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Whilst I wait for the new decals for my Fisher X-1A to arrive, I thought I would get a head start on the new Italeri Mirage IIIE due to arrive in the post very soon. I plan to replicate the Mirage that our fellow LSP member TTAIL (Sean) flew during his time in the RAAF. Ever since I built the Revell Mirage and produced aftermarket parts for it, I was nagged relentlessly for some RPK-10's by Sean, and I just had to do some for him this time around. This thread will become a build of the Mirage as soon as I get it. Of course, as part of the deal Sean will be providing input into the life and times of a RAAF fast jet driver during the late 70's/early 80's similar to the way that our friend Brick did for my Sabre build.

In the process of his requests for these tanks, TTAIL and another LSP member Kais went and did a walkaround of some, including holding a tape measure over critical areas to get very accurate measurements such that i was able to scale them down to 1/32 and make a start on them.

The tanks are quite unique, being very long (almost 6 Meters) and featuring 4 hard points to mount bombs upon. They were a solution to the problem of the jet being quite fuel thirsty with limited space to hang things on.

First, a few photos from the large amount of exceptional photos that these gentlemen took.





I went to the local hardware store and found some aluminium tube, which was approximately 1mm to big in diameter. I turned it down to the correct size in my lathe. I also turned some solid plastic end caps which press fit into the ends of the aluminium.


I then removed the plastic end caps and turned them, shaping them closely to the photos provided. Once I was happy with the result, the nose cap was glued into position with the tail cap removeable to make them easier to cast. I modified a parting off tool to make it very thin, which I have used to cut some of the panel lines using my lathe.


Compared to an Italeri 500 Liter Supersonic tank. these things are big!


I have placed 4 Academy MK 82's next to the tank for sizing purposes. I will probably end up using the Videoaviation MK-82's for this.


Edited by ericg
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Great start Eric ... thanks for bringing this to reality. First up the RPK10 images were all taken by Kais a close friend and fellow Mirage nutter not me :)


The RPK10 was an interesting device. The Mirage IIIO was sadly hardpoint deficient. without the RPK10 we would only have been able to get 2 bombs on the centreline.... not a lot of Boom !


The RPK10 was clearly influenced by the 110gall Supersonic tank. It contained the same 110gall (500l) of Avtur but also included provision for 4 Alkan release units. These were in cutouts that resulted in a very neat installation that was flush with the external skin. The Four cutouts did however occupy a significant volume of the tank. Consequently to keep the RPK10 fuel capacity at the same 110gall the tank was slightly longer and slightly larger in diameter. The individual release units were also staggered Longitudinally.


Though the RPK10 itself had the ability to carry 4 bombs per tank with 2 inboard stations and 2 outboard stations we in the RAAF only ever used the outboard stations to carry either 4 MK82 (LD or HD) or 2 GBU12 . In the case of the GBU12's on the forward outboard stations. We didn't carry 4 bombs on each RPK10 due to Max Take off weight and C of G restrictions on the Mirage IIIO. The rear endcap (as can be seen in Erics scribing) contained the intervolometer. This end cap was left off until the pilot had checked the intervolmeter settings as part of his walk around. The Gunnies them fitted the end cap. The RPK10 intervolmeter settings were true "French madness" and made no real sense. the intervolometers for each RPK10 were actually differrent and by some squiggly magic talked to each other .... clearly in French. You carried a cheat sheet for the desired release sequence and just made sure the pointers agreed with your cheat sheet :). Once set that was it there was no In cockpit method to change the release sequence. So if modelling a parked armed aircraft the end caps were removed and dangled below the rear held by a retaining wire




Each Release unit had 2 pistons that were explosively fired to physically push the bomb away from the carrier. When they went off you could feel each bomb as it was ejected from the release unit.


Interestingly the reason for the Cranked R550 pylon was to ensure safe separation of the outboard rear bomb as it was ejected from the RPK10 release unit. Without the cranked pylon the bomb would have hit the R550.


There are a couple of other variations of the RPK10 that were used by other Air Forces. These had slightly different weapons release unit locations. One Israeli version had release units actually on the lower surface of the tank. There are many images of Daggers carrying this variant. Any way modellers need to check their specific references when considering RPK10 style bomb carriers they are not all the same.

Edited by TTail
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The Mirage arrived today, and it was straight onto the workbench. I had cleaned my workspace after finishing the Fisher X-1A on Friday in anticipation of this kits arrival, so I wasted no time in getting stuck into it. 


My son always helps me to unpack the kits that I receive and I do hope to inspire him to become a modeler in the future. One step at a time.




Now, I am quite aware of the shortcomings of the IIIC that Italeri released and expect that this will be an easier build. I feel that their previous kit has been unfairly criticized, some of it justified, but in general most of the issues were easy fixes and the flak was coming from people who had never cut any parts of the kit sprues.


The good thing about this kit, is that most of the issues that were wrong with the IIIC are actually OK for the IIIE (or close version of). Ie; the nose gear lights, The way in which the exhaust has been tooled, the actuators of the main gear legs etc...


I will be adding to this thread a bit over the next couple of days, as I am about to start two days off tomorrow and am in the building mood. Of course, I expect there will be some jousting going on between  ex RAAF Mirage jocks, which provided much entertainment on my Sabre build.


First up, a couple of issues  (so far) that have carried over from the IIIC kit.


The seamline that occupies the top of the fuselage is still there.




The actuator fairing for the rudder is still massive! I will re-do this.




The exhaust should be much easier to do than the IIC, as the detail carries through the whole rear half of it rather than being devoid of it.




The instrument panel looks quite accurate for an Aussie jet, although I will be doing a resin panel for this kit to give it some more detail.



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Mine arrived at work this morning so kudos to Hannants and their postal system for super quick delivery to the other side of the world.


I haven't taken any of the bits out of the bags yet, because I am still at work, but I find it amazing that with the different fuselage on the IIIE kit, that seam line is still there. The fin has the same issue, different shape to the IIIC but with the same flaw.


The different weapons and external tank options are interesting.


I was just thinking back to how excited T'Tail and I were when we got our first Revell 1/32 Mirage IIIE kits about 40 years ago. Mine ended up as a lawn dart with a cracker up the jetpipe for inflight destruction.


I am looking forward to watching your build with great interest. Have fun with it mate.

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Left eyebrow on the main instrument needs to go for A3-13 circa 1981-82 :) thats depicting R550 sequence lights. The centre pedestal looks very odd and bares little resemblance to any RAAF Mirage.

You are a hard taskmaster mate, but it will be attended to in due course.


TTAIL has of course provided me with a decent reference pic of the panel that his Mirage was equipped with, which I will use in combination with others to scratch a new one:



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