Armour Collection B11E775 Israeli Air Force Dassault Mirage IIICJ Shahak Interceptor - Tayeset 101 "First Fighter" (Hakrav Ha' Rishona), Yom Kippur War, Hatzor, Israel, October 1973 (1:48 Scale)
"Our American friends offer us money, arms, and advice. We take the money, we take the arms, and we decline the advice."
- Moshe Dayan, former Defense Minister of Israel
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.
This particular 1:48 scale replica of a Mirage IIIC was flown by the Israeli Air Force.
Release Date: March 2008
Historical Account: "Shahak" - The Mirage is undoubtedly the most famous and legendary aircraft to serve with the IAF. At the time of the Mirage's design, Israeli-French relations were at a stage were Israeli pilots and engineers were taking part in it's development. The Mirage was planned as a Cold War interceptor. The Cold War called for an interceptor that could take off like a rocket, reach the strategic nuclear bomber's altitude as soon as possible and bring it down before it could drop it's bombs. Likewise the 60's spawned the air-to-air guided missile, and missiles-only interceptors were seen as natural measure against high-flying nuclear capable bombers. The French Mirage took off like a rocket, since it was fitted with a rocket pack that was fired after takeoff. The rocket pack enabled the Mirage to reach an amazing 75,000 foot altitude in a matter of minutes.
Israel, however, needed an air superiority fighter; a fighter that would engage other fighters at altitude, as opposed to large unmaneuverable strategic bombers at greater heights. So Ezer Weizman, (commander of the IAF 1958-66), demanded the rocket pack be replaced with 30mm cannons. The decision to add the guns proved correct when the first generation missiles developed for the Mirage turned out to be ineffective against highly maneuverable fighters. Only when more advanced missiles were fitted to the Mirage much later in it's service life, did the number of air victories attributed to missiles supercede those attributed to guns.