ESCI 1/72 Mirage F.1CR
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
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. However, the development of a tactical reconnaissance aircraft for the French Air Force continued, and the first Mirage F1CR flew on 20 November 1981.
The Mirage F1CR carries reconnaissance equipment, internally and externally:
A total of 64 Mirage F1CRs were ordered by the French Air Force. The first air force unit equipped with the CR was Escadron de Reconnaissance 2/33 which became operational in September 1983.
This kit takes the standard Mirage F.1C kit and adds the lower nose camera section and an air to air refueling probe, which were the salient visual differences, though the F.1C was also sometimes fitted with the refueling probe.
The kit is nicely done with engraved detailing. The cockpit has a fairly generic ejection seat and uses decals for instrument detail. Intakes are fairly shallow as is the norm for 1/72 kits of this era. The landing gear is nicely done and looks the part, especially the fairly complex main gear. Gear well detail is fairly generic though adequate.
Wings already have the pylon openings done for you to install the pylons. As with the intakes, the exhaust is quite shallow. I'm not sure if this variant would have carried any weapons ,but a centerline rack and bombs are provided. It would have carried the wing fuel tanks or perhaps just one on the centerline. However, that latter option isn't available due to the lack of a proper centerline pylon so you are stuck with two wing mounted tanks. The F.1CR was capable of carrying air to air missiles on the wing tip, but neither the missiles or pylons are included.
Instructions are well done with generic color references. Both options are with ER 33 and are in a light/medium sand upper with light blue undersides. These planes were also found in the standard European scheme of grey/green upper and silver undersides if you want to go that route. Decals are nicely printed, but may well be past their 'use by' date.
Right now, the Special Hobby kits are the top dog in 1/72 scale, however, the ESCI kits are bound to be much easier to build due to the lack of fiddly bits.
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