The long awaited Kinetic Mirage IIIE was released a few months ago. It is a full package meal as with the parts in the box you can build the IIIE/OE/EE/EA/R/RD/ and very likely the RS version too, although the last one is not listed in the instructions.
The box is full with parts (15 sprues) including a fair amount of offensive ordinance (bombs and missiles) plus different drop tanks. The markings include French, Spanish and Australian airframes. Among the French markings there is the option of finishing your model as the airplane flown by Jaqueline Auriol when she broke the feminine speed record.
If you never heard of Jaqueline Auriol, you should read about her. She was a female French aviator and test pilot. She set 5 speed records and won the Harmon International Trophy 4 times among other professional achievements, not to mention having been the daughter-in-law of a French president, with all the political and State duties that it implies.
Construction starts, as usual with the cockpit. There are two seat options and four instrument panels (based on the version you choose to model). The IP lacks of dial details and no decal is provided, but most of it won’t be seen in the finished model unless you decide to have the canopy open. With some careful painting the detail looks very good under the clear parts.
The build then moves to the air intakes and fuselage. You are provided with full duct intakes and a compressor face. All that detail looks nice, but it is not visible in the completed model. If I would have known, I might have considered leaving those parts out.
The intake lips have a seam in an area difficult to putty and sand. I modified the lips by removing the piece that is attached to the lower wing and gluing, puttying, and sanding it to the rest of the air intake, as to have a “single piece” intake lip. You have then to fill a small gap in the lower wing, but it is much easier to deal with a gap in that area than with a seam in the air intake lip.
Next in the assembly was the nose wheel well area, which has some nice detail in the interior, but a part of the nose wheel area was warped. The only way to get a decent fit with the lower wing area is by adding a piece of sprue that will keep it at the proper angle and improve the fit. I know of at least one other person that ran into the same problem so you better watch out for that.
I decided to assemble the reconnaissance version of the airplane, so I choose the recon nose. The clear parts are a less than optimal fit to the solid grey plastic parts. It basically seats too far inside and up into the nose making the clear parts not flush with the surface.
The wings gave me another surprise. I had to reduce the thickness of the leading edge (black area in the pictures) as to get a decent fit of the part. Otherwise the wing-fuselage section would have a significant step. I also had to use a spreader bar in the fuselage and some plastic sheet to improve the fit of wing to the fuselage. I also had to use some filler when attaching the actuators for the flaperons to the wing. Also note that the lower wing has already pre-drilled the holes for the center wing pylon, but no center–wing pylon is provided. I had to fill the holes. Not difficult, but annoying.
The model was then moving fast towards reaching the final surface preparation for painting. Some minor sanding of the main seams was done more due to good habit than for the need of it. Painting was accomplished with enamels and a coat of Future was applied.
The decals were very glossy. I mean very glossy. To the point that I should have applied two coats of Future as you could see the rest of the model being “less shiny” than the decals. Color density and registration of the decals was good and they conformed to the surface without the need for any setting solution.
At that point I started to look at underwing ordinance. I choose the airplane to have only the supersonic drop tanks (it was a speed record setter, so it would have not been carrying any missiles/bombs).
The landing gear seems to be very flimsy but when assembled is actually reasonably sturdy. The interlocking struts provide some mechanical strength. Sadly the wheels are very bad. They provide separate hubs and tires but the half tires don’t reach out to one another when sandwiching the wheel hub and leave a gap all around. I had to fill and sand the tires and repaint them.
If you read this much you might be wondering if this model is worth the effort. I would rate this kit to be below average for modern molds. However as long as you are willing to spend the time and effort correcting the shortcomings of the molds -which are listed above- you can have a nice looking model.
Nothing is beyond what an average modeler can overcome, but certainly this kit is not for beginners. I will recommend this kit to modelers with experience correcting warpage of the molds and willingness to apply modelling skills to a kit.
I would like to thank Kinetic Models, LuckyModel, and IPMS/USA for the review sample.
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