January 2017

Dassault Etendard IVM

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Dassault Etendard IVM

Flottille 17F, Marine Nationale, BAN Hyeres, 1991.

Heller 1/72

The Etendard started life as Dassault’s proposal for the 1950s NATO NBMR1 competition that was intended to equip NATO air arms with a common lightweight fighter (partly inspired by Folland’s Gnat and eventually filled by the Fiat G-91 ).  

Although the Etendard was unsuccessful, an enlarged version was quickly adopted by the French Navy, with the navalised variant featuring a tail hook, taller undercarriage and folding wings and making its first flight in 1956.   

The French Navy ordered 90 aircraft, mostly  IVM fighters, but also including 20 IVP reconnaissance variants, all for service onboard the new Clemenceau and Foch aircraft carriers starting in 1961 .  

Etendards IVMs were superceded by the radar equipped Super Etendard in the mid 1970s, but despite their relative simplicity and limited capabilities, they remained in second line service ashore at Hyeres until 1991, with the subject of this model being painted in a special commemorative scheme to mark their retirement after 30 years of service.

Etendard IVPs remained in front line service until 2000.  

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Background Image: RIAT 2016

Heller’s Etendard kit is relatively modern.  It was first issued in 1984 and has been available sporadically since then.  This is a recent issue with superb decals covering a range of aircraft from its early service in Algeria in the 1960s through to the 1980s, plus some colourful markings for the “retro” retirement scheme applied to a single aircraft in 1991.  

Flottille 17F’s emblem

The kit is a very straightforward build, using Heller’s familiar soft plastic. Although fairly simple and with raised panel lines, it builds into a delicate and finely formed model.  The cockpit is a little disappointing, with adequate detail let down by a very crude ejector seat, but features such as the creditably thin wings and nicely detailed undercarriage make for a very pleasing model.

Decals are accurately and finely printed with very good colour opaqueness and no sign of brittleness;  a long way from the Heller decals of old, such that I suspect they come from a third party printer.  Only the flap markings gave me any issues;  they were too large for the flaps and needed some trimming after application.