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1/72 Heller Mirage 5F

by Laurent Stern

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No plastic model manufacturers has ever made a Mirage 5F in the 1/72 or 1/48 scale. I really felt an urge to add a model of this plane in my showcase. This type of Mirage should have been called the Mirage 5J if it had entered the IDF (which used the IAI Nesher instead). I used the 1/72 Heller Mirage IIIE/R/5BA kit with an OOP Hi-Tech resin conversion set.

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Nose area

The cockpit tub/front wheel well block of the Hi-Tech kit matches the fuselage pretty well once that the instrument panel coaming has been removed and the fuselage behind the cockpit thinned a bit. The fit of the resin nose isn't wonderful and quite a bit of filler is necessary. The pitot tube (the "perche Chaffois" ) is made of microtube placed on a rotary tool and shaped with a file.
The kit's wind screen and canopy are too thick. They didn't match the fuselage anymore because of the use of the Hi-Tech set, so I had to thermoform new clear parts. I found out that the windscreen would have to be really thin to match the nose. The fact that there are no frames at the base of the windscreen didn't make things easier when time for gluing came. I didn't want clear cement or super glue to mess up the black coaming of the instrument panel so I glued the windscreen with Klir (the equivalent of Future in Europe). A mix of putty and acetone was then used to smooth the seam between the windscreen and the nose.
The canon nozzles have been made out of microtube again. The canon's shockwave breaker rings have been made out of copper wire.

Rescribing

Initially, I didn't want to rescribe the model. I thought about using the same technique as I did here. I found out that the lower wing piece and the upper wing parts didn't match very well. Quite a bit of puttying and sanding had to be done and too many panel lines were lost in the process. Reluctantly, I started rescribing the model. Tamiya Scribing Tool and Dymo tape were used for scribing the main panel panel lines. The access hatches have been rescribed by running a needle along the raised detailing. Next time, I'll use a Verlinden template to scribe the hatches.

Landing gear area

I left the Hi-Tech front gear well as it's detailed enough. The main gear wells are a bit shallow and aren't detailed at all. I improved the situation by adding some bits of of plastic card, finding inspiration on the wheel wells of the High Planes Models Atlas/Denel Cheetah C model kit. The added details were blended by applying very diluted putty.  Oleos were made out of stretched sprue, fixations made out of tiny strips of Tamiya masking tape. The main gear leg of the Heller kit are far too thin so I scratchbuilt new ones with Evergreen rods of various diameter. Plastic card stripes and stretched sprue were used again. I kept the kit front gear as is. The Hi-Tech conversion set included a front wheel that appeared to be too small and narrow, maybe a Mirage IIIC wheel.

Painting

I initially wanted to paint the Mirage with a NMF finish but the model was covered with scratches which I didn't how to get rid off at that time. A more standard gray and green camo scheme seemed to be safer option. Frédéric Vergneres (from the Flight 66 model shop in Paris) suggested to preshade the panel lines as the Mirage 5F got weathered pretty fast. He also advised me to use Gunze H69 (RLM75 grey) and H420 (RLM80 olive drab) for the camo. The model was preshaded with flat black (Tamiya XF-1) and the grey paint was applied.
Then came to time to apply the green color. The Mirage green and grey camo seemed to be of the hard-edged kind. I didn't do a hard-edged masking though as I thought that a slightly feathered camo would look nicer and weathered. I used UHU Patafix for masking (which is nearly the same thing as Blu Tack) so that the camo would be almost hard-edged. Patafix "sausages" of 3-4mm diameter were placed according to the camo scheme, bits of paper tissue and Maskol was applied to prevent overspray. Then I sprayed the green, trying to hold the airbrush always perpendicular to the surface to be painted. Corrections were never made freehand but with Patafix "sausages". The green being sprayed, I airbrushed the underside with aluminum Metallizer paint (hard-edged masking here) and protected the paint by spraying a coat of Klir. I messed up the red strips on the lips of the intakes: The red coat is too thick. I should have sprayed some white paint before spraying red paint.

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Decaling and weathering

I know only one decal sheet with Mirage 5F markings, Modeldecal n°88. The decals looked pretty thick. The roundels came from the spare decals box. I applied the decals but something weird happened when I started give the model a wash with oil paint diluted in petrol spirit (which isn't as aggressive as white spirit): The varnish of the decals softened and peeled off. Bye bye thick decals and silvering ! Some decals wore off a little when the model was being manipulated but nothing too catastrophic. I'll wear latex gloves next time.

Finally, the fuel tanks were glued, so were the undercarriage trapdoors. Antennas were scratchbuilt, flat Humbrol varnish sprayed, ejection seat painted and glued. So was the canopy. Voila ! I hope you like this little model. There are some little issues (decals a bit out of register, for example) but I hope you won't mind it too much.

Thanks to Cyril Defever, Frédéric Vergneres, Frédéric Vincent who know the Armée de l'Air planes a lot more than I do. Thanks to Olivier Soulleys for his technical advises, to Stéphane Marignac for the beautiful finished-model pictures he made and to Fancherello who gave me an occasion to finish a model that was lying around for several months.

Laurent 

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Photos and text © by Laurent Stern 

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