streaks. It looks like if they were running Diesels instead of a jet engine. For the final coat I used a thin layer of Testorís metalizer sealer. I did not want to add more Future to the already thick coat. 

As a future project I plan to use Testorís metalizer sealer for the first coat and then finish the job with satin lacquer to simulate dull and exposed to the elements aluminum. The metalizer sealer alone will give a very nice metallic sheen but in my experience bare metal aircraft left outside are not shiny but rather dull, almost corroded. There is room for a lot of experimentation on this field.

 

 

Photography

 

I used my plain vanilla Olympus D-510 digital camera. This was the most difficult subject that I have ever photographed. I tried indoors but the flash bounced of the aluminum skin and made some spots on the airframe far too bright. I moved outdoors under bright sunshine and I had better luck, but still the natural sunlight on the skin proved to be too bright on spots. I had to take many pictures just to get a few that worked reasonable well. Photographing aircraft with flat colors is a piece of cake when compared to this metal wonder. Even if not all the pictures didnít come up too well at least the readers should appreciate me kneeling on the wet snow while photographing this model in the cold.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Itís alive!

Do as I say and not as I do. Buy the Heller kit if you want a Mirage IIIC and donít bother with the Academy/Fujimi offerings. There is no compelling reason to build the Academy/Fujimi kits when the Heller is available. The Heller kit is old and outdated but still ahead of the Academy/Fujimi. While the Heller kit cannot be compared to new tooling offerings from the big players, it still can be built into a decent replica with some work, the Eduard p.e. set (specifically designed for it) and an Airwaves MK. IV bang seat. The Heller decals look far better but I cannot comment if they work or not. I will find out the hard way.

 

 

Regardless of their shortcomings, the Academy/Fujimi kits build into a good-looking M.IIIC as there are not obvious shape problems, other than the awful nose landing gear leg. They make nice starter kits for youngsters, or ceiling hangers.

Which one is better, Fujimi or Academy? The recessed panel lines of the Academy may give it a hair thin advantage over the Fujimi, but both are equally obsolete. I cannot recommend these kits to the serious modeler when the Heller one is available.

For my next experiment I will try both metalizer paint and sealer, and foil. Where did I stash that old dog, that Testor/Hawk F-5A? 

By the way, if you really need to have a Kfir or a Mirage 5 in 1/48th scale then your best choice is to go with a resin conversion from Eagle Designs. Their conversions are for both the Esci kit, OOP, and for the Heller. One day I will fork the bucks and try one. 

http://eagledesigns.50megs.com/home.html

 

 

Additional Images

 

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:


Text, Images and Model Copyright © 2002 by Jose R. Rodriguez
Page Created 02 December, 2002
Last Updated 04 June, 2007

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