PJ Production 1/72 Mirage IIIR/RZ/5F
KIT #: 721028
PRICE: $29.50  from PJ Production
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Injected kit with resin and photo etch parts


While the Mirage IIIC was being put into production, Dassault was also considering a multirole/strike variant of the aircraft, which eventually materialized as the Mirage IIIE. The first of three prototypes flew on 1 April 1961.

The Mirage IIIE differed from the IIIC interceptor most obviously in having a 30 cm (11.8 in) forward fuselage extension to increase the size of the avionics bay behind the cockpit. The stretch also helped increase fuel capacity, as the Mirage IIIC had marginal range and improvements were needed. The stretch was small and hard to notice, but the clue is that the bottom edge of the canopy on a Mirage IIIE ends directly above the top lip of the air intake, while on the IIIC it ends visibly back of the lip.

Many Mirage IIIE variants were also fitted with a Marconi continuous-wave Doppler navigation radar radome on the bottom of the fuselage, under the cockpit. However, while no IIICs had this feature, it was not universal on all variants of the IIIE. A similar inconsistent variation in Mirage fighter versions was the presence or absence of an HF antenna that was fitted as a forward extension to the vertical tailplane. On some Mirages, the leading edge of the tailplane was a straight line, while on those with the HF antenna the leading edge had a sloping extension forward. The extension appears to have been generally standard on production Mirage IIIAs and Mirage IIICs, but only appeared in some of the export versions of the Mirage IIIE.

Mirage IIIR was a single-seat all-weather reconnaissance aircraft, with radar replaced by camera nose carrying up to five cameras. Aircraft based on IIIE airframe but with simpler avionics similar to that fitted to the IIIC and retaining cannon armament of fighters. Two prototypes and 50 production aircraft built for the French Air Force. The South African Air Force had 8 recce Mirage IIIs with four of them being the RZ version and four the R2Z version with an upgraded engine.
The Mirage 5 grew out of a request to Dassault from the Israeli Air Force. Since the weather over the Middle East is clear and sunny most of the time, the Israelis suggested removing avionics, normally located behind the cockpit, from the standard Mirage IIIE to reduce cost and maintenance, and replacing them with more fuel storage for attack missions. In September 1966, the Israelis placed an order for 50 units of the new aircraft. However, those aircraft were embargoed and entered French service as the Mirage 5F.

This kit is pretty much exactly the same as those for the previous single seat Mirage kits done earlier this year. PJ Production/High Planes have offered the same sprues with the bits to do just about any of the Mirage variants, the major change being in the decals and in this case, the clear resin nose for the recce version.

It only makes sense that their first kit is of a subject that has been previously released in resin, the Mirage. In this case, it is the Mirage IIIR/5F, which has been produced not only for France but in slight differences, for air forces around the years.

It is pretty obvious when looking at the sprues that these are intended for all the different Mirage versions. You get a bunch of different noses and different fuel tanks along with other bits and pieces not used on the versions kitted.

The injected parts are actually rather well done. The engraving is a tad on the 'soft' side compared to Hasegawa, for example, but is still quite acceptable to the majority of modelers. The wings are pretty standard as Mirage kits go and the fin is a separate item. Also separate is the forward fuselage. This is to allow the two seat version to be kitted later. The clear sprue includes both the two seat canopy as well as two windscreens; one of them unframed.

Of course, there is resin. I have taken the liberty of using the previous Mirage 5 sprue as there are few new parts. The clear recce noses are not included nor are the skinny drop tanks or later Martin Baker bang seat. What is added to the resin fit is the lower fuselage doppler radar bulge, that is also included in plastic if you want to use that. Also in resin are standard set of drop tanks with separate fins and a replacement resin fin.  A photo etch fret includes a boarding ladder, sensors, antennas and canopy mirrors.

Instructions are quite well drawn and let you know which of the optional bits are to be used for which set of markings. Color information is also provided during the build. There are three markings options, all of the camouflaged as befits a tactical reconnaissance aircraft.

The first option is the box art plane from the ER 3/33 'Moselle' based at Strasbourg in 1965. This aircraft is the one that French female pilot Jacqueline Auriol broke the woman's world speed record in 1963. It is in grey/green over aluminum paint. The Mirage 5F is with EC 3/13 'Auvergne' at Colmar in 1976 and carries a Tactical Weapons Meet marking on the nose. Same colors as the Mirage IIIR. The third option is one of the four Mirage IIIRZ aircraft of the South African Air Force. This one is in deep buff/olive green over light admiralty grey and was with 2 Squadron 'The Flying Cheetahs' at Swartkops in 1978. This scheme carries a sharkmouth.

The camo and markings sheet is in full color and the decal sheet is superbly printed with all the various data markings. The roundels have separate centers to prevent issues with registration.


If you like the Mirage III/V family as do I and have been waiting for a modern injected kit, then this is a very good one, especially with all the resin and the photoetch adding just that much more detail and being something you do not have to buy later. By the way, according to the box this kit is for Experimened Modelers! Gotta love translations.




June 2013

Thanks to PJ Production  for the preview kit. You can find this kit at this link.

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