Highplanes Models


Highplanes 1/72 Mirage IIIO Kit


by David Edwards

 

Introduction

It's fair to say that Highplanes' new Mirage kit was one of the most eagerly awaited releases of recent times.  The aircraft itself is certainly a favourite of mine.

As well as Mr Harvey's in box preview there has also been a useful review on Hyperscale, a build blog on Highplanes' Facebook page and Antoney-George Wilkinson's build posts in the AMI forum. 

The build

Construction began with the wings.  Thanks to less than perfect lighting and a rushed approach, I didn't get as good a fit as other builders and needed some filler and Mr Surfacer for various joins.  I wanted to use the pylons and rails for the Matra Magic AAMs, and should have added them around this stage to blend them in to the actuator fairings.

The fuselage has quite a few bits and pieces to align when joining them up, so some care and patience is called for.  My rushed approach scored another victim – the fin is sandwiched between the fuselage halves rather than slotting in.  The multi version approach means that an insert is used at the leading edge of the fin and this needed some filler to blend it in.  Engine intakes and the tail cone also needed some filler but I suspect some dry fitting and adjusting of mating parts would have reduced this.

On joining wings and fuselage I ended up with a gap at each wing root.  I don't think this is typical but if I struck this again I'd add a plastic card "spreader" inside the fuselage to close this up.

There has been some comment on the depth of the recessed panel lines found on this kit.  I was lucky enough to see 1:1 scale Mirages on a weekly and then a daily basis for a few years, and my mental image is of a very smooth skinned aircraft indeed.  This was quite simple to achieve, beginning with applying some Mr Surfacer into the panel lines with a toothpick.  Once this was dry, a coarse cloth and some metho removed the excess.  You'll see the results in the photos below (insert photos).

A follow up spray of Mr Surfacer from the rattle can and a gentle sanding session with some 1200 grit had things looking good.  My chosen paint scheme was 79 Sqn's A3-99, with my only reservations being that everyone does this one and the amount of masking required.

Painting

Painting began with the underside FS 36375 in Humbrol enamel, followed by the upper colour of FS35237 from my last bottle of Aeromaster.  Trivial point – I compared the latter shade in Aeromaster, Humbrol and ModelMaster and they're all different!  While painting this colour I sprayed some clear decal sheet to use for canopy framing, only to lose it later.  Seemed like a good idea at the time.

On with masking up the Extra Dark Sea Grey triangle on the upper surfaces.  Two lessons learned here – to accurately position this I should've used a paper template and the edges along the fuselage sides should've been softer.  And I should've made sure I had a tin of paint!  I ended up using Dark Sea Grey with some black added but it doesn’t look quite right.  The Olive Drab section was easier – Xtracolour is the only choice!  For the first time I used their quick drying thinners and found they work as advertised.

Decals

After three brush coats of Future I was ready to apply decals.  A few substitutions were required.  The "99" on the fin is supplied in grey but should be black, so I raided a second kit's decals.  The grey for the fuselage serial is too light, and almost disappears against the background.  My fix for this was to cobble together some black serials and then apply a grey wash over the top.  This worked tolerably well on one side, but the ink in the decals ran on the over.  Memo to self – seal decals before applying a wash!

The fin flash goes over the rudder actuator on the port side of the fin.  Rather than try to get the decal to squash down, I cut the actuator off and glued it back on later.  Toney suggests cutting a slot in the decal, which is probably a better idea.  For the Doppler antenna under the nose I cut a piece of black decal to a suitable shape.

For a clear coat I tried a 50/50 mix of Humbrol Matt and Satin Cotes.  The end result was more matt than I intended, but still a hint above dead flat.  The Light Gull Grey/Extra Dark Sea Grey drop tanks scored a brush coat of Mr Surfacer. Matra launch rails and adaptors got painted Humbrol mid grey, bit I suspect that the pylons themselves should've been Light Gull Grey too.  Oh well, next time.  The navigation lights were painted silver and then coloured in with permanent markers.

With painting and decaling done, it was time to add the dangly and clear bits.  No major issues here, although I resorted to the Motty and Changa book for clarification a few times. 

The canopy had been a good fit when tried earlier in the build, but once I fitted the pre painted seat it fouled on the head rest.  Fortunately Peter Malone's photos in the above book show A3-99 with the canopy cracked slightly open, so no removal of the seat for rework was needed.

Final finishing touches were brake hoses from sprue and an IFF antenna from card.

The images

 

Conclusion

I'm rather happy with the end result and think that it captures the look of this lovely aircraft quite well.  The build does require some care and attention but no more than some Tamigawa kits.  I certainly look forward to building more of these, but I think I'll finish off my 79 Sqn collection with a Macchi and Hawk first!

Many thanks to Christopher at HPM Hobbies and our esteemed editor for the chance to build this kit.