Slipping the Bonds
by George Paterson


Mirage III EA-I*017-FAA


The Mirage III, and its derivatives the Mirage 5 and the Mirage 50, were the most successful of the many versions of the original MD550 delta-winged aircraft, which had been conceived in the mid 1950s as a lightweight fighter powered by two small turbojet engines with a rocket engine placed between them. The MD550 was re-named the Mirage I, and as it became clear that its small size imposed too many limitations on its utility, a bigger Mirage II was projected, but not built. An even bigger airframe now followed – the Mirage III, and it hit the jackpot with almost 1,500 built for service in many air forces world-wide.

The Israeli air-force demonstrated the capabilities of the Mirage III in the Six-Day war and in the Yom Kippur war, and it has consolidated its reputation in subsequent conflicts.

Argentina used Mirage IIIs in the Malvinas War, though the absence of in-flight refuelling facilities limited the type's effectiveness.

The Initial Image

This image of a die-cast model of a Mirage III EA represents an aircraft as used in the Malvinas campaign. Many of these aircraft were still in service into the late 1990's, but by then the original camo had given way to the fashionable “grey-on-grey” finish, and a number of upgrades had been made to the structure and internal equipment.

The image is not evenly clear, and a lot of detail will need to be clarified, particularly on the forward fuselage. As usual with die-cast models, a lot of the moulding is very soft, and some sharpening of details is needed to conceal these tell-tale features.

Treatment of the Image

Once I had selected the main structural elements, I started at the front fuselage and gradually clarified the salient details. The pitot was missing altogether, and was generated from scratch.

As I got closer to the mid and rear fuselage, I found less needed to be done, though some of the surface details that are close to high-lighted areas were drastically caught by the light.

The wings didn't need much work; the pattern of scribe lines is acceptable, if slightly too coarse. I decided to leave them alone.

The exhaust can gave me geometry problems; the exhaust opening has to be elliptical, with the major axis of the ellipse at right angles to the axis. On the model the ellipse is about 20 degrees out of line, and I couldn't figure out why. I tried it at right angles, and it looked correct at once. I don't think I've had that problem ever before.

I pasted the resulting total selection onto a sea background, reflecting as I did so that I've been using a lot of marine backgrounds lately.


Pablo Calcaterra has presented several detailed articles on MM chronicling the FAA's operations during the War, and I have found they make fascinating reading. In March 2014 I submitted an article to MM on FAA's Canberras, and Pablo's earlier article on the FAA bomber actions was invaluable background reading for my own text.