Friends & Allies -
Dassault Mirage, Etendard & Rafale
The Airfix Mirage IIIc kit is a veteran in all respects, first issued in 1964. Although it is basic, it builds into a reasonable replica of the early, short fuselage Mirage III. Link to build page
Dassault's sleek and modern Mirage IIIc first flew in 1960, yet remained in front-
Nevertheless, the early Mirage remains a classic piece of aviation engineering and an outstandingly successful design, whose influence can be traced through all of the Mirage Family and on to the latest Rafale fighter.
Esc. 1/2 Cicognes (Storks) is one of the most distinguished French Air Force Squadrons,
tracing its history from WW1, when it was formed from the flights that included the
famous French aces Guynemer and Fonck, through the Battle of France. As part of the
Free French forces (329 Sqn RAF) it played a key part in the Normandy Landings. Later,
reformed as 1/2, it would fight in French Indo-
In 1961 it became the first operational squadron to fly the Mirage III.
Frog's Mirage IIIE kit gives you the option to built an Australian licence-
In the early 1960s, Australia chose to build the multi-
Australian Mirages remained in service until 1988, and were then sold on to the Pakistan Air Force.
French Air Force "Force de Frappe"
Produced as a direct result of the Suez debacle; French dismay at the US' failure
to support its 3 key allies (UK/France/Israel) at Suez led to withdrawal from NATO's
military structure and a determination to develop their own independent strategic
nuclear weapons, so that they were no longer dependant on the US "Nuclear Umbrella".
The French "triad" included silo launched missiles on the Plateau d'Albion, submarine
launched missiles and air launched AN-
Toward the end of its life, the Mirage IV was converted for reconnaissance duties, seeing active duty during the Kosovo conflict.
... did you know? Marcel Dassault, the founder of Avions Marcel Dassault (AMD), was born Marcel Bloch and many early French warplanes carry his true name. Bloch was Jewish, and was imprisoned by the Nazis in Buchenwald concentration camp for refusing to work for the Nazi aviation industry. After the war he changed his name from Bloch to Dassault, in honour of his brother Darius Bloch, a leading member of the Free French Resistance, whose secret code name was "char d'assault" (the French for "tank").
Italeri's 2K is a reasonable kit, reflecting the elegant flowing lines of the Mirage 2K. However, it is based on the early company demonstrator, not a production aircraft and is also somewhat confused as to whether it is a 2000N K1, K2 or 2000D (it lacks the fuselage upper spine flare ejectors and has a pitot where it should not). The kit suffers the usual Mirage kit problems; poorly matched wing roots and wing/fuselage joints, plus its canopy does not fit together at all well. Link to build page
The Mirage 2000 was a private Dassault venture to fill the gap caused by delays in the Rafale programme. Although evolved from the Mirage III/5, it was an entirely new aircraft, featuring inherent instability (and thus maneoverability), plus fly by wire control. The initial 2000s were single seat fighters, but the 2 seat 2000C trainer was developed into the 2000N Nuclear Bomber as a replacement for the Mirage IV. The 2000D ("Diverse") was a further ground attack evolution of the 2000N as a Jaguar replacement, in a similar class to the UK/German/Italian/Saudi Tornado GR1/IDS.
French Air Force Mirage 2000Ds, operating under UN Mandate, provided support to RN
forces in the Adriatic (Op SHARP GUARD) and the Gulf (Op Southern Watch 1994-
... and the real thing at RIAT 2007:
The Airfix Mirage 2000C kit was a shared venture with Heller. Relatively simple to build, it has delicately raised panel lines, but is nevertheless a very pleasing build. Link to build page
The "C", or Chasse (fighter) version of the Mirage 2000 has been a core part of the French Air Defences since the late 1980s. Its sleek and blended shape is still recognisably derived from the early Mirage III, but with a more modern and aggressive stance.
Armed with 2x30mm cannon, MBDA Super 530 BVR air-
Mirage 2000c aircraft from EC. 1/5 participated in Operation Daguet, the First Gulf War in 1990/91 and during the Bosnian war of the mid 1990s. They also starred in the film Chevaliers du Ciel (Knights of the Sky). The squadron was dissolved in 2007 and its aircraft sold to Brasil.
Italeri were quick orff the mark with an early kit of the Rafale M protoype M01. A few changes are needed to turn it into a production version, and it is far chunkier in appearance than the much nicer HobbyBoss kit. Markings on this build are my own. Link to build page
The Rafale (Squall) is effectively the French equivalent of the Eurofighter Typhoon, and indeed grew from the same original requirement.
One significant difference from the Typhoon is the existence of a carrier borne variant, the Rafale M (Maritime), which serves aboard the French Navy aircraft carrier, FS Charles de Gaulle, entering service in 2004.
French Navy Rafales deployed to Afghanistan in 2006 as part of NATO operations and are currently operating over Syria against ISIL.
HobbyBoss have produced a superb kit of the Rafale B in 1/72, which comes with a choice of two different stunning Tiger Meet markings.
This stunning scheme was prepared for the "Ocean Tiger" NATO Tiger Meet gathering at the French Navy Air Base Landivisiau in 2008.
To complete the set, this is the HobbyBoss Rafale C kit. The sprues are essentially the same as the B model above, but with different cockpit parts. Link to build page
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-
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.