Updated: March 27, 2010
After close to four years of not making aircraft models, my passion was rekindled when I received a minty Heller Mirage 2000 as a birthday gift. With new inspiration in my veins, I set off to buy some tools, a handful of fine-grained files and lots of paint and glue.
Making the first model after so many years was exciting and it took me some time to get back into shape, but eventually I mastered them back and created a lovely model of Mirage 2000.
Mirage 2000 is a French 3.5-4th generation lightweight multipurpose fighter, built in the era of post-Anglo-Fresh cooperation. A tight budget and the realistic limitation of having an enormous, omnipotent aircraft industry, now a domain of the few rich and privileged, influenced the shape of Mirage 2000. While it is a fully potent fighter, it was no match for the emerging of class of titans, including the American F-15 and F-16 and the Soviet MiG-29 and Su-27.
While the Russian military industry would suffer from the fall of Soviet Union, the US giant continued forth relentlessly and with the relaxed export rules, which made F-16 more and more available to the nations around the world, Mirage 2000 fame was summarily eclipsed. And with no big wars coming, the political climate turning to the asymmetric warfare of terror, guerrilla and localized proxy wars, Mirage 2000 never got its chance to prove its worth in combat.
Regardless, it makes for a very interesting model. Delta wings, a small, sleek fuselage with simple, elegant lines, plus a collection of useful weaponry to choose from. Having built quite a few Heller models before, I knew what was ahead of me: a minimalistic and closed cockpit, plus two tiny pilots, which I decided against in the end, a very brittle landing gear and finicky decals. Still, it was a challenge.
My model was Mirage 2000D, a two-seater, normally used for conventional strike.
The model is very handsome. Mirage 2000 is a good-looking plane, with clean lines. A smart European two-tone camouflage scheme breaks the routine and adds spirit. Curvaceous lines of the engine inlets flowing into the sleek, tubular rear fuselage and breaking down into a pair of fat delta wings do not seem archaic, even though the concept draws back to 1950s.
The recurved wing ends, blending into the massive exhaust add to the look of the French fighter.
I did have some small problems with the model, though. The cockpit was not really existing, featuring only minimalistic detail under the closed hood. Having two separate pieces open was probably too much for the manufacturer. The fit was not the best either, allowing humidity to seep in, which along with some glue bubbles created a permanent mist inside the cockpit.
Fortunately, the air-refueling probe makes up for the boring bits.
The landing gear proved to be a pain. However, it was great fun painting, even though placing it into the well took care and effort. I've always made sure to be double careful with Heller models when it came to affixing landing gear.
Luckily, Mirage 2000 does have a very dramatic look, especially the front and read aspects. It looks very aggressive, and when armed with a pair of Ferrari-red Matra R550 Magic short-range missiles and two air-drop tanks in the same camouflage scheme like the fuselage, it's an exciting show.
The decals were really low quality and did not blend well with the paint, as you can see above, hurting the overall reality feel of the model. I even tried some spray, but it did not really help.
As always, weapons were fun:
Here's another dramatic photo:
And for comparison, here's Mirage 2000D alongside MiG-21, showing the great similarity in their size and profile.
For a model created with "cold" hands, after a very long pause, my Mirage 2000 is a decent work, although some things could have been better. But I was cautious and even slightly conservative, otherwise I would have probably tried more details and color, especially with weapons.
If asked to grade, I would probably say 7.5-8 out of 10, I think.
That would be all, see ya.