Wednesday, September 21

Build Review Pt.I: 1/32nd scale Mirage IIIC - delta in detail from Italeri

Nico has taken on the new 32nd scale Mirage from Italeri in today's first part of a two-part build review. There are lots of differing opinions about this kit, so we thought that a build review is the best way to see what it is really like. You are seeing the finished kit here, but how did he get it to that - and was it a difficult kit? Let's see as Nico sweats just a little in his modelling chair in Pt.I...

Build Review Pt.I: Mirage IIIC
Italeri Models
Kit #2505
1/32nd scale
Over 300 injection moulded parts in light grey on thirteen sprues.
Thirteen clear parts on one sprue
One small Photo Etch sheet with twenty-two parts.
Two decal sheets included with markings for six aircraft.

You will probably know about Italeri’s new 32nd scale Mirage IIIC kit that is on the way. The fact that it is all new tooling and updated with slide mould technology, a big decal sheet and several other refinements fills us all with hope – Nico has taken it on - and in two articles he will take a look at the construction and just how this kit goes together...

The Dassault Mirage III
The Dassault Mirage III is probably the most famous delta-winged fighter ever produced and it is THE French aircraft that many would hail as one of the most popular and best looking ever to enter production. It was been produced from the early sixties to provide to Armée de l’Air, the French Air Force with a reliable and effective fighter aircraft. The Mirage III rapidly became a commercial success, and it was widely exported to several countries around the world. This long serving aircraft served during both conflict war and peacetime situations, operating in many conflicts right through the seventies and up until the eighties. These conflicts included the Yom Kippur and Six Day War in the middle east. The Border Conflicts in South Africa and the Falklands war, where they famously came up against the Royal Navy FRS.1 Sea Harriers.
The Mirage III was characterized by the delta wing design, without a horizontal tail plane. With its Snecma Atar afterburning turbojet, it was able to exceed the speed of Mach 2. The Mirage IIIC, in particular, was the single-seat interceptor versions, and it has been configured to perform air-superiority tasks. 
It was armed with two 30 mm DEFA cannons, under the cabin, and with store pylons able to carry IR air-to-air missiles, as AIM-9 Sidewinder or Matra Magic, and Radar Guided Missiles.
Here are the pictures of the kit - in final assembly - just before it goes on sale. Internal and external details bound - and some of these pictures will raise some discussion points amongst mirage fans...

A nice looking cockpit in here is on display as well. Hopefully, this comes across in the moulding...

The plastic on offer - these are the sprues of the kit.
First things first: when you open the large box of this third 1/32 scale jet by the Italian model company, you’ll find over 300 plastic parts, a fret of photo-etched parts and some extremely impressive decal sheets. All of this is accompanied by very clear instructions. The parts in this kit look really good: the surface detail that is probably better than with their F-104, some of the parts are impressively detailed. Especially the landing gear bays, the engine and the cockpit. We will look at the sprues quickly before we get building. 

This sprue features the underside of the aircraft, with a detailed surface texture and notable vents for the two cannon and several secondary air intakes. The kit features recessed rivet detail and panel lines. The crew access ladder, airbrakes and tail afterburner surround are also on this sprue. A credible facsimile of the Snecma Atar 9B-3 afterburning turbojet engine is here, but we fear ours will be covered up in the completed build.

This sprue is dominated by the two large delta wings, both under and upper halves joined at the horizontal, also present is the horizontal tail with poseable rudder. The ejector seat frame is also here along with some cockpit internal parts.

The two long fuselage halves are here to be joined on the centre line vertically. Included also on this sprue are the pointed radar dome and air intakes with their surrounds.  the cockpit is represented here by several parts which look pretty detailed on the sprue. But there surrounds. The cockpit is represented here by several parts which look pretty detailed on the sprue. There is always more to add as you will see later on in the build...

You can see the ordinance of AIM-9 Sidewinder or Matra R.530 and the R.550 Magic (Acronym for Missile Auto-Guidé Interception et Combat) as well as the large belly and thin underwing tanks and the rails to hang them all on to. The main and nose wheels are included on this sprue, these will need a little sanding on the bottom to flatten them out.

Fairly clear transparencies are here on the clear sprue - they can be fragile in the wrong hands as we will find out during the build. Also, wingtip and landing lights are included on this sprue.

On the photo etch sheet we have the finer details of the kit like fuselage bracing and seatbelts. Many may opt for their own brand or a coloured type, we used the kit versions in this build.
The decals show six different marking choices. The decals are printed by Cartograf, and we will see how they apply to the kit in the second part of this build - always the best way of showing off decals.
Markings included in this boxing are South Africa, Switzerland & Israel…
As well as three French birds.
Building the kit - Pt.I
When Italeri released the 1/32 scale Mirage IIIC some while ago, I read a review on it, describing it as a very nice kit that looks easy to build. With the experience of the Italeri 32nd scale F-104 Starfighter in mind, I was curious about it, and wanted to build one. It turned out to be quite an adventure, which in the end resulted in a really impressive looking model. But be warned: you need to get your old school modelling skills out to make this kit as good as it needs to be.
The cockpit of this Italeri Mirage IIIC is pretty nice, but as so often, I just couldn’t help myself and added a little extra detail to it. One thing you have to know about this kit is that the instrument panel is closer to that of a Mirage IIIE than a Mirage IIIC. If you want to get it right, you will have to modify it.
The kit has a nice ejection seat and with the photo-etched seat belts provided in the kit, you can get a pretty impressive result. The cockpit tub is glued on top of the front wheel bay, so you have to be very precise in the construction. The fit inside the fuselage is quite good, although I added some support to the rear cockpit wall.

the front wheel bay is one o the nicest parts of the kit. It’s a bit odd, as you probably won’t see a lot of this area once the kit is done, but hey; it’s really very detailed! The fit is great, as you can see in this test-fit. The big hole in the nose is where a spotlight is positioned, but Italeri only provides a round window, but unfortunately with no details inside. A little quick scratch building resolves the problem.

The main landing gear bays are equally detailed, and for me, they only need a layer of paint, a wash and some detail painting to bring them alive.

The air ducts are quickly constructed and fit smoothly into, the fuselage. You won’t have any problems in this part of the construction. At this point I was pretty confident that this kit would be a smooth ride. Well, I might have spoken too soon…

I lined up the fuselage with the aft fuselage parts and this needed a little adjusting. The fit isn’t perfect and will need some putty, as can be seen in the photo below.

Here, you see the vertical tail constructed and glued to the fuselage. This a very tricky part of the kit. There is very little support to glue it and you have a real risk of not getting the tail perfectly vertical. I fitted a dozen times before I used glue, and still, I wasn’t 100% happy. Again, some putty will have to be used…

To be honest, the build then went a bit downhill from here… I glued the air intake parts onto the fuselage and the fit here was again not perfect. More putty was needed, but as you can see in the photo, this runs over some panel lines. This means that not only you have to fill the seam and polish the air intake, but you also have to engrave the panels back onto the kit. The biggest problem however, is the nose: the cone part is too wide compared to the fuselage. About 0,5 mm on each side. The only solution here is the sand the nose flush to the fuselage, but by doing so, you sand away all the details. Again: putty, more sanding, polishing and engraving the panels again…

This photo shows the top of the fuselage and the work that is needed in this area to get it smooth. Again, some old school modelling skills are needed: sanding, polishing and re-scribing. I really wanted to get this Mirage IIIC right, so I pressed on, but I understand the way some other modellers felt when they hit bit of a wall when working on this kit.

This isn’t the best of photos, but it shows the plastic surgery that was needed on the nose and forward fuselage. See how the nose is too high? This should be flush! Putty on the lower fuselage, air intake, and wing root. 

The transparent parts of the kit are very thin as we've already seen, but now it was about time to glue the windscreen to the fuselage so I had to take care. Unfortunately, like the nose, this part was just a little too wide. But alas, I applied a little pressure to the part to get it right… which resulted in SNAP!!! The windscreen cracked in two! G%*FT1## !!!! After all that work, this happens! I had to get away from the kit for a while, so put it in the box for a week or two whilst the new windscreen came from Italeri. I ordered it online (4 euro.) Once the part arrived, I just wanted to get to the painting part as quickly as possible.

Here’s the kit with wings on: to make sure that the wings lined up correctly with the fuselage, I first glued the lower half together, and once this was strong enough, the upper parts were joined. You have to take care though, as the main landing gear parts have to be attached before you glue the wings to the fuselage. It took me about 4 nights to get the fuselage ready for the first layers of paint. Fortunately, this is where the kit proved itself to be worth the effort. I’ll show you how that went in a couple of days.

Here it is, all ready to paint...

Stay tuned for the all-important painting and weathering stage to come – we will see how Nico and François made this kit up into the lovely model we expect from them…

Thanks to the guys atItaleri for sending this to Nic to build it - you can get yours from Italeri’s Distributors Worldwide