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Mirage IIIO 1/32, Scratchbuild

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Looking good on its legs Steve.


Your 2nd and 102nd anniversaries reminded me of this book my son and grandkids gave me last year. You may have this?













Published in 2021 for the centenary.  800 pages with every type ever used by the RAAF. All the well known aircraft plus many obscure types and one-offs.





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  • 8 months later...



These days I seem to struggle to close out projects. Only when there's a target date do I seem to make really decisive steps forward. With this in mind, I'm giving myself a deadline. This project will be finished by 01 April 2024. This will be the 103rd birthday of the RAAF and will give me a three day 'breather' prior to the start of the NATO 75 anniversary's group build. Let's see how I go.


This is where this project was up-to when it once again went into hibernation last April.  It's not looking tooooooo bad and is clearly a Mirage, but there is still a long way to go.



Let's start by having a closer look at that cockpit area. I'm not going to write a huge amount about this but suffice to say this area needs a bunch of detailing work starting with an ejection seat. I quite enjoy this kind of work; putting details together from brass sheet, plastic, MDF and other bits and pieces. 



We also need a sidewall on each side of the cockpit. Here the sidewall is made from plywood with various easing cuts made in it to assist it in conforming to the curved shape that it must adopt when slotted into position. 



Here it is glued in place and looking a bit rough but with some filler, sanding and fine shape adjustment it will clean up OK.



Here's what it looks like from the other side.



And after a bit more detailing. This is not supremely accurate, but at least it's moving forward.



Meanwhile the drop-tanks got a bit of a sharpening-up so that the tips would be correctly streamlined.



And the rest of the fuselage was exposed to a fairly generous helping of 'knifing putty'. This stuff is a new addition to my inventory; a single-part panel-beater's putty. It’s finer grained and a bit more fluid and free-spreading than the two-part stuff I usually use. As you can see the single-part putty is bright pink.   Here you can see I've used it to fill in some of the smaller gaps around the parachute fairing and wing-root. Good stuff this pink putty! 



The next phase will involve more work in the cockpit and working out a practical way to attach the drop tanks (I have a plan).  Then I’ll probably start on detailing the undercarriage bays.


I'm hoping to see heaps of you back here along for this final big push towards the deadline.


Best Regards,

Bandsaw Steve

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welcome to the fold Steve - you have made an astonishing start and bravo for giving skinning in metal a shot - you will never look back :)


it is complex and hard sometimes, but mega rewarding in the end - if I can help in any way with materials or advice just ping me here


keep it up



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On 12/19/2023 at 9:22 PM, Bandsaw Steve said:

I'm hoping to see heaps of you back here along for this final big push towards the deadline.

Gidday Steve, I'll be here. I've been wondering when this would 'take off' again. (An apt metaphor? 🙂 )

Regards, Jeff.

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Work on the cockpit continues and I must say I'm finding it surprisingly enjoyable.  Again I wish to emphasize that I am not attempting to make an extremely accurate Mirage III-O cockpit since there are limits to my references, ability and enthusiasm.  All I am hoping to achieve here is to make the cockpit sufficiently detailed to look convincing to a non-expert and, wherever possible, a fair bit like the original.


Work resumed on the ejector seat with padding and parachute packs and so-forth added using Milliput. This is a material that I have recently rediscovered and can highly recommend it as a versatile and easy to use product.



I cut out a small finger-nail shaped sheet of copper and annealed it by heating it to a pinkish shade of red hot using a creme brulee burner . Then I then bent into an appropriate arch shape to form the basis of the instrument panel cowl / shade that you can see in the photo below. Above the cowl, held in place with cyanoacrylate glue, is a gun-sight / HUD frame made from soldered brass.  Later on this will need some glazing but that can wait until after the painting is done.



After an hour or two messing about with some brass, copper and aluminum sheeting I had a basic but fairly convincing looking instrument panel.



Which, after a spray of primer, gave me this...



The ejection seat needed some 'bang handles' which were made from annealed copper wire wrapped into loops as shown below...



which along with a few other details gave me this.  This seat needs several straps added to it but they too must wait until after the painting is finished.



As the cockpit was still open on one side it seemed like the right time to spray some primer. Since there is a fair bit of exposed metal in this cockpit I chose to use a metal-etching primer.



Now my attention turned to the port side cockpit wall which - same as the starboard side - had a series of 'easer' cuts sliced into it (after this photo was taken) to help it form a nice even curve. It now snuggles nicely into the overall contour of the fuselage.



Here is the throttle quadrant and the radar aiming controller that will form the inside of the port-side cockpit wall.



and here's a close-up of the cockpit as it currently stands, dry-fitted together. If you don't look any closer than this it doesn't look too bad.



See; the further back you get, the better it looks. 😁



From way back here i think it looks really quite good! 🤣



For now nothing more is going to happen to the cockpit, although I might sneak some rudder pedals in. 

Next up I have to sort out the pylons onto which those drop-tanks will be attached and then it'll be time for me to try to do something with the undercarriage.


I'm feeling on track for my deadline! 


See you soon.

Bandsaw Steve.


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Drop-tanks and pylons.


So far in this project the drop-tanks have been held in position with nothing more than blu-tac.  Obviously this cannot continue. I need to make proper pylons for them to hang off and devise a means to hold them in position. Since the pylons are quite thin glue alone is unlikely to firmly attach either the pylons to the aircraft or the drop-tanks to the pylon so a little bit of thinking is involved. The first step is to insert a line of three brass rods into the underside of each wing.



Then drill matching holes in two pylon-shaped pieces of plywood so that they can slip onto the brass retaining rods. Here you can see some bits of brass sticking-up which are later removed, but more interestingly you can also see three small magnets nestled into rebate holes in the pylon and held firmly in place with superglue.



Here are two of the three matching magnets positioned on the top of one of the drop tanks.



Leaving this, which looks really quite racy if you ask me! Just imagine that this is an air-to-air shot and the floorboards below are the Tasman Sea (hence the big reflective blotch of reflected sunshine) and you will get the idea. The advantage of using magnets is that the drop-tanks can now be removed and replaced at any time which which make painting and finishing the model much simpler. It also means I can remove the tanks prior to transporting the model so that they are less likely to be damaged. 


While pulling a few high-G maneuvers around the house it turned out three magnets were not quite providing a firm enough grip and the drop tanks were sometimes detaching at unexpected moments. So I added two more per side . Now they are held very firmly in place.


At this stage though the pylons were still quite blunt on the ends, so after a few swipes with some sandpaper I fixed that problem.



Since plywood can leave a slight wood grain texture on the model's surface I chose to skin the pylons with lithoplate as shown below.



As I had skinned both sides separately  there were joins at both the leading and trailing edge that needed filling. I decided to give this stuff a go; 'Selley's 'Knead-it'. This is a bit like milliput except smellier and it sets really really hard.  It's pretty good stuff though and (I did not know this when I bought it) it comes in different varieties. This one is 'general filling' but there is one which is 'metal filling' so I'm keen to give that a try. Anyhow, this worked well, providing a very solid closing off of the small gap between the two sheets of lithoplate. 



Even though this particular 'Kead-it' was not the metallic stuff it still provided a good surface to file and sand back to and merges in with the lithoplate well.  Each pylon now really does look like it's made from metal.



Here's another racy underside view.  Imagine that's Melbourne on an overcast day in the background. (The colour is about right).



So, that's this thread up to date again.


Just for fun, and since it’s the last day of the year, I thought i would assemble everything I have made so far just so we can see the full 'up to now' effect. Here are the resulting photos:







I'm pleased with how this is looking at the moment and think I'm still on track for my April deadline.


See you in 2024 and may the new year bring good fortune to you all! :party:


Best Regards,

Bandsaw Steve.


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       Gidday Steve, she's looking very good with all the bits attached. The ejector seat in the cockpit is a very nice detail. That is a clever idea with the magnets. I've seen similar done once to attach turrets to ships, much for the same reason you've used them, but not done it myself.

       Yeah, looking forward to seeing her done in 2024. All the best regards to you and yours, Jeff.

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  • 2 months later...




In each model I make I generally try to do at least one thing that's new and challenging, at least for me. In this model, I'm trying two such new things. The first is to skin the model with aluminum lithoplate and the second is to make an aircraft with extended undercarriage. 

This post is all about the undercarriage and the associated doors.


As you can see the first things I've done is to line the nose wheel bay with brass and to make accurately fitting sheets of lithoplate that fit inside the 'roof' of the main wheel wells. 



In the photo above the sheets of lithoplate lining the main wheel wells are not glued in place, but are just sitting there so I can be certain that they fit nicely. After taking them out, detailing them is relatively easy. Here I've just added appropriate surface detailing using plastic sheeting stuck on with cyanoacrylate. 



I've chosen to use brass sheet for wheel well covers as it's stronger than aluminum.  I could have used plastic but this would have required thicker plastic sheet and would probably not have looked 'in scale'.


The yellow-green stuff on each cover is just masking tape that I've used to accurately transfer the shape of the hole onto the brass sheet. It will be removed in due course.



I've done the same thing with the larger, inboard covers over the main wheel wells as shown below. These covers have also been slightly bent to ensure that the conform to the shape of the aircraft's underside when retracted - but don't worry they will of course be extended on the finished model.



Now moving to the nosewheel well, there is a distinctive bulkhead with a semi-circular cut out about 2/3 of the way along the length of the well. This is easily made from brass sheet…



and fitted as shown.



Here's where we are up to so far, excluding the doors which are stored elsewhere.



Now for the legs.  You might remember this piece from a few posts back. This is my somewhat rudimentary nosewheel strut.  The main thing is that this piece be strong. I can add detail later but not strength.



As you can see in the photo below I have inserted a U shaped length of brass across into the front of the wheel well and soldered it into place.  This is a bit rough at this point but never mind. The point is that the front UC strut now fits beautifully into this recess and will be very firm once fitted in place with two-part epoxy glue.



Since I made a mess with the solder I cleaned up the inside wheel well surface with some plastic sheet.  The bracing strut behind the main UC leg adds still more strength and rigidity, just like on the real thing.



Now for the tricky bit.  Adding the little ‘trailing arm’ thing at the front of the UC strut.

First I reduced the piece to a single 'unfolded' shape as shown below...



Then I folded it up into it's 3-D shape and soldered it into place. It's still a bit crooked in the photo below but I straightened it up later so please do not lose any sleep over this.



Here's how things looked at this stage, albeit again with the door wells put to one side. Note that there have also been some retracting hydraulic struts added to the main wheel legs. 



Here it is showing that even the flimsy bit of brass making the forward ‘trailing  arm’ is strong enough to not crush under the considerable weight of the model.   Phew :phew:



Here is a sneak preview with the first of UC door covers blu-tacked in place.



Speaking of the UC door covers... they have been given their first internal detailing as shown below.



Here's the whole set as they currently appear.  There's still heaps of latitude for additional detailing both on the doors and the UC legs but I think I'm making progress towards having items that are securely fitted and capable of taking the weight of the model and the odd unexpected knock.



That's about it for this post.


Sorry about the very long delay since the last update. I've been spending far too much time on the SS Xantho instead of this jet and promise that for the foreseeable future I will be pushing on with this project instead.

Not sure that I'm going to hit that 'end of March' deadline though...:sad:


Best Regards,

Bandsaw Steve






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The "shock absorber" is the cylinder between your bent brass piece and the upper part.

It's a standard oil/gas oleo. The bent brass piece is just a cast metal mounting.

Lovely work though, and great to see this back!








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7 hours ago, Brandy said:

The "shock absorber" is the cylinder between your bent brass piece and the upper part.

It's a standard oil/gas oleo. The bent brass piece is just a cast metal mounting.

Lovely work though, and great to see this back!








My mistake.  So does that piece have a correct name? I like to get my terms as correct as my limited knowledge allows. 

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Gidday Steve, I've been monitoring this section, waiting for your Mirage to raise it's streamlined head. It's good to see this back on the go again. Next WASMEx? 🙂

Regards, Jeff.

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Really great scratch building Steve - love the way you can turn bits of copper/brass into U/C legs, the various gear bays & the ejection seat


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On 3/2/2024 at 12:04 PM, Bandsaw Steve said:

My mistake.  So does that piece have a correct name? I like to get my terms as correct as my limited knowledge allows. 

The nearest i can come up with would relate to a ‘swing arm’ as in a motorcycle suspension or ‘Wheel fork’. 


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1 hour ago, Vanroon said:

The nearest i can come up with would relate to a ‘swing arm’ as in a motorcycle suspension or ‘Wheel fork’. 


‘Wheel Fork’ that sounds promising. That photo very clearly shows just how much work I have to do on this thing! 

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