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Italeri Dassault Mirage IIIC

Despite its size Italeri’s big-scale Mirage will fit snugly on a 12" shelf, thanks to the delta fighter’s narrow wingspan.

Opening the box presents you with a bunch of gray sprues, a thick instruction book with color four-view drawings for the six marking options, a separate sheet showing stencil placement, a small fret of photo-etched brass, and clear parts, all packaged separately.

Two large Cartograf decal sheets provide markings for six aircraft: three French, a Swiss, a South African, and an Israeli.

Features include posable control surfaces, weighted tires, full-length intakes, and the option of displaying the engine out of the plane on a cart. But there is only one engine and no parts to fill the interior of the model if you choose to display it out; just a gaping hole aft.

The multipart ejection seat went together with no problems, and the PE harness looks great. The HUD glass (part No. 10E) looked a little rough, so I replaced it with clear Mylar. The instrument panel is well detailed but lacks instrument faces; a decal option would have added a bit more life to the cockpit.

Each wall of the wheel wells is separate and has extensive molded detail, including plumbing.

Step 12 indicates the engine should be sandwiched by the fuselage halves before adding the vertical stabilizer. It’s easier to join the fuselage and tail first, because the engine gets in the way otherwise.

A quick swipe with 440-grit sandpaper smoothed leading edges. Rectangular recessed areas on the fuselage were hard to eliminate without damaging the surrounding surface detail.

Dry-fit the lower fuselage religiously; it’s a tight squeeze around the cockpit and the weird angles of the intakes. I repeatedly filled and sanded to get a smooth joint.

The real fun came when I installed the outer parts of the intakes. They don’t fit, resulting in a gap between the intakes and the shock diffusers and an unsightly step where the intakes meet the fuselage. Styrene shims, filler, and sanding corrected the misfit but eliminated most of the surface detail.

Don’t forget to add weight up front to prevent the plane being a tail-sitter.

The round one-piece nose cone doesn’t match the ovoid forward fuselage, which means more filling and sanding. At the other end, the tail cone that fits over the exhaust nozzle doesn’t match the fuselage, producing a step.

PE splitters join the intakes to the fuselage; they need to be bent 90 degrees in two spots, but aren’t scored. After a couple of failed attempts at bending the parts, I replaced them with thin sheet styrene.

The landing gear struts look good and, although they are long and spindly, support the plane. But the actuators needed cleanup and didn’t match the molded locators.

Large ejector-pin marks mar the inside of gear doors. The PE hinges look nice but do not make strong joints. The instructions show the option of posing the gear up, but dry-fitting showed they don’t fit the openings. No pilot is included.

I closed the canopy because the detailed cockpit is visible through the crystal-clear plastic. After several failed attempts to attach the tiny PE mirrors to the windshield, I discarded them with extreme prejudice.

I finished my Mirage as a desert camouflaged French fighter in Djibouti in 1980. The decals went on without problems.

A highlight of the kit is the expansive weapon selection showing typical loads. Stencil decals dress up the ordnance.

This impressive kit builds into a nice presentation with a bit of extra work and attention to detail.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the July 2016 issue.

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