Dassault Mirage IIIBJ Shahak, When supplement becomes success

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Introduction

The Dassault Mirage IIIBJ was the Israeli export version of the French Mirage IIIB tandem seat trainer jet. While not really being designed for the combat role and only a handful being produced, the Mirage IIIBJ was often used to supplement the Israeli fighter aircraft fleet and saw great success as both a bomber and an air defense fighter.


In the photo is the first Mirage IIIBJ, marked as 4X-FUO for it’s delivery from France. It later received the tail number 86 under the 101st squadron.

Acquisition

Following the acquisition of the Mirage IIICJ in the early 60’s the Israeli Air Force quickly ran into a problem as it was impossible to properly train new pilots to fly the mach 2 jet fighters with the existing trainers. Due to this the Israeli Air Force signed a contract with Dassault aviation in 1964 for the procurement of 4 Mirage IIIB Jet trainers. The Mirage IIIB essentially was a tandem seat version of the Mirage IIIC which lacked the weapon systems and radar of the fighter variant. The Israelis required that the trainers that would be sold to them could be reconfigured into fighter aircraft if the need would arise, and so the Mirage IIIBs that would be sold to the Israeli Air Force were configured such that they could install the same 30mm DEFA cannon pack of the Mirage IIIC by removing the ejection seat from the rear seat of the cockpit. This resulted in the Israeli Air Force Mirage IIIBs being a modified export variant which was then redesignated the Mirage IIIBJ (The J suffix on all Israeli Mirage III variants standing for “Juif”, intended as a bit of humor on the side of Dassault).


Mirage IIIBJ number 89 in flight. This was the last Mirage IIIBJ supplied to the IAF, being delivered in 1968.

The first 3 Mirage IIIBJs were produced and delivered to the IAF between February and March of 1966, each being designated for one of the three Mirage squadrons that were then operated by the IAF, with number 86 going to the 101st squadron, number 87 going to the 119th squadron and number 88 going to the 117th squadron. The last Mirage IIIBJ, tail number 89, was delivered in 1968 and went to the 119th squadron. All of the Mirage IIIBJs, except for number 88 which has a fairly unique history, moved between squadrons over the years being moved to the 117th squadron in 1970, the the 253rd squadron in 1979 and then finally to the 254th squadron at the very end of their service in 1982. It’s worth noting that the aircraft sometimes had the prefixes 7 or 2 for their tail number depending on the squadron they were assigned to at the time.

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Mirage IIIBJ number 86 carrying a pair of 400kg bombs on it’s centerline pylon during it’s service period with the 101st squadron. These photos were presumably taken during the 1967 Six Day War since the aircraft is in it’s full combat configuration with the rear ejection seat removed, the rear cockpit loaded with communications equipment and the guns equipped.

Combat History

The first 3 Mirage IIIBJs (86, 87, 88) all took part in combat operations during the 1967 Six Day War. Their combat configuration required the removal of the rear ejection seat to install the DEFA cannons, however they were also loaded up with communications equipment in the rear cockpit for their combat operations. The Mirage IIIBJs in this war were also loaded up with bombs for ground attack operations. During this war Mirage IIIBJ number 87 was hit by AA fire on June 6th 1967 flying over the Golan Heights, however the damaged aircraft managed to land in Ramat David airbase.


Mirage IIIBJ number 86 in the full combat configuration carrying Shafrir 2 AAMs under the wings. Due to the camo showing it in service with the 117th squadron it is likely this photo was taken sometime between the 1967-1970 War of Attrition and the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

During the War of Attrition with Egypt which lasted from 1967 to 1970 all of the Mirage IIIBJs presumably took part, this time in the air defense role. Photographic proof shows that with the arrival of the Shafrir 2 missile in IAF inventory in 1969 the Mirage IIIBJs were also modified to carry them for combat operations in this war. Based on written sources they were also later modified to carry AIM-9D Sidewinders as well.

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Mirage IIIBJ number 86 at Eitam air base during the later years of it’s service with the 253rd squadron. The aircraft sports 4.5 kill marks which were achieved with it in the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

All Mirage IIIBJs except for number 88 were also used in the 1973 Yom Kippur War for air patrol and defense. During the war Mirage IIIBJ number 86 achieved 4 confirmed air to air kills, the first of which was on the 18th of October 1973 when pilot Michael Tzuk used it to shoot down an Egyptian Su-7 with cannon fire. The latter 3 kills were achieved by the infamous top Israeli Air Force ace Giora Epstein during the last day of the war on the 24th of October 1973. Epstein downed 3 MiG-21s, 2 of which using AIM-9D Sidewinders and one using cannons. In addition to the kills achieved by number 86 there is also a single kill achieved by Mirage IIIBJ number 89 on the 24th of October 1973 where pilot Michael Tzuk used it to shoot down a MiG-21 with cannon fire.


Mirage IIIBJ number 86 in a hangar at Eitam air base, serving under the 253rd squadron.

End of service

The end of service for the Mirage IIIBJs diverts into two different groups. The first is Mirage IIIBJ number 88 - This Mirage was withdrawn from service in 1970 in order to be used as a testbed for implanting the J79 engine in a Mirage airframe for the Kfir project, during which it was renamed the “Technolog” (I might make a separate suggestion for that in the future). The second group consisting of the other 3 Mirage IIIBJs spent a few months in 1982 under the 254th squadron after which they were all sold to the Argentine Air Force during an operation called “Ashashit” (Lantern). The Mirages were delivered between December of 1982 and February of 1983. After their refurbishment they entered service a couple of years later under the 55th brigade of the 4th Air Force with tail number 86 becoming C-720, 87 becoming C-721 and 89 becoming C-722. Aircraft C-721 and C-722 are still kept in museums in Argentina to this day while aircraft 88 is kept in the Israeli Air Force museum in Hatzerim Israel in the final configuration of the Technolog which was designated as the Kfir TC.

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Mirage IIIBJ number 86, redesignated as C-720 in service with the Argentine Air Force.

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Mirage IIIBJ number 87, redesignated as C-721 in service with the Argentine Air Force.

Potential in War Thunder

The Mirage IIIBJ could be an interesting Mirage modification for the Israeli aviation tree being essentially a lighter Mirage IIICJ without a radar and without Matra R530 missiles. It could make for a useful premium aircraft, an interesting event vehicle or even just be added to the tech tree as a researchable option to bolster the tree, perhaps in a folder with the Mirage IIICJ.

Specifications

Type: Tandem seat conversion jet trainer

Country of origin: France

Wing span: 8.15 meters

Length: 13.87 meters

Height: 4.5 meters

Powerplant: SNECMA Atar 9B with 4250 kgf of dry thrust and 6000 kgf of afterburning thrust

Max speed: 2,120 km/h at 12,000 meters altitude

Max altitude: 18,000 meters

Range: 770 km

Weight: Empty - 7,122 kg, Fully loaded - 13,810 kg

Armaments: 2x30mm DEFA 552A cannons (125 round per gun for a total of 250), 2xShafrir 2, 2xAIM-9D Sidewinder, 2x250kg Type 25 bombs, 2x400kg Type 21 bombs

Additional photos

Spoiler

89a


Sources

Spoiler

חיל האויר בקרב - 70 שנות עליונות אוירית 1948-2018 - Page 322
Amazon.com
מטוסי חיל האויר מהטייגר מות' עד הסופה (for specifications)
שחק 86 - מרקיע שחקים
שחק 87 - מרקיע שחקים
שחק 88 “טכנולוג” - מרקיע שחקים
שחק 89 - מרקיע שחקים

7 Likes

Always a +1 for more Mirages

3 Likes

Awesome work +1 we need more mirage (as long as they arn t in the british tt, joan d arc didn t die for that! ;p)

2 Likes

A decent 9.7 perhaps.