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Our Dassault Mirage Scrapbook

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French Air Force Mirage F1 at a Maple Flag Exercise at CFB Cold Lake… exercising its all-weather capabilities in pouring rain.

Originally designed as a single seat fighter with a secondary bomber role, the French Dassault Mirage family of aircraft was expanded to include advanced fighter-interceptors and pure bomber variants. A pair of these bomber versions could employ nuclear weapons too.

Retired Royal Australian Air Force Mirage IIIO/D twin seat trainer and conversion jet

The first Mirage prototype took to the sky in 1954, and several versions were tested before the first production versions, dubbed the Mirage III, were flown in 1956. Several sub-variants of the Mirage III included single seat fighter-interceptors, fighter-bombers, and reconnaissance versions.

Swiss Air Force Mirage IIIRS photo reconnaissance variant, landing at Florrennes, Belgium.

Two-seat trainer versions of many of these specialized jets were produced as well. The jet had a single afterburning jet engine and a delta wing planform.

Royal Australian Air Force Mirage IIIO/D trainer.

The Mirage III was an export success, finding its way in to the air forces of France, Israel, Argentina, South Africa, Brazil, Pakistan, Spain, Australia, and Switzerland. Many airframes received upgrades and modifications (engines, radar and avionics) to remain relevant as air forces around the world added various capabilities and more advanced weapon systems. The Mirage 5 and South Africa’s Atlas Cheetah are examples of these.

French Air Force Mirage FC1 at RAF Cottesmore.

A direct successor to the Mirage III family was the Mirage F1, with a more powerful engine and a smaller wing that dispensed with the delta design. Better maneuverability, more fuel load and improved departure performance were realized when the prototype Mirage F1 took off for the first time in 1966. The F1 became France’s front-line interceptor, although ground attack duties were a secondary mission for the airframe. Later, a reconnaissance version was operated by France too. The air forces of Ecuador, Iraq, Morocco, South Africa, Spain, Libya, Greece, Kuwait, Qatar, Gabon and Jordan have operated Mirage F1s, besides France.

French Air Force Mirage 2000D at an Air Tattoo in the U.K.

The next step for Dassault and for the French Air Force was the Mirage 2000 series of fighter-bombers. The -2000 was designed as a delta-winged fighter-bomber in the early 1970s, as an offshoot of the Panavia Tornado variable geometry wing competition. A dedicated fighter version was the Mirage 2000C, while a bomber version was a two-seat -2000D. A modified version of the 2000D is the 2000N, a nuclear-capable twin seat bomber.

French Mirage 2000N nuclear-capable bomber at CFB Cold Lake, during a Maple Flag exercise

The prototype Mirage 2000 first flew in 1978, while the first 2000C version’s first flight occurred in 1982. Later in 18983, the 2000D and 2000N versions took to the sky for the first time. The Mirage 2000B is a twin-seat trainer version of the -2000C version. The Mirage 2000-5 series of jets are improved variants with better avionics and air refuel capabilities. The Mirage 2000-9 version is an advanced version operated by the UAE, which included updated 2000-5 versions.

UAE Air Force Mirage 2000-9EAD at a Red Flag exercise at Nellis AFB, Nevada.

Operators of the Mirage 2000 family include France, Egypt, India, Peru, United Arab Emirates, Greece, Taiwan, Qatar and Brazil.

Mirage IVP nuclear bomber-turned photo reconnaissance jet departing an Air Tattoo at RAF Cottesmore.

A strategic bomber version of the basic Mirage delta-wing design was planned during the 1950s, and first flew in 1959. It is an enlarged, twin-engine (the only twin jet powered Mirage design), two seat strategic bomber, capable of nuclear strikes. In the mid-1980s, many of the Mirage IVs were modified to carry photo reconnaissance equipment too, and were phased out of the nuclear bomber role by the end of 1996. The final flights of operational Mirage IVs occurred in 2005.

Here’s a photo slideshow with photos of many of the variants of the Mirage, as well as some of the liveries of several air forces. Credit photographers Ken Middleton, Dion Makowski and Ken Kula for the images.

MIRAGE III Variants

MIRAGE 2000 fighter variants

MIRAGE 2000 bomber variants

MIRAGE F1 variants

MIRAGE IVP 

 

Random Warbird Photos #8

 

 

F-100F at Barnes Municipal Airport. 

Here’s our eighth Random warbird photo scrapbook, enjoy!!

Interstate L-6, possibly at Sacramento, California.

Collings Foundation F4U-5N at Westfield, Massachusetts.

YAK-52 leading a trio of CJ-6s at Portsmouth New Hampshire.

North American F-86/Canadair Sabres at an Aviation Nation show, Nellis AFB, Las Vegas Nevada.

Blue Angels alumni… a Grumman Bearcat from the past, passing behind the current F/A-18C Hornets at NAS Pensacola, Florida.

DHC-1 Chipmunk at Sun N Fun, Lakeland, Florida.

B-25 Mitchell at Lakeland, Florida.

MiG-21 at Lakeland, Florida.

CJ-6s at Lakeland, Florida.

Beech C-45 at Lakeland, Florida.

Collings Foundation B-24J Liberator at Manchester, New Hampshire.

TBM Avenger and PT-17 at NAS Jacksonvolle, Florida.

Commemorative Air Force B-29 at an unknown location.

Royal Australian Air Force RF-111C at Avalon, Australia.

F-14A at Quonset Point, Rhode Island.

L-29 Delfin at Reno – Stead airport, Nevada.

HA-1112 Buchon at Titusville, Florida.

Collings Foundation B-24J Liberator at Nashua, New Hampshire.

Northrop C-125 Raider at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Dayton Ohio.

C-1A Carrier Onboard Delivery (COD) at NAS Pensacola, Florida.

Douglas F3D/F-10 Skynight at Quonset Point, Rhode Island.

Eastern Aircraft/General Motors FM-2 Wildcat at an unknown airport.

Hawker F.58 Hunter Papyrus at RAF Cottesmore, U.K.

 

Our A-4 Skyhawk Scrapbook

 

A-4M-3

The Douglas/McDonnell Douglas A-4 Skyhawk is a lightweight, single engine, single pilot combat jet which performed its first flight on June 22, 1954. Intended as an aircraft carrier-based attack jet, it was built ruggedly to handle that punishing environment. Today, sixty-six years later, the design continues to soldier on in both the Argentinian Air Force and the Brazilian Navy as frontline assets. Others are found in civilian hands as aggressor aircraft or as warbirds. Some 2,960 airframes were built in various models, the last was produced in 1979.

Operators of the Skyhawk in relatively large numbers included the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, and the countries of Argentina, Malaysia, Singapore, Israel, Kuwait, and Brazil. Australia and New Zealand operated a handful of Skyhawks too, the former country selling the remainder of their naval fleet to New Zealand to supplement that country’s original fourteen jets.

Subsonic at top speed, the nimble fighter carried a heavy payload for its size. It was a tough customer as far as battle damage, and was inexpensive to operate when compared to its contemporaries such as the F-4 Phantom II, A-7 Corsair II and the AV-8A Harrier. The type was even cleared to employ atomic weapons via a loft-bombing profile.

It was somewhat successful in its secondary role as an air to air fighter, with several air to air victories credited to their pilots, but was equally a victim during fights, especially with MiG-17s. The U.S. Navy and Marine corps lost more than 300 airframes during the Vietnam War, mainly to anti-aircraft gunnery and missiles, but a few to the aforementioned aerial combats too.

The U.S. Navy’s flight demonstration team, the Blue Angels, used A-4F Skyhawks for a number of years, and their routine was aided by the size and nimbleness of the Skyhawk.

Several twin-seat training versions of the Skyhawk were built; as well as a dedicated Forward Air Control variant. Engine thrust capabilities increased in later upgraded models, as did avionics abilities.

The two largest users of the aircraft flew them into the 21st Century… the U.S. Navy retired their last operational A-4s in 2003, and Israel much later, in 2015. As the A-4 was withdrawn from frontline military service, more pristine airframes were sold to be operated as civilian-owned aggressor aircraft against current military aviators. Some of these operators include Tracor Flight Systems, Top Aces, Advanced Training Systems International (ATSI), and Draken International.

Here’s a look at many of these different models and operators, as well as an additional photo scrapbook at the end:

A-4A

A-4B

A-4C

A-4E

A-4F

TA-4F

TA-4J

A-4K

TA-4K

 

A-4L

A-4M

OA-4M

A-4N