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Are they Mirages, or am I just seeing things?

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  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: Canada / Czech Republic
Are they Mirages, or am I just seeing things?
Posted by upnorth on Saturday, March 29, 2003 3:39 PM
I got into a debate (friendly one) recently with a guy who claimed to have models of the entire Mirage line of fighters. I was sceptical, as that family of aircraft is huge and some variants are very rare and obscure in reality still others never made it past test stages.

He's got the original Mirage delta prototype, a Mirage 2000N and a whole lot in between and most user nations represented.

I noticed three aircraft conspicuously amiss: any variant of a Mirage F.1, IAI Kfir and the Atlas Cheetah.

Theres plenty of Mirage F.1 kits out there as well as a few Kfir kits and I'm sure a conversion kit to handle the Cheetah.

When I asked him about the holes in his collection; to the F.1 he said "If its not a delta wing its not a Mirage, I don't care if it has the same name." to the Kfir and Cheetah, he said "They're distant cousins to the Mirage at best, not close enough related to the main line to warrant a place here."

In my mind, If the name of the plane is Mirage, the wings don't matter, it belongs there. As for the Kfir and Cheetah, I'd say they're a whole lot closer to the parent line than to be called "distant cousins" They're close enough that I'd call them half sisters to the line and therefor worthy of placement in a Mirage geared collection. They were both built directly off of Dassault built Mirage airframes, so at least half their parentage is incommon with the main Mirage line.

And I thought my family's genealogy was a horror show!

Anyway, I'd like to know what some of you other folks think about the matter. If you were building as full a representation of the Mirage lineas you could, would you strive to include The F.1, Kfir and Cheetah, or do you see them as something else entirely?
  • Member since
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  • From: United Kingdom / Belgium
Posted by djmodels1999 on Saturday, March 29, 2003 4:29 PM
I'd be surprised to see someone with kits of all the Mirages... What about the Mirage 4000..??? And the Vertical take-off prototype, and the G8 with variable geometry..?? Never seen those in kits so far..! (sigh)... The F1 is still a Mirage after all, I think and it should be included in any Mirage family!
  • Member since
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  • From: Pominville, NY
Posted by BlackWolf3945 on Saturday, March 29, 2003 4:53 PM
Well, starting with the Mirage F.1; it was manufactured by Dassault and given the name of Mirage. Therefore, it's a Mirage, despite what this fellow chooses to believe.

The Cheetahs were all remanufactured airframes. Each one started life as a Mirage III of one variant or another. In that respect, they are not distant cousins. More like half-brothers and sisters. Many changes were incorporated into these birds by Atlas and IAI, new engines, avionics, bolt-on refuelling capability and more. They are, nonetheless, Mirages.

The Kfirs are the only ones that could be described as distant cousins. As best I know, none of the Kfirs started life as a Mirage. In the late 60's or early 70's IAI made unlicensed copies of the Mirage V which they called Neshers. These came into being as a result of France's refusal to honor a contract for the delivery of Mirage V's to Israel. These were, more or less, exact copies of the Mirage V.

In 1976, the first Kfir was revealed. These were different aircraft than the Neshers, and once again, new airframes altogether. Initial export clients were Ecuador and Colombia, with the USN & USMC recieving 25 leased examples in the mid-late 80's for use in the aggressor role.

So the Kfirs are not Mirages. But they are descendants, in a way, as they were inspired by the Mirage V. The Nesher should hold a place in this guy's collection before a Kfir, however, because it is an exact copy of a Mirage V.

However, in the end it's up to this guy and his personal preference. Apparently, he just likes French Deltas.

Fade to Black...
  • Member since
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Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, March 29, 2003 4:59 PM
No F.1? Ok I'll build a complete line of Consolidateds but leave out the B-24 (It has the Davis wing).Evil [}:)]
  • Member since
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  • From: Canada / Czech Republic
Posted by upnorth on Saturday, March 29, 2003 5:08 PM
Don't laugh too loud, I knew someone who loved Liberators but refused flat out to recognize the Privateer as a member of the Liberator family because it didn't have the "right" tail configuration.

Thanks for the straight stuff on the Kfir lineage, blackwolfscd. I thought the first lot of them had been rebuilt Dassault Mirages, then the rest were new airframes. Still, I'd put one in to a Mirage collection without hesitation.

Thanks for the feedback folks
  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: Pominville, NY
Posted by BlackWolf3945 on Saturday, March 29, 2003 5:33 PM
Okay,

A bit of an update. Digging a little further, I found that some of the early Kfirs were remanufactured Neshers, but as far as I still know none were actual Mirages.

Upnorth, always glad to shed some light, if I can! Also, if anyone knows anything further or different, I'd like to know because this thread has now rekindled an old flame that I had some time back. I forgot that I had all this stuff on the Kfir, Nesher and IAF/IDF in general. Those creative juices are flowin' again! Tongue [:P]

Fade to Black...
  • Member since
    February 2003
  • From: United Kingdom
Posted by cmtaylor on Sunday, March 30, 2003 1:50 PM
Just to be contentious, since the Delta-winged aircraft was a straight copy of the Fairey Delta 2, I would say that the only aircraft that ARE Mirages are the ones that this chap didn't build!

Colin
Gentlemen! You can't fight in here; this is the WAR ROOM!
  • Member since
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  • From: Canada / Czech Republic
Posted by upnorth on Sunday, March 30, 2003 2:45 PM
Well, from what I've heard the Fairey Delta 2 was an X-Plane of sorts, not really intended for any sort of production.

Nobody has the copyright on the delta wing and there were a few deltas in development at the time the Mirage prototype took to the air, not the least of which was the SAAB Draken prototype. So contrary did it run to conventional aircraft design at the time, that it may as well have been dropped from a flying saucer it was so revolutionary and alien to the day's thinking.

That the Mirage came from the Fairey aircraft is a bit of a stretch for me, they look different enough in enough respects that I can't see a family relation.

I've got one question for blackwolfscd: The Isreali Kfir's canards are trully a smaller set of wings, however, any picture I've ever seen of a USMC Kfir has the canards, cut down to, or replaced with something more in the line of strakes. Whats the story there?
  • Member since
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  • From: Pominville, NY
Posted by BlackWolf3945 on Sunday, March 30, 2003 3:25 PM
While we're at it why don't we tell this chap to build EVERY delta-winged bird that's out there!

It's generally known that Marcel Dassault used the FD.2 as an inspiration for the design of the Mirage I, but was this first Mirage an exact copy of the FD.2? I have my doubts but, admittedly, I've devoted more energy to what I find to be the far more interesting stories of the Mirage, Kfir and Cheetah.

Regardless, the FD.2 has no bearing on the question as it was asked. The question was, basically, whether or not the Cheetah and the Kfir were Mirages.

Having said that, I'm of the opinion that if you wanted to build a complete collection of the "Mirage Family" that the FD.2 would have to be included only in that it was certainly a factor in the development of the first Mirage. But I wouldn't go so far as to say that the Mirage can claim any direct lineage to the FD.2.

Upnorth, the original 27 Kfirs, when updated to a later version (C1, I think) recieved the narrow-span canards instead of the full-span units. The 25 airframes that were leased to the USN/USMC were the surviving examples of these first Kfirs.

Fade to Black...
  • Member since
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  • From: Panama City, Florida, Hurricane Alley
Posted by berny13 on Sunday, March 30, 2003 6:23 PM
In my research I came up with the following on the Kfir.

After France placed an arms embargo on Israel, they used several Mirage 5 aircraft and modified them by using J-79 engines and self designed radar and built the first prorotypes of the Kfir. In test the aircraft performed better than the French jobs. The only problem they encountered was pitch problems due to the redesign of the rear of the aircraft. Small strakes were placed on the nose which solved the problem. The intakes were increased in size to supply more air for the bigger more powerful engine. They also had to include a small air scoop at the base of the vertical tail for engine cooling.
The canards were at first only used on the air to air version and was not used on the air to ground version. These were later put on all versions.
So the first Kfir were indeed Mirage 5 aircraft.

Berny

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  • Member since
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  • From: Pominville, NY
Posted by BlackWolf3945 on Monday, March 31, 2003 12:42 AM
As I said earlier, this thread has rekindled my interest in the Kfir/Neshr. I once was heavily into aircraft of the Israeli Air Force, and it seems that I may be heading down that road once again! Tongue [:P]

Anyhoo, to shed a bit more light on the subject of the Kfir, I've done a bit more research than I should have (Wink [;)]) and came up with the following:

In 1966 the Israeli Hey'l Ha'avir ordered fifty French Mirage VJ's to supplement and eventually replace it's seventy Mirage IIIJ's. This sale was invalidated by France with it's June, 1967 embargo of sales of weapons to belligerents in the Six-Day War. Needless to say, the Israeli government was, understandably, not happy. Especially given the fact that the aircraft had already been paid for.

The Israeli civil intelligence branch (Mossad), in collaboration with sympathetic Swiss engineer Alfred Fraunknecht, "borrowed" and duplicated the blueprints of the SNEMCA Atar-9C engine. Likewise, the plans for the Mirage III & V were "obtained" from French sources.

The resulting aircraft, essentially modified copies of the Mirage V (powered by modified copies of the Atar-9), were known as Neshrs. The first Neshr is reported to have flown in 1969 with production examples in service by 1971, with many taking part in the 1973 October War. (As an aside, I mentioned in an earlier post that all South African Atlas Cheetahs were remanufactured Mirages. It seems that at least one Cheetah E may have been a remanufactured Neshr. Also, Argentine Daggers are based on the Neshr.)

Even as the Neshr was in production, it was deemed to be somewhat insufficient and plans to develop it's successor were already well underway. This program was code named "Black Curtain" and culminated in the mating of the GE J 79 with a Neshr airframe. This first aircraft was itself given the code name of "Salvo", with the production aircraft being called the Barak. (One French-built Mirage III airframe was also reported to have been mated with a J 79 serving as a viability testbed.) As far as is known, these aircraft differed from the standard Neshr mainly in the change of powerplant. One squadron of Baraks entered service in 1971 and also took part in the October War of 1973. Although these aircraft are regarded by some to be the original Kfirs, the Barak can be considered the father of the Kfir.

The Kfir was first publicly revealed in 1975, and initially appeared to be a shorter and wider Mirage V. In fact, although derived from the original Mirage III/V designs, these were entirely new-built airframes with many features that were considerably different from the Mirages; shortened & widened rear fuselage to accomodate the J 79, enlarged engine air intakes, a dorsal fin ram air inlet, stronger landing gear, a longer nose, revised cockpit and indigenous avionics. Also, some of the early Kfirs were remanufactured Neshrs with all of the modifications listed above, but retaining some of the physical characteristics of the Neshr such as the nose profile. This has caused much confusion as to what is a Neshr, what is a Barak or what is an early Kfir.

The baseline Kfir was produced in small numbers, most of the 27 built subsequently being upgraded to C1 standard, the most obvious changes being the addition of small-profile canards and small strakes on either side of the nose. The canards greatly enhanced combat manoeuvrability and low speed handling, and the strakes served as compensation for the pitch-up instability caused by the additional lift produced by the canards.

Further upgrading led to the Kfir C2, new features including a dogtooth wing leading-edge, new radar and a multi-mode navigation and weapons delivery system. Also added were larger canards above the air intakes as well as the small strakes on either side of the nose. With the larger canard surfaces present on the C2, extra strengthening of the fuselage and inlet was necessary to compensate for the higher loads and aerodynamic stresses. In those earlier Kfirs which were not yet fitted with adequately strengthened frames, only the aforementioned small canards could be retrofitted. However, many aircraft from the initial production batch received the mods and were later upgraded to C2 standards.

IAI built a total of 185 Kfir C2 single seaters and TC2 two seat trainers, a small number of which have been exported to Colombia, Ecuador and Sri Lanka. The 1980's saw extant C2/TC2's further upgraded to C7 standards (as well as some new airframes) which included advanced (smart) weapons delivery systems. The most recently proposed upgrade was the C10, otherwise known as the Kfir 2000. All Kfirs, from the beginning, were intended to be multi-role combat aircraft.

So, although the Kfir can claim basic design and planform commonality with the Mirage V, it is not a Mirage. It is an entirely different aircraft.

Fade to Black...
  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, March 31, 2003 11:12 AM
.....And don`t forget the Mirage 50 , that Venezuela and Chile have. They are modifications made by Dassault Aviation to former Mirage 5 and III of these air forces.

Cheers
THUD
VenezuelaBig Smile [:D]
  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, April 2, 2003 11:36 AM
It has to be said that for any nation to call its entire post war aircraft production by one name does indicate some shortage of imagination. I wonder how hard the British half of the concorde team had to fight to stop them calling it "Mirage".
  • Member since
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  • From: Canada / Czech Republic
Posted by upnorth on Wednesday, April 2, 2003 11:45 AM
For the entirety of the Mirage family's existence, the name Mirage is respected and is synonymous with a dependable, affordable,capable, effective and generally easy to service aircraft that a lot of smaller nations couldn't have a combat capable air force without.

Why mess with a good thing by changing its name? :-)

  • Member since
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  • From: Pominville, NY
Posted by BlackWolf3945 on Wednesday, April 2, 2003 12:37 PM
Brand names, catch phrases and familiarity contribute greatly to the successful marketing of a product. The aerospace industry is no different than, say, the auto industry in this respect. How many times have you heard a guy say, "I'm a Ford Man!" or Chevy or whatever? Sometimes it's the same with a nation looking to replace or supplement it's armed forces. Not always, but sometimes!

Fade to Black...
  • Member since
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  • From: Canada / Czech Republic
Posted by upnorth on Thursday, April 3, 2003 11:20 AM
Yeah I can agree with that. A product name, regardless of if the product is good or bad can be the difference between mind blowing sales figures and utter fiscal failure.

To put the name Mirage on a fighter, for example, lends a real mystique to the product. What is a mirage in real life? Something that you see but can't grab a hold of, something that plays tricks with your mind. Put that name to a small combat jet with a minimal radar signature and its certainly fitting.

From anything I've ever heard, Mirages are rather a difficult "kill" in aggressor exercises, owing largely to their smaller physical size and radar signature.

Mirage seems an appropriate enough name for this family of nimble slippery birds, regardless of whether it was a marketing strategy or not.

This gives me an idea for a whole new thread about aircraft names :-)
  • Member since
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  • From: Pominville, NY
Posted by BlackWolf3945 on Thursday, April 3, 2003 7:06 PM
QUOTE: Originally posted by upnorth

Something that you see but can't grab a hold of, something that plays tricks with your mind.


Sounds like a girl I used to know... hehe Big Smile [:D]Wink [;)]

Fade to Black...
  • Member since
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  • From: Canada / Czech Republic
Posted by upnorth on Friday, April 4, 2003 10:13 AM
I think we all knew a girl or two like that :-)
  • Member since
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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, April 10, 2003 3:58 AM
From my researches on IDF-IAF AC's the Nesher was the Mirage copy but using US engines used by the F-4s in IAF service (which is the J-79) and armaments or Israeli copies thereof. The Kfir or F-21 Lion Cub (Aggressor AC used by the USMC & USN) was a totally new and improved AC based on the actual combat performance of the Nesher where the cannard was adopted to improve AC handling and manuevering. Let us Remember that the Mirage V that was embargoed by France was the replacement of damaged, lost, and unflyable AC during the Six-Day Arab War wherein the Israelis used the "PRE-EMPTIVE STRIKE DOCTRINE". Hitting airfields and bases of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Egypt. Killing Arab AC's (which were USSR built, and sometimes piloted by russian pilots) while sitting on there asses. After this war, It was followed by other conflicts wherein the Nesher were used together with A-4 Skyhawks, F-4 Phantoms, and other surviving vintage ACs.

The Atlas Cheetah has almost the same story as the Nesher. Using the Mirage airframe, different engine, avionics and weapons systems (usually built and supplies by Kentron or Darter.

The IAF has used several ACs built by France before the embargo, but now uses US built ACs. But before all of these they have use spitfire, AVIA-99s, and others. Among these where transports converted as bombers, by adding pylons on thw wings such of these where the smuggled DC47. ----info from JANES 50th Anniv of IDF-IAF
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