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KIT REVIEW


Special Hobby Mirage F.1EQ/ED-- 1:72 Scale



The Dassault Mirage F1 was one of the most notable combat aircraft of the 20th century.  This French light multirole fighter became operational in the 1970s as a successor to the Mirage III family and was exported to more than a dozen countries and has seen its fair share of combat operations.  In this review, we sit down at the review bench with Special Hobby’s Mirage F1EQ/ED kit.          

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The Mirage F1 emerged from a series of mid-1960s design studies by Dassault Aviation that examined follow-on designs to the Mirage III and Mirage 5.  A series of proposals were considered, and finally, a slightly smaller but all-new Mirage was selected for production by the French government as an all-weather interceptor:  the Mirage F1.  This new airplane was only slightly smaller than the Mirage III and Mirage 5 and was powered by the same SNECMA Atar powerplant found on the Mirage IV.  Beyond that, the similarities ended.  The F1 design departed from its delta-wing predecessors with the inclusion of a high swept wing and conventional horizontal stabilizer.  The F1 also carried more gas and demonstrated superior maneuverability, thanks to double-slotted trailing edge flaps and full-span leading edge slats that reduced its turn radius by some 50% compared to the Mirage III.

The first F1 prototype first flew just before Christmas 1966.  By May 1973, the first production airplanes were delivered to the French Air Force.  These first Mirage F1s were outfitted with a Thomson-CSF Cyrano IV radar that possessed a basic multimode capability for both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions.  Its SNECMA Atar 9K-50 turbojet engine was rated at 15,000 pounds of thrust.  The F1 was armed with a pair of 30 mm cannons and just one Matra R530 medium-range air-to-air missile in its early days, but was later upgraded with the R550 Magic, Matra Super 530F, and eventually, the AIM-9 Sidewinder in addition to a range of air-to-ground munitions as the air-to-ground role was progressively expanded.

Some 720 Mirage F1s were built across 12 different variants and flown by the French Air Force and a dozen other nations including Spain, Ecuador, Iraq, and South Africa.  The F1 saw extensive combat with the French, beginning with 1984 actions over Libya and concluding over the skies of Afghanistan in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.  In the late 1970s, Iraq ordered a variant of the Mirage F1, designated as the Mirage F1EQ. These were specially modified for an extended range strike role.  During the Iran–Iraq War, Iraqi Mirage F1EQs were used for interception, ground attack, and anti-shipping missions.  In November 1981, an Iraqi Mirage F1 was credited for the first kill against an Iranian F-14 Tomcat but some 33 Iraqi Mirage F1EQs were reportedly shot down by Iranian F-14s.  In May 1987, an Iraqi Mirage F1 fired a pair of Exocet missiles at the USS STARK severely damaging the ship and killing almost 40 of her crew.

During Operation DESERT STORM, an EF-111 scored a kill against an Iraqi F1EQ when they managed to maneuver it into the ground.  Eight F1EQs were shot down by USAF and RSAF F-15 Eagles.  Two dozen other jets were flown to Iran and seized by IRIAF.  The F1ED was a related export variant built for Libya, distinguished by its fixed external refueling probe. 

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Special Hobby’s 1:72 scale Mirage F1EQ/ED kit consists of 144 injection molded medium grey polystyrene parts on eight sprues, 21 clear parts on one sprue, and eight resin parts.  However, on this version of the F1, only about 80 plastic parts get used.  Detail parts come in the form of 12 cast resin parts and four small photoetched metal parts.  The full color instruction booklet guides assembly over 12 steps.  Decals provide markings for three F1EQs and one F1ED (for the latter, technically it’s one option that provides a choice of two tail numbers):

Strengths:  This kit is a yet another installment in Special Hobby’s growing family of 1:72 scale Mirage kits.  Just like its predecessors in this series, it is a very well made and nicely designed kit.  It is based on their 2016 new tool release of the single seat F1C/CH.  

The parts breakdown is rather straightforward and it will be a relatively simple, hassle-free build.  For a 1:72 scale kit, it is well detailed, too.  The cockpit parts, wheel wells, landing gear, intakes, and afterburner nozzle interior stand out as being quite nicely done.  The injection-molded munitions are also very nicely done.  In this version of the kit, you’ll use the Matra Magic air-to-air missiles, the large Irakien centerline drop tank, and cast resin Exocet anti-shipping missiles. I performed a quick fit-check between the fuselage halves and the wings.  The fuselage halves came together perfectly, but a little bit of work was needed to get the wings to fit seamlessly (see below). 

For this scale, instrument panels have raised relief but decals are intended to represent all the instrument panel details.  I am usually hesitant to use decals for any instrument panel, but here, I think the decals work since they are finely printed and have a lot of detail (thanks, Cartograf!). 

The choice in paint schemes here are each a winner – with each one being quite attractive.  The early Iran-Iraq War with all the kill markings is impressive, but the Iranian operated jet with the gray and blue camouflage scheme is truly the most unique.  The Libyan scheme is also notable, as these can be marked as either member of the pair of F1EDs that defected to Malta after their pilots refused to carry out their orders to bomb civilian protestors.  The decals were printed by Cartograf and are exceptional, from their vibrant colors, great print quality, and highly restrained carrier film.   

Weaknesses:  This kit has a few weak spots to consider.  For one, I do consider the recessed panel lines to be somewhat overdone.  They are a bit too deep and wide for 1:72 scale, but a few coats of paint will help fill in and lessen this effect.  There are no rivet or fastener details.  Wing fit was close to seamless and perfect, but there’s a bit of a fit conflict between the inboard side of the leading edge slat and the fuselage that throws off fit at the wing root - ever so slightly.  A few passes with a sanding stick took care of the problem, however.  Some of the pour gates attaching part to sprue were gargantuan, and I opted to use a razor saw(!) to separate the tops of the fuselage from the sprue rather than using a regular sprue snipper.

It’s also too bad the control surfaces and speed brakes were not separate parts, as it would have made for greater visual interest in the finished model (at least for me).  The kit ejection seats are okay for 1:72 scale but they have an anomalous oval depression in the seat’s backpad that I know not to be present on the Martin-Baker ejection seat…  

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Special Hobby’s 1:72 scale Mirage F1EQ/ED is a really solid kit and it has a lot of potential.  It receives high marks in overall quality, design and parts breakdown, detail, and decals/paint schemes.  The detail parts are also a very nice touch.  CMK also offers diverse resin upgrade parts, from the Cyrano IV radar to the afterburner nozzle, wheels, ejection seats, and pilot and ground crew figures.  Master Models produces a replacement turned metal pitot tube.  At the very least, I’d swap out the kit’s ejection seats with resin parts.  Yet, this is a nice kit that it invites even more detail still, so when I build it, I’ll probably use various aftermarket detail sets to complement the qualities and strengths of the base kit.   

Sincere thanks are owed to Special Hobby for the review sample.  You visit them on the web at http://www.specialhobby.info and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/specialhobby.

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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