The F-105 Thunderchief made its initial flight 22 October 1955, exceeding Mach in the process. This aircraft ultimately beat North American's bid with the YF-107A for the USAF interceptor/penetrator allocation. The only major area of concern at the time was whether the Allison J71 turbojet engine would have been powerful enough to support the F-105 airframe and the decision was made to replace the Allison engine with the Pratt & Whitney J57 turbojet, and th is was ultimately replaced with the Pratt & Whitney J75 afterburni ng turbojet, which produced 26,500 pounds of thrust with afterburner. The name of the game here was power and thrust and the need for speed! The F-105D had a gross airframe weight of 52,000 pounds, a maximum speed at sea level of 730 knots, a thrust-to-weight ratio of 0.745, and a wing loading of 9.25 G. These features gave the F-105 an excellent performance in the trans-sonic range and excellent acceleration in the vertical envelope, which made it an excellent penetration nuclear strike aircraft. However, it was was to take on a much different role brought back men that would have either perished during the mission or become POWs. Payload and weapon capacity of the F-105 was considerable at 14,000 pounds. It carried more ordnance than the four-engined bombers of World War II, and for this reason alone the F-105 flew the majority of ground attack sorties during the war for the US Air Force. The airframe was not originally designed for the mud moving role but it did prove successful and even influenced the development of its successor, the Fairchild A-10 Warthog. The F-105 could be considered successful during the Vietnam War as its missions allowed the military and politicians to proceed with their strategy and tactics, and in the end there could have been no American involvement, let alone success, in South Vietnam without the combined efforts of the air assets of the US Armed Forces.
The quest for supersonic speed wasn't the sole realm of the fighter designer. As engine power and efficiencies rose in the 1950s, bomber designers also began to see their dreams of ever higher speeds and flight become more plausible. Despite this, though, the supersonic bomber remained largely unattainable for all but the Americans and Soviets. That is, of course, with the exception of the Dassault Mirage IV. The Mirage IV is the only supersonic bomber in the world that reached mass production outside of the US and USSR. As a result, it put France in a very elite club of those capable of delivering nuclear weapons at greater than the speed of sound. This was no mean feat, and despite the fact that the early Mirage IV was barely a strategic aircraft, range-wise, it is a testament to the personnel that designed and built it. The early Mirage IVAs were armed with a single AN-11 or AN-22 60-70 kT thermonuclear weapon carried semi-recessed in a ventral 'bay', not unlike the large pod on a B-58 Hustler. However, the Mirage is a smaller aircraft, with only two engines and crew. Despite the impressive feat of engineering that the Mirage IV represents, nationalism seems to have played a part in ensuring that not many models of it were made. Whether it was a case of 'sour grapes' or genuine ignorance of the aircraft's importance, none of the non-French model makers chose to represent the IV in kit form. Other French aircraft, such as the Mirage III and V, F.1 and Super /tendard were kitted by various other companies, but the exclusive IVA remained just that; beyond the reach of most. Of course, the French model kit industry was not about to let their country's achievements go uncelebrated, and Heller issued the Mirage IVA in two sizes: 1/72 and 1/48.
For the build I used the Academy M2 kit #1335 which provided a good starting point and as with any armoured vehicle the project began with the wheels and hull. Here I filled some holes on the sides and bottom which were originally designed for some motorization pieces. I then switched out the rubber band tracks for a set of AFV Club individual link tracks that give a much better appearance, since the M2's were kept with tighter track tension and this is better achieved with individual link tracks. I then moved onto the upper hull which went together easily, but left several large gaps around some of the pieces. In order to fill in these spaces I used pieces of stretched sprue softened with glue and then simultaneously added some weld beads. The rear door and turret went together nicely but the kits 25mm gun barrel was replaced with an aluminum one from RB Models. The kit antenna mounts were also rebuilt using round plastic stock, copper wire, and a piece of steel wire dipped in CA glue to represent the plastic cap on the end of the antenna. The armoured side skirts were next and I altered these with pieces of bent brass rod along the upper edges, as this is where the crew mounted some of their personal gear. Plus I removed the rear bottom piece of skirt from each side as again this was common practice for M2 crews. The personal gear along the side's skirts came from the Verlinden's 'Bradley Stowage Set' and Tamiya's Modern US Military Equipment Set. Each piece was modified by adding lead foil shoulder straps, or in the case of the rucksacks, filling in the rear of the rucksack with Magic Sculpt and adding canteens, entrenching tools and spare ammunition cases to give them the individualized look. The duffel bags also received lead foil straps on the backs and on the front so that no two bags looked the same.