Designed as a strike/multi role aircraft, the Mirage IIIE differed from the IIIC in having a 30 cm forward fuselage extension. The extension increased the size of the avionics bay behind the cockpit and it also increased fuel capacity. Navigation was enhanced with the fitting of TACAN and Doppler equipment in a bulge below the nose. The Mirage IIIE was also equipped with a more powerful jet engine, the Atar 09C, with a variable petal-style exhaust. The first production Mirage IIIE was delivered to the Armée de l'air [AdA] in January 1964 and a total of 192 were eventually delivered. Production of the Mirage IIIE totalled 532, 192 going to the AdA, which was substantially larger than that of the Mirage IIIC. The Mirage III was a pretty good export success for Dassault and the IIIE was no exception. There was a bewildering list of sub variant designations, and minor modifications in equipment fit. The main reason for the variation was that Dassault indicated the country of export by letter. For example there was the Mirage IIIEA [Argentina AF], the Mirage IIIEBR and Mirage IIIEBR-2 [Brazil AF], Mirage IIIEL [Lebanon AF], Mirage IIIEP [Pakistan AF], Mirage IIIEZ [South African AF], Mirage IIIEE [Spanish AF], and the Mirage IIIEV [Venezuelan AF]. Dassault also trialled the Rolls-Royce Avon engine to gain more sales, but it never went beyond the prototype stage. The Royal Australian Air Force [RAAF] purchased the IIIE, under the designation Mirage IIIO. Dassault and SNECMA agreed to allow the Australians to build the airframe and the Atar engines. Three versions were produced: the Mirage IIIO(F), which was an interceptor, the Mirage IIIO(A), a surface attack aircraft and the twin seat Mirage IIIO(D), a fighter lead-in trainer. In total 48 IIIO(F), 50 IIIO(A) and 16 IIIO(D) aircraft were built by the Australians.
The Mirage IIID was a two-seat trainer version of the Mirage IIIE, powered by the Atar 09-C engine with afterburner. It was fitted with distinctive strakes under the nose. Export variants included the Mirage IIIO[D] licenced built for the RAAF, Mirage IIIDA [Argentine AF], Mirage IIIDBR and the Mirage IIIDBR-2 [Brazilian AF] Mirage IIIDE [Spanish AF], Mirage IIIDP [Pakistan AF], Mirage IIIDS [Swiss AF], Mirage IIIDV [Venezuelan AF], Mirage IIIDZ and the Mirage IIID2Z [SAAF].
The Mirage IIIR was a single-seat all-weather reconnaissance aircraft. Up to five OMERA five cameras could be fitted into the nose at the cost of removing the radar. Aircraft were based on IIIE airframe but with simpler avionics similar to that fitted to the IIIC. It retained the cannon armament of fighters. Two prototypes and 50 production aircraft were built for the AdA. Export versions of the Mirage IIIR were built for Pakistan as the Mirage IIIRP and South Africa as the Mirage IIIRZ, and Mirage IIIR2Z with an Atar 9K-50 jet engine. Export versions of the IIIR recce aircraft were purchased by Abu Dhabi, Belgium, Colombia, Egypt and Libya. Some export Mirage IIIRDs were fitted with British Vinten cameras. Most of the Belgian aircraft were built under licence.
The top opening box is positively bursting with the plastic contents. The lid is adorned with a rather nice image of a couple of Armée de l'air Mirage III’s flying over some mountains. The image is possibly inspired by the series of images by Andreas Zeitler taken during Axalp 2003. There are seven plastic bags containing ten grey plastic sprues of various sizes. The plastic has a slight grainy look to it, but the detail at first glance looks superb. There is also a separate bag containing the one sprue of clear plastic parts. The box top proclaims that you can build the Mirage IIIE/O/R/RD/EE/EA, but there are no colour options included to finish any Mirage IIIEA [Argentine AF].
Kinetic have thoughtfully included two types of bang seat: the MB Mk4 and the MB Mk 10. The Mk4 has six parts, with two choices of overhead firing handle. The Mk 10 seat has five parts. Both seats do look rather good, they just lack any harnesses, which is disappointing.
There are around fourteen parts that make up the cockpit. The cockpit tub has the side panels included and there is plenty of detail moulded onto them. The detail is a little undefined or soft in places. There are two types of instrument panel to fit depending on which Mirage IIIE you want to depict. Interestingly there are two additional instrument panels included which hopefully indicates that Kinetic will be releasing a few more Mirage III’s. The raised detail is very good in parts and rather soft in others. Additional detail to add to the cockpit includes rudder pedals, control stick, various electrical boxes and a three piece HUD. The projector lens and HUD screen are transparent plastic pieces.
The canopy and windscreen are two separate parts and beautifully clear. The canopy can be displayed open to show all that lovely detail in the cockpit. Both show some very fine recessed rivet work on the framing.
First thing to notice is how good the detail is on the plastic. The recessed lines and raised detail is first rate. The fuselage itself is a modular affair. There are two different fuselage spines, but you only use the one suitable for the versions depicted in this release. The other spine is for the Mirage III EA, which if you have been taking in the notes above, you will know is for the aircraft supplied to the Argentinian AF. Under the nose there are alternative parts for the fairing over the Doppler radar. There are alternative nose cones: one for radar fitted strike/multi role aircraft and the other for the camera carrying reconnaissance versions. The two full length air intakes ducts are each made from two pieces with positive looking locating points. They are split sensibly to avoid any seams. There are a couple of raised ejector marks on the inner side you may want to sand down before joining. At the end of the ducts there is a rather fine looking primary compressor to add. Whether you will see it or not is another question, but it’s good to know it’s there. The air intakes are separate, possibly to allow for other versions. One of the sprues has what looks suspiciously like canards, though not for use in this release. Kinetic must take a bow for producing a very good looking one piece jet exhaust. Although the detail comes at a cost as there is some shrinkage marks just forward of the exhaust petals. The corrugated look of the jet pipe walls and the complexity of the re heat matrix looks pretty good too. Though you will have a devils job trying to highlight the detail of the reheat matrix as it’s a long way down the jet pipe.
The tail fin looks a little odd at first glance, but there are few parts to add and to remove depending which version you are depicting. Just be a little wary of the four optional parts that fit just above the rudder. They are all obviously different, but all share the same number in the instructions. Just check parts before joining as there is evidence of some flash here and there. The trailing edge of the rudder is not very straight at all and will need refining with a sanding stick.
The lower wing half is one piece, I think there is a very slight dihedral set into it. Again the recessed and raised detail is superb and I particularly like the guards around the cannon barrels. The control surfaces are all separate parts and can be displayed in the lowered position. Kinetic has thoughtfully included separate actuation mechanism fairing for whatever positon you want to display the control surfaces. Unfortunately the fairings do show some shrinkage in the plastic that will need filling. Under the tail there is a very large gap where the bulge for the rear fuel tank fits. All four speed brakes are separate parts so they can be positioned open, although the there is no internal bay detail.
The front undercarriage bay is built up from three parts and there is some nice raised detail on display. The inner part of the main undercarriage bay is attached to the lower wing. The ceiling of the outer part of the bay is formed on the inner surface of the upper wing. The detail in the bays is not bad, but it lacks any electrical or hydraulic lines.
The front undercarriage leg is made up from two parts and there are a couple of landing lights to add. The main undercarriage legs are each made up from two parts. Detail on these parts looks fine if a little soft looking.
The wheel hubs and tyres are separate; the hubs have a little detail on them, including the brake disc on the main wheels. The tyres lack any tread which seemed common on the IIIE’s. The inside of the gear doors have some excellent detail on them. All the doors seem to have activation gear to attach to them. If you want to display your model in flying mode, then the doors can be glued shut.
There is a very good range of things to hang of this kit and thankfully they are all identified on the side of the box. Ordinance includes:
-2 x AIM9B Sidewinder [AAM]
-2 x Matra 550 Magic [AAM]
-2 x RP30 – 1700L fuel tank.
-2 x Matra JL-100 [rocket launching tank]
-2 x LAU-32 [rocket launcher pod]
-2 x RP19R 500L non-jettisonable supersonic tank
-2 x Matra RPK10 [bomb launching tank]
-6 x Mk82 Retarded Bombs
-1 x Nord AS30L AGM [not mentioned on the side of the box].
The only thing that I would have liked included is a Matra 530 AAM or an AS-37 ARM that were usually slung under the fuselage. The lack of any 1300L fuel tanks is a pity; these were not only slung under the wings, but also under the fuselage. The belly is going to look a little bare as there are no pylons included for this area. The inclusion of the Matra RPK10 fuel tank is pleasing to see, it could carry guided or non-guided iron bombs. The detail at the front of the JL-100 is superb; each projectile head is beautifully formed.
There are five options altogether including:
[A] Mirage IIIE 4-BB, Squadron EC1/4 “La Fayette” Armée de l'air , BA116, Luxeuil, 1967 [Aluminium paint[?] overall]
[B] Mirage IIIEE C11-06, ALA 11, Ejército del Aire [Spain], Manises AB, 1986 [steel grey/dark green upper surface and painted aluminium[?] under surface].
[C] Mirage IIIO A3-7 "2 OCU" RAAF, Williamstown, 1987. [Medium grey upper surface and ghost grey under surface]
[D] Mirage IIIR 33-TC serial 307, Squadron EC3/33 “Moselle” Armée de l'air, BA124, Strasbourg-Entzheim, 1963. [steel grey/dark green upper surface and painted aluminium[?] under surface]
[E] Mirage IIIE 4-BB, Squadron EC1/4 “La Fayette” Armée de l'air, BA116, Luxeuil, 1967 [natural metal]
As you no doubt will notice two of the aircraft are the same. [A] Appears to be painted aluminium overall using Metal cote 270061. Option [E] appears to have a more natural metal finish, the guide lists a number of Alclad II paints to use. Aircraft [D] was the mount of Jacqueline Aeriol who broke the world speed record for women on 14th June 1963. Not the most exciting range of markings, but I’m sure there will be many other releases of the Mirage III from Kinetic covering much more interesting subjects. There are already some decal manufactures releasing some very interesting options, the various finishes seen on RAAF aircraft are worth looking at.
As you would expect from decals designed by Syhart and printed by Cartograf there is nothing but praise for the quality. Colour depth and registration looks spot on and the carrier film is kept to an absolute minimum. It’s good to see the hatched wing walk ways broken down into manageable lengths. It’s always a pleasure to see some of the wonderful escadrille badges on aircraft of the Armée de l'air. All the decals are numbered making their placement much easier. There is another set of markings on the decal sheet for a Mirage IIIRD 363 33-TL, but there is no mention of this in the instructions. A little googling will find images of the aircraft and it has a similar paint scheme to [D]. It seems it served with Armée de l'air ER3/33 “Moselle”.
The twenty page A4 guide provides plenty of useful black line drawings to aid you through the construction process. There is no colour guidance for such things as seats, instrument panel, side console, etc, so some alternative printed or internet references will need to be sourced. Be careful identifying some of the parts as some are miss numbered and some should not be used with this particular release. There are four view illustrations for each of the marking options. A selection of the ordinance is also included. The paint guide lists several paint manufactures including Humbrol, Mr Color, Italeri, Tamiya, Ammo Mig, Vallejo and Alclad II. Which I have to say is a pretty good range of paint references.
This is a gem of a kit from Kinetic. Yes there are a few Mirage III kits around, but some are getting rather long in the tooth. There is plenty of detail included in the kit that will keep the majority of modelers happy. Not quite the quality to match the likes of Hasegawa and Tamiya, but the pricing is much more down to earth. There are also some clues that Kinetic may bring out other versions of the Mirage family as well. Here’s hoping.
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