Heller 1/48 Mirage 2000C
|Lin, Bo Shiun (Stephen)|
|Converted to Mirage 2000-5|
The Mirage 2000-5 is the second-generation variant of the Mirage 2000. It brings together the RDY radar, the APSI cockpit, MICA missiles and the ICMS Mk.2 countermeasures suite in an update of the original interceptor weapons system.The single-seater Mirage 2000-5 first flew in April 1991. Dassault Aviation was hoping to sell this version to the Armée de l'Air to replace older versions, but the Armée de l'Air was committed with the purchase of the more advanced and expensive Rafale. Dash 5 was in turn transferred to the export market.
Exports of the Mirage 2000-5 to Taiwan were launched in November 1992. The contract included 48 Mirage 2000-5Ei single-seaters and 12 Mirage 2000-5Di two-seaters. The deliveries commenced with the arrival by sea on 5 May 1997 of the first batch of five.
Monogram, Esci (Italeri re-released its kit a while back) as well as Heller issued Mirage 2000 kit in 1/48 scale, but the one from Heller is the most accurate for the production type and is easier to convert to a dash 5.
The kit comes with 92 parts in and is molded in light gray styrene. A separate clear sprue for the canopy and landing lights was packed together with other sprues in the same plastic bag. The panel lines are recessed but some were rather shallow that require a bit of rescribing.
1.Modifications needed to depict a Taiwanese 2000-5
The Heller's single seater kit is a production C which has some obvious external differences from a dash 5. I reworked the following (note the images below for specific locations):
A. The improved countermeasures unit ICMS Mk 2 has three radar detectors on the vertical stab. I reworked the three antennas with stretched sprues.
B. The formation lights on two sides of the fin were removed from their original positions and rebuilt from styrene sheet.
C. The enlarged RWR fairings were reshaped with Tamiya epoxy putty.
D. The RWR fairing bulge in the tail was removed.
E. An additional wingtip RWR fairing was cut from stretched sprues and cemented to the original ones on both sides.
F. The Matra Spirale chaff dispensers fairing on both sides of the rear fuselage were from the kit parts NO.46 with slightly detailing.
G. The arrest hook was borrowed form Revell's Rafale B.
H. The under-belly pylons for MICA AAMs were scratch built from styrene sheet.
I. The radome probe was deleted on Dash 5. Tamiya epoxy putty was again used to reshape the nose cone.
J. An additional static pressure sensor was located at the lower port side right behind the radome. It was scratch built form styrene sheet and stretched sprue.
K. A blade antenna on spine was cut and sanded in shape from styrene sheet.
I planned to have the canopy open on this project at the beginning, so the Black Box cockpit set is a must. The BB cockpit set consists of two sidewalls, a tub, a front panel molded integrally with the coaming, a control stick and a nicely detailed MB Mk.10 ejection seat.
While the BB set is meant to be for the production C, it requires some modification on the front panel to upgrade to the APSI(Advanced Pilot System Interface) cockpit for the Mirage 2000-5.
The most obvious difference is that APSI has 2 MFDs on both sides to the front panel. They can be easily built with thin styrene sheet.
To start off, the instrument coaming on the kit was carefully cut off.
After the sidewall details on the kit were sanded off, the resin replacements were glued in place. The resin tub needed lots of sanding and dry fitting before perfectly fitted in with the sidewalls and the coaming.
The cockpit was the most time consuming job on this project, but it's well worth as the result is great once carefully painted.
A dash 5 carries 2 Magic II short range AAMs under the outboard wing pylons and 4 MICA medium range AAMs at the under-belly pylons. The Heller kit offers 2 Super 530 and 2 Magic II missiles though. None of them were used as the Super 530 is not applicable to the dash 5 and the Magic II has misshapen rear fins. For these I used the Rafale B kit release by Revell a while back. It comes with 4 MICA and 2 Magic that are beautifully detailed and both correct in size and shape.
The head of the Magic is a separate transparent part so that you can build this missile with a realistic transparent seeker head.
The 1,300-liter center line fuel tank was borrowed for a Monogram kit and it's pylon was again scratch built.
PAINT & DECALS
The ROCAF Mirage 2000s wear a 2-tone air superiority gray scheme as most of its variants in the family do, but the pattern is somewhat different from those of the Armée de l'Air we usually see. The instruction sheet from the Tiger Wings decal provides the correct camo pattern.
After the airframe was completely assembled, preshading was followed by spraying all the recessed panel lines matt black. Then I sprayed Gunze Mr. Color 338 overall for the lighter gray.
In order to achieve sharp edges between different colors, I masked off the lighter gray with Tamiya masking tapes. Then another coat of Gunze Mr. Color 308 was sprayed for the darker gray.
The airframe was put aside for a few days to allow the paints to fully cure, then I buffed the surface with NO.2000 wet sand paper so as to achieve smoother surfaces for decaling.
The Tiger Wings decal provides the walkways and stenciling in addition to the ROCAF roundels with correct gray shades. The decal sheet was well registered and the carrier film is thin enough to conform to the airframe easily.
Once the decals became thoroughly dry, I sprayed several coats of flat lacquer to seal the paint and decals. Some washes of diluted raw umber oil paints were applied to the airframe to highlight the panel lines as well as simulate the dirty look caused by airflows.
Black pastel powder was applied to the exhaust pipe to tone down the shiny silver look.
This is not a difficult conversion as you can see. There's nothing an average-skilled modeler cannot overcome. And the result is rather satisfying.
Thanks to Heller, Black Box, Revell and Tiger Wings Production, I now have one of the most advanced Mirages on my shelf.
1. World Air Power Journal Vol.10.
2. World Air Power Journal Vol.33.
3. World Air Power Journal Vol.37.
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