Friday, January 24, 2014

Dassault Super Mystère

The Dassault Super Mystère was first flown on March 2, 1953, has the distinction of being the first European aircraft to break the sound barrier. It was similar to the North American F-100 Super Sabre, the Soviet MiG-19 and somewhat similar to the SAAB J-32 Lansen. The Super Mystère served with the air forces of France, Israel and Honduras, being retired from the Armee de l'Air in 1977.

It served in the Israeli Air Force (IAF) as the Sambad (a Hebrew acronym of "Super Mystère B Deux") from 1959 and it acquitted itself well against MiG-17 and MiG-19s, although the engine was found to be weak. Initial dogfights in the early 1960s did not result in any enemy aircraft shot down despite some excellent opportunities. It turned out that the 30mm DEFA cannons rounds were set for delayed detonation, which was ideal for bringing down Soviet bombers, but not jet fighters. As the Dassault Mirage entered IAF service, the Super Mystère began flying ground attack missions, and the IAF Super Mystères were heavily engaged in the 1967 war. 507 sorties were flown during the war and nine Super Mystères were lost, while five enemy aircraft were shot down. The Super Mystère pilots did encounter MiG-21s during the war, but despite being outperformed, the IAF pilots managed to evade the MiG-21s and on at least one occasion shoot down two Egyptian MiG-21s. The IAF Super Mystères were upgraded in 1969 with stronger engines to the Sa'ar (Tempest), and it served into the 1970s. The air force of Honduras operated Super Mystères between 1976 and 1996.

The model is the Airfix Super Mystère from the early 1970s, and it is one of the better Airfix kits of the era. The raised panel lines are discreet, and the cockpit has a reasonable amount of detailing. The fit was quite good, with the exception of the cockpit, and the decals were in good shape, although the blue had faded. The markings are of an aircraft belonging to the EC 2/10 'Seine' squadron in the mid-1960s, which had two escadrilles, the Cercle de Chasse de Paris, which was founded in 1934, and SPA 76, which originated from 1916, although it was disbanded between 1919 and 1938. During the Second World War the escadrilles  formed the fighter squadron GC III/10. The Super Mystère was in use between 1959 and 1968, after which the squadron flew the Mirage IIIC until 1985, when the squadron was disbanded.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Argentinian Nieuport 28 of Vicente Almandos Almonacid

Argentinian pilot Vicente Almandos Almonacid (1882-1953) volunteered for the French Foreign Legion before transferring to the French Air Force as a bomber pilot. He was decorated on several occasions, and he invented a bomb release mechanism before the war ended. To celebrate the end of the war he flew an aircraft under one of the bridges spanning the Seine in Paris repeatedly. Almonacid eventually returned to Argentina. He then tried crossing the Andes in 1919, but crashed, survived, and tried again on March 20, 1920. This time he made it to Chile in the Nieuport 28 shown below. Being his birthplace, the airport serving the city of La Rioja in Argentina has been named after Almonacid.

The kit is a 1960s vintage Nieuport 28 that is rather heavy in the detailing, but it comes together well and quickly.


SAAB S32 Lansen

The SAAB 32 Lansen (Lance) was the first Swedish aircraft to break the sound barrier, and it served well as an attack aircraft, a reconnaissance aircraft, a fighter, and later during its service life, as an ECM aircraft and a target-tower. The aircraft was produced between 1955 and 1960, and it served between 1956 and 1997. The A version (attack) was the first version to be produced following a request for an all-weather attack aircraft with integrated weapons and electronic systems. It replaced the SAAB B18 piston-engine bomber.

The A and S versions were described as being a bit underpowered, although quite pleasant to fly, whereas the J version had a stronger Avon engine, making it a good all-weather fighter for its era. The J version also carried four 30mm cannon as opposed to the A version's four 20mm cannon. The S version was the reconnaissance version, and only equipped with four cameras. As opposed to the Draken, SK-60, Gripen and Tunnan, Lansen was not exported to any other countries. There were attempts, though, as this ad proves:

The only 1/72 kit available is the Heller kit from the early 1980s. It is a good kit for its era with good fit, a detailed cockpit, raised but subtle panel lines but horrible decals! They silvered, refused to attach properly and repelled any decal solvent, but an acceptable result was had after much work and covering silvering with paint. The canopy unfortunately had a small bubble it the plastic, but since I couldn't find a replacement we will simply have to live with it.

Since the Heller kit doesn't come with any ordnance and since there was a dearth of Rb 05 anti-ship missiles on the market, I decided to go for the S 32 Lansen reconnaissance version. The decals represent an aircraft from the F11 Södermanland Air Force Wing based at Skavsta airfield in Nyköping during 1960. The S32s were used between from 1958, when it replaced the S 18 reconnaissance aircraft, and up to when the wing was disbanded in 1980.