|KIT:||Italeri 1/48 Mirage F.1CT/CR|
|DECALS:||Four options, all AdA|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Reissued ESCI kit with a new sprue|
Designed to replace the older Mirage IIIE and Mirage V delta wing fighters, the Mirage F.1 went with current thinking for multi-role fighters and opted for a high wing and landing gear that was held entirely within the fuselage. While this made for a narrower track, it also allowed for a more robust gear, something that would allow heavier ordnance weights and operation from unimproved surfaces (like dirt and gravel).
With a fuselage that harkened back to the delta Mirages, the initial production F.1C was used exclusively as an interceptor, and replaced many Mirage IIIEs in those units. They were painted in a blue/silver scheme that was appropriate for that mission. When it was later decided to build a version that was more of a multi-mission aircraft, the F.1CR was developed. This not only was able to perform as an interceptor, but could also carry a reconnaissance pod, and so replace the Mirage IIIR in that capacity as well.
The most recent version is the Mirage F.1CT. This version has full ground attack capabilities and so is the perfect aircraft to start to replace the Jaguar in that role. This will mean fewer different types of aircraft in service, but will make it easier to provide parts support. With the introduction of the Mirage 2000C a decade or so ago, many Mirage F.1Cs were redundant so were reconfigured to CT specifications.
This is basically a reboxing of the older ESCI Mirage F.1C kit with an additional sprue to allow the newer variants to be done. This is one of ESCI's later molds so has the nice engraved detailing that everyone wants. The detailing is very crisply done on the original kit. The additional sprue is not quite as crisp, but once paint is applied, few will be able to tell the difference.
The original kit offers a rather sparse cockpit in comparison to today's kits, but it is quite adequate for most of us. There is a tub, control stick and rudder pedals that attach to the instrument panel piece. There is a new and more detailed seat provided in the new sprue, but even it could be replaced. There is no instrument detail on the parts, this being supplied by decals. All this is topped by a clear canopy with separate windscreen. No canopy actuating mechanism is provided.
Landing gear and wheel wells have a reasonable amount of detail in them as do the gear door interiors. However, you'll be taking sandpaper to these to remove the ejector pin marks in the doors and on the gear legs. Some of the ESCI parts have some light flash that will need taken care of as well.
For things under wings, the old kit provided some air to air missiles that are not needed in this boxing. Instead the new sprue provides new pylons and the weapons or ECM equipment that goes on them. You'll need to open additional holes in the lower wing segment to use the ECM gear, which is molded onto their pylons. The inner racks will hold a pair of bombs and for the centerline, a drop tank. Also on this new sprue are those bits that make up the CR/CT versions. This is basically the addition of the appropriate lower nose 'bump' for either the camera windows (for which there is no clear bits) or the rangefinder.
Instructions are quite good and provide clear construction drawings. They show all the optional bits to help you decide which version you will want to build. Color references are in ModelMaster, FS 595, and generic names. Markings are provided for four French AdA aircraft. The two CT options are in the European scheme of Green/Grey in a wraparound scheme. The two CR options are in the Tchad scheme of Sand/Brown over Silver. Of course, it was not unusual for these planes to be repainted so if you have photo evidence you could easily do a European CR or a Tchad CT. Decals are well printed and should work fairly well.
It is quite nice to see this kit reissued, even if there is an increase in the price. The new sprue really expands the options and you still get all the bits to do an earlier F.1C interceptor if you have aftermarket decals. There are a number of aftermarket bits available so you can really spruce things up.
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