Eduard 1/48 Mirage 2000D/N Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||July 2007||Manufacturer||Eduard|
|Subject||Dassault Mirage 2000D/N||Scale||1/48|
|Kit Number||1123||Primary Media||Styrene/Photo-Etch/Resin|
|Pros||Nice update to the Heller kit||Cons||No targeting pod nor air-to-ground weapons for the Mirage 2000D|
|Skill Level||Intermediate||MSRP (USD)||$39.95|
The Mirage 2000 was the next generation development of the famous delta-winged fighter series that started with the Mirage III. It was actually not supposed to be the next fighter as the French Air Force's Future Combat Aircraft was originally supposed to have variable geometry wings. When that program was cancelled, Dassault put forth a lower risk option with the Mirage 2000.
First flown in 1978, it was paired with the twin-engine Mirage 4000 to compete in the fighter export market - the Mirage 2000 versus F-16 and the Mirage 4000 versus the F-15. When Saudi Arabia selected the F-15, Dassault's privately funded development didn't have a launch customer and the sole prototype Mirage 4000 was moved to a museum. The Mirage 2000 was a strong commercial success with at least eight air forces operating the type not counting the French Air Force.
While Dassault did produce the Mirage 2000B two-seat trainer, the French and many other air forces learned from the combat experiences of Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Two-seat strike aircraft, such as the F-15E, F/A-18D, and Tornado GR.1, all showed their combat effectiveness with a two-man crew. Two sets of eyes have always been more effective in detecting and neutralizing threats, but the complex systems behind the precision guided munitions made the load split between the pilot flying the aircraft and the WSO managing the sensors and guidance package ideal. The first such strike fighter, the Mirage 2000D entered service in 1993. The French Air Force had already adopted another two-man aircraft for the nuclear strike role, the Mirage 2000N, which entered service in 1988.
Eduard has added the Mirage 2000 strike aircraft to its Dassault line-up with this release. Based upon the Heller kit, this release consists of five parts trees molded in light gray styrene plus a single tree of clear parts. The Heller bag shots were delivered to Eduard with the clear parts inside the bag with the other parts and my example had most of the canopy parts roaming free of their parts tree.
Out of the box, the Heller kit is nicely done and features a clean, smooth surface and scribed detailing. The main wheels are molded in halves, but these should be easily dealt with or you may find some aftermarket wheels to replace these.
Now Eduard never leaves such a kit alone. In this case, they've provided new resin ejection seats that are very nicely done, a set of paint masks, plus a fret of color-printed photo-etch. If you look carefully at the instrument panels, you can see the panel options for the early Mirage 2000D/N with the analog cockpit or the later D-model with the glass cockpit. Details are also provided for the ejection seat harnesses, cockpit side consoles, and selected details on the airframe.
The kit provides a pair of Magic IR dogfight missiles and the ASMP nuclear missile. A pair of external tanks round out these options. Not too bad if you're building the Mirage 2000N.
Since this kit also represents the Mirage 2000D strike fighter version, you're on your own to find a targeting pod and precision guided weapons to hang from your kit.
I'm not certain whether the kit's external tanks were accurate for the aircraft's early service life, but they are definitely not bulbous enough at the front for the current generation of tanks from what I can see. I'd suggest robbing the external tanks out of a Revell or Hobby Boss Rafale kit.
Markings are provided for four French AF and one South African AF aircraft:
- Mirage 2000N, 318, EC.02.004 La Fayette, Luxeuil/St. Sauveur AFB, 2004
- Mirage 2000N, 335, EC.02.004 La Fayette, Luxeuil/St. Sauveur AFB, 2004
- Mirage 2000D, 612, EC.05.330 Cote de Argent, Mont-de-Marsan AFB, 1994
- Mirage 2000D, 626, EC.3.3 Ardennes, Nancy Ochey AFB, 2000
The nicely printed decal sheet also contains an extensive set of airframe maintenance stenciling. Nice.
Even though the Mirage 2000 is widely used, there are very few kits of the type on the market and none of them are stellar. Heller produced the only two-seat variant on the market (also released by Airfix) and this kit (and Heller's single-seater) is probably the best Mirage 2000 in 1/48 scale.
With the addition of Eduard's masks, details and decals, plus the resin ejection seats, this kit shines above all of the Mirage 2000s in this scale on the market. Even so, you'll still need to rummage around for a suitable targeting pod and weapons if you're interested in the strike fighter that has seen combat in several NATO actions over the last decade.
My sincere thanks to Eduard for this review sample!