Mirage III C
The Dassault Mirage needs little introduction. It is a fighter aircraft that became iconic during the 6 Day War and other conflicts. Twelve nations flew the Mirage, including France, Israel, Australia and South Africa. Compared to other jet and propeller fighters, the Mirage is quite small and compact, but packs a mean punch!
This kit is a ProfiPACK re-release of Eduard’s previous Mirage editions. After the super tight box lid was finally prized off, one finds multiple dark grey plastic sprues contained in two bags along with a separately bagged clear parts sprue. The instruction book, decal sheet and photo etch fret were located at the bottom of the box. Everything appeared in good condition, although the main canopy had separated from its sprue attachment. I found some flash on quite a few parts, and mold misalignment between each side of the one piece tail, as well as numerous other parts. I have an earlier edition, Kit number 8102, of the Mirage and most of these mold misalignment problems are evident on that one as well.
I was a little disappointed that this latest kit did not include a weight that fitted in the nose. This was included in Kit number 8102. I used this weight in this build, and will use lead weights if I ever build the other Mirage kit.
Construction starts with the cockpit and ejection seat. Photo etch (PE) parts are used for seat belts, instrument panel and side consoles. Decals are also offered as an option for the panel and consoles. The ejection seat is a little simplistic, but in the small, black confines of the cockpit, it looks fine. To complete this section the nose undercarriage bay is built up wall by wall, and attaches to the rear of the cockpit. Make sure all sprue attachment stubs are completely removed from all mating surfaces for a good fit.
The exhaust pipe, nozzles, afterburner and turbine blades/rear bulkhead were painted and assembled. I dealt with the seams on the pipe using copious amounts of liquid glue to melt and blend the surrounding plastic which helped remove the internal seams. PE strips are attached to the ends of the nozzles.
While this was drying, I turned my attention to the delta wings. The upper wing leading edges wrap around and include three millimeters of the underside wing. When mating this with the lower wing a seam is left very close to inspection panel details dotted along the leading. It is not located on a panel line. I also found that I needed to thin the plastic on the inside of the lower wing so both upper and lower wing parts would fit flush at the joint. I used super glue to join the wing halves, and then gap filling gel super glue to fill the seams. Tape was placed over the engraved details to minimize damage. I still needed to rescribe lost detail. Don’t forget the lights that mount in the upper wings. The holes needed opening a little for the lenses to fit. The wing tip navigation lights were also too big. I super glued them into their slots, filled gaps with more super glue and blended them to the wing leading edge profile using sanding sticks. Progressively finer sanding and polishing brought the lights back to clear.
The cockpit was completed with PE parts added to the side walls. The lead weight was added inside the nose cone and the exhaust assembly mounted in the tail. With everything inside, I joined the fuselage halves. I used super glue, accelerator and sanding to get the strongest joint and eliminate ghost seams along the long spine. I reinforced the fuselage with glue on the inside before attaching the wing.
The worst fitting area on this model was the forward belly and engine air intakes. The wing assembly contains a section of the belly that joins behind the nose wheel bay. It was a little wide on each side and not long enough to at the front. I scraped the sides with an Exacto knife to blend then and filled the front with gap filling super glue. I filled sizable gaps with Evergreen plastic sheet and faired over with super glue. The intakes left sizable seams that needed filling and sanding. Care was taken to minimize panel line loss. These problem areas are well documented in other reviews and forums, so I was forewarned and prepared to deal with them.
The wings themselves join the fuselage nicely along panel lines. I reinforced the rear wing to fuselage joint with plastic sheet and sprue stubs for a more secure fit.
I had some trouble fitting the gun sight which slots over the top of the instrument panel, and then attaches the instrument coaming. From what I could see it would fit fine if using the decal instruments, but the slot was too narrow when using the PE panel. I thinned the back of the plastic instrument panel until I was able to make it all fit. There was a very prominent mold seam through the middle of the gun sight reflector glass so I cut it off and replaced it with clear acetate.
The nose undercarriage leg features a separate fork section intended to make fitting the wheel easier. I deviated from this and glued the fork to the leg first so I could sand and blend the joint. After painting the leg and wheel separately I placed tape around the tire so I wouldn’t scratch the paint and very gently squeezed the wheel between the forks onto the axel stubs. It worked!
The external fuel tank pylons had some of the worst mold misalignment. I had to scrape and sand a lot of plastic to get a flat surface.
With the major assembly done, I rescribed lost panel line and inspection panel details and prepared the model for painting. I decided early on to build the South African version. After much research online as to what colors to paint the Mirage, I chose Tamiya Light Admiralty Grey, Desert Yellow, and Deep Green. These appear to be the closest I could find to match the SAAF colors.
This ProfiPACK kit includes canopy, wheel and light masks. They all fitted fine. There is also another masking set for some of the other versions. This includes fin flashes and other fuselage masks.
I made my life a little easier by ordering “Top Notch” camouflage paint masks (topnotch-success.net/vinyl-masks/camouflage/saaf/saaf-mirage-iii-cz). They came from Britain and arrived just in time for the deep green paint to be applied. While this is not a review of the Top Notch product, I can really recommend these masks, and they saved me a lot of time.
The undercarriage door insides, legs, wheels and bays were painted Model Master Aluminium, as was a section of the nose. The nose cone and tires were painted black.
After a couple of gloss coats I started on the decals. There were quite a few stencils and markings. Most applied nicely using Microsol setting solutions, which took care of some silvering. Three white and black antennae areas on the tail are supplied as decals and none of these were even close to being the correct dimensions. The white parts of these decals were quite thin and the paint underneath filtered through also. After messing with them for a while I gave up and carefully masked off around already applied decals and painted these areas. It looks a lot better, and in hindsight masking and painting these areas didn’t take very long. The orange, white and blue fin flash on the rudder actually fit fine, and I took the precaution of spray it white before applying those decals. This was followed by more gloss coats, a panel line wash and a final “semi flat” coat to seal the decals and wash. The canopy and light masks were removed, and the result looked good.
The undercarriage legs, retraction struts, doors, pitot tube, other probes, drop tanks, Matra missile and canopy (with mirrors) were attached to complete this model.
As I was adding one of the last items, I picked the model up not realizing I had super glue on my finger. I not only removed some skin, part of a SAAF insignia and some green paint came off also. I have emailed Eduard for replacement decals and will fix this when they come…I was so close!!!!
I have to say that this model really tested my skills at many stages of the build. It is a model that commands your utmost attention and care, but rewards those who overcome the challenges with a very nice and accurate looking Mirage. For these reasons, I would recommend this model to experienced modelers only.
My sincere thanks to Eduard for the opportunity of building this kit and IPMS for trusting me with this review.