The Dassault Mirage IIIE was a single-seat tactical fighter-bomber powered by a SNECMA Atar 9C turbojet rated at 13,620 lb thrust with re-heat. Its maximum speed was 1,460 mph (Mach 2.1) at 40,000 feet. Armament was two 30mm cannon and up to 5000 lb external ordnance.
Developed in the early 1950s to a French Air Force requirement, the Mirage III first flew in November 1956. Successive developments included the Mirage IIIB two seat pilot training version, the Mirage IIIE for tactical nuclear strike and conventional attack, and the Mirage IIIR for reconnaissance.
In addition to the large numbers built for the French Air Force, versions were exported throughout the world. Total Mirage IIIE production was over 1200 and it served in 15 countries. The Mirage III remained in production until 1984.
Mirage IIIE 538, was presented to the Museum by the French Air Force. It had been flown in 1972 by Museum member, Colonel Denis Turina, whose father flew from Elvington in the Second World War. The aircraft last flew in 1993.
The presence of this aircraft at the Museum is a fitting memorial to the French Squadrons, 346 (Guyenne) and 347 (Tunisie), which operated from Elvington flying the Halifax from mid-1944 to mid-1945.