“The Jet Mosquito” - Special Hobby / Azure 1/72 Vautour II A/B/N
Updated: Aug 6
SO.4050 Vautour IIA 'IDF Attack Bomber'
Manufacturer: Special Hobby Code Number: SH72096
SO.4050 Vautour IIN 'IDF All Weather Fighter'
Manufacturer: Special Hobby Code Number: SH72410
SO.4050 Vautour IIB 'Armée de l´Air Jet Bomber'
Manufacturer: Azur Code Number: AZUR5672
The Vautour in Israeli Air Force service:
The first two Vautours landed in Israel on August 1st, 1958; at the time where Ezer Weizman replaced Dan Tolkovski as the new commander of the IAF and the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter set a world speed record of Mach 2 for a manned air interceptor. When the Vautours arrived in Israel, they were nicknamed “The Jet Mosquito” having the range, mission type, twin engines and silver finish of their wooden predecessors.
The Sud Aviation Vautour was designed as a versatile platform able to meet the need for a long range bomber, recognizance platform and night interceptor. By designing different nose sections that shared a common wing to fuselage joint, the Vautour was able to fill all three missions while maintaining 90% commonality of systems and engines.
During the development of the Vautour, the introduction of the SAM-2 high altitude radar guided surface to air missile became know to the west. The extremely high altitude flight bomber tactics employed till then were replaced by high speed - low altitude flight, aimed at avoiding radar detection and out running AAA guns.
The Vautour’s twin SNECMA Atar 101E-3 turbojet engines, offering 7,710 lbs thrust each, afforded the Vautour a top speed of Mach 0.9 (1,100 km/h, 687 mph) at sea level, which was exceptional for such a sized airplane at the time. The Vautour’s robust design gave it dive capability exceeding mach 1 and the ability to carry two and a half tons of bombs.
The Vautour was able to carry four 250kg bombs on external wing pylons in addition to six 250kg bombs in its internal bomb bay. For the long range recognizance missions, it carried 5,000 liters of fuel in its integral fuselage/wing tanks, a pair of 1,500 liter fuel tanks in the bomb bay and two 1,300 liter fuel tanks on external wing pylons.
For close support attack missions, the Vautour IIA and IIN were equipped with four DEFA guns packed with a total 400 - 30 mm armor piercing rounds and 316 rockets (240 inside its bomb bay and 76 in four wing mounted 19-rocket pods). Between the years 1958 and 1971, the IAF operated 28 Vautours: 17 Vautour IIA attack versions, 7 two seat Vautour IIN night-all weather interceptors and 4 glass nose Vautour IIB recognizance versions.
As the number of Vautours reached full strength, the IAF retired the aged Mosquito, B-17 and Meteor NF.13 night fighters from front line service. The radar equipped night interceptor Vautour IINs were relegated to the Bat squadron, while the other types went to serve with the Knights of the North squadron at Ramat David.
Vautour combat operations began on November 13th, 1964 in an attack mission against Syrian Army heavy artillery which was bombarding Israeli settlements at the foothills of the Golan Heights. Throughout the June 5-11, 1967 war, Vautours of the Knights of the North squadron played an important part in the destruction of the air forces of Egypt, Syria and Iraq. Using their long range capability, the Vautours were able to put out of action the runways of distant air bases inside Egypt and Iraq which were home of TU-16 and IL-28 long range bombers.
Vautour IIA missions to Iraq - June 1967 "Six Day War":
After the May 1967 closure of the Tiran Straights, at the southern opening of the Suez Canal, to Israeli shipping and the deportation of UN peace keeping forces from the Suez lines of cease fire with Israel, count down to war had began. On Monday, June 5th, 1967, 7:45am, Israeli Air Force fighters conduct simultaneous strikes on Egyptian Air Force bases in the Sinai, the Nile Delta and along the Red Sea. Long range Vautours (French for Vultures) were sent to the Egyptian air bases of Luxor, Ras Banas and Abu Sueir, to eliminate TU-16 and IL-28 bombers posing a threat to Israel’s population centers. Within hours, Iraq, Jordan and Syria declare war on Israel. As Iraq mobilizes its mechanized troops and long range bombers at the southern Iraq air base of H3, three Vautours navigate along the road leading from the port Haifa to the Iraqi base of H3. At 2:15 pm the three Vautours bomb the runway at H3 and strafe airplanes scattered at the base. Six MiG-21s, three Hunters, and a large transport are destroyed on the ground, while avoiding Atoll air to air missiles fired on them by a pair of Iraqi MiG-21’s flying overhead.
The following morning the pilots and ground crew at Ramat David witness a large shadow being cast over the base by a sole Iraqi TU-16. The plane dropped its bombs on a Netanya and Afula before it was downed over the Megido air strip by a Mirage IIIc returning to Ramat David airbase after an early morning patrol. At 6:30am four “Knights of the North” Vautours and a pair of “First Jet” squadron Mirage IIICs take off from Ramat David for another attack mission to H3. Navigating at ground lever using the Haifa-Iraq road, they fly over a long column of Iraqi armored vehicles on their way towards the border with Israel. As the attack formation approach within sight of H3 air base, they spot a pair of Hunter on final approach to land. The Mirage pair race ahead of the Vautour bombers and Yehuda Koren flying Mirage IIIC no.45, downs one of the Hunters with a short burst of gun fire. The Vautours follow the Mirages over the H3 runway, bombing and strafing the base one after the other. As the lead Vautour comes out of his dive, he is trailed by a Hunter. Following the lead is Vautour IIA no.17 piloted by reserve pilot Ben-Tzion Zohar, father of three who makes his living as a crop duster pilot, whose zero altitude high “G” maneuvering flight is second nature to him. Zohar drops his bombs and races behind the Iraqi Hunter, which in the mean time has aligned himself for a guns shot at the lead Vautour. “As I closed in on the Hunter he made an unexpected hard left turn, either he was warned that I was behind him or he saw me closing in. His sharp left turn put him right in front of my nose, with my gun sight set for ground attack, I pointed the nose of the Vautour just ahead of the Hunters flight path. A short burst of fire from the Vautour’s four 30mm guns and the Hunter continued his left turn, down into the ground. As I broke away from the Hunter, I spotted a MiG-21 diving towards me. I broke into a scissors maneuver with him, slowing him down and into where his speed advantage was negated. To regain the advantage, the MiG pilot pulled up in an afterburner climb into the sun. I lost him but Koren, flying Mirage 45 had him in his sights, shouting “leave him to me - his is my MiG”, and all I wanted was to shake that MiG off my tail. Low in altitude, low on speed and with no afterburner, all I could do was watch, as Koren’s twin 30mm Defa guns hit the MiG, stopping him in mid air in a large explosion. As we headed home over the Iraq-Haifa road, we strafed the Iraqi armored column on its way to Israel, setting ablaze several of their vehicles.”
The third and last mission of the Six Day War to H3, occurred on the morning of June 7, 1967 it not as successful at the first two, on the contrary, it was a disaster. Four Vautours and four Mirage jets heading for H3 were detected by Syrian early warning radar, as soon as they crossed the Jordanian border. Awaiting the Israeli jets were eight Iraqi Hunters. In the dog fight that ensued, two Iraqi Hunter were downed but at the cost of three of the Israeli Jets shot down. The pilots of the Mirage and Vautour IIA no.14 were taken prisoner but the pilot an navigator of Vautour no.65 were found dead next to their aircraft, in the desert sands of Saudi Arabia. In August of 2004, a US Army Iraqi war veteran presented IAF commander Elyezer Shkedy a Vautour wing section found in one of Saddam Hussein’s castles.
IAF Six Day War Brown and Blue camouflage colors:
After the transfer of the downed Vautour wing sections to the Israel Air Force Museum, I was summoned by fellow modeler and head of the IAF’s historic department Lt. Colonel Moti Havakok, to examine the wing section and compare its colors with known color standards. I found that the upper surface Mediterranean Sea Blue matched RAL5008 (Xtracolor X264) and the brown matched RAL8008 which I mixed using 3 parts Humbrol 110 to 1 part Humbrol 119. From comparison with metal models painted in the original aircraft paints, the wing and fuselage lower surfaces matches Humbrol 147 light gray. The blue used for the Star of David matched RAL 5001.
Bat squadron Vautour operations lasted only six years, due to the Bat squadron’s acquisition of the Mirage IIIC in 1963. The night fighter, two seat Vautours were then transferred to the Knights of the North squadron who continued Vautour operations until after the War of Attrition.
During 1971 the Vautours were retired in favor of smaller sized, ex-US Navy A-4E versions of the Skyhawk, that had a similar bomb load and range afforded to it by air to air refueling capability.
Building Special Hobby's 1/72 Vautours
The IAF enthusiast’s long wait for a 72 scale Vautour was answered by the Special Hobby /Azur release of the two seat N (night fighter), glass nose B (bomber) and single seat A version. In addition to the different fuselage halves and interior parts, the wings of the B version have a “dog tooth” leading edge that eliminated the need for the 90 vortex generator vanes on the top and bottom of the wings.
The kit parts lack locating pins, with the small parts requiring gentle filing to attain sharp angles and edges. The kit’s recessed panel lines are fine, requiring restoration were parts are cemented together. Kit assembly is bogged down by the meticulous cockpit and landing gear detail that are made up of plastic, resin, photo etched and acetate sheet. The kit provides no external stores and the bomb bay is sealed shut. The kit’s decals tend to curl upon themselves and their graphics have jagged edges, I supplemented the kit decals with markings found in IsraDecal IAF-28 IAF Vautours decal sheet. IsraDecal sheet IAF-28 is long out of production and has been superseded by decal sheet IAF-93 which is currently available.
Assembly notes common to all three Vautours:
Kit assembly sequence begins with the cementing the plastic and resin parts that make up the cockpit, wheel wells, landing gear doors, nacelles and wings. The interior of the IIN as well as that of the IIB 2 were painted Humbrol 27, followed by a wash of dark gray, 34 flat white dry brush and 174 red, 24 yellow and 33 black details. The seats were similarly treated but painted a base color of Xtracolor X628 wheel hub green with Humbrol 48 blue seat belts. To both Vautours, 40 grams of lead was added in the nose area prior to cementing the fuselage halves.
The lack of locating pins on the fuselage requires care in its alignment. A touch of super glue just ahead of the cockpit, aft of the nose wheel well and on the vertical fin set the fuselage half location. Weld cement was then run along the gaps, a second or two waiting time and then they were pressed together to form a plastic bead along the joint lines. With the joint lines smoothed, panel lines lost were ascribed using sharp needle with brass sheet and DEMO labeling tape. The wings were joined with the fuselage using super glue in the wing tab recess and liquid weld along the joints. Gaps along the wing to fuselage joint were filled with super glue. To ease sanding of the super glue, it needs to be sanded a short time after it cures, prior to reaching full hardness.
The rudder-vertical fin joint was reinforced with brass rods cemented through both. The width of the vertical fin trailing edge is thicker than the rudder leading edge. Once the rudder was cemented in place, the vertical fin trailing edge was sanded down to nearly match the thickness of the rudder's leading edge. Vertical fin panel lines were restored by scribing. Brass pins and superglue filler were also required when attaching the horizontal stabilizers to the fin.
To preserve under wing Nacelle panel line detail, I widened their upper forward and aft joints using sheet plastic. This enabled the nacelle contours to match the contours made by the kit manufacturer on the lower section of the wing. I attempted to rotate the resin intake to form the lower auxiliary intake found on the intake duct lower lip. The result was less than desirable and in hind sight I recommend just brush painting the lower lip bleed air duct with black paint. For a stronger attachment of the upper wing photo etched fence, I used a sharp needle to scribe a depression in the plastic.
Attachment of the landing gear to the hooks provided in the kit proved problematic, so I cemented plastic tubing inside the wheel wells, and extended the height of the main gear struts as shown in accompanying photos.
Landing gear were reinforced with metal rods which also enabled their height adjustment at the wing tips.
Vautour IIN and IIA wings vortex generators:
The upper and lower wing surface vortex generator locations was determined from photographs, there are 15 per row with 1.5mm spacing angled tow in tow out. X-Acto chiseled blade was then used to make the 15 recesses required for each vortex vane row.
The fuel tanks for the IIN were made by elongating Hasegawa’s 1/48 scale Weapons Set A napalm canisters by 11mm. Evergreen sheet plastic rods were used to make the pylons. The location of the pylon on the wing is aided by existing lower wing pylon attachment detail.
With the fuselage, wings, nacelles, and horizontal stabilizers in place, canon barrels, photo etched cannon blast covers, lower nose sensor and bent metal pitot tubes to the nose section prior to painting.
Painting Vautour IIN's natural metal finish:
My first two attempts at applying Alclad II natural metal finishes to my Vautour IIN ended in failure. The reasons for which was a repeated attempt at applying Tamiya masking tape over Alclad ALC-105 POLISHED ALUMINIUM with a Tamiya X-1 Gloss Black base coat. The difference from the first try to the next was in the drying time of the gloss black which was altered from 24 hours to 120 hours. Unfortunately, the drying time was insufficient in both tries and complete Alclad removal was required using automotive brake fluid.
My third application of the Alclad NMF succeeded, due to the application of the polished aluminum shade last. The first color applied onto bare plastic was Testor Model Master f.s.36440, to the radome, aft lower fuselage ventral fin, vertical fin tip antenna and upper fuselage spine. Once these areas were dry, they were masked, along with bare plastic areas to be painted polished aluminum. Alclad Grey Primer ALC-302 was applied to the locations where ALC-102 Duraluminium, ALC-106 White Alumium and ALC-115 Stainless Steel, were applied. To provide a tougher surface finish, Future Acrylic floor finish, diluted 50% with pharmaceutical alcohol was sprayed over these metal shades. 48 hours later, these areas were masked with Tamiya tape and the remaining bare plastic areas were sprayed with a coat of Alclad ALC-304 Gloss Black Base, diluted 50% with Nitrocellulose Lacquer thinner. This base coat dried overnight and a layer of ALC-105 polished aluminum was applied. The following day the Tamiya tape was removed, with the exception of the canopies, and the entire aircraft sprayed with Future Acrylic floor finish diluted with alcohol. The only item used from the kit decal sheet was the airplane’s number 69 nose number, that in order to prevent it’s curling upon itself, was slit off from the backing paper, directly onto the model. With decals in place, the model was weathered with oils which were sealed in another layer of Future, followed by attachment of landing gears, doors, fuel tanks with Tamiya clear red and blue wing tip position lights brush painted on.
1958 vintage Vautour IIN no.69 of the 119sq - completed model photos:
Vautour IIA kit assembly:
Special Hobby’s single seat Vautour IIA shares many of the same parts found in Azure’s two seat IIN and bomber-recon IIB versions. This enabled me to get a head start in building this review sample. The straight leading edge wing, same as used by the IIN version, required adding 90 vortex generators atop and on the bottom of the wings (15 blades per row).
The cockpit was painted Humbrol 67 gray and given a wash of flat black. Under a closed canopy, the most visible item is the seat. The seat was painted Xtracolor X628 Wheel Hub Green with Humbrol; 109 seat belts, 11 silver buckles, 154 yellow & 33 black ejection handle stripes, 174 red warning placards. A gun sight was furnished from clear sheet plastic and a green reflective lens.
The fit of the canopy to the fuselage is excellent, which enabled me to attach it to the fuselage using orange lid Tamiya liquid cement. Plastic rod auxiliary intakes were added to the left side of the nose, just below the windshield, and at the base of the vertical fin. A single angled probe was added to the nose, made from a bent staple.
The kit's painting instructions make reference to Gunze Sangyo paints which I can not vogue for their accuracy, as well as failing to show the engine nacelle unpainted aluminum areas.
To replicate the camouflage pattern on my model, I referred to photographs of Vautour 17, as well as other Vautours having 1967 war vintage brown and blue over gray applied. The three color camoflage was applied as stated in the introduction. The vivid red used on the nose of the Vautour was depicted by spraying Humbrol 220 Red over a base coat of Humbrol 34 flat white. Separation of colors on the real aircraft was attained using hard edge masking which was replicated on the model using 1mm thick strips of Tamiya tape. Engine nacelles were sprayed using Alclad II gloss black base coat, followed by Alclad aluminum with white aluminum highlighted access panel centers. With the primary colors applied, the model was sprayed with a layer of Future Klear acrylic barrier coat, required for the oil wash to follow.
Vautour 17’s prominent Iraqi Hunter kill marking is poorly printed on the kit’s decal sheet. A replacement was found in IsraDecal Mirage IIIC/B sheet IAF-34. The roundels were found to be too large and were replaced with 11mm diameter roundels taken from a spare decal sheet. All remaining markings were taken from IsraDecal sheet IAF-28 made for the Vautour.
External stores are not provided in the kit, so a pair of 1300 litre fuel tanks were taken from a Hasegawa Kfir and attached to scratch built pylons. The bombs are US 750 lbs bombs with revised aft fins and attached to scratch built pylons. With external stores, landing gear and doors attached, the model was sprayed with a semigloss finish mixed using Future and Tamiya Flat Base. Weathering was accomplished using a random mix of white, brown and black oil paints thinned with turpentine. The application of the dark blue has a “flattening” effect on the fuselage curvature and “swallows” the recessed detail of the upper wing surfaces. Panel lines in the dark blue areas were highlighted with a light gray-brown oil wash. By wiping the light gray-brown oil wash from the panel line down, the curves of the fuselage became pronounced. Atop the wings, the light gray-brown wash was wiped aft to simulate oil and grime flow with the air stream.
Post 1967 "Six Day War" Vautour IIA no.17 of the 110sq - completed model photos:
Vautour IIB kit assembly:
For the Vautour IIB, horizontal stabilizer parts 2 and 3 are required. The panel line detail on one side of each stabilizer is incorrect. The correct panel line configuration can be seen in the kit’s instructions, which is identical on the top and the bottom of both stabilizers. By copying the panel line location from the opposite face of each part I was able to scribe the correct symmetrical panel line arrangement.
“Bread Box” ECM fairing 6mm x 35mm X 4mm was added beneath fuselage, just aft of the nose wheel well opening. Camera circles and tear drop vents were added just aft of the bombardier station. Vents between the bomb bays and drains were added to the aft bomb bay door.
The wings were cemented in place and gap filled with plastic strip. Nose gear doors lower edges were trimmed to a triangular shape, using photos taken at the IAF museum, for dimensional reference. Apparently the nose gear door trim was done by the museum staff and were not done to the airplane when it was in squadron service, so do not trim the nose gear doors on our model! The under wing fuel tanks were taken from Hasegawa’s Kfir, with scratch built pylons. The outboard wing Safrir I, rails and pylons were also scratch built using photos for scale reference.
I am fortunate to have taken photos of the “Big Brother” in the mid-80’s when it still had its original four color scheme applied. The paints I used in painting the Vautour IIB no.33 color scheme include: Testors Model Masters f.s.35622 “Duck Egg Blue”, Xtracolor X105 sand, Humbrol 119 tan and Xtracolor X148 green. The painting sequence I used was application of Testors Model Masters f.s.36440 to the fuselage spine; Humbrol 33 flat black vertical fin tip, canopy and bomber windshield frames; f.s.35622 “Duck Egg Blue” lower fuselage. The lower fuselage color was post shaded with a dark gray applied to the panel lines, and whitened light blue applied to the center of the panels. The upper scheme painting sequence was the application of sand, brown with the green applied last. Engines, exhaust shrouds, intake ducts and wheel wells were painted with a mixture of Humbrol 32 and 11 of equal proportions. Landing gear struts were painted Xtracolor X255 Silbergrau, and exhausts X504.
Following the application of camouflage, the model was sprayed with an even layer of Future Acrylic gloss finish diluted with alcohol. IsraDecal were used for the "Big Brother" markings layered in Future floor finish, and the recessed panel lines enhanced with oil paints diluted with turpentine. After the landing gear, external stores and door were attached, the model was sprayed with a layer of Testors Acrylic Flat coat. The last items painted were the wing tip position lights, and the attachment of colored lenses to the nose gear and Safrir I missiles.
1968 - 1972 "War of Attrition" Vautour IIB no.33 of the 110sq - completed model photos:
A long awaited kit with fine recessed detail and excellent shape. Kit assembly requires intermediate skill due to lack of locating pins, use of resin and photo etch, and the need for joint reinforcement using metal pins. Thank you Special Hobby for filling a long standing void in the history of the Israeli Air Force.
AirDOC Modern Combat Aircraft Special Series AOPS 006 – Israeli Air Force Tayeset 119 -
by Shlomo Aloni.
IPMS/Israel Kne-Mida Magazine, issue no.28.
www.bourget.free.fr – detail photos by B. Marembert
Acknowledgements: I thank Ra'anan Weiss of IsraDecal Publications for photos provided for this article.