Falcon Models FA725004 Israeli Air Force Dassault Mirage IIIC Shahak Interceptor - "159", Tayeset 101 "First Fighter Squadron", Hatzor Air Base, Israel, 1974 (1:72 Scale)
"The one thing I cannot forgive the Arabs for is that they forced our sons to kill their sons."
- Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir
The Mirage III family grew out of French government studies begun in 1952 that led in early 1953 to a specification for a lightweight, all-weather interceptor capable of climbing to 18,000 m (59,040 ft) in six minutes and able to reach Mach 1.3 in level flight.
Dassault's response to the specification was the Mystere-Delta 550, a sporty-looking little jet that was to be powered by twin Armstrong Siddeley MD30R Viper afterburning turbojets, each with thrust of 9.61 kN (2,160 lbf). A SEPR liquid-fuel rocket motor was to provide additional burst thrust of 14.7 kN (3,300 lbf). The aircraft had a tailless delta configuration, with a 5% chord (ratio of airfoil thickness to length) and 60 degree sweep.
The tailless delta configuration has a number of limitations. The lack of a horizontal stabilizer means flaps cannot be used, resulting in a long take-off run and a high landing speed. The delta wing itself limits maneuverability; and suffers from buffeting at low altitude, due to the large wing area and resulting low wing loading. However, the delta is a simple and pleasing design, easily built and robust, capable of high speed in a straight line, and with plenty of space in the wing for fuel storage.
The first prototype of the Mystere-Delta, without afterburning engine or rocket motor and an absurdly large vertical tailfin, flew on 25 June 1955. After some redesign, reduction of the tailfin to more rational size, installation of afterburners and rocket motor, and renaming to Mirage I, the prototype attained Mach 1.3 in level flight without the rocket, and Mach 1.6 with the rocket lit in late 1955.
However, the small size of the Mirage I restricted its armament to a single air-to-air missile, and even before this time it had been prudently decided the aircraft was simply too tiny to carry a useful warload. After trials, the Mirage I prototype was eventually scrapped.
Dassault then considered a somewhat bigger version, the Mirage II, with a pair of Turbomeca Gabizo turbojets, but no aircraft of this configuration was ever built. The Mirage II was bypassed for a much more ambitious design that was 30% heavier than the Mirage I and was powered by the new SNECMA Atar afterburning turbojet with thrust of 43.2 kN (9,700 lbf). The Atar was an axial flow turbojet, derived from the German World War II BMW 003 design.
The new fighter design was named the Mirage III. It incorporated the new area ruling concept, where changes to the cross section of an aircraft were made as gradual as possible, resulting in the famous "wasp waist" configuration of many supersonic fighters. Like the Mirage I, the Mirage III had provision for a SEPR rocket engine.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of an Israeli Air Force Dassault Mirage IIIC Shahak Interceptor that was attached to the 101st Tayeset, then deployed to Hatzor Air Base during 1974.
Wingspan: 4-1/2 inches
Length: 8-1/4 inches
Release Date: June 2012
Historical Account: "Heaven Sent" - The "Shahak" (heavens), as the Mirage was known in Israel, was the first IAF fighter equipped with air-to-air missiles. It could carry both the French Matra 530 and the Israeli Shafrir I, but these were so unreliable that IAF pilots preferred using the twin DEFA cannons instead. While the first months in service were dedicated to extensive training, like all IAF fighters the Mirages were soon involved in combat. During the 1960s. Israel had engaged Syria in what has become known as the "War for the Water", attacking Syrian attempts to divert Israel's water sources. On August 19th, 1963, fighting once again broke out after two Israeli soldiers were killed in a Syrian ambush. In the Mirage's first engagement, a pair of 117th squadron fighters encountered eight MiG-17s and managed to hit one, although it returned safely to base. On November 13th, 1964, the first ground attack mission was conducted against Syrian artillery on the Golan Heights. Another first took place the following day when a pair of Mirages encountered Syrian MiG-21s. For the first time both the Mirages and MiGs launched air-to-air missiles, although no aircraft was downed.
The IAF went into action again during July 1966 after Israeli troops were killed by a Syrian land mine. On July 14th, Mirages were flying top cover for other IAF jets striking Syrian positions when four Syrian MiG-21s were detected approaching the battle zone. Four 101st squadron Mirages were directed towards the MiGs and the formation's No 4., Captain Yoram Agmon, managed to down one of the MiGs using his cannons. This was the first worldwide kill for the Mirage, as well as the first Israeli downing of a MiG-21 (kill marking on the right). Another MiG was downed over the Sea of Galilee on August 15th, after attempting to strike at an Israeli ship run aground.