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Modelsvit Mirage IIIE

Build review of the 1/72 scale aircraft kit with outstanding detail
Designed and built by Dassault Aviation, the Mirage IIIE is a multirole strike fighter and the most widely produced variant of the Mirage III family. It was the first Western European combat aircraft to exceed Mach 2 in level flight and could carry conventional or nuclear bombs and a variety of air-to-air or air-to-ground missiles.

Modelsvit’s parts feature exquisitely fine engraved panel lines and rivets on the surface and intricate details in the landing gear bays and cockpit. The kit also includes markings for three aircraft, two French and one Spanish as well as pre-cut masks for the canopy and a small fret of photo-etched metal (PE) details. Underwing stores include an AN-52 nuclear bomb, three sizes of drop tanks, Matra R550 and Sidewinder missiles, a Phimat chaff dispenser, and a Barrax ECM pod. Comprehensive paint call-outs throughout reference Humbrol colors.

Seven plastic parts go into the seat, with belts and additional details provided in PE. Full-color painting instructions are given.

The cockpit comprises separate parts for the floor, sides, and rear bulkhead, with two more for the nose gear bay underneath. By molding the parts separately, Modelsvit was able to produce an incredible amount of detail on them, but it complicates assembly. The parts fit well but the mating surfaces are simple butt joints, so holding everything together while gluing was a challenge.

Instrument panel and side console details are handled by decals and PE. I used Testors aircraft interior black for the cockpit and Alclad aluminum for the gear bay. Then, I assembled the completed cockpit into the forward fuselage.

Built into the lower section of the wing, the main gear bays feature spectacular detail. Remember to open up the appropriate holes if you plan on adding underwing stores. Deviating from the instructions, I attached the upper wing panels next. The fit was excellent, but the seams cross panels rather than following panel lines, so some cleanup was required.

I assembled the main fuselage halves next along with the rear bulkhead but opted to leave off the main part of the exhaust until final assembly. Only minor cleanup and panel line restoration was needed along the top seam. Fit of the wing and fuselage was good, but pay attention to the alignment at the front where part of the lower wing forms the lower section of the intakes. Attaching the forward fuselage completed the airframe.

I painted the French air force camouflage with Alclad II aluminum underneath and Tamiya light sea gray (XF-25) and dark green (XF-61) topside.

The decals laid down with just a little Microscale Micro Sol to settle them into details.  

Underwing stores, landing gear, and a few other small details finished the build. The main landing gear legs lack positive mounting points and they should cant inward slightly, something I just eyeballed. Mounting tabs for the gear doors are tiny.

Overall, Modelsvit’s Mirage impressed me. The molded detail is some of the best I’ve seen in 1/72 scale and it scales out exactly. Construction can be a little finicky at times and some of the detail parts are extremely tiny so it’s a kit suited for a modeler with moderate experience.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the October 2020 issue.
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