Matchbox 1/72 Mystere IVa
The reissue of the Mystere IV A kit by Matchbox caught my attention because it came with Indian Air Force decals. I was even keener to build the kit once I saw the eye-catching ‘leaping tiger’ nose art of a Mystere IV A of the No. 1 Tigers squadron of the Indian Air Force. The leaping tiger nose art can be found in a modeling post of the Mystere IV A by Polly Singh in the Indian Air Force Models section of the Bharat-Rakshak website.
The kit was built pretty much out of the box, with the exception of the seat belts and ejection handle. The parts did not fit particularly well, so I used putty on all the seams. Fortunately, there weren’t many parts to glue. The kit’s drop tanks, if they can be called that, are the sorriest ones I’ve seen in any kit. They are underscale and not even close to the shape of the tanks carried by the Mysteres. I left them off even though all the reference photos of Indian Air Force Mysteres show two drop tanks. Despite these shortcomings, the overall kit captures the look and feel of the real aircraft.
Mysteres in Indian Air Force service looked pretty clean and appear not to have multi-toned paneling. Therefore, I used Testor’s Steel Metalizer for most of the kit. To provide some shading I buffed some areas less than others. I sealed the paint with Future because I was worried that the decals would silver if I didn’t. After decaling I sealed the entire model with Testor’s Flat Acrylic finish.
The kit decals are for one French AdA and Indian Air Force aircraft. The Indian Air Force decals are for “IA 1017” from an unidentified squadron in 1958. But I did not let that stop me from building it as a No. 1 squadron aircraft, since this squadron was equipped with the type in 1958. The leaping tiger decal, the major reason for building this kit, was created in Adobe Illustrator using a single reference photo. It took many hours to get it right because it was my first time using this software. To make matters more difficult, the reference photo is in black and white making it hard to tell which colors were used on the real nose art. So, I made it up. To make sure that all the colors would show through, I used a solid white outline of the tiger decal as a base layer.
The colored tiger layer was printed on a color laser printer and laid on top of the white base. I was worried that the solid white background would not fit snugly over the rounded fuselage, so I used Q-tips to smooth out any water and air bubbles out from under the decal. To make sure it laid down well, I also used decal solvent, which creased and wrinkled the decal. Despite my instinct to ‘fix’ the problem, I waited for a few hours. Sure enough, the decals had stretched over the fuselage nicely, and I then placed the colored tiger layer over the white background. Another round of Q-tip burnishing and a solvent wash was followed by Future® to seal the entire decal. The alignment of the decals is okay if you do not look too hard.
An interesting aspect of the reference photo is the rear-facing position of the green filet in the fin flash. Normally, the green faces forward. Polly Singh informed me that many of the aircraft were delivered in 1957/58 from Dassault with the green filets backwards. This error was subsequently corrected. It seems like Matchbox used a real reference photo because the kit instructions call for the saffron filet to face forward based on a 1958 photo.
Photos and text © by Rupesh Santoshi