Wednesday, March 5

Review: Kittyhawk's new F.1CT/CR Mirage in 1/48th scale

Having made and reviewed a few Kittyhawk kits who better than our man Gary to review Kittyhawk's new F.1CT/CR kit of the Mirage fighter in 48th scale. we take a look at this single seater to see if you can keep your Esci/Italeri kits you have in the stash - or make a bee-line to "Ebay" to sell yours off before someone else does!

Kitty Hawk Mirage F.1CT/CR
Kit No: KH80111
1/48 scale
Plastic Sprues: 9
Clear Sprues: 1
Photo Etch Brass Fret: 1
Decal Sheets: 3

Kittyhawk models have followed up their initial two seat Mirage F.1B kit with the single seat F.1CT/CR variants. I previously reviewed the F.1B kit here and was impressed with what was provided. Lets now see what this new boxing has in store for us.

The Aircraft
The Dassault Mirage F1 is a French air-superiority fighter and attack aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation as a successor of the Mirage III family. The Mirage F1 entered service in the French Air Force (Armée de l'Air) in the early seventies. More than 720 F1s have been produced.

Despite being the only non-delta winged Mirage fighter ever put into production it became an instant hit, with orders coming from France, Libya, South Africa, and many other countries. Quick, agile, and with surprisingly high performance for its size, the F1 proved itself to be a capable combat-ready package that could take on fighter, attack, and even anti-shipping roles its clients acquired it for.

Still flying today 45 years after the original prototype took to the skies, the Mirage F1 is an all-too-noticeable reminder that the light fighter can still pack a heavy punch. (source:, )
Mirage F1CR
When it became clear that the Mirage F1 was becoming a successful production aircraft, Dassault began investigating the possibility of a dedicated reconnaissance version for its most important client, the French Air Force. However, the escalating cost of fighter aircraft meant that add-on pods for this purpose were a more economical alternative.

The Mirage F1CR carries reconnaissance equipment, internally and externally:

· A SAT SCM2400 Super Cyclone infrared linescan unit is installed in the space previously occupied by the port cannon.
· A space under the nose can be used for a Thomson-TRT 40 panoramic camera or a Thomson-TRT 33 vertical camera.
· The Cyrano IVM-R radar has extra ground- and contour-mapping modules.
· A variety of sensors can be carried in external pods carried under the fuselage centreline. These include the Raphaël TH Side-Looking Airborne Radar (SLAR), the ASTAC ELINT pod and the RP35P optical reconnaissance pod.

A total of 64 Mirage F1CRs were ordered by the French Air Force.
Mirage F1CT
The Mirage F1CT is a ground attack version of the Mirage F1C-200. Following their replacement in the air defence role by the Mirage 2000, the French Air Force had a number of surplus Mirage F1C-200s, and in 1988 it launched a conversion programme to turn these aircraft into interim ground attack aircraft to replace elderly Mirage IIIEs and Mirage Vs.

The Mirage F1CT program brought the avionics of the F1C up to the standard of the F1CR, with the radar upgraded with the additional air-to-ground modes of the Cyrano IVM-R, an improved navigation/attack system fitted, with a laser rangefinder fitted under the nose. It was fitted with new Mk 10 ejection seats, while improved radar detection and warning devices, chaff/flare dispensers, and secure radios were also added. It gained the ability to carry a variety of air-to-ground weapons, including rockets, cluster bombs and laser-guided bombs, while retaining the F1Cs air-to-air armament.
The Kit
Before we get to the nitty gritty, have a look at a couple of photos of the finished model which we borrowed from the KittyHawk website. This one is painted in an attractive desert scheme but if that’s not to your taste other decals and schemes are provided in the box, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
As you would expect the new F.1CT/CR and previous F.1B kits share a large number of common sprues.

The sprue breakdown is as follows:
· One updated sprue (B) and one cut down sprue (GP clear) are provided for the parts specific to the single seat variant. The PE fret is also modified from the two seater (less seat belts needed). These parts are shown in yellow

· Two entirely new weapon sprues (shown in green). These are actually sprues re-used from the Kittyhawk French Jaguar A kit.

· The remaining six sprues are shared with the original two seat F.1B kit. These contain common parts for the rear fuselage, wings, undercarriage etc
The Mirage F.1 hails from a period when cockpits were filled with mostly analog instruments and the odd radar scope display, no MFD’s or Up Front Controllers here.

As with most 1/48 kit cockpits, many of the hydraulic lines and electrical conduits that make cockpits of this era appear “busy” are not provided but the Kittyhawk coaming, tub and sidewalls provide a solid starting point for super detailing or simply building as provided out of the box.
One thing of note that is missing from the kit is the rubber shroud used by the pilot to view the radar scope during day missions (blocking out the light). It’s quite a distinctive feature of the CT/CR cockpits as seen in the picture below.
The instrument panel, optional HUD frame, rear view mirror, seat harness and other assorted cockpit panels are provided on the small PE sheet. The relief on the instrument panel is not very defined and most modelers will find it hard to paint this part. I’m not a big fan of these “old” type PE parts, much preferring the new Eduard method of using multiple layers of PE sandwiched together to reproduce a realistic scale 3D depth to the parts.
The kit tub is basic but with careful detail painting will look fine once buttoned up in the fuselage.
The sidewalls are molded as separate parts to the tub and fuselage halves and reproduce the ribbing present on the real aircraft quite nicely. Use of after market generic cockpit placard decals will be of benefit here (or if you are clever enough hand paint the placards)

As with the earlier F.1B kit, Kittyhawk have provided both the original MB Mk.4 seat(s) and the later MB Mk.10 seats. It’s my understanding that CT/CR variants used the Mk.10 seats so unless you plan to backdate this kit to an earlier F.1C you can drop the Mk.4 parts into the spares box.
Specific to the single seat CT/CR release, Kittyhawk have provided a sprue (B) with new forward fuselage section, cockpit, refueling probe and top fuselage spine parts.
Sprues C/D cover parts for the wings, tail (vertical and horizontal), the SNECMA Atar 9K engine body, intake lips, main wheel wells, boarding ladder (nice touch) and of course the distinctive so called “Iraqi Banana” 2200L centerline drop tank.
As you would expect, the wheel wells are devoid of any of the hydraulic lines found on the real aircraft. What is provided looks to be a reasonable representation of the ribbing and paneling found in the bay. The intake lip is very fine, completely in scale and is something I am happy to have found find on all Kittyhawk kits I have seen so far (the MiG-25 had amazingly fine wing leading and trailing edges)
The wings have been molded with internal ribbing (for strength??) as shown below. What this does result in (on all Kittyhawk models I have inspected so far) is sink marks on the top external surfaces, which have to be dealt with. I’d encourage Kittyhawk to review this practice as it seems to cause more problems than it fixes.
Sprues G/H provide more of the common airframe parts including wheels (main and nose), ejection seats (Mk.4 & Mk.10), exhaust nozzles (in 3 pieces), wing pylons, airbrakes, control surfaces and undercarriage doors. One 1200L drop tank is also provided (with the second one found on sprue ME).
The exhaust nozzle petals are quite fine (again to scale) and look quite convincing once assembled. Care does have to be taken to assemble the 3 parts that make up the circular nozzle as only a butt joint is used to join them together. I found that on the Kittyhawk MiG-25 (which has two similar nozzles, both with four section each) that they put up quite a fight when trying to hold them in place while gluing and drying. Patience and persistence will be your allies here.
Sprues E/F contain weapons/pods suitable for fitment to modern Mirage F.1’s (and French Jaguars/Mirage 2000s etc). In fact Kittyhawk have leveraged their previous work on the Jaguar kits and simply re-used the weapons sprues from their Jaguar A kit here.

Weapons found on these sprues include:
· Barracuda pod (Lightweight self-defence ECM-pod)
· Phimat pod (chaff & flare dispenser)
· AIM-9L Sidewinder
· Matra R550 Magic (short-range IR air-to-air missile)
· ATLIS targeting pod (Automatic Tracking and Laser Integration System)
· AS37 anti-radiation missile (ARM)
· AS30 air-ground-missile (AGM)
· Matra 68mm Rocket pod
· BLG-66 Belouga Cluster Bombs
· BGL-1000 laser guided bomb
· BGL-400 laser guided bomb
· 250kg iron bomb
Sprues A1/A2 contain only the two rear fuselage halves. These are split in the traditional left/right format which will make retaining the panel and rivet detail along the join seam a challenge
Sprues ME/MF (shared with the original F.1B kit) contain more weapons including:
· Barax ECM pod
· Python 4 air-to-air missile (AAM)
· GBU-12 Paveway 500lb LGB
· Matra Super 530F (medium-range air-to-air missile) suitable for Mirage F.1
· Matra Super 530D (medium-range air-to-air missile) suitable for Mirage 2000
· BAP-100 Anti runway bombs
· BLU-107 Durundal anti-runway penetration bomb
· AM.39 Exocet anti shipping missile
Sprue GP contains the clear parts. It includes the canopy, windshield, HUD glass, clear cover for the camera bay on the F.1CR and assorted navigation lights.
Paint Schemes and Decals 
This kit offers a very appealing set of markings, three French aircraft and one Spanish. The French Mirage F.1s have been very active in recent history in warzones ranging from Libya to Kosovo. Kittyhawk have given us schemes of several operational aircraft and one Tiger Meet scheme. I also like that they have given color plates for all the weapons. 
The decals are well printed with a shiny finish and in good register. Having used Kittyhawk decals recently on their MiG-25 kit I can report that they handle well and respond to most standard setting solutions

I’ve always liked the look of the Mirage F.1 family. Like most French aircraft it is attractive and there is something about the high wing that sets it apart from its delta wing cousins. As a modeling subject the Mirage F.1 hits the spot with me as it’s an aircraft with a high combat tempo in recent conflicts (Iraqi, Kosovo, Libya, Mali etc). For fans of combat veteran aircraft this latest offering from Kittyhawk is right on the money in my book.

As I’ve said before, the Kittyhawk kits are not the easiest to build but with some TLC (tender loving care) they scrub up into excellent models. I’m looking forward to getting some glue and paint onto this kit and adding a war weary Mirage F.1 to my collection. Its time to retire my unbuilt collection of ESCI/Italeri F.1s I think.

Thanks very much to Kittyhawk for the review kit.

Gary Wickham