Brand : Italeri No.1236
Media : Injection Plastic
Markings : Kit
The Sea Harrier is a further development of the Harrier Jump Jet. It is a naval short/vertical take-off and landing (S/VTOL) subsonic jet fighter designed to replace the de Havilland Sea Vixen. Largely based on the RAF’s Harrier GR.3, it features a ‘bubble’ canopy for better visibility, a longer fuselage to fit the Blue Fox radar and corrosion resistance alloys and coatings compared to the land-based variant.
The Sea Harrier features 4 rotatable nozzles which can be pointed down for the aircraft to lift off and land vertically (VTOL). Angling the nozzles also allows STOL operations, reducing the amount of runway needed for take-off and landing.
The Sea Harrier FRS.1 entered service with the Royal Navy in 1980. Affectionately called the ‘Shar’, its principal role in the Royal Navy was to provide air defense for task groups centered around the aircraft carriers. 57 would be built for the Royal Navy starting in 1978.
Sea Harrier FRS.1s took part in the Falklands War of 1982, flying off the carriers HMS Hermes and HMS Invincible. Primarily flown for the air defense role and armed with the latest AIM-9L Sidewinder missiles and Blue Fox radar, the 3 Sea Harrier squadrons totaling 28 aircraft would shoot down 20 Argentinian aircraft in air-to air combat and suffer 6 losses (2 to ground fire, 4 to accidents).
The lessons learned from this war would lead to an upgrade to the FA.2 standard starting in 1993. The last Sea Harrier FA.2 would retire in 2006. This build depicts a Sea Harrier FRS.1 ‘ZX 451’ flown by 801 Naval Air Squadron off HMS Invincible in the subdued color scheme applied in the run-up to the war. ZX 451 is credited with at least 2 air-to-air victories.
Info from Wikipedia
This kit is a rebox of the ESCI kit that was first released in 1983 so it’s actually an old kit. Features/options include:
The mold has held up and the panel lines are fine and quite nicely done. There’s not much flash and injection pin marks (one big one on the seat’s headrest though). Typical of Italeri, the plastic is softer than what you get from Tamigawa. Also typical of Italeri, the clear parts are a bit thick and lack clarity.
So, definitely a mixed bag. This kit has been superceded by a more modern tooling by Airfix. However, it’s still a good representation of the Sea Harrier by most accounts. It’s also cheaper. More importantly, it’s much easier to find here than the Airfix.
Kit manufacturers of this era hadn’t caught on to the idea of designing kits to accommodate various versions of the same aircraft so there’s a general lack of cutting and fitting of different parts together. So while lacking in finesse and details, they usually come together quite quickly. Fitting can be issue but that’s not really the case with this kit, which on the whole, fits well. Problem areas include:
It’s not all doom and gloom though:
Even with these problems, this is one of my faster aircraft builds due to the small number of parts.
Colors & Markings
I decided to go with the Falklands War option, which features a subdued color scheme and markings. The color scheme is a uniform Dark Sea Grey over every surface, including the missile rails. After seeing some photos, I decided to break up the monotony by going with Medium Sea Grey with the rails. To add some fading of the main color, I sprayed white over the black base first before the Dark Sea Grey went on.
In hindsight, the red color in the decals seems too bright but I don’t have aftermarket one for the kit so it will do.
I used a light gray wash for the panel lines. With the panel lines being so shallow, the effect is quite subdued. I also did some further fading over the top of the kit, since that’s the part that sees the Sun the most.
Doh! After the final photos were done, I realized I didn’t attach the small vane in front of the canopy. I decide that I should move on and not try to deal with the really small part.
Number 8 of 2017
Hey… my missing wheel turned up! So the casting work I did was all for naught. Oh well, it was good practice at least.
Anyway, on to finishing this build. First, for the base gloss coat, I sprayed AK Interactive Intermediate Gauzy. This is by far the easiest gloss coat I’ve ever used. I simply used a 0.5mm airbrush and sprayed it out of the bottle.
I then spent a few nights doing the decals. As usual, I leave some of the stencils off. Interestingly, while the main markings are muted, some of the stencils are brightly colored. The kit decals took a while to get off the backings but are easy to use and conform very well with Mark Softer even though they are slightly thick. They are also just slightly oversized compared to the instructions. I gave the decals a day to cure, wiped the kit down with a damp cloth, then sprayed another gloss coat to seal the decals.
Weathering is next. I find it a challenge to do panel lining on a dark subject but I find that light gray color works alright. It doesn’t give the most realistic finish, but it adds ‘depth’ to the finish. For this kit the panel lines are very shallow so the effect is quite subtle. I then did some filtering of the same light gray on random panels to add some variance to the color scheme.
Next are attaching the landing gear, stores and exhausts. These are done with superglue and reinforced by running diluted white glue on the joints. Thankfully, the landing gear all fitted OK and the kit sits flat on all 4 wheels. The exhausts were fricton fit and I posed them in a diagonal position since I find they look the most interesting this way.
Next are the small antennas. The thickness and general lack of finesse with these parts show the age of this mold. These were attached with superglue, reinforced with diluted PVA then quickly handpainted. The formation lights were as usual, painted in transparent colors and given a drop of Future to make them shine. The masking tape over the canopy was then removed. It turns out I didn’t fit the front canopy properly so there’s a minor gap between the front and back half. Dang.
The absolute last piece is the pitot tube, which I used stretched sprue instead of the piece that had broken off.
And I’m done. The work looks rushed in places, but all in all, it was a trouble-free build considering the age of this kit.
The book is chock full of pop culture references. Looks like they managed to pull it off with the movie. Don’t quite remember the RX-78 even making an appearance in the book but it’s always cool to see a giant robot on screen.
I just hope we’re getting pre-Schindler’s List Spielberg here.
After a few rounds of seamline fixing and rescribing, the pitot tube broke off. Oh well, it makes the kit a lot less fiddly to hold. So, first on is black primer.
To add some variety and fading to the monotone color scheme, I sprayed white in random straight lines across the top of the kit. I do this somewhat in the direction of airflow. I also varied the thickness and saturation of the white. I left the bottom without the streaks figuring since the bottom gets less exposed to the Sun, it will not fade as much.
Next is the main color of Dark Sea Grey (in this case, it’s er… Vallejo Model Air Dark Seagreen. Don’t ask). To keep the streaking visible, I thin the Dark Seagreen paint in a 1:1 ratio. I misted over the kit to build up the layers.
I stopped when I felt the effect of the streaking is subtle enough to my taste.
While prepping all the other parts, I managed to sweep most of them off the table and one of the main landing wheels ended up pulling a disappearing act. Since I didn’t want to get another box just for the one part, nor do I want to shelve the build, I decided to try my hand with casting the wheel with epoxy putty.
First I made the 2 halves of the mold with epoxy putty. Once they were slightly dry I pressed the wheel in. I only pressed up to the halfway point of the wheel for both ends. Once the molds cured, I rubbed some powder into the molds to act as a release agent and then pressed in more epoxy putty. Once these were slightly dry, I carefully pulled them out and left them to cure. Once dry, I trimmed and superglued both side together and sanded down the sides.
It’s definitely not great but it beats the alternatives.
With the epoxy putty wheel done, I have most of the parts ready.
Time to finish this thing up.