by: Tim Hatton [ ]
The Dassault Mirage F1 is a French fighter and attack aircraft designed and manufactured by Dassault Aviation. It was developed as a successor to the popular Mirage III family. During the 1960s, Dassault commenced development of what would become the Mirage F1 as a private venture, alongside the larger Mirage F2. Work on the F1 eventually took precedence over the more costly F2, which was cancelled during the late 1960s. The French Air Force (Armée de l'Air) took interest in the fledgling fighter to meet its requirement for an all-weather interceptor aircraft. Accordingly, initial production units were equipped with the Thomson-CSF Cyrano IV monopulse radar. During the latter half of 1974, the Mirage F1 entered service in the French Air Force. Shortly thereafter, the type was deployed as the main interceptor of the French Air Force, a capacity which it continued to serve in until the arrival of the Mirage 2000. It later transitioned to an aerial reconnaissance role. During June 2014, the last French Mirage F1s was retired from service.
The Mirage F.1 is powered by a single SNECMA Atar 9K-50 turbojet engine, which provided about 7 tonnes-force (69 kN; 15,000 lbf) of thrust. Armed with an array of French and American-sourced armaments, the Mirage F1 has been operated as a light multipurpose fighter and has been exported to around a dozen nations. The type has seen action in a large number of armed conflicts involving several of its operators, including the Western Sahara War, the Paquisha War, the Cenepa War, the Iran–Iraq War, the Gulf War, the South African Border War, the War in Afghanistan, the Chadian–Libyan conflict, the 2011 military intervention in Libya, and the Northern Mali conflict. More than 720 Mirage F1s were constructed between 1966 and 1992. It was succeeded in production by the Dassault Mirage 2000.
The top opening box seems pretty well full with all the parts placed in one bag. Thankfully the clear parts, resin and decals are packed individually. A quick look through the instructions reveals that there are a lot of redundant parts included. The recessed detail is a little more obvious than previous Special Hobby kits I have seen previously, but it still looks good. Contents include:
●4 x larger plastic sprues
●4 x smaller plastic sprue
●1 x clear plastic sprue
●1 x small bag of resin parts
●1 x very small photo etched fret
●1 x decal sheet
●1 x instruction manual
The cockpit is made up from six parts. There is a cockpit tub added to which is the instrument panel, instrument cover, HUD, rear bulkhead, control stick and the ejector seat. The cockpit tub has rudder pedals moulded in. The instrument panel has some really fine raised and recessed detail. A decal is supplied to replicate the instrument faces. The inside of the fuselage is slightly marred by a couple of recessed ejector marks. Like most combat aircraft of its time the cockpit is painted black. There is the option of two different seats depending which aircraft you are building. Both are built up from four parts.
The separate canopy and windscreen look very clear and fairly thin and the canopy can be displayed open. Incidentally the canopies for the two seat version are included on the sprue as well.
The fuselage is split vertically into two parts and there are locating pins and holes. The nose is separate and this can be modelled with or without refuelling probe. You have the option of replacing the plastic probe with a resin part if you wish, but this obviously requires cutting. The detail in the under carriage bay looks particularly good. The three part re-heat matrix, jet pipe and nozzle needs to be built and attached to the inside of the fuselage, before the fuselage halves are joined. The detail is very good particularly on the inside of the jet pipe and on the nozzle. Some care will be needed to remove the flow sprue on the inside of the nozzle. Finally before the fuselage halves can be buttoned up, the one piece undercarriage bay needs to be added. The air intakes for the Snecma Atar engine are each one piece. There is a blanking piece that is an integral part of the fuselage so there is no view of the inside of the fuselage. The under fuselage air brakes are separate and feature deep holes replicating the perforated surface of the air brakes. There is a choice of two vertical tails, but they both need modifying before fitting. The front of one fin needs to be removed and the rear of the separate forward section needs removed before being attached to the tail. The other fin just needs the front of the appendage on top of the fuselage removing. The two ventral strakes are separate and have thin leading and trailing edges.
The wings are made up from upper and lower parts. The upper wing is full span featuring the flaps, leading edge and outer panel of the lower wing surface. There are some decent sized stubs to help you locate the wings into the fuselage. The horizontal stabilisers are both one piece items with a minute piece of plastic to aid their location.
The forward and main undercarriage bays features some nice detail inside. The nose gear door has resin and PE parts to add to build what looks like aerials for the IFF. All the oleos are one piece and all you need to do is add wheels. All the wheels are unweighted and are one piece with some fine detail on the hubs.
The amount of ordnance included is quite impressive, but the majority of it will be consigned to the spares box. The only weaponry used for this release is the plastic R.550 Magics, the Matra MICA and the resin Exocet. There are of course fuel tanks that can be added, Special Hobby has included the ‘Irakien’ centre fuselage fuel tank for the Iraqi F.1. The inclusion of the resin Exocet is a nice touch; this is fitted to option 2 of the Iraqi Air Force. The stabilising fins are very thin and the tail rocket nozzle housing is separate.
The decals are printed by Cartograf so quality is assured. Great definition particularly on the stencils. Colour looks pretty spot on too. There is a wealth of stencils to apply and there are two styles of wing walkways also.
The Instruction booklet lays out the build process simply with some good illustrations in eleven stages. It doesn’t look a complex build although some modifications need to be carried out. Painting instructions is in colour and there are four profiles to help apply the masking for the camouflage. The paint references also serve as a guide to what ordnance is fitted to each aircraft.
CMK offer a wealth of resin extras for this release and these can be found in the instruction
There are five marking options including:
● Mirage F.1EQ, 4014, No 79 Sqn, Wahda AB, Iraqi Air Force, September 1981 to June 1982
● Mirage F.1EQ-5, 4577, No 81 Sqn, Quyyarah AB, Iraqi Air force, June 1985. Fitted with an Exocet.
● Mirage F.1EQ-6, 3-6211, No 102 Tactical Fighter Sqn, No 10 Tactical AB, Chabahan/Konarak, Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force, 2011 to present
● Mirage F.1ED, 502 [and 508] Libyan People’s Air Force / Free Libyan Air Force, Luqa, Malta International Airport, 2011-2012
This is a impressive looking kit of the Mirage F.1 by Special Hobby. Surface detail looks good and the amount of detail will satisfy most modellers. Some parts need to be modified, but nothing too taxing, so it may not be a kit for the absolute beginner.