by: Tim Hatton [ ]
BackgroundFirst flown on the 21st August 1978, the Sea Harrier FRS1 was a navalised version of the RAF Harrier GR3. The major difference to the airframe is the nose housing the Ferranti Blue Fox Radar and the raised cockpit with a bubble canopy. Other differences include enlarged wingtip jet nozzles giving the extra stability necessary for carrier deck landing and lash down points on the undercarriage. Principally designed for fleet defence the FRS1 or SHAR as it was nicknamed saw action in the Falklands war in 1982.
The kitNow that Hornby owns Airfix the change over has been heralded by a different style of box. The old familiar action illustration has returned and is supplemented with illustrations on the side of the box giving anyone new to the hobby some useful tips. The box is sturdy, which is great for the modeler that relies on Internet model shops and the post for their kits. The kit was produced in India.
There are three light grey sprues [A, B and C] of this new moulding, that are packed in a single polythene bag. There is one small sprue containing the two part canopy The canopies are packed separately within the main bag.
Sprue A contains some nicely moulded parts such as the horizontal tail, lower wing, jet nozzles, each nozzle is made up of two pieces, but there should be no problems blending in the joint. Sidewinders [x4] and under wing pylons. There are two different types of pylon for carrying the Sidewinders. One set of pylons carry a single Sidewinder each, the other two Sidewinders. There is a refueling probe, and a pilot figure, who looks like he has just done a tour on Spits or Hurricanes! There are two representations of the outrigger wheels so they can be displayed up or down.
Sprue B contains three part ejector seat with moulded seat straps, wheel bays with some very nice internal detailing and weighted undercarriage wheels. The front undercarriage leg, wheel and part of the gear door is one piece, but despite this superbly moulded. Also on the sprue are the air intakes, the auxiliary inlets, which can be displayed open or closed. A very nice representation of the front compressor and front nozzle heat deflectors. There are also a couple Sea Eagle missiles, which again look good. The panel lines on them are on the heavy side, but the fins are very thin. Each missile is made up from seven parts. Also on the sprue are two fuselage mounted cannons.
Sprue C contains the two fuselage halves, the wing, the nose cone and two wing fuel tanks. Again the panel lines are on the heavy side.
There are several options in the way that you can display your Sea Harrier. The auxiliary air inlets around the intakes I have already mentioned. The nozzles can be displayed in various positions, the undercarriage and air brake can be displayed retracted or not. There are various weapon and fuel tank fits.
Overall the moulding and details are pretty good although some of the panel lines are heavy for this scale. But it must be born in mind that the majority of people buying this kit will use brushes to apply paint and the slightly heavy detail will be reduced. The depiction of the vortex generators and wing fences are nicely done and as mentioned, the fins for the missiles are commendably thin.
There is a two part canopy although there is nothing in the instruction about displaying it open. The parts are clear and thin.
Instructions come in a eight page guide, the diagrams are clear and descriptive. Icons are used as an aid to construction. There is no mention of weighting the nose, but I am not sure if it is necessary because of the location of the undercarriage.
Markings for three Harriers:
1.No. 899 Naval Air Squadron, HMS Hermes air Group, 'Operation Corporate', South Atlantic, May/June, 1982.
2.700A, Fleet Air Arm, RNAS Yeovilton, August, 1979.
3.No. 801 Naval Air Squadron, RNAS Yeovilton, September, 1988.
The painting and decal guide for all three aircraft are in colour. Paint references are for Humbrol paints, but BS references are given as well. The decal count is around 93 the majority being stencils. The decals themselves are matte and include an instrument panel and side consoles. The red centre circles of the blue, white and red national insignia are separate for better registration. Each decal is numbered for easier reference.
conclusionI am very impressed with this kit and for the cost it presents outstanding value for money. Having said that, don' t expect a Tamagawa this is possibly aimed at the younger modeler, who is happy to have a good representation of the Sea Harrier. A difficult one to mark, because of the market it's aimed at. Despite the heavy panel lines, the overall shape captures the FRS1 very well. Good effort Airfix. I am looking forward to building it, which is what this hobby is all about.
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