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The reissue of the
Mystere IV A kit by Matchbox caught my attention because it came with Indian Air
Force decals. I was even keener to build the kit once I saw the eye-catching
‘leaping tiger’ nose art on an Indian Air Force Mystere IV A. I found the
leaping tiger nose art in a photo posted by fellow modeler Polly Singh on the
Bharat-Rakshak website. The No. 1, Tigers, squadron of the Indian Air Force
operated Mystere IV A’s from 1957 to 1966. In total, some 110 of these
aircraft served from 1957 to 1973 with the Indian Air Force. Since the Mystere
IV A was an evolution of the MD Ouragan 450, I have included a photo of an
Indian Air Force Ouragan with equally colorful nose art from my collection.
images below to see larger images
There are just over 25 parts and
it’s an easy kit to build. The kit parts are vintage Matchbox with deep trench
lines, raised surface detail and very thick clear parts. The plastic, though,
was very smooth and provided a nice platform for a bare metal finish.
The kit was built pretty much out of
the box, with the exception of the seat belts and ejection handle. The parts did
not fit particularly well, so I used putty on all the seams. Fortunately, there
weren’t many parts to glue. The canopy came in two parts, but each piece was
very thick. There was a black spot on one piece that I could not sand off. The
rear canopy section also did not fit over the fuselage aft of the canopy, and
once glued in place left a small gap with the windshield. So, not only could the
two-piece canopy not be shown in an open position, it fit poorly in the closed
The kit’s drop tanks, if they can
be called that, are the sorriest ones I’ve seen in any kit. They are
underscale and not even close to the shape of the tanks carried by the Mysteres.
I left them off even though early jets were fuel hogs and needed extra tanks
just to fly a decent distance. Therefore, drop tanks were a must. Despite these
shortcomings, the overall kit captures the look and feel of the real jet.
Mysteres in Indian Air Force service
looked pretty clean and appear not to have multicolored paneling. Therefore, I
used Testor’s Steel Metalizer for most of the kit. To provide some shading I
buffed some areas less than others. I sealed the paint with Future because I was
worried that the decals would silver if I didn’t. After decaling I sealed the
entire model with Testor’s Flat acrylic finish.
The kit decals are for one French
AdA and Indian Air Force aircraft. The Indian Air Force decals are for “IA
1017” from an unidentified squadron in 1958. But I did not let that stop me
from building it as a No. 1 squadron aircraft, since this squadron was equipped
with the type in 1958.
The leaping tiger decal, the major
reason for building this kit, was created in Adobe Illustrator using a single
reference photo. It took many hours to get it right because it was my first time
using this software. To make matters more difficult, the reference photo is in
black and white making it hard to tell which colors were used on the real nose
art. So, I made it up. To make sure that all the colors would show through, I
used a solid white outline of the tiger decal as a base layer. The colored tiger
layer was printed on a color laser printer and laid on top of the white base.
images below to see larger images
I was worried that the solid
white background would not fit snugly over the rounded fuselage, so I used
Q-tips to smooth out any water and air bubbles out from under the decal. To make
sure it laid down well, I also used decal solvent, which creased and wrinkled
the decal. Despite my instinct to ‘fix’ the problem, I waited for a few
hours. Sure enough, the decals had stretched over the fuselage nicely, and I
placed the colored tiger layer over the white background. Another round of Q-tip
burnishing and a solvent wash was followed by Future® to seal the entire decal.
An interesting aspect of the
reference photo is the rear-facing position of the green filet in the fin flash.
Normally, the green faces forward. Polly Singh informed me that many of the
aircraft were delivered from Dassault with the green filets backwards. This
error was subsequently corrected. It seems like Matchbox used a real reference
photo because the kit instructions call for the saffron filet to face forward
based on a 1958 photo.
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