The Mirage F.1 - recommended aviation books (11)

Recommended  aviation books - two volume history of the Mirage F.1 published by Lela Presse ('Avions' magazine)

Though not as famous as the delta-winged Mirage III, the Mirage F.1 is still in service with a number of units in France and in the world. Vol 1 is dedicated to the development of the aircraft and its versions while vol.2 covers its operational and combat service.

Although the Mirage F.1 lost out to the F-16 in the 'contract of the century' in 1975, it went on nevertheless to serve widely in the Armée de l’Air and was exported to several countries. This first volume of a two-part history of Dassault's Mirage F1 describes in detail the history and the origins of the swept-wing successor to the famous Mirage III. Co-author Michel Liebert worked on the flight control side of the programme during the late 1960s at Villaroche. The first prototype, which was developed by Dassault using their own funds, made its maiden flight on 23 December 1966 but the developmental process of an aircraft initially conceived for the delivery of tactical nuclear weapons was a long and complex one. Volume one retraces the saga of the prototypes and projects through to the mid-1970s. The authors cover all aspects of the programme - from paper through to hardware via design, construction and training. Opening with a discussion of Dassault the company, the authors explore the Mirage F.2 and F.3 before the considering the rationale behind the F1. Separate chapters look at the Franco-British GVFB while a lengthy chapter discusses the American interest in the swing-wing Mirage 'G' as a possible replacement for the F-111. The book is interspersed with test pilot recollections and period colour photos including a contribution from project leader Jean-Marie Saget. The F1 02 had achieved Mach 2 on only its second flight and Dassault had a winner on their hands.

Below; the variable geometry Mirage 'G' - here with wings swept back - is presented to the press in May 1967

Volume II of this superb history of the Mirage F1 covers the type's operational and service history. Entering French Air Force service in May 1973, the Mirage F1 quickly proved to be clearly superior to its predecessor, carrying up to 40% more fuel, and displayed superior range and better maneuverability. It would serve as the main interceptor of the French Air Force up until the entry into service of the Dassault Mirage 2000. With production successfully underway dedicated variants were proposed by Dassault - all-weather interceptor and tactical reconnaissance variants are covered in depth. Additional chapters cover foreign operators, including for the first time detailed accounts of the Mirage F1 in combat - in 1995, during the Cenepa War, Ecuadorian Mirages went into action against Peru. On 10 February 1995, two Mirage F1JAs, piloted by Maj. R. Banderas and Capt. C. Uzcátegui and armed with Matra R550 Magic AAMs, were directed over five targets crossing the border from Peru toward the Cenepa valley. After making visual contact, the Mirages fired their missiles, shooting down two Peruvian Su-22Ms. During the Iran-Iraq war, Iraq's Mirage F1EQs were used intensively for interception, ground attack and anti-shipping missions. while Iraqi Mirage F1 EQ-5/6 units clashed throughout 1988 with Iranian F-14s. The F1 pilots hunted the Tomcats aggressively and attacked the Iranians at any occasion. The F1EQ-6s were equipped with ECM systems, degrading the effectiveness of the F-14's AWG-9 radar/fire control system. On 19 July 1988 four Mirages attacked two F-14s and downed both, suffering no losses. This sumptuous 350-page volume is completed with a super selection of colour images of French aerobatic teams and colour profile artwork by Thierry Dekker and Tom Cooper.

This text was written by myself for the Lela Presse web site

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