Heller 1:48 Jaguar A A123/11-YN French Air Force

The Story

Following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the French military launched Operation Daguet as their contribution to the build up of coalition forces during the gulf crisis. Twenty-eight Jaguar As of the Armee de l'Air would eventually be stationed at Al Ahsa, Saudi Arabia. Coalition air attacks began on January 17th and when daylight came, it was time for the French to launch their first combat mission of the war. Twelve Jaguar aircraft launched to attack the "Scud" missile facilities at Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base in Kuwait. Eight Jaguars carried BLG-66 Belouga cluster bombs which were dropped from a height of only 100ft. The other four Jaguars carried the AS30L laser guided munition. Low-level tactics was a controversial subject in the 91 Gulf War and the French do not seem to be an exception. Four aircraft received battle damage during their first mission. One aircraft, A91, was hit by a SA-7 missile and diverted to Jubail where it was later dismantled and flown back to France in a cargo plane. Another, A108 had its canopy pierced by a bullet which also struck the pilot. The Belouga cluster bomb, optimized for low-level delivery, was used by the French only on the first day of the conflict. Afterward, French Jaguars began bombing from medium altitude with general purpose bombs or laser guided munitions.

The Kit

The Heller Jaguar kit is not a great kit, but with some improvements it can look quite nice. Some basic improvements to the kit I did include: drilling out the space for the 30 mm DEFA 533 cannons found on the fuselage sides, adding some styrene rod to represent the cannons, fixing the fuel dump area by adding a new bulkhead and angling the dump pipe upwards, adding wire to the landing gear struts, and adding two more probes to the nose. Aftermarket sets used for this kit include: Eduard Jaguar A photoetch set, Neomega cockpit set, Paragon exhausts, Paragon wheels, Paragon flaps and slats, PJ Productions French pilot figure, Belcher Bits BLG66 Belouga cluster bombs, and Two Mikes Jaguar seamless intakes. I chose to build a Jaguar on the first day of combat loaded with Belouga bombs because I wanted a more interesting load than SAMP general purpose bombs that Jaguars typically carried during the war. The Belcher Bits Belouga bombs require some work as the profile of the sub-munitions need to be lowered and bomb fins need to be built from a paper template. After the bombs are assembled and painted, they do look nice. Although most pictures of Jaguars during the war show them with a Magic missile on the starboard wing, I used a Phimat pod instead because aircraft A91 carried one on that mission as did another plane, and I have a pre war picture of the plane I built with a Phimat pod. Getting the proper colors for my Jaguar was rather complicated (for me at least). I used Tamiya Flat Aluminum for the underside. The two topside colors are a mixture of either Gunze Sangyo FS 33531 (with white and yellow added) and Model Master FS 30277 (with white added). Finer painting, weathering, and washes were done with various enamels. The decals I used were from Carpena 48030 which includes decals for aircraft A123 of 4/11 "Jura" Squadron.