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 ‘XZ 451’ flown by 801 Naval Air Squadron off HMS Invincible in the subdued color scheme applied in the run-up to the war. XZ 451 is credited with 3 air-to-air victories and 1 damaged during the conflict. She would be written off in 1989 off the Sardinia coast.
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 This kit has been superceded by a more modern tooling by Airfix.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.
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.
Manufacturer : Italeri No.1236
Scale : 1/72
Media : Injection Plastic
This is the Italeri rebox of the original ESCI kit issued in 1983. By most accounts it’s still one of the better representations of the Sea Harrier in 1/72 scale.
As usual we begin with a simple cockpit. Instrument panels are all decals. I added 1mm tape to the ejection seat to simulate seatbelts.
There’s a prominent pin mark on the head rest which I think won’t be too visible under the closed canopy.
Due to its vintage, parts breakdown is very straightforward. The intakes will need a bit of finessing to fit right but all in all, this came together quite quickly.
The bottom includes a slot for a center pylon but the kit doesn’t include any stores for it. I will be adding the belly cannons so I’ll be leaving the pylon off. I added plaplate to fill up the slot.
The pitot tube comes molded onto the nose and it’s bent out of the box. I think I’ll replace it with a brass rod.
Media: Injection Plastic
Markings: Cap Jempol Metal
The North American P-51 Mustang was an American long-range, single-seat fighter and fighter-bomber used during World War II, the Korean War and other conflicts. Introduced in 1940, it would go on to serve with air forces around the world till the early 1980s with more than 15,000 being built. It was armed internally with 6 0.50 caliber machine guns and was capable of carrying up to 1,000 pounds of rockets and bombs on its wings.
Indonesia acquired P-51Ds from the departing Netherlands East Indies Air Force in 1949 and 1950. They would serve the fledgling AURI (Angkatan Udara Republik Indonesia or Indonesian Air Force) for the next decade.
PERMESTA (Piagam Perjuangan Semesta or Universal Struggle Center) was a rebel movement active in Indonesia from 1957 to 1961. Based in Manado, they fought the central government for fair division of economic and political power. In 1958 the CIA began covertly supporting PERMESTA by supplying B-26 bombers and P-51 fighters to form AUREV (Angkatan Udara Revolusioner or Revolutionary Air Force), weapons, equipment, funds and manpower in the form of CIA agents and merceneries.
On 18 May 1958, AURI pilot Captain Ignatius Dewanto, piloting F-338, a P-51D Mustang, shot down a rebel B-26 bomber over Ambon. The pilot, CIA agent Allen Pope, was captured alive, tried and sentenced to death (he was eventually released in 1962). His capture exposed the CIA’s involvement and they subsequently withdrew support for the rebellion.
This build depicts F-338 as she appeared during this engagement.
Tamiya has a reputation of producing shake and bake kits but they also re-brand 1/72 Italeri kits that are of various quality. This is thankfully the former.
By all accounts, this is a down-scaling of their excellent 1/48 kit. Details are very sharp, lack any noticeable ejector pin marks and are designed to allow for various variants to be built. This boxing allows you to build the WWII version. Even so, you are given different options for exhausts and canopies (which can be posed open). Externally there are only drop tanks but there’s a Korean War boxing of this kit that includes rockets and additional fuselage options. There are 3 marking options, all WWII era P-51s.
All in all, this looks to be a straightforward build.
Construction began naturally with the cockpit which had very good details for 1/72. Restraints are provided as decals. After a quick painting (Black Grey base, German Cam Bright Green as the main color, gloss coat, Dark Grey wash, drybrush with the silver pencil and then a flat coat), the 2 halves of the fuselage were cemented together, which hid all the detailed work. The lower wings come as a whole bottom span with a pair of separate upper wings. Such is the precision of Tamiya Engineeringtm that there are no gaps on the wingroots. The nosecone attaches to the body with a polycap but I decided to paint the blades separately from the nose. The exhausts were set aside to be painted separately and I decided not to attach the exterior fuel tanks to keep the lines smooth.
The canopy is designed with a separate frame which allows for easy masking. After masking with tape and masking liquid I attached it to the frame with Gator Glue. The whole thing was then cemented onto the fuselage. I won’t know if there was any smudging till the end of the build.
There is only 1 seamline to fix but it runs down the middle of the whole length of the kit. I paid more attention to the fitting on the top than on the bottom to minimize cleanup work. The intake on the bottom has multiple panel lines which the seamline cuts across. There’s also a small section that is inset that required multiple attempts to fix. I did the best I can and moved on.
F-338 sported a uniquely curved antenna blade on the spine that needs to be scratchbuilt. The markings for this P-51 is from Cap Jempol Metal (literally Metal Finger Print), a local decal maker. The instructions include a template for the antenna that I used to make with 0.5mm plastic card.
Painting & Markings
First, I painted the landing gear bays the same way as the cockpit. After curing, I stuffed them with blutack to prepare for the rest.
Vallejo Black Gloss Primer serves as a base with Vallejo Metal Color Aluminium as the main color. I decided to vary the color of the flaps, elevators and a few other random panels so I spent 1.5 hours masking off the panels and only 5 minutes of painting with Vallejo Metal Color Dull Aluminium. I can’t say it’s accurate to do this sort of variation, but I think it adds some visual interest. After I removed the masking tape I noticed I manage to scratch off some of the aluminium color so I went back to repair those with more masking and spraying.
I also painted the antenna, gear doors and struts with Aluminium in the same way. The tires were sprayed with Black Grey and then I used a circular template to spray the wheels Aluminium. The exhausts were based with Black Grey and handpainted Metal Air Gun Grey.
F-338 carried a striking shark mouth noseart with a uniquely patterned black nose. The instructions provided templates for the shape of the pattern which I transferred onto masking tape. I then masked the rest of kit and sprayed Black Grey for the nose. The rudder has a checkerboard pattern over a white color so I sprayed Dead White on it. The nosecone was Game Color Bloody Red and the prop was Black Grey with handpainted Game Color Sun Yellow over a base of Game Color Dead White for the tips. The completed nose is then attached to the fuselage with a polycap.
To prepare for decals I sprayed Vallejo Metal Gloss Varnish over the entire kit. Of course disaster would strike at this time. The bottom had some slight orange peel and the port side on top had some problems. I fixed what I could by stripping the paint there, sanding down then repainting. The fix doesn’t look that great (the gloss pooled) but I decide to learn and move on.
Confession time. The markings in the sheet are for F-324 and F-328. Except for the unit number, F-338 shares the same markings as F-324 (F-328 has a solid red tail and no sharkmouth). However, F-324 requires the prop that’s only included (part C1) in the the Korean War P-51 boxing. After chatting with Mr. Cap Jempol Metal (how’s that for service?) I decided to build F-338 instead, which was a more historically significant aircraft anyway. F-338 has the standard prop blade and canopy (D3) with the bent antenna. I just needed to mix and match the numbers on the sheet to get ‘F-338′ (’38’ is included as a standalone on the sheet).
There’s actually no photographic evidence of the checkerboard pattern on the rudder of F-338 during the engagement. There’s however an undated photo of it with a checkerboard rudder but no sharkmouth. There’s also a photo of F-324 that shared the same sharkmouth and it has a checkerboard rudder. There are currently 2 P-51Ds mocked up to look like F-338 which don’t sport the checkerboard pattern in museums but their markings aren’t based on any historical evidence. Absence of other evidence, I decided to just assume F-338 at that time shared the same colors as F-324. Besides, it looks better with it.
Most of the decals came as 2 parts so they required aligning properly and have no carrier film. All in all though, very straightforward. They are thin, are in good register and react well to Mark Softer. I managed to still tear some (especially on the nose) but these were easily patched up with paint. I then brushed on clear gloss to seal them in after wiping them with a damp cloth.
The bottom of the starboard wings has landing lights which I handpainted with transparent paint. The bent antenna and the landing gear were then attached along with their doors with super glue. I somehow managed to lose the light inside the gear bay though. The wingtip lights were then handpainted with transparent blue and red. Last to go as usual is the masking tape on the canopy. I cleaned up any bleeding with a toothpick and then brushed Future.
I decided to finish while I’m ahead and forgo panel lining, which might react negatively with the finish. Or worse, I’d screw something up again.
This was a really fun build especially the part where I researched on F-338 and finding more about the shootdown itself. The build was also relatively mistake free but as usual, I wasn’t careful towards the end. I finished this kit just in time for 17 August 2016 which is Indonesia’s Independence Day. Hopefully this will become an annual trend for me.
Number 10 of 2016