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1/48 Eduard Mirage 2000N

by  Greg Leszczynski (lgl007)

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THE KIT:

When I saw Eduard come out with this kit not too long ago I knew I had to have it.  Frankly there really isn’t another two-seater Mirage 2000 out there for us modelers; unless of course you can find the old Heller boxing.  That said, what you get in this kit is actually the old Heller kit with a whole bunch of bells and whistles all packaged up in a nice new box.  So, you still have to deal with all the old Heller kit problems.  But now you get color photo etched parts for the cockpit, beautiful resin ejection seats, Eduard’s canopy/wheel masks, a really nice set of decals to depict one of 4 Mirage 2000’s… (two D variants and two N variants) and a great instruction booklet with a nice colorful 4 page painting and decal guide.  So overall a really nice package with a very attractive price for what you get. The Eduard website has a really great photo breakdown of the kit and the contents:  www.eduard.cz

If you are going to pick up this kit, open it to check the contents.  The first ‘issue’ of this kit was in gray plastic and many of the large plastic pieces were very badly warped.  The second ‘issue’ was in light blue plastic with significantly less ‘warpage’.  So I would highly recommend the second ‘issue’ edition if you can find it.  That said the kit still needs a lot of work and certainly does NOT fall together.

There are many incorrect panel lines on the kit so depending on how much a stickler you are for such accuracy, do your research.  I addressed the main ones but left others.  Unless you actually worked on these jets, you will never know the difference ;-)  The panel lines are also very shallow in some areas and cavernous in others so some care needs to be taken to keep the look consistent.

The clear plastic pieces were in really rough shape with deep scratches and gouges.  They were just loosely sprawled inside the box.  Suffice it to say that it took hours of sanding to get them to a stage that is worth displaying.  I started with 400 grit sandpaper (from Tamiya) and went all the way up to 50,000 grit.  Also, do a lot of dry fitting especially if you are going to close the canopy and pay very close attention to the centre clear piece over the navigators control panel as it needs to be thinned significantly to lie flush with both sides of the assembled fuselage.

Other large pieces like the wings and fuselage halves were also in rough shape with many deep scratches so prepare to do a lot of filling and sanding.  Now this would not normally be a problem except the plastic that was used in the strangest I have ever come across.  It’s almost as if it has a fine plastic film on top of the hard plastic underneath.  Sanding sometimes resulted in this surface film to peel away and it was really difficult to stop this peeling.

THE BUILD:

Ok, the first thing to say is - do not follow the instructions.  The build is extremely easy and straight forward so just use common sense in the build and lots of dry fitting.  For instance I glued the fuselage halves together first so that I could easily address the warpage, THEN I slid the cockpit tub into position (from the back) and only installed the PE instrument panels at the very end of the build.  Unfortunately my first run at this kit, following the step by step instructions, led to unrecoverable damage.

You will need to put spacers/spreaders between the two fuselage halves behind the air intakes once the two halves are glued to minimize, in an attempt to eliminate, the large 2-3mm gap between the fuselage and the wings.  You could use filler here but there is a great amount of detail at the join areas that would have to be re-scribed after the sanding.

You will also need to close 3 of the landing gear doors that the instructions call for being open – if you are going to display the kit with gear down.  The Mirage 2000 does not sit on its landing gear with all doors open.  The large main ones close after the landing gear goes down.  I have yet to see a photo of these main gear doors open.  This is a tricky piece of business as this model was not designed with this in mind.  So be prepared for lots of filler, sanding and re-scribing.

I also added detail to the landing gear and behind the two ejection seats with some very fine wire based on photos I had.  The kit also does not come with the hydraulics that open and close the front canopy… so this mechanism needs to be scratch built. 

The ejection seats, although superbly molded in resin, are missing the ‘glass breakers’ above the headrests.  This is easily addressed by cutting these off the kit plastic seats and gluing them onto the resin seats.

I scribed more panel lines onto the weapon stations to give them more ‘life’ and accuracy.  The instructions do not call for the mounting of the Magic missiles that actually come with the kit.  Reference photos indicate that they are carried along with the ASMP nuclear missile.  However the decals for the missiles do not come with the kit.  I was fortunate enough to score the original Heller decals that came with this kit from a fellow ARC’er that had at least the ‘chevrons’ that appear on the Magic.  I used the yellow, brown and silver bands from Two Bob’s missile markings decal sets.

The two under wing fuel tanks require a lot of work as the two halves that form the tanks cannot be aligned properly – requiring a lot of filler, sanding and re-scribing. 

There is also a little window on the left side air-intake that should not be there, certainly if you are building a N variant, so this must be closed off, seams filled and sanded smooth with the rest of the fuselage.

The pitot tube that comes with the kit is a joke.  I cut a sewing needle then used Kaan Gok’s excellent article here at ARC (in the Tools & Tips section) to make the ‘bulbous’ front end on it and glued it in place after sanding… works the charm!

Yet another major faux-pas in this kit is that the ASMP nuclear missile is missing its major vertical fin.  So this must be added for accuracy.

Final piece of advice is not to use the painting instructions verbatim… they are clearly wrong for many sections in this kit.  Including the fact that the gray to be used in the camo is supposed to be a mix of a gray color and orange… well boys and girl the last time I checked mixing these two colors makes BROWN!  So clearly this is wrong; although it would work for the yellow/brown camo scheme of one of the other Mirage 2000 variants.  However, the gray that is called for is still an excellent match and should be used.  Also, the inside of the wheel wells should not be aluminum colored but rather gray as reference photos indicate.  These are just a few examples of painting guide errors.  So if you are a stickler for accuracy get lots of reference pics and check the accuracy of the instructions.

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The painting, decaling and detailing process I followed was:

1) I airbrushed on the base color(s) (I used Gunze Sangyo Acrylics - Acqueous Hobby Color)…

·        I put in about 5% Tamiya Acrylic Paint Thinner to each batch of Gunze Acrylics I airbrush on.

2) I airbrush on clear gloss (again Gunze Acrylic) - not too heavy because I don't want to seal too many of the panel lines with too much paint;

3) I use Citadel acrylics and mix my own panel wash (approx 80% water 18% black Citadel paint and 2% dishwashing detergent - I kinda eye this bit and add more paint if the panel lines are not coming up as vividly as I like)…

·        I don't apply the wash too liberally in fact I try to get it in the panel lines as much as possible... let dry for 2-10 minutes then I rub of excess with paper towel (Citadel paints dry very quickly)... apply a bit of moisture to stubborn spots on the paper towel... you may need to re-apply wash if you rub it out of panel lines. The clear gloss coat ensures that the excess panel wash comes off quite nicely;

4) Apply another thin coat of clear gloss to seal panel lines in preparation for decaling;

5) Apply decals with Micro Set and Micro Sol;

6) Apply another coat of clear gloss to even out the decals with the body work;

7) Apply matt coat (Gunze acrylics again)... actually I applied 3-4 coats. But I let the model dry at least 24-48 hours between any coats… again I was going for the painted on look of the decals.  In between coats I used Tamiya’s Weathering Master and pastel chalk to weather the aircraft based on reference photos.

I just want to thank the ARC community for being so very helpful and patient in answering my multitude of questions.  Without all your help, guidance, and tutorial/reference materials on this site I would not have been able to build this kit to a level that it deserves.  Thanks everyone =)

Greg

PS:  for all my photos on the build, including early stages of the build go to: http://s98.photobucket.com/albums/l249/lgl007/Eduard%20Mirage%202000N/?start=0

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Photos and text © by  Greg Leszczynski

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