DeHavilland Vampire

The Sud-Est 535 Mistral was the French version of the British DeHavilland Vampire, license-built by SNCASE.

SNCASE SE.535 Mistral (DeHavilland Vampire) by Heller
1/72 scale
Kit No. 221
Cost: $9.00

Decals:  Two versions - One Armee de l'Air (French Air Force), One Aeronavale (French Navy)
Comments:  License-built version of Dehavilland Vampire; mix of engraved and raised panel lines, detailed landing gear

The Mistral ("Northwest Wind") resulted from an arrangement between the French company SNCASE (Société Nationale des Constructions Aéronautiques du Sud-Est) and the British DeHavilland Company in the late 1940's to allow SNCASE to build under license an upgraded version of the DeHavilland Vampire jet fighter.  The fuselage was enlarged to accomodate a Rolls Royce Nene jet engine (the same powerplant of the famed Russian MiG-15), the air intakes were modified, and the landing gear were strengthened.  SNCASE built over 250 Mistrals, which went into service with the French Air Force and Navy as a fighter-bomber.

The DeHavilland DH.100 Vampire was a British jet-engined fighter of the Second World War, the second jet-powered aircraft to enter service with the Royal Air Force during the War (the first being the Gloster Meteor), although it never saw combat. The Vampire served with front line RAF squadrons until 1955 and continued in use as a trainer until 1966.  It also served with many air forces worldwide, and set several aviation firsts and records. Almost 3,300 Vampires were built, a quarter of them under licence in other countries -- including the SNCASE Sud-Est 535 Mistral.

The Mistral features both engraved and raised panel lines, evident here on the fuselage.

The Vampire was a versatile aircraft, setting many aviation firsts and records, being the first RAF fighter with a top speed exceeding 500 mph.  On December 3, 1945, a Sea Vampire (piloted by Captain Eric "Winkle" Brown), was the first jet to take off and land from an aircraft carrier.  In 1948, John Cunningham set a new world altitude record of 59,446 feet (18,119 m).  On July 14, 1948, Vampire F 3s of No. 54 Squadron RAF became the first jet aircraft to fly across the Atlantic Ocean.

During its career, the versatile Vampire was operated by over 30 countries, including Great Britain, France, Austria, Australia, Canada, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Japan, Norway, Jordan, Finland, Rhodesia and Mexico.

The indentations in the underside of the nose for the 20mm cannon are visible here, and can be drilled out for additional detail.  The pilot's instrument panel also features raised detail.

The Kit
The Mistral is molded in grey and consists of 41 injection molded parts, two of which are clear plastic.  It has a mix of engraved and mixed panel lines, but the engraved lines are rather heavy.  The cockpit features raised detail on the instrument panel, a pilot's seat and control column.  There are four depressions in the underside of the nose for the 20mm cannon, which can be drilled out for added realism.  The kit features boxed in wheel wells and detailed landing gear.  The twin booms are not overly complex, two halves for each boom, and will require some seam hiding where they join to the trailing edge of the wings.  The intakes will also require seam hiding, and there are separate parts for small flaps in each wing.

The landing gear and doors are very well detailed, considering the age of the kit.

There are two versions, one for a natural metal Armee de l'Air Mistral operating out of Oranie, circa 1952; the second is for a dark blue Mistral of the Aeronavale's 57 Squadron, no date.

A great little kit of a widely used jet fighter of the Cold War.

The Vampire/Mistral features boxed-in wheel wells.

The decals are in register with good color, and provide two versions, for a Mistral of either the French Air Force or French Navy.

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