Italeri 1/48 IAI Dagger
Israel developed their Mirage V version once France decided to cancel the delivery of these already purchased planes to this country. There are at least 2 versions about how Israel got hold of the plans and parts to manufacture their Neshers. Whichever the truth the “Vulture” (Nesher) were a simplified version of the Mirage V and 61 (51 single seat, 10 trainers) were built without license. Yes, simplified (compared to the MIIICJ version), but lethal as well. Neshers accounted for more than 100 air to air claims during the 1973 war!
Being pretty close to go to war against Chile in 1978 the Argentine Air Force purchased 26 (24 single seat and 2 trainers) of the surviving IAI Neshers. Their serial numbers in Argentina were C-401 to 426 (“C” meaning Cazabombardero = Fighter bomber). These were bought thru a secret contract and taken to Argentina by ship. A group of pilots and ground crew were sent to Israel undercover to be trained in the use of these “simplified” Mirages. Among them we can name Mj Sapolsky, Capt Donadille, Pergolini, Kahijara, Martinez and Puga and 1st Lt Arnau, Mir Gonzalez, Almono, DiMeglio, Janett and Musso. They became the experts in this new Mirage version within the Air Force, as they were taught to fly their planes to their limit, compared to the French school (Mirage IIIEA) that were more “conservative” in terms of handling of the airplanes.
C-420 was sn-38 in Israeli inventory having been accepted in July 1973. This particular plane arrived in 1979 and was one of the planes of the first batch purchased.
A second batch of planes with the remainder planes was offered and accepted by Argentina in 1979 and they were coded C-427 to C-439. These included 2 more trainers (438 and 439).
Neshers were baptized Daggers in Argentina and were based in BAM Tandil (Buenos Aires Province)
After April 2nd 1982, as part of the escalations in the conflict between Argentina and the United Kingdom three Escuadrones (Squadrons) were activated:
A) Escuadron I was left in Tandil and was used to train pilots (one single seat and three trainers in service) and also to receive the 10 Mirage 5P that Peru gave to Argentina (first flight on June 14th)
B) Escuadron II was called La Marinete and was based in BAM San Julian
C) Escuadron III was called Avutardas Salvajes and their base was now in BAM Rio Grande (Tierra del Fuego)
C-420 was part of La Marinete and flown by Capt. Di Meglio arrived in BAM Comodoro Rivadavia on April 6th along with other 11 planes. Part were destined to Rio Grande as Escuadron IIII and the rest were to stay in Comodoro Rivadavia as Escuadron II. Upon arriving C-420 was found to be out of service.
As the Air Force pilots had no training to attack targets on the sea (as this was the Navy’s responsibility) the month was spent learning the trade.
On April 17th C-420 gyroscopic system was found U/S so the plane was sent back to Tandil for repairs.
Because of the relatively short legs of the planes it was decided to move the Daggers from Comodoro Rivadavia to San Julian where the A4-Cs were based.
On April 28th yellow ID bands were applied to the planes on the wings and tail.
With the British Task force getting really close to the area and an alarm of an approaching air strike to San Julian, all planes were scrambled at 10 pm on the 29th. They landed in Tandil and returned on May 1st in bad weather. By then the first strikes of Vulcans and Sea Harriers had taken place.
As a consequence, the Fuerza Aerea Argentina Sur (or FAS) put in motion the wheels to strike back.
After the actions on May 1st reinforcement were sent to the squadrons. C-420 flew to San Julian with Lt. Castillo in the cockpit.
On May 9th two British ships were detected close to the North coast of the Islands. Weather was awful, though, and most of the missions were aborted as visibility was nil. OF 1176 (JAGUAR) was one of those: Vcom. Villar (C-404), 1st. Lt. Roman (C-420), Capt. Dimeglio (C-434) and Lt. Aguirre Faget (C-415). Along with the PUMA (4 more Daggers) they took off at 13:45 and flew close to the West coast of the islands. Finding 8/8 and rain and without being able to contact the radar based in Puerto Argentino they decided to return to their base landing there at 15:10. (It must be highlighted that Dimeglio, Roman and Aguirre Faget were the same 3 Dagger pilots that attacked the 3 British ships that were shelling Puerto Argentino/Stanley on May 1st forcing them to flee. They constituted a trio that always flew together).Two A4-Cs decided to go ahead regardless and were lost when they crashed against Jason Is (Islas Salvajes)
On May 21st Operation Sutton started: the British Task force finally landed in San Carlos. This was the moment that the Argentine Air Force was looking for, as since May 1st and with the exception of May 12th the Task Force had kept well to the East of the islands and out of range of the land based aviation.
C-420 did not take part in the actions on this day. On May 23rd OF 1216 (CORAL) was scheduled to attack the ships in San Carlos. They were: Capt. Dimeglio (C-421), 1st Lt. Roman (C-434) and Lt. Aguirre Faget (C-420). After taking off at 12:54 and when close to San Carlos waters they were informed about the presence of CAPs in the area so they turned around, aborted the attack and returned to their base.)
Just 5 minutes after midnight on the 24th the ground crews received the order to over paint the yellow ID bands with green paint. Driving back from the hotel where they were based, 1st Lt Posadas and his ground crew team rang the bell of every single paint shops in town in order to find green paint and some brushes. The only thing they were able to get was some blue greenish paint. At 1 am in the morning they started their work but the frosted surfaces of the planes prevented the paint from adhering to the planes. To remove the ice and water they had to work hard during the early hours of the day with cloths and newspapers until they were able to achieve their objective. The yellow and blue greenish combination gave the ID bands that kind of “turquoise” color that can be seen in many pictures.
On this day (24th) more missions were scheduled to attack the landing area. OF 1227 (PLATA) was made up of Capt Dellepiane in C-434, 1st Lt. Musso (a former Dagger pilot who had volunteered in early April to return to the Air Force as he was by then a captain in Aerolineas Argentinas) in C-420 and 1st Lt. Callejo in C-421. Another section (ORO) was supposed to take off first but a mechanical failure meant that they ceded their place to the PLATA. Like it happened on the 21st, the second section (the one that was supposed to take off first) was intercepted and all were shot down (look for my C-430 in 1/48 elsewhere for details). PLATA section reached the target area first flying north of Pebble Island (Borbon) and then reached the landing area. Musso in C-420 said that he had to attack the small harbour in San Carlos and they were fired at with guns, missiles and everything that the British had at hand. Dellepiane, flying by Musso, turned his plane on one side showing Musso his undersides. At that moment a missile fired to them passed between both Daggers! Musso dropped his bombs on a ground target and he could see, flying so low, the British soldiers aiming at them with portable anti aircraft missiles. He made several maneuvers to avoid the enemy fire and finally arrived to the sea. He thought: “OK, I am saved” but he realized he was flying to the EAST (towards Africa, as he remembers). Always skimming the waves, he turned to the continent and close to the Northern entrance of San Carlos waters he found 2 British ships: HMS Coventry and Broadsword. He started to think: “they will hit me, they will hit me” but he was not fired at. Some instants later and using the same escape route Callejo faced the British ships as well. He flew towards the islands to escape the “42-21 combo” and one of the ships fired a missile at him though the captain of HMS Coventry says that the planes were out of range and in his book does not mention firing a missile. Callejo immediately dropped his 3 empty 1,300 lt. tanks, turned sharply to the right and succeeded in evading the missile. Those seconds to get to the coast of the islands seemed age. When the PLATAs landed they found that C-420 had some impacts of light guns in the right drop tank, C-421 did not release one of the bombs and C-434 windshield was cracked by an impact of enemy fire. As C-421 touched down and was running towards the tarmac non-commissioned officer Quiroga (armament expert) realized that arming vane of the still hanging bomb was turning free. Immediately Callejo was told to stop the plane on the runway, he deplaned and then the plane was carefully pushed to a “safe area”. Everybody took cover except for Quiroga, Corporal Diaz and 1st Lt Posadas who planned how to disarm the bomb. Posadas thought that it all looked like in the movies…but it was for real! Quiroga was disassembling the bomb, passing the parts to Diaz who would pass them to Posadas who left them on the floor. Once the bomb was opened and he could see the mechanism Quiroga unscrewed the system and after several minutes of hard work and tension he was able to make the bomb safe. With a scream of joy they left the plane and celebrated: not only they have saved their lives but also a very needed and precious plane. It was only then that they realized that the plane was close to one of the bombs depots and that some of the ground crew had taken cover behind it!
May 26th: OF 1241 (POKER) was to bomb the ground positions at San Carlos. Capt Dimeglio in C-420 and Lt. Aguirre Faget in C-416 had their planes bombed up with 2 x 250 kg bombs in stations 3 and 5, 2 drop tanks (1,300 lt) on stations 2 and 6 and a Nafgan ventral tank in station 4 with 2 x 250 kg boms. All these bombs were parachuted dragged and set to explode 1 mt above the ground. Taking off at 13:30 they were guided by the radar in Puerto Argentino/Port Stanley and when above San Carlos harbour they were told to start their bomb run. They dive bombed at 60 degrees, released the bombs (the ground was hidden by clouds) and then returned without problem to San Julian.
On May 29th the Air Force decided to give close support to their beleaguered troops in Goose Green/Darwin. The by now well-known trio Dimeglio/Roman/Aguirre Faget constituted the PATRIA section (OF1264). The leader was again Dimeglio in C-420, with Roman in C-421 and Aguirre Faget in C-416. C-416 had a failure in the oxygen system so could not take part. The other two planes took off but once in the air they were told that a section from Rio Grande would attack instead. Before turning back Dimeglio asked for the authentication code in case the order to return was actually a British deception. Once he confirmed that the return order was true, they emptied the external drop tanks, returned and landed. That very same day, OF 1269 (PUMA) ordered an attack to a concentration of helicopters and troops 40 km West of Puerto Argentino (Stanley). They were to drop the bombs and then attack again with priority to helicopters and then troops. Capt Dellepiane flew C-421 this time with his wingmen being 1st Lt Callejo in C-420 and Capt. Dimeglio in C-416. When getting close San Carlos waters, they were intercepted by a British CAP and had to return to base. They had dropped their external loads but C-421 had a tank partially hanging from the left station. The emergency ground crew was alerted. When the plane touched down, the tank fell free and caught fire but there were no consequences to the plane or pilot. An impact of a bullet or shrapnel was found upon inspection of the station.
On June 4th another ground attack mission was ordered in which C-420 took part. OF 1277 (PINA) called for 4 Daggers led by Squadron Leader Vice commodore Villar in C-432 to dive bomb ground troops in Mount Kent. Wingmen were Capt. Demierre (C-420), 1st Lt Roman (C-416) and 1st Lt Musso (C-421). They had 4 x 250 parachute retarded bombs. They were guided to the target area at 43,000 ft by the radar in Puerto Argentino (Stanley). Once they arrived they were told to dive into the overcast below. They were in line and 1,000 mt one behind the other in order to get their bombs as concentrated as possible and also to fool any missile that could be fired against them by the troops below. When they reached 20,000 ft in their 30º dives they dropped their bombs still inside the clouds and then climbed back to safety.
June 8th is remembered as the Disaster at Bluff Cove. Very effective attacks by the Argentine Skyhawks B resulted in great losses to the British Task Force. Contribution of the Daggers from San Julian was 2 sections (CARTA and SOBRE) that acted as decoys for the defending Sea Harriers. The crews for SOBRE (OF 1294) were 1st Lt Musso in C-420, Lt Aguirre Faget in C-421 and Capt. Maffeis in C-416. They were only armed with their 30 mm guns. Sharky Ward and Steve Thomas were about to look for Hector Sanchez who was the only survivor of the MAZO section (for more details see this review) when they were called to head for some high flying intruders arriving to the area. It was the Daggers, which Ward thought could be Mirage IIIEA. He saw the 3 condensation trails getting approaching while he was climbing furiously in order to intercept them. Ward told Thomas to get ready to break and get on the tail of the enemies (like happened to Garcia Cuerva and Perona on May 1st) but when he gained visual the Daggers broke hard and returned to the continent. They had achieved their objective by luring a CAP away from the attack area…and saving Hector Sanchez’s life as Ward admits.
As the approach routes of the Daggers from San Julian was well known to the British, II Escuadron was relocated to Rio Gallegos. It would allow them to take a more southerly route. It is around this date that the “turquoise” ID bands were over painted with airbrushes using light ran color (very similar to the one of the cammo).
Last missions of “La Marinete” took place on June 13th. Two 3 x Daggers sections would attack enemy positions located in the Mt. Longdon area. One of these was GAUCHOs (OF1317) who took off at 11.00 from Rio Gallegos. Capt Maffeis in C-411, Lt. Valente in C-416 and 1st Lt Callejo in C-420. Shortly after take off C-420 experienced a failure in the landing gear (would not retract) so Callejo was forced to return to base thus ending the involvement of C-420 in the war. The other two planes continued with the mission but they saw a CAP and a British helo. Realizing that they would give their backs to the Sear Harries should they proceed ahead the leader decided to abort the mission.
On June 14th the conflict ended with a cease-fire.
C-420 took part in 9 combat missions and along C-418 and C-421 she was one of the Daggers that flew the most during the conflict.
All the pilots that flew C-420 were not shot down and survived the war.
On June 25th the II Escuadron Aeromovil returned to Tandil. They had dropped 84 bombs and fired 2,920 x 30 mm rounds.
In 1983 C-420 was modified to the Finger II configuration (similar to the Kfir standard) followed by IIIA in 1985 and IIIB in 1987/88. The plane was still in service in 2012…
It has 2 types of drop tanks, some bombs, 3 types of missiles (including the Matra 550 used by the Argentine Air Force during the war in their MIIIs) and decals for several versions: Australian, Spanish, French, Swiss. Two exhaust types (C and E version) are supplied. So there are plenty of versions to be built with this kit.
This kit has been reissued a few years ago and competes with low cost against the Eduard kit.
The steps that I took are as follows:
The nose is a resin one that replaces the Mirage III so the original one was cut off. I needed some putty to improve the union of the resin and forward fuselage. The cockpit was painted in dark gray, used the decals supplied by the kit for the instrument panels (3). I added some weight around and forward of the cockpit to prevent the plane from becoming a tail sitter and closed the fuselage halves. There are some little antennas with an “oval” base on the tail. I cut these shapes from plastic and used Putty to improve the union.
To improve the union of the wings-fuselage, I cut some pieces of plastic spruce and placed them below the top root of the wings. The top of the wings was glued next and lots of care and putty was needed to eliminate the trench left in the underside of the border of attack. I had, anyway, to re-scribe some of the round inspection panels. White acrylic base was used to fill the gap between the top of the wing roots and the wings.
Main landing gear was attached next. As the planes flew with 3 drop tanks and the kit brings 2, I copied an extra one and its station using resin and a cast made of rubber. It was a 2 part resin (Araldite) that once set required lots of glue and putty to improve the union of the 2 pieces I made.
The bombs are from the Hobby Craft A4 Skyhawks kit, but I modified the tail (using a previously scratchbuilt and casted rubber mold) to represent the version with parachute to slow down them and give time for the bomb to get armed. The fins were made using Evergreen as were the 2 VHF antennas and the two on the tail.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
I used ModelMaster Acrylic paints. First I used Light grey (4766) for all the undersurfaces, followed by Tan (4709), then Medium Green (4734) and finally Dark Green (4726). The lines between colours are smooth so I used Blue Tac to obtain the desired effect.
The yellow (4683) ID bands were painted on wings and tail. A mix of blue, white and yellow was created to faithfully recreate the colour of the paint that was obtained in the wee hours by Posada’s men. I have left some areas with a lighter coat of this Turquoise colour and some of the yellow shows thru. These ID bands also were carried under the wings and thus part of the main landing gear doors were painted accordingly.
Tip of the bombs was painted in yellow and then in Olive drab. For the nose and several details like edge of tail I used flat black.
As the Air Force was running short of drop tanks, some of the ones used were not painted at all. So I chose to paint them in aluminum (top) and turquoise (below). T
Future gave a gloss surface for the decals: a mix of Italieri (some stencils), Condor Decals (badge on the tail with a very carefully brush painted silver edge) and AeroCalcas. The air intakes and legs were added.
It was at the point of having most of the decals glued that I realized I had made two mistakes:
1) Forgotten to paint the ID bands under the wings
2) Painted the brown paint on the rear right side of the fuselage too much towards the exhaust pipe.
I needed to take some action:
1) Very carefully and with a cloth soaked in window cleaner I removed part of the Future under the wings trying to eliminate it from the area that I had to paint…as we know that Future and water based paints on top of it don’t work very well! I managed to pull some paint off as well…but at the end I was able to give it a successful coat of yellow and then turquoise (that I had saved in a little bottle) after masking the rest of the undersides.
2) Again, window cleaner to the rescue. I removed a large part of the Future in the rear right fuselage area, masked the area to give it the correction of the 3 main fuselage colours until the area was now properly represented. Then more Future and a new set of numbers was applied as the original one was destroyed when eliminating the Future.
Finally, a coat of semi-gloss clear varnish from AeroMaster to seal the decals.
The last details were the pitot tube on the nose (modifying the Esci one for MIII), the one in front of the windshield, the gunsight, the supports for the air intakes (scratchbuilt), 2 VHF antennas (scratch), 2 antennas on the tail (scratch).
The entire plane was given a coat of satin varnish.
And finally the last details were added: Pavla seat, rear mirrors and handles for the canopy, position lights painted, bombs, external drop tanks, nose landing gear lights, wheels and doors for the wheels wells.
Another Dagger for my collection made using the Italeri/Esci old kit. It is certainly showing its years. In this case the kit represents one of the most famous ID band configurations flown by those brave pilots who had to learn the air to sea warfare basics on the go and put it to good effect even though they were many times let down by the bombs failing to explode due to the ultra-low height and fast feed that were the only tools they had to guarantee more chances of a safe return to their base. Hats off to them!
Thanks to: EC, Guillermo Posadas
· Halcones de Malvinas (Pablo Carballo)
· Historia Oficial de la Fuerza Aerea, Volumen 6 (Malvinas), Book 1 and 2
· Ellos tambien combatieron (Guillermo Posadas) – in charge of Maintenance of the II Escuadron Aeromovil during the war
· Guerra Aerea en las Malvinas (Benigno Andrada)
· Dagger & Finger en Argentina (Horacio Claria et al.)
· Four weeks in May – Capt. Hart-Dyke
· Falklands Air War - Hobson
· IAI Finger 1978-1982 - Nunez Padin
· Defensa Sur
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