Matchbox 1/72 Mirage IIIC
KIT: Matchbox 1/72 Mirage IIIC
KIT #: PK-20
PRICE: $Long out of production
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Vic Scheuerman
NOTES: No Wing Stores


 Based on a 1952 French Defence Ministry specification for ‘light weight fighter’, the Mirage 1 prototype flew in June 1955. After tests, the ‘light fighter’ concept was modified and proposals made for larger and heavier versions.

The proposed III variant was accepted, and the new fighter flew in November 1956, achieving MACH 1.5 in the following January. Various modifications made to pre-production aircraft resulted in the first major production version, IIIC.  Flight trials started in October 1960, and aircraft were used in service by the 2nd, 13th and 5th ESCADRES DE CHASSE of the French Air Force.

A large number of Mirage aircraft of various types have been exported and are used by many different Air Forces. A wide variety of underwing stores can be carried and a rocket motor can be fitted. (Thanks to the kit instruction sheet.) 


Molded in two shades of Blue, the 26 parts feature a combination of slightly overstated engraved details (speed brakes look good though) and fine raised panel lines.  As this is an early boxing there is only minute spots of flash and very minor seam lines. A one-piece clear canopy brings the grand total to 27 parts. Matchbox did replicate the unusually configured afterburner for the ATAR 09B-3 engine well.

 The kit cockpit consists of a well sculptured pilot and adequate ejection seat and a hint of an instrument panel. Very basic, but as the French wisely painted their cockpits black during the early Mirage days, it will do. Landing gear struts and tires are petit and look good while the covers are too thick so replacing with card or sanding them thinner will give a much better final appearance. It is nice to see all the gear wells fully framed in. Surprisingly, no external stores are offered. Assembly is covered over six steps in the well illustrated instruction sheet that has some detail painting notes at the end.

 Two natural metal finished Mirages are presented on the kit decal sheet. A South African of No 2 (Cheetah) Squadron with an attractive red lighting bolt along the fuselage that matches the red intake lips and red ‘A’ on the base of the fin. More colours come in the form of the national colours on the rudder along with the squadron motif on the fin. The ‘Frenchman’ has the full colour rudder along with the unit crest of the unit; 3e Escadre de Chasse on the fin. Other then national insignia and the red intake lips, markings are limited to the black unit identifier on the fuselage. While the kit decals look nicely printed and in register, I would question their integrity due to age. 


The Mirage is a great looking jet that can be done in a plethora of national markings and camouflage schemes in the later engine variants. Matchbox’s IIIC is limited to France, South Africa, Switzerland and Israel, though there are some different camouflage options. The only real niggly about the kit is a lack of underwing stores. Other then that, paint the cockpit black, thin the gear doors and find a scheme you like!  

Vic Scheuerman

July 2008

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