Dassault Mirage III
|FIGHTER-BOMBER||Virtual Aircraft Museum / France / Dassault|
Essentially an extrapolation of the Mirage I and retaining the 5% thickness/chord ratio 60° delta wing, the Mirage III was substantially larger and some 30% heavier. It was powered by a SNECMA Atar 101G-1 turbojet with an afterburning thrust of 4400kg and had provision for a 1500kg SEPR 66 rocket. First flown on 17 November 1956, the prototype attained Mach=1.52 at 11600m during its sixth flight on 30 January 1957. After the installation of the SEPR rocket motor and introduction of manually-operated half-cones in the air intakes, the speed of Mach=1.8 was reached on 19 September 1957. A pre-series of 10 Mirage IIIAs was ordered, these having a 17.3% increase in wing area, a reduction in root thickness/chord ratio to 4.5% and an Atar 09B engine with an afterburning thrust of 6000kg. Equipped with a 1500kg thrust SEPR 84 rocket (which could provide 1680kg at extreme altitude), the first Mirage IIIA flew on 12 May 1958, this model eventually attaining Mach=2.2, and the tenth and last joined the test programme on 15 December 1959. One pre-series Mirage IIIA was fitted with a 7258kg Rolls- Royce Avon 67 as the prototype Mirage IIIO for Australian evaluation and first flew on 13 February 1961, but the Avon installation was not productionised. The Mirage IIIB and IIIC were respectively two-seat trainer and single-seat interceptor fighter production derivatives, the first example of the latter flying on 9 October 1960. The Mirage IIIC was powered by an Atar 09B-3 and a SEPR 841 rocket, and carried an armament of two 30mm cannon, which, for a typical intercept mission, was augmented by a single Matra R 511 and two AIM-9 Sidewinder AAMs. Ninety-five Mirage IIICs were delivered to the Armee de l'Air, one (IIICS) to Switzerland, 72 (IIICJ) to Israel and 16 (IIICZ) to South Africa. In December 1982, 19 Mirage IIICJs, all re-engined with Atar 9C turbojets, were transferred from Israel to Argentina where some remained in service in the early 'nineties as the last of the IIIC sub-type of the Mirage.