Created by France's famous Dassault company, the Mirage III was the aircraft that put them on the map with their famous tailess Delta-Wing design. Although serving as the backbone of France's air arm until the creation of the Mirage F1, the aircraft has come in over 36 variants since it first appeared over four decades ago, and still serves with at least a dozen nations.
The prototype first flew on December 17, 1956, and over the course of its career some twenty nations used the fighter. It was one of Europe's first Mach 2 capable fighters, and 1,422 Mirage III, 5, and 50 (5 and 50's were Mirage III's with upgraded electronics and avionics) were manufactured altogether between 1956 and 1992. Some individual Israeli Mirage pilots in 1967 shot down at least 10 aircraft, and became the highest scoring jet aces since the Korean War.
The original radar was relatively primative, but newer upgrades have been given more powerful systems. Pilot visability from the cockpit is good straight and to the side, but it lacks the rear visability common on modern fighters. For escape, a British Martin-Baker ejection seat is used, except on a few variants which use an American system.
Type: Single-seat fighter.
Powerplant: One SNECMA Atar 9C-3 rated at 13,670 lbs of thrust.
Max Speed: 1,469 mph.
Ceiling(Max Altitude): 55,780 ft.
Range: 1,500 mi.
Weights: Empty-15,540 lbs. Loaded-29,760lbs.
Weapons: Two 30-mm DEFA 552 cannon with 125 rounds; Nord 5103, MATRA R.511, MATRA T.53 or Hughes AIM-26 Falcon missiles. Has provisions to carry Exocet anti-shipping missiles.
Span 27 ft.
Length 49 ft. 4 in.
Height 14 ft.
Wing Area 375 sq. ft.
* Aircraft of the World: A Complete Guide