France’s aviation industry exploded in the 50s, becoming nothing short of iconic. Dassault, someone we have covered in the article on the MD450 Ouragan , remained front and centre of this push for incredible indigenous aviation.
The Dassault Mystère was a development of the Mystère II, itself a swept wing development of the aforementioned MD450 Ouragan. The lineage had been established, and the Mystère IV would end up equipping 6 squadrons of the Armeé de l’Air.
Continuing on the success of it’s predecessor, the aircraft was exported to India and Israel (110 and 61 respectively). Our focus today however is the mount of the aerobatic team Patrouille de France. The aircraft was used by them from 1957 to 1964 and was the true fighter aircraft that the team would use.
TALK MORE ABOUT THE AIRCRAFt
The kit itself is a Matchbox kit. The kit originally had 2 releases under the Matchbox brand, both had French markings and then there was a kit with Israeli and another with Indian markings. The only kit release (to my knowledge) with Patrouille de France decals however was from Revell.
Let me tell you from the off – this kit is not cheap at all. It goes for double what I would normally pay for a model of this size and detail. The Matchbox kit also goes for about half of what the Revell kit does. The reason? The decals. As far as I can tell this is the only release of the Mystère IV with the Patrouille de France markings.
Construction was typical of Matchbox, though as it was re-produced by Revell the plastic is monotone. One sprue was wings and the tail surfaces. The cockpit is just a seat, and other than that the most ‘complex’ it gets is the landing gear.
As I found on my Hunter in particular, the plastic degraded during assembly for this kit. This kit actually had the most severe amount of melt that I’ve ever seen. I was relatively careful on the amount of glue I used and it wasn’t instant. Over 2 days after I initially built it I noticed the plastic had sunk on both wing sections and on the nose. It was disappointing and resulted in me using putty. I then sanded it down with super fine sand paper. It wasn’t very successful and still left some uneven surfaces but it isn’t so obvious in the final product. This is a learning curve for myself I suppose!
Painting is straightforward…ish. I used Revell aqua colours as usual after basing the model with Humbrol Primer 1 (gray). Aqua color 99 Aluminium coated most of the model then, bar the wings and tail. Those would be seperated into 3 different zones for the famous French flag The instructions suggest a mix of 350 Lufthanasa-Blau (Blue) and 104 Weiß (White). I ended up using my own mix of almost 50%/50% of each colour, trying to just match the decals blue as much as possible.
When looking online you can see a couple of different shades of blue for the model, so that section is something that is debated, as it isn’t clear if the paint faded over age, is bad colour grading, or if it was genuinely repainted from a lighter blue to a later darker blue more in line with what is used by Patrouille de France today.
After the blue was done 104 Weiß (White) was used alongside 31 Feuerrot (Fiery Red) to complete the tricolor. For whatever reason this didn’t go as well as my previous Fouga Magister did…and I had to constantly correct myself. I think I was just conscious of the cost of the kit and was pressuring myself for pretty much no reason. I did eventually get to a happy spot where the tricolor looked even and presentable.
Finally, was the decals (and some weathering). The decals are what this kit is all about and the reason for the inflation from 2003 prices! They are, simply put, pretty great. Although I’ve not built a Revell kit for quite some time I remember their decals being of good quality and this was no different. There wasn’t a lot to the decals – a few longer strips, a fuselage topping set (3 decals) and then tail pieces.
One of the pieces that helps make up the tricolor on the top of the fusealage did break. This contains a really small thin red line going up the edge of the tail fin. I chose to just paint this on instead and I am happy with the results. To be honest the majority of the decals are ‘time savers’ and I genuinely think someone of my skill level, if they took their time, could just paint most of these decals. The only exception being the Patrouille de France logo for the tail section.
After this was done I glossed the model with the last of my Humbrol Gloss rattle can Acrylic Varnish and put on some black and copper weathering powders around the engine, front air intake and wings. I think, overall, I got a good end result that looks not perfectly clean, but also looks used. It’s perhaps a bit ‘comic like’ but I think it matches my MD450 Ouragan that I’m so fond of.
Buy or Fly?
I feel conflicted on this. On the one hand this model is incredibly pretty when it’s assembled and marked up. For aerobatic fans it’s a must, and the same perhaps is true of Patrouille de France fans who are less confident at marking it up themselves/printing their own decals.
If this kit existed today it wouldn’t be more than £8-12.99/€9-13.99 I’d say. As it stands today these tend to go on eBay for about £20-25 / €23-30, which is no small fee. Though I’ve happily paid this for rarer subjects, I do not feel the price is particularly warranted for those who aren’t die hards of aerobatic teams.
I absolutely loved building this kit. I do not regret the price I paid for it (I somehow snagged mine for £15/€18)….but I don’t think I can say I’d recommend this kit to people without a specific interest, so it’s going to be a fly for most people, buy for PDF or Aerobatic teams. The cost of the OG Matchbox or more recent endeavours by Special Hobby just highlight the artificial inflation of this kit (given the amount of time these kits sit on eBay there clearly isn’t even the high demand for them).