High Planes Models


High Planes Models 1/72 Mirage IIIO


by David Harvey

 

Review Type

First Look

Scale:

1/72

Price:

$45.00 AUD from HPM Hobbies

Contents and Media:

4 x grey plastic sprues, one clear sprue and small decal sheet

Advantages:

Accurate outline

Disadvantages:

Panel lines soft/overscale

Recommendation:

Highly Recommended

 

Introduction

After several years of service the Avon Sabre was deemed to require replacement so in 1953 the RAAF looking. In 1957 an announcement was made that an order for 30 Lockheed F-104A Starfighters would be placed. Prior to this order being formalised it was realised that at that time there were numerous other types that may have been more suitable to the RAAF and Australia's requirements, this included such aircraft as the Mirage, the SAAB Draken and the EE Lightning.

After evaluating a number of aircraft during 1960 it was finally decided that the Mirage would be selected and on 22 Nov 1960 the Australian Government endorsed the recommendation. A contract for thirty (30) aircraft was signed on 21 Mar 1931 which was increased to 60 during Oct 1961 and a final total of 100 aircraft in May 1963.

The Australian version of the single seat aircraft was called the IIIO (for 'Ostralia') and the dual seaters called the IIID. A total of sixteen IIID's were ordered by Nov 1970.

As one of the trials during production, the Rolls Royce RA.24-28 Avon Mk 67 was fitted to the 4th production aircraft to see if it was feasible. This was a success as the Avon produced better results than the original ATAR 9C as fitted by Dassault. Unfortunately due to budget constraints the Avon was not fitted to the Mirage.

Originally there were to be two variants of the Mirage III, the IIIO(F) (fighter) and the IIIO(A) (attack). The first fifty aircraft were built as IIIO(F)'s being fitted with the Cyrano IIA radar optimised for air interception and various air to air weaponry, whilst the IIIO(A) was fitted with the Cryano IIB radar that included ground mapping capability and the APN153 Doppler radar for improved low level navigation. In June 1969 the decision was made to upgrade all aircraft to the IIIO(A) standard.

The Mirage started service in the RAAF with the first aircraft, A3-1, arriving on 15 Jan 1964.It wen ton to serve in a number of SQN's both here and overseas, in particular at RAAF Butterworth in Malaysia. The first Mirages deployed to Malaysia in 1967 with 75 SQN.

During it's time the Mirage carried a number of standard schemes as well as numerous trial and temporary schemes. These range from the initial all over metal finish to wraparound schemes in various colours and designs as well as special schemes such as the Aerobatic and Jubilee schemes.

During the 1970's fatigue had started to take affect on the airframes and a replacement was identified as the F/A-18 Hornet in 1981. The F/A-18 first replaced the Mirage in 2OCU followed by the other SQN's and ending on 08 Feb 1989 with ARDU flying it's last Mirage, A3-101, from Edinburgh to Woomera for storage thus ending almost 26 years of RAAF service.

High Planes Models had previously issued a Mirage in various guises in it's infamous blue plastic but have now finally released a mainstream injection moulded kit of it with three different schemes.

The instructions

The instructions come in a large fold out page and consist of 17 steps with a detailed paint colour table on the front page. The colour chart lists approximate matches for Gunze Mr Color, Humbrol, Model Master, Revell, Tamiya and Xtracolour ranges as well as the specification for the original paint colour. The first fifteen steps involve assembling the aircraft whilst the last two deal with the armament and fuel tank combinations. HPM kindly provide a diagram of the different combinations of weapons and fuel tanks that were carried by the Mirage, unfortunately it doesn't provide them all.

You are also provided a small addenda sheet that lists two small changes to the instructions.

 

Contents

The kit comes in a very attractive box and you are provided with two large light grey sprues (hooray no blue sprues!) containing the main components and fuel tanks, a smaller sprue containing four types of nose cones and other small items, a much smaller sprue containing the replacement flap control arms(?) and the clear sprue that contains both single and double seat canopies. With these extra components (noses, exhausts, main wheel covers, canopies etc) it is a good indicator that a two seater and other variants are going to be made by HPM in the future.

 

I will cover the biggest negative of the kit firstly, that is the panel lines. The panel lines are very out of scale and soft on the wings and fuselage, not really indicative of the 'clean' Mirage. In saying this they can be remedied by filling the panel lines with filler and sanding them flat. The other point of concern is the ejection marks left by the sprue removal from the mold. In some cases, especially on the trailing edge of the wings, they have left a mark on the visible side that needs filling and sanding. You also get one of these marks in the nose wheel well that I think would be rather hard to get out if you were that bothered by it.

 

The cockpit is relatively bare with just the ejection seat, control column and the instrument panel. The instrument panel is made by putting a very small decal onto the very small plastic control panel. The nose pitot tubes are also nicely cast and are very fine.

 

The rest of the parts appear to be nicely cast and include some very fine detail.

I compared the main components to the 1/72 scale plans in the Mirage book and by all appearances it is almost dead on in size. The panel lines are also very accurate in numbers and size, even if soft.

 

The Decals

The kit decals cover the following aircraft and schemes:

  • Mirage IIIO, A3-16, 76 SQN RAAF, Williamtown late 1960s - 1974. The scheme is the overall aluminium paint with gloss French Grey leading edges as per page 36 of Mirage IIIO book.
  • Mirage IIIO, A3-99, 79 SQN RAAF, Butterworth Malaysia, 1980s. The scheme is an experimental Light Grey / Olive Drab / Blue Grey / Extra Dark Sea Grey scheme as covered in the Mirage IIIO book on pages 205 - 209.
  • Mirage IIIO, A3-25, 75 SQN RAAF, Butterworth Malaysia, 1981 - 82. Scheme - Light Gull Grey and Extra Dark Sea Grey as per page 155 in Mirage IIIO book.

The decal sheet is a small sheet of very nicely printed markings that cover the above mentioned aircraft. You are provided the individual aircraft specific serial numbers and SQN markings and the numerous maintenance and stencil data markings.

Comparing the markings supplied to the relevant images in the Mirage III book I only have two concerns:

  • The red in the 76 SQN tail markings appears to be a touch duller than the original. This may look different on the completed model.
  • The 75 SQN Magpie tail marking has no backing colour and it is only black printed on clear. The tail marking needs to be placed on the base coat of light Gull Grey and masked over so the EDSG is able to be painted or air brushed over. This MAY cause some problems for modellers but then it may not, depending on your skill.

All the other markings look good in comparison to relevant images.

 

Recommendation

It's good to see this new release from High Planes Models, especially with such interesting schemes.

The main drawback of this kit is the panel lines being so 'soft' but is balanced out by the kit being accurate in size and shape compared to the plans in the Mirage IIIO book. The panel lines are fixable with filler but even without this remedy I believe the kit will still produce a very nice model.

I highly recommend this kit for it's accuracy and schemes but this is balanced out by the poor panel lines.

Reference