Eduard 1/48 Mirage IIICJ

KIT #: 8102
PRICE: $44.95 SRP
DECALS: Five options
REVIEWER: Tom Cleaver
NOTES: Profipak


           Marcel Dassault, known before the Second World War as Marcel Bloch, was arguably Europe’s best aircraft designer of the middle years of the 20th Century, tied with Sydney Camm of Hawkers.  Returning from German prison camps - where he had been held under death sentence for his Jewish religion - he adopted the Nomme de Guerre Dassault used by his brother in the French Resistance, and started another airplane company.   

          Seeing jet propulsion as the wave of the future, he got into the most advanced sectors as rapidly as possible by producing the deHavilland Vampire under license.  In 1950, he mated the British Nene engine with his first original jet-powered design, to create the Ouragan, which was the first domestically-designed and produced jet fighter of the Armee de l’Air. This was further developed into the Mystere series, which was the first domestic Western European design to equal the F-86 Sabre and MiG-15 in performance.  The Mystere IV was utilized by the Israeli Air Force during the Suez War of 1956, where it demonstrated clear superiority over the Egyptian-flown MiGs.  This led to the development of the Super Mystere, which was the first European fighter design to be capable of supersonic speed in level flight. 

          Unlike the development line that began with the Ouragan and is still operational today with the Super Etendard, the development of Dassault’s other major line of combat aircraft was entirely fortuitous, the result of an attempt to capitalize on a popular theory of aircraft development which - other than the creation of this remarkably successful series of fighters - was largely a developmental dead-end elsewhere. 

          By the early 1950s, aircraft designers and some air force planners were dismayed by the growth in size and complexity of combat aircraft brought about by the introduction of jet propulsion. Previously, combat aircraft for all their technological sophistication were simple enough they could be purchased in large quantity, which was still seen as the way to operate an air force in light of the lessons of the Second World War; countless arguments were made that soon the standard combat airplane would be so complex and expensive it would be unaffordable.  This line of reasoning was strongly held by designers like Kelly Johnson and Ed Heineman in the U.S., and Teddy Petter in the UK.

          In 1953, the French Air Ministry issued a specification for a lightweight interceptor capable of supersonic speed.  Dassault replied with what became known as the Mirage I, a very small lightweight fighter powered by two small jet engines that was capable of March 1.2.  While it met all specifications, the resulting aircraft was deemed not really capable of further operational development, and led to the creation of the Mirage II, which was some 30 percent larger and introduced the ATAR turbojet.  This was capable of Mach 1.6 and came close to gaining production, but was outshone by the Mirage III, which had a redesigned delta wing and was capable of Mach 2.2. 

          Production Mirage IIICs first appeared in 1960, with 96 on order for the Armee de l’Air.  The Israelis, who were then still able to get support from the new DeGaulle government, ordered 72 known as the Mirage IIICJ, while the South Africans ordered 16 as the Mirage IIICZ.

          At the time of the Six Day War in June 1967, the Mirage IIICJ was the first-line fighter of Heyl ha’Avir, the IDF/AF. The performance of the Mirages in the Israeli air strikes against the Arab air forces on the first day of the war clearly established the airplane as world-class as the two 30mm DEFA cannons in each cut like a scythe through the Egyptian and Syrian air forces, on the ground and in the air.


           There have been several attempts to model the Mirage III over the 50-plus years since it first appeared.  In 1/48 there were kits by Fujimi and Heller that were actually 1/50 - the Fujimi kit is still marketed by Academy - that came out in the 1970s.  In the 1980s Heller released a 1/48 kit that could be built - with considerable effort expended by the modeler if accuracy was a desire - as either the single seat Mirage IIIC or the two-seat Mirage IIIB. ESCI released a series of Mirages beginning in the late 1970s which have became available again in re-release from Italerei, though they are not in release now. None of these have been really accurate, leaving much to be desired in detail and in accuracy of overall shape.  Most recently, Hobby Boss brought out a 1/48 Mirage IIIC.  To my mind, this kit from Eduard is still the only really accurate Mirage III.

          With well over 100 cleanly-molded parts in light grey, the kit offers all the detail a modeler could desire.  The cockpit is simple, but Mirage cockpits are simple, and since they are almost all painted black the detail that is there will be more than enough for all but the most far-gone-in-their-addiction resinaholics.  The six part seat makes up into an accurate Martin-Baker seat, with photo-etch seatbelts provided.  The kit also provides a molded lead weight to fit inside the radome nose, so nose-sitting will not be a problem. A full suite of the various missiles carried by the Mirage IIIC is provided in the kit.

          Decals are provided for three French and five Israeli aircraft - four (two French, two Israeli) in overall silver from the 1967 war and five (two French, three Iasraeli) in camouflage.  All of the Israeli aircraft are MiG-killers, with one having an impressive score of 13.  A separate sheet provides all the stenciling and other markings for the aircraft.  There are also express masks for the canopy and for the red markings around the intakes if one opts not to use the decals provided for these. The sheets also provide the identification triangles used on Mirages after they were camouflaged.


           The Mirage puts Eduard up with Hasegawa in terms of production design and quality.  As with Hasegawa kits, it is not without fault, though the faults are small, and easily resolved with an application of “some modeling skill required.”  The instructions are clear and easily followed, and there are no major glitches to be found. If there is a complaint to be had, it is that the engraved panel detail is a bit light, making it easily lost if one is not very good at assembling the major parts without seams and ridges that require putty and sanding to fix.

          That said, one needs to pay close attention to the wing assembly.  The upper wing includes the entire upper and lower leading edge. If you do not get this joint tight and clean, you stand to loose a lot of the very nice surface detail on the lower surface of the wing.  I recommend you carefully test-fit the upper and lower parts, and sand down the interior of the leading edge of the lower wing part, to insure a tight fit; doing that will mean you don’t have to apply any Mr. Surfacer to the seam, and then have to rescribe detail lost in sanding things smooth.  Also, if one gets the upper wing-to-fuselage joint as clean as possible to insure good fit, you will not end up using Mr. Surfacer there.  I think if you cut off the alignment pins in the fuselage halves, you can minimize any centerline seam to clean up.  Unfortunately, due to the single-piece design of the vertical fin, you aren’t going to escape having to deal with the joint of fin-to-left-fuselage half; if, however, you have trimmed off the alignment pins and are very careful in assembling the fuselage halves, you may be able to minimize that.

          As with virtually any Eduard kit, there is one place on this kit where the parts just really don’t want to fit cleanly, and that is the forward section of the one piece lower wing part, which includes the nose wheel well.  Aligning that part with the fuselage in that region and the intakes is going to result in a need for Mr. Surfacer long those seams to a greater or lesser degree depending on the quality of your assembly, and some rescribing.  Fortunately that is all on lower surfaces, so it won’t be so apparent in the final result.

          All this talk about getting the assembly as clean as possible is of particular importance if you are thinking of doing one of the natural metal finish airplanes.  I sanded with very fine grit and then polished out the model overall, to prepare it for the natural metal finish I had planned.

          There are several small antennas that need to be attached during main assembly.  To lessen the likelihood of knocking them off later, I also assembled the landing gear legs, so the model would be raised off the work table, keeping the antennas away from the tabletop.  I used the Scale Aircraft Conversions metal gear, which was superior to the kit parts, particularly for the nose gear leg, since it was all one piece rather than multi-piece as the kit has it.

          The Eduard photo-etch seatbelts and ejection handles were used on the ejection seat, resulting in a very good-looking addition to a very plain black cockpit.  The decals provided for instrumentation are more than sufficient to provide necessary detail for this area.


          I am a fan of deltas for their shape.  To me, a disruptive multi-color camouflage detracts from the elegance of line of the airplane being modeled, so I like to do my deltas in one main color whenever possible.

          First, I misted on Alclad II “Aluminum” paint.  When this was dry, I masked off the wings and the central area of the vertical fin, and painted the fuselage with Alclad II “Polished Aluminum.”  I then masked off the rear fuselage around the exhaust, and the fuselage frames, and painted those areas with Model Master Metalizer “Stainless Steel.”  When that dried, I unmasked the model, and used SNJ polishing powder to create a different tonal color to the elevons and rudder. The result is very subtle but noticeable in person, creating a multi-hue natural metal finish.

          The kit decals are excellent. They are thin, and have no excess carrier film, an important point for doing a NMF model, since I didn’t want to have to apply a sealer to get rid of the tonal difference that would be created by the decal film.  The sheets provide all national and unit markings, and all of the stenciling. 


           The Mirage is one of that small company of “immortals” which were both technologically and operationally significant and successful in the role of a fighter in the wars of the 20th Century, and certainly deserving of a place in any collection of important aircraft.  Eduard’s first foray into modern aircraft is still a resounding success.  To me, this is the most accurate kit of the Mirage III yet produced, and the resulting model is very striking.

Tom Cleaver

September 2014

Kit courtesy of my wallet when found on a dealer’s table a few years back.

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