Mirage III IAI Nesher/Dagger
Author: Salvador Mafe Huertas
Few jet aircraft are as iconic as the Dassault Mirage III. Its delta planform and overall attractive design make it instantly recognizable, and its widespread usage around the world made it a common sight on just about every continent. The sturdiness and simplicity of the airframe also made it a popular aircraft for modification, and Israeli Aircraft Industries took advantage of that with several modified variants. While the most popular IAI variant is the Kfir, the Nesher was another modified Mirage III type that saw exceptional service during the Yom Kippur war. This latest title from Kagero focuses almost exclusively on the Nesher variant, which went from the Israeli Air Force to the Argentinian Air Force and served for decades in the skies over South America.
While the Nesher was an Israeli aircraft first, this book spends most of its coverage on its service in South America. Argentina picked up the Israeli Neshers in the late 1970s, falling back to Israel's offer after US and French options dried up due to embargos. Argentina ended up with the Nesher rather than the Kfir due to the fact that the latter used the US-produced J79 engine, while the Nesher used French-supplied engines. The Nesher was given the name Dagger in Argentina, and they were able to operate the type for several years before entering combat. The Dagger was a significant factor in the conflict with Great Britain over the Falklands Islands in 1982, and the book spends a good amount of content covering that conflict. After that war, the Dagger continued to serve in the Argentinian Air Force for dozens of years, with the last one finally retiring in 2015. The various updates and upgrades to the airframe are well covered in the text, providing a thorough picture of the evolution of the Nesher/Dagger over the years. While the coverage is thorough, it is clear that the author's first language is not English, so at times the text can feel awkward.
The photo content throughout the book is simply superb, covering just about every aspect of the Dagger, from delivery to retirement. These photos serve as an excellent complement to the text and help put into visual perspective the story being told by the author. The combat photos from 1982 are impressive in their uniqueness, as many have not been seen before, including several in color. The evolution of camouflage and markings after the 1982 conflict is also well documented in the photos, showing how the colors shifted from a ground camouflage to an air superiority scheme. Also covered are the anniversary and retirement schemes, of which there were several. In addition to the Argentinian options, the photos also cover some of the Israeli Neshers and their combat during the Yom Kippur war.
An interesting and seemingly unconnected section of this book is a small section on the Spanish Mirage IIIEE aircraft. In reading through the text, there does not seem to be any connection of these aircraft to the Nesher, Israel, or Argentina, so it is unclear why the author included these aircraft in this book. That said, the story of those aircraft is fairly complete, as the Spanish examples did not serve as long as the Daggers did in Argentina, with the last Mirage IIIEE example retiring in the 1990s. The photos complement that story as seen throughout the book. The section of color profile illustrations provide a single Spanish example as well, along with three Israeli Neshers and six Argentinian Daggers.
For those interested in the Mirage III and its derivatives, this is a useful reference to have. While the text can be challenging at times to read, the overall presentation is good and the story of the Nesher/Dagger is a fascinating one to discover. My thanks to Casemate Publishing for the review copy.