Bloch 200 – Bloch 131 – Dassault Mirage IVA
The French aircraft industry was among world leaders from the beginning and, apart from the setback in the first half of the 1940s, has been at the forefront of aviation technology since. To show how rapidly the industry developed let’s look at three examples of French aircraft design from the 1930s to the 1960s. By the way, all three aircraft are from the same aviation company, the reason for the apparent difference is that Marcel Bloch, the company’s founder, changed his name from Bloch to Dassault due to his experiences at the hands of the Nazis during World War 2 when he refused to collaborate with them.
Bloch 200 in 1/72 by KP
This aircraft was developed in response to a 1932 requirement for a day bomber. The first of three prototypes flew in June 1933 and an initial order for 30 was placed at the beginning of 1934. They began entering service in 1935 and, following further orders, equipped 12 French squadrons by the end of 1935. A large number were still in service when World War 2 began and were employed in night raids on Germany dropping leaflets, but most had been withdrawn from front line service by May 1940. This aircraft was also licence manufactured in Czechoslovakia. A total of 332 were built and they served in secondary roles such as training during the early part of the war.
Although the Bloch 200 was a French aircraft this kit was originally manufactured by the Czechoslovakian company known variously as KP, Kopro and Kovozávody Prostějov, beginning in 1985 and most recently in 2020. It is not a bad kit, lacking mainly a reasonable interior which would be nice since there was so much glasswork in this aircraft that its absence in this model is rather obvious. The kit decals in early boxings were not good so I used Model Art aftermarket decals. Later boxings of this kit might have better decals included in them. An in-box review on the Britmodeller forum shows you what is in the most recent boxing of this kit and the Modeling Madness review suggests that this might be a good inexpensive kit for younger modellers and notes that a wealth of detail can be added.
Bloch 131 in 1/72 by Mach 2
This aircraft was designed to meet the requirement for a reconnaissance and tactical bombing aircraft issued in 1933 by the French Aviation Ministry. The first version, the Bloch 130 (which looked much like a low-wing Bloch 200) first flew in 1934 and performed poorly but a revised version, the Bloch 131, began flying in August 1936. They began entering service in June 1938 but were remarkably unsuccessful and suffered heavy losses at the hands of the Luftwaffe and all units in Metropolitan France had been reequipped with other aircraft by the time of the German invasion in May 1940. Some were later used as target tugs.
There is only one kit of this aircraft and it comes from Mach 2. That entails all the problems that come with most Mach 2 kits including problems with accuracy, problems with parts fit and transparencies and problems with instructions. In summary, this is a poor kit but if you want to make a model of this aircraft and are not up to scratch building it, this kit is your only option. It can, perhaps, be built better than my attempt, but I don’t know if many will bother. If you do, and make a super model with it, you have my admiration. For example, have a look at the short build review in the Britmodeller forum.
Dasault Mirage IVA in 1/72 by Heller
This aircraft was developed during the 1950s to give France the ability to attack cities in the Soviet Union with atomic weapons. The prototype first flew in June 1959 and they began entering service in 1964. The design was derived from the Dassault Mirage III interceptor and looks similar but was considerably larger. Sixty-two were produced between 1953 and 1964. They were modernized during the 1980s but withdrawn from the bombing role in 1996. Some were then converted to a reconnaissance role but they were finally withdrawn from service in 2005, being replace in both the bomber and reconnaissance roles by versions of the Dassault Mirage 2000.
There are two kits of this aircraft, the Heller kit that was first published in 1979 and has been reissued a few times since, and a new A&A Models kit which was first published in 2018 as the Mirage IVA and in 2023 as the improved Mirage IVP. I really liked the Heller kit which was published when that company was at the height of its powers and making some of the best kits in the world that still measure up well today. There is an excellent build review of the Heller kit on The Sprue Lagoon which rates it as ‘an old, but generally nice kit’. A review on Britmodeller shows you what is in the box of the A&A kit and a build review on Hyperscale is not very impressed by some of the quality of the kit but shows what a beautiful model can be made from it. Going from these review I’m now in two minds about whether to keep my old Heller kit or to get the new A&A kit if I feel inclined to make another model of this aircraft.