Patrouille de France – A History in Models

To start this article I want to tell a story about how I became a modeller who adores the French display team so much.

When I was a kid I went on a holiday to Northern France. It was staying in a caravan not far from a small town, and with multiple beaches. However, due to an undiagnosed condition I wasn’t doing particually well for a child and so argued a lot and was just generally pretty unhappy.

However, despite those unhappy incidents I look back on the holiday remembering the smiles that were had, and memories created. One in particular being how lucky we were in the timing of our trip…

We were travelling to a supermarche to buy some groceries, when I saw a sign on a roundabout…asking my parents to go around it again. I recognised that it was Patrouille de France and it stated they would fly in the town soon – in fact, in 2 days time! My father later went to the local information centre so we could find out the best place to go to see them.

The days before I was hyped. Whilst going around the town one day we saw a toy shop. Bar the Warhammer (where I bought a Space Marine bike with my pocket money) there was only one thing that I wanted more than life itself as a child….

This set, from Heller, featured (almost) all the aircraft of the Patrouille de France. I didn’t realise as a kid it didn’t include the Mystere IV (at the time only Revell owned the Matchbox kit for this).

I begged my dad the entire holiday, and on the last day he did buy it for me.

Prior to this of course we saw the Patrouille de France in their amazing Alpha Jets. We even travelled to the local airport to see them take off for a practice flight.

The sad part of this story is a I never finished this kit. In fact, I only ever started the Alpha Jet and finished the Fouga. Many will know that I had a somewhat difficult home life a 3 years ago and had to somewhat suddenly move. This kit, the lovely booklet, and much more was left behind. I felt guilty. I felt sad.

Another issue was ‘the fear.’ This is something I’ve mentioned in previous video ‘the fear’ that I think a lot of modellers face. The worry that they won’t do a good enough job. The anxiety of thinking if they mess up they can’t afford (or literally cannot obtain) a replacement. It hits all of us.

So when I set the challenge of ‘no more fear’ for my models….this seemed like the perfect subject. Combined with a group build over on Britmodeller (French Fancy 2)…I just had to!

I bought each kit seperately, with the exception of the Ouragan which I got in a bundle because it was a steal for 4 aircraft. All had Patrouille de France decals bar the F-84 which I bought separately. The decals for the Alpha Jet are older and don’t feature the ‘Armee de l’air’ wording under the wing, but it’s one of the older boxings (plus for some reason Alpha Jets have gone from easy to get stock to randomly being inflated, and now back to normal again….so…there’s that).

I’ve written full reviews on each aircraft, even the Alpha Jet before. For me this is a review of the kit above, but instead I’ve also done the Revell Dassault Mystere IV. I’ll also review the kit I’ve got. Yes, this article is weirder than usual.

Also, I made a little airfield setting to take pictures just for this project. One of the pictures actually looks real and I’m super proud of it. So keep reading!

Now, I still know for reference that the decals included in the above are essentially the same as you’d get in the solo kits (the Alpha Jet is significantly updated however). The F-84 however doesn’t have the right decals when you buy it alone I believe, and also had several different schemes (not just different colours). Please see the picture below to really see just how great it is.

Taken from an eBay listing; the bottom left decal set is the Alpha Jet. Obviously there is no Mystere here.

See the kit reviews below:

So, let’s talk about the current mount of the majestic French painters of the sky – the Dassault-Dornier Alpha Jet.

I got one of later Heller sets prior to their re-branding. I love the box art on this kit, I honestly thinks it’s beautiful. It’s playful, fun, colourful, and highlights the daring manoeuvres display pilots have to partake in.

It’s also a pretty good reference image to use when you’re painting the kit too. I always appreciate when the box art is better than a standard in flight pose (though nothing is as bad as the previous hell scape of Heller-Humbrol built model box arts…let’s just hope that that trend never comes back).

The kit is a relatively standard affair with one exception that I will never, ever, ever stop talking about. I talked about it in my old Alpha Jet review, and I’ll talk about it now. The landing gear. My god the landing gear. This kit has the single worst landing gear I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Be prepared for reinforcing it several times for it to just randomly break without you touching it due to the demonic presence that haunts this mould. Other than that, I love how is laid out!

It is a really quick kit to put together, but it has a really nice little cockpit. It definitely feels like a the sexier European cousin of the BAe Hawk. I am bias due to the story at the start of the article, perhaps, but it’s how I feel.

The decals are really basic, and are a really dated version of what the display team has now. There are a lot of extra decals you can buy though…including from their US tours, or for many of their special tail arts. I wish the Frecce Tricolori had so many external decal kits! But alas we are where we are.

The kit assembled really easily. I added some paperclips in the nose with putty to add some weight. At first I was led into a false sense of security that the landing gear was a false memory, or that I had simply built it wrong before…but it didn’t take long for it to snap multiple times.

It didn’t put me off. I painted it with the standard French affair of 56 Blau (Blue), 104 Weiß (White), and 31 Feuerrot (Fiery Red). For once I remembered to undercoat white (I had to use my local store and they only had Warhammer supplies, so it was their white base coat). This means the white looks a significant amount better than it normally does on my models (thanks to my Youtube commenters for pointing out how silly I am for not doing this).

After the painting was done it was a really simple set of decals. Unlike the Fouga, everything went on hunky dory, nothing broke or even tore. I was really satisfied with it.

PICTURE

Buy or Fly?

So I’m going to split this into 2 sections

Patrouille de France Alpha Jet Heller (1/72)

This kit tends to be around €5-€12, which is pretty much what I’d expect to pay today. I do feel it’s worth this price as I’d happily pay this for a repackaging of it. Heller does seem to randomly release this kit from time to time…but it’s not in the current rotation. I hope it returns soon because I feel like it’s a good seller (I mean national display teams always are …surely?).

Patrouille de France Anniversaire 40 ans

This kit is expensive. I’ve seen it between €70-100 recently and I nearly bought it out of emotional need. I came not my senses and didn’t buy it in the end. I think I spent less than €60 in total for mine, and that includes the Mystere IV which this kit doesn’t even include (though this is the hardest PDF kit to get a hold of). Therefore I’d have to say fly away from this kit, and leave it on the luggage carrousel forever.

“Today I saw the PDF historic flight! It was amazing” – this is the shot I built this whole set up for. I absolutely love this so much.

They get progressively less realistic from here, as my editing skills are not great.

This is unfinished as of yet, Hence I haven’t fixed the higgly-piggly taxi way yet. Gravel will cover all and save us ❤
The Tricolor arrives on the PDF aircraft – from oldest to newest.

I want to give a shout out to my mum and dad in this article. He has always been extremely supportive of my obsession with aviation. He’s always encouraged me to have fun above all, just as I try to encourage others now. Don’t let ‘the fear’ take hold; fun over fear. You are the best parents a girl could ask for.

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