1/48 Italeri SAAF Mirage 3 R2Z

Gallery Article by Aristide Woodley on Nov 3 2011


The South African Air Force  (SAAF), was one of the biggest users of France's famous line of Delta winged fuel critical jets. Initally using Bs and Cs, they soon added Ds and Es, Rs and finally R2Zs into the mix. The R2Z was similar to the R, except that it had the Snecma 9K-50 powerplant, and a slightly different avionics suite. The SAAF ordered a total of four R2Zs. Sadly, of those four only one survives today. Serial number 857, has been preserved at the SAAF Musuem at Air Force Base Ysterplaat. I have had the pleasure of cleaning her, and indeed the privelage of spending a few minutes in the cockpit (she is seldom opened up for anyone to sit in)

But now, how to get a SAAF specific jet?? Well there are the Fujimi Mirage 3s, and the Academy interpretation of what it should look like. Fear not... where there is a will, there is a conversion set. For my build, I used the Scaleworx Mirage 3 R/R2Z set. Designed to go with the old but reasonable Italeri (Esci) Mirage 3E, it featured a new nose, ejection seat, jet pipe, and the various blade antennae and CRWS (radar warning receivers) fitted to the various recce Mirages. A friend of mine was kind enough to donate a Kfir cockpit to give the interior a bit of detail. It is not 100% accurate to a SAAF bird, but once its closed up, who can see... and further more who would be able to tell? To paint my 'Miracle' (as they were known in the SAAF), I patiently awaited the arrival of the Scaleworx 'Old School' SAAF Mirage paint set, containing the three colors that are mixed with reference to paint chips taken from the actual aircraft. 


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I started out with the basic Italeri kit, and tried my hand at rescribing the panel lines. Through a bit of trial and error, I eventually got a reasonable result. I did make a trip through to the museum to snap a few reference pictures so I could try and do justice to all the goodies I had acquired to put into the build. This build, to be honest... was my first build where I used sandpaper, filler, and as well as my first true attempt at scratch building things like the seat harness, and RBF tags. I'm not 100% happy with it, but fortunately I left the ejection seat loose in the pit, so I can remove it and make another attempt at the harnesses if it irritates me too much.

Once the process of filling and sanding, and filling and sanding had been completed, a shot of primer was laid down to highlight any trouble spots (another new concept for me)... and fortunately the only real issue was the join of the recce nose cone to the fuselage. I think that was more due to finger trouble than anything else. So after bit more sanding, filling, swearing, and rescribing I called it quits and moved on.

Using my shiny new Scaleworx paints, I first painted the underside and masked the area off, allowing for the 'overhang' of the top side camo pattern. For some reason, the SAAF liked to do irritating things like that, but the detail at the end of the day is worth it. I chose to mask off the camo pattern with tape, as opposed to the prestick worm method, as I wanted a distinctly hard edge line. I laid the green part of the pattern down first, and then began the tedious task of masking.  The masking was a big time consuming step and it took me a few days to get the mask shapes correct.  Next to go on was the 'Deep Buff'. A few touch ups were required, but all in all, went well. Next came the gloss coat (which for me was a new thing).. followed by decals, and lastly a semi-satin finish. I chose not to do a wash as the SAAF Recce Mirages were kept in pristine condition. So there she was, my completed 'Miracle'... and at the end of the day, it was a miracle she was completed. My first entry back into model building after a 5 year break, and alot of mistake made... but well worth the lessons learned. 857- the fastest of the recce Miracles.

Thanks for reading! Forgive my pics as this is the first time I'm submitting my completed model to the ARC site.

Aristide Woodley


Photos and text by Aristide Woodley