As the French truck drivers from Sarrion departed for home in La Rochelle, our team of engineers began preparing to assemble the aircraft. Led by Heritage Manager Gary Hancock working alongside David Dron & Lionel Schmidt from France and our own Aircraft Engineering team, there followed a week of early starts and late nights as the delta wings were first moved delicately into position before being bolted to the fuselage. We were blessed with calm, wind free conditions to bring together the major components, particularly when lowering the sail-like tail fin into position.
Once the main structure was complete, the task of adding the sub-assemblies began, with the long undercarriage legs proving to be taking longer than anticipated.
Throughout the build, everyone was impressed with the quality of the Mirage IV. Not just her state of good condition after such a long period in storage, but also the quality of the original construction by Dassault. Like other aircraft in our Cold War Jet collection, it is remarkable to think that this aircraft was built in the early years of supersonic jet flight. A truly remarkable and beautiful piece of aircraft design and engineering.
As work progressed after adding the wings, there were several special moments that seemed to mark milestones as our Mirage began to return to life. The first was without doubt gently lowering the jet onto her main undercarriage for the first time in many years. With the jacks removed, she once again began to look like a supersonic strike aircraft.
The second moment was late on an afternoon when the team added the nose cone and refuelling probe. Suddenly, with those components in place, our Mirage had a face once again and became not just a project, but finally looked like a complete, recognisable aircraft.