AML's 1/72 Mirage IIIC
Dassault's Mirage family, in my mind, is easily the most attractive French jet fighter ever, and I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking this. First taking to the air in the late 1950s, the Mirage proved to be a capable airframe and the basic design survived through different engines and armament options. The first production aircraft, the Mirage IIIA, quickly led to the Mirage IIIC with the adoption of the Thomson CSF Cyrano Ibis radar. The Mirage IIIC first entered service with the French but quickly found its way into foreign service, most notably with the Israelis. It is with the Israeli Air Force that the Mirage platform proved itself in a combat arena, first in 1967 during the Six Day War and later in 1973 during the Yom Kippur War. In both instances the Mirage performed well, racking up impressive kill totals.
The Mirage IIIC was eventually superceded by the Mirage IIIE and Mirage V, but it was still flying in French service in the early 80s and while my information isn't clear, I'm sure it was serving in Israeli hands even later.
For those wanting to build a 1/72 Mirage, there have been plenty of kits available. Heller makes a very nice Mirage V and Mirage 2000, while the Revell Mirage IIIE isn't too shabby either. High Planes has put out some Mirage kits as well, but I don't know if they've done a IIIC and at any rate the High Planes kits, while very accurate, are not easy to build. AML's new release of the Mirage IIIC has hopefully put in every Mirage lover's hands an accurate and easy to build kit. This kit is a blend of injection plastic, resin and etched brass, with a vacuformed canopy. The plastic parts are well molded with little flash and the resin is expertly cast with no bubbles visible.
Starting with the interior, you'll immediately jump onto the resin wagon, with a one-piece cockpit tub, a nicely cast resin seat, resin control stick, and a very detailed photo-etched instrument panel. Still on the insides, you also have resin wheel well inserts for both the main and nose gears, as well as a resin jet exhaust tube. Once you get all of this together, the assembly is pretty straightforward, as there's not a lot to put together on a delta-winged jet. The air intakes are also resin, so you'll want to take a lot of care to make sure that the joint is seamless to the plastic parts, as it will be difficult to sand these to areas evenly.
The underside of this plane gets a lot of extra detailing, with plenty of resin scoops and antennae all over the place. The landing gear is also very well detailed, with plastic and resin details really making this area look good. A final touch is the resin gear doors, which are paper thin and are easily the most realistic gear doors I've seen in 1/72.
The decals are printed by Tally Ho! and are wonderful. There's a total of five options included, although one is sort of a duplicate. Four are Israeli and one is French. The first two Israeli options are actually the same plane, but at different times in its career. The first is finished in natural metal and has 10 kills on the nose and the second is camouflaged in the standard Israeli three-color scheme, with 11 kills on the nose. The time period for both of these schemes is in 1970, with the camouflaged one being listed as late summer. There is one more natural metal and one more camouflaged Israeli example. The final example is a French bird from Djibouti and is camouflaged in a two-tone brown scheme.
I've been wanting a decent Mirage IIIC kit for some time now, and thanks to AML I finally have one. Here's hoping that they'll continue on and come out with a two-seater and perhaps do the Mirage IIIE, as the Revell kit isn't always easy to get.