1/72 Matchbox Mirage III B-2 (RV)

This is the old (1976, I believe) Mirage IIIB from Matchbox.

Typical of a Matchbox kit from this (or any) era, it is quite simple, but actually not a bad kit at all. The panel lines are a bit large, and need to be rescribed a bit deeper, but overall, it went to gether pretty well.

One problem was the engine nozzle. I had to modify the rear fuselage so I could put it in afterwards. This meant putting in a styrene “wall” to hold it in place. To insure I had the orientation of the Atar’s nozzle right, I glued two styrene runner bits to the engine to act as guide pins. You can see that below:

The only other weird thing about this kit is that the wings don’t join the body on an “official” seam line! Not a surprise for an old Matchbox, but a bit frustrating. So, I had to fill, sand and re-etch the wing attachment points on the underside. Below you can see  the second line in the blue part of the wing that I had to put in there to simulate the wing joint!

The Mirage IIIB is really nothing all that special. It doesn’t have any combat capability, and the underfuselage rocket isn’t installed (oh, you have to blank that off with styrene, by the way…). However, a handful of them were used by CIFAS 328 (Centre d’Instruction des Forces Ariennes Strategiques), the French Strategic Aviation Training Center. These were converted with a dummy refuelling probe in the nose to practice hookups for the Mirage IV pilots. Now THAT’S weird!

So, I scoured around and found a refuelling probe from the old 1/48 Monogram F-100 Thunderbirds kit. I chopped it, and put it into the nose, where the oversized-for-a-pitot-tube-but-too-small-for-a-probe thingy they gave you was supposed to go. A perfect fit!!

After that, it was all about the paint. The only difficult part was that they guys at Matchbox had moulded the rails for the blind flying hood (in the front cockpit) on the OUTSIDE, thinking  they were canopy frames. Duh… So, I carefully painted them white on the inside, and you’d never be able to tell there’s even a frame on the canopy. I was going to sand the frames off, but I decided they’d add a bit of distortion, making it look like something was inside, and I was right! See if you can tell!

The plane was airbrushed with Model Master Acrylics (still the best paints ever), Light Ghost Grey on the underside, Dark Green and Dark Grey (F-15) on the top. The cammo was done with Tamiya Tape (French cammo is hard-edged, from what I could tell) and everything worked very nicely.

As an amazing coincidence (Or was it fate?? Cue spooky music!) the decals that came with the kit were actually for a CIFAS 328 machine, even though they didn’t give the right nose probe! The decals, despite being as old as I am, worked PERFECTLY. Matchbox really makes the best decals. I’m sorry, but Hasegawa decals are too thick, and Revell Germany Decals are matte, which is lame. The Matchbox decals were tough, thin, shiny and conformed to everything without using decal set! Rocking. All I had to do was overcoat them with Future and I was done.

I did the landing gear in Model Master Acrylic Steel and gave it a black and a brown wash using Citadel Devlan Mud and Baddab Black washes.

The kit was finished in Delta Ceramcoat matte varnish, which I adjusted with some Future to give a bit of a sheen. The Mirage IIIB’s weren’t totally matte, as far as I could tell from pictures.  Below you can see the finished product. Enjoy!

Top 3/4 of the Mirage IIIB     

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