Kitty Hawk 1/48 Mirage F.1B
|PRICE:||approx $51.00 from Hobby Link Japan|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The Dassault Mirage F-1 is a French air-superiority fighter and attack aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation as a successor of the Mirage III family. The Mirage F1 entered service in the French Air Force (Armée de l'Air) in the early seventies. Powered by a single SNECMA Atar turbojet providing about 7 tonnes-force (69 kN; 15,000 lbf) of thrust, the F1 has been used as a light multipurpose fighter and has been exported to about a dozen nations. More than 700 F1s have been produced.
When it became clear that the Mirage F1 was becoming a successful production aircraft, Dassault began investigating the possibility of a dedicated reconnaissance version for its most important client, the French Air Force. However, the escalating cost of fighter aircraft meant that add-on pods for this purpose were a more economical alternative.
Many French Air Force aircraft, as well as those of some export clients (such as Iraq's Mirage F1EQ), did indeed have a variety of reconnaissance pods available, which were attached to the underside of the main fuselage.
A two seat operational trainer, the F.1B was developed to help in the transition to the single seat F.1 variants. The fuselage was stretched to accommodate the instructor, fuel capacity was reduced and the cannon were eliminated. However, the two seat F.1 is capable of carrying the usual variety of underwing ordnance. Most of France's 20 F.1Bs were concentrated into one squadron, previously in EC 5 but when that group transitioned to the Mirage 2000, it was moved into EC 33.
When Kitty Hawk released its single seat Mirage F.1C, it was obvious from the parts breakdown that a two seat version was on its way. This meant the incorporation of additional parts to take care of the two seat cockpit and the new forward fuselage section. New clear bits were also part of the mix.
The cockpit is well done though a bit on the basic side. There is sidewall detail in terms of having inserts. The instrument panel and side consoles are flat with detail being supplied by decals. This is very much the way the old ESCI kits were done back some 30 years ago. Two different design bang seats are provided, both with some photo etch detail in terms of the harness. There is no indication as to which are used for the plane that is kitted so you'll have to do some research.
The kit includes an engine shape into which the exhaust and intake compressor faces are inserted. I sort of wonder why this is done as there is no intake trunking so you will not see the forward engine bits. Though the instructions do not indicate the need for nose weight, I'd put some in there just to be sure. Main gear wells are separate and the instructions would have you assemble the landing gear prior to installing these gear wells into the aft fuselage section. Personally, I'd check to see if the main gear could be installed later. The gear itself is nicely detailed and looks the part. This same sequence is also done for the nose gear and I'd see if they could be installed after the fuselage is together.
You are provided with separate flaps and slats though the ailerons are molded in withthe wings. A separate rudder is also part of the kit and you have various inserts for the ESM antennas. Since this is a two seater, you get a clear blast shield for the rear cockpit. The canopy bits are separate and can be posed open though there are no visible actuating bits. A nicely done photo etch fret is also included and this is for things
There are a bunch of things to carry under the airframe. Kitty Hawk has already opened the slots in the wings for the four pylons there and while this is nice for some, I wish that model companies would not do this as we might actually want a clean wing model without having to fill holes. In fact, looking through my rather large selection of two seat Mirage F.1 photos, these planes were more often carrying nothing under the wings or fuselage. Here are a couple of photos from two different units, both from the early 1990s time period to illustrate this.
There are far more weapons supplied that what this version will carry. The kit shows it with two long range missiles of some sort on the inner pylon with the outer pylons empty. Two different centerline tanks are provided. One of these has fins with end caps and it is unfortunate that only one is supplied as Mirages often carried two of these (It is even shown as such on the box art); one under each wing on the inner pylon. As you can see from the second image, they also carried wingtip missile rails from time to time. A single boarding ladder is provided that is fine for the front cockpit. However, there does not appear to be one provided for the back seat even though there are indentations in the fuselage for its attachment. You can see this rear seat ladder in the images.
Kit instructions are nicely drawn and provide generic color information for the various bits and pieces. You'll not find any wheel well or inner gear door colors, but as you can see from the above images, they are silver as is the underside of the airframe. The upper surface is Mirage F.1 blue-grey. Markings are provided for a pair of special scheme aircraft when these were with EC 33. The box art image is for the 60th anniversary of D-Day in 2004. The invasion stripes are included as decals and you'll need to attach the fuselage ones prior to attaching the tailplanes. The other has no information but has a large red, white, and blue tail. The decals appear to be quite nicely done so should work well. I would have liked to have seen the addition of some more 'standard' aircraft as two seat F.1 decals in this scale do not seem to exist as of yet. One could, however, cobble something together if they have markings for a single seat version from the unit one wants to do.
Though I am sure it is pretty much marketing that we have the two seat version available to us, I am pleased that this version has been kitted. I tend to like the two seat versions of most jets so gravitate towards these sorts of kits when they become available. This one is very nicely molded and I'm sure it will make into a superb display model.
Thanks to Hobby Link Japan for the review kit. You can get yours at the link.
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