KIT: Spinners 1/48 Cheetah D conversion
KIT #: ?
PRICE: ZAR 130.00
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Mike Turnbull
NOTES: For the Heller Mirage III B/C. Only available in South Africa ?


 During the late seventies and the eighties, the South African Air Force (SAAF) was involved in supporting the SA Army in its war in the then South West Africa (Now Namibia) and Angola. Equipped almost entirely with aging aircraft of European origin (UK, France and Italy) the SAAF was facing a dire situation where it was engaging in combat with the best the Soviet Bloc could offer, without being able to acquire new equipment or upgrades for its aircraft due to the arms embargo. Accordingly, a top secret upgrade program for the services’ Mirage III fleet was launched.

First aircraft to be upgraded was a Mirage III D2Z delivered to Atlas in April 1983. All Cheetah Ds were reportedly converted from Mirage III DZ and D2Z trainers. The exact sources of all the airframes used in the Cheetah program remains something of a mystery, as the numbers of known SA bought airframes do not appear to coincide with the number of Cheetahs produced.

Immediately noticeable differences between the standard Mirage III and the Cheetah D are the long nose, canards, dogtooth leading edges and an in-flight re-fuelling probe. The Cheetah D was rumoured to be the delivery system of choice for the South African Nuclear weapons (Subsequently dismantled)

The Cheetah C remains South Africa’s frontline fighter and the D its fighter trainer, and will be replaced by Gripens in approx 2010


turnbullcheetahda.jpg (56563 bytes)The Spinners 1/48 Cheetah D conversion kit is designed to be used with the Heller Mirage III C/B, and contains 19 resin parts, including a new nose, Ejector seat, leading edges for the wings, refueling probe and assorted detail parts. The castings, in several colours of resin, exhibit a fair amount of flash, but otherwise appear to be very crisp and fault free.

turnbullcheetahdc.jpg (63339 bytes)Also included in the sturdy box is a photo etch fret containing 17 parts providing for the cockpit and various flare dispensers, strakes, aerials etc. The decal sheet provides toned down national markings, stencils and unit badges for 89 CFS and 2 Squadron. It should be noted that the national markings are the older Castle and eagle, and not the new “cookie cutters”. The instruction sheet provides all the basic information for doing the conversion, including specific instructions on the use of the decals, as well as a painting guide and brief history. Apologies for the less than sparkling image of the etched brass fret, but you get a good idea from it what is included.


Having done a dry fit run, this kit and its companion Cheetah ‘C’ version would appear to offer no insurmountable obstacles to a moderately skilled modeler. It offers the Mirage aficionado the opportunity to add something different to the display case, even if finished in the standard colours. A Cheetah done as Vlaggie or Spotty, would be a show stopper.

March 2006


 IPMS South Africa


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