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Mike

AV-8B Harrier II Plus

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AV-8B Harrier II Plus



1:48 Hasegawa

boxtop.jpg

The Harrier in any guise needs little introduction, having been the world's first practical vertical take-off fighter jet. Over the years it has changed massively from the original, but the same brilliant concept remains at the heart of this much loved aircraft.

This kit is a reissue, and represents a US Marine Corps bird, with rather fetching tail art commemorating the establishment of VMA-231 the Ace of Spades in 1919.

Opening the compact top opening box, the first thing that is apparent is the quantity of plastic inside the box. There are 13 sprues of shiny grey styrene, a strange shaped clear sprue, 4 poly-caps, instruction manual and decal sheet. The fact that kit is not new is given away by the typical Hasegawa shiny styrene. The instruction sheet is also copyrighted 2003.

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The AV-8B makes extensive use of modern composite materials, so panel lines are sparse, but those that are present are narrow and crisp, with small recessed rivets where appropriate, finesse that other manufacturers should strive for. The fuselage is presented in three main portions, with the main fuselage comprising 3 parts in order to get the detail on the underside with built-in air brake housing well rendered. The cockpit area and bulbous radome are separate parts, so checking and re-checking alignment will be important throughout the build of this area.

The poly caps are used in two dumbbell shaped assemblies to allow you to add the exhaust side-mounted nozzles later, which is a rather good idea to ease painting. The four nozzles are moulded in two parts each, and here Hasegawa have moulded the louvers in both halves, although the joint doesn't run down the middle. Careful sanding, or replacement with aftermarket items will doubtless be the order of the day, although separate louvers would have simplified the job. The rear jet-wash plates are separate items, which again will ease painting.

The intakes have separate blow-in doors in the top, to give the modeller the choice of posing them in an engine-off position, where gravity pulls them down into the intake. These need careful blending into the fuselage, and will permit the viewer to see the nicely detailed compressor face nestled deep within the fuselage.

The cockpit tub is relatively basic, having raised switch detail only on the side-consoles. The rest of the instrumentation is on the decal sheet, which is a shame on a kit of such overall quality. Those wishing for a more 3D look will need to source either a Photo-Etched replacement, or go for a resin 'pit. The ejector seat comprises 7 parts, and builds into a creditable rendition, and has comprehensive painting call-outs to help with detailing.

The canopy is supplied in two parts and is crystal clear, and as with many other modern aircraft, a fine seam runs down the centre, due to the complex mould needed to obtain the "blown" shape. This is easily sanded and polished away with progressively finer grades of abrasive, and a decal is supplied for the prominent det-cord that shatters the canopy before the pilot ejects.

clear.jpg

The wrap-over top wing part attaches to the Leading Edge Root eXtension (LERX), which on this type is 100%, with a more "built in" look to the extension. The slime lights here are a little "agricultural", and would benefit from some additional work. Again, there are some aftermarket upgrades for this section from Two Mikes Resin, as well as others.

The tail has separate swash plates, which allow the modeller to position the tail without any surgery to the fuselage.

The Harrier's unusual bicycle landing gear is nicely represented here, and should look good with some sympathetic painting and weathering. The outrigger gear, which live in mid-wing housings are supplied as a one part unit with a moulded in wheel, although they should be good enough for most modellers.

A full set of pylons is included, as well as optional lateral strakes, which can be replaced with a gun-pack. A pair of AIM-9L Sidewinders is provided, plus AN/AAQ-28 Litening II targeting pod, and two 300 gallon drop tanks. Any other loadouts will need weapons sourced from elsewhere - including the Hasegawa weapons sets that are widely available.

The decals are printed in Japan, and have a pleasant matt finish, although the carrier film is a little thicker than some, and quite extensive in places due to the shape of the decals. The det-cord for the canopy will need careful cutting to avoid acres of visible carrier film on the inside of the canopy.

You can model one of two aircraft from the decal sheet, as follows:

  • US Marines VMA-231 "Ace of Spades" Nov 2001
  • US Marines VMA-223 "Bulldogs"

decals.jpg

Both machines share the same overall three tone grey color scheme of FS35237 and FS36320 over FS36375. Color call-outs are given in Gunze, but the addition of FS numbers should be some assistance in the helping UK modellers convert to a more readily available manufacturer.

Conclusion

A well known, and generally well respected kit of an iconic aircraft, with plenty of detail, some interesting decals, and enough ordnance from the box to satisfy most. A more detailed cockpit would be my main request, especially given the "goldfish bowl" canopy, but this could be hidden with the inclusion of a pilot figure.

Construction, although cleverly engineered may cause some issues for novice modellers, but a modeller with a few kits under their belt shouldn't struggle unduly. Careful attention to the instructions, and a sensible plan of action regarding the painting of the model will result in a convincing replica of this much loved aircraft.

If you strive for more detail, there are plenty of aftermarket items available to improve and enhance until your heart is content and wallet empty.

Review sample courtesy of logo.jpg UK distributors for logo.jpg

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Nice well written review Mike,

I think you should push this one to the build pile mate.

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On 1/9/2011 at 1:12 AM, Dads203 said:

Nice well written review Mike,

I think you should push this one to the build pile mate.

As an American veteran that wrote the same check, I thank you for your service, and the honor and patriotism you display with those words. Each of us come from imperfect countries, but the difference between us, and other nations out there, is we are always striving to make our countries as close to perfect as we can. Serving our nation is the highest honor to our nation we can provide, and YOUR nation is lucky to have  you.

 

PS. This is a great review, I am on ebay right now, getting ready to pull the trigger, and this review pushed me over the top. Can't wait to get my hands on this, but I will have to be patient as well, I need to figure out what modifications I plan to use before I build this. It has literally been decades since my last build, and I want to start again, now that I am medically retired from the military. I just hope that I don't get in over my head, and I spend 10 times the amount of time learning from others, before I do one cut from the tree, one coat of paint, one line of glue. Research and learning are my main goals, as I build up the kits and the tools I will need. Thing are very different today, with the awesome tools/paints/resin/PE products, turning my old days of straight out of the box building, into a real craft.

 

Thanks again to Mike for the great review, and thanks again to you, for you honor and service to your country. This is why the American's and the British will always share common bonds of brotherhood.

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You'll be fine with this kit as long as you test fit sub-assemblies together. The smallest error can cause major alignment issues down the line.
Top tip for the under carriage. Put the nosewheel and outrigger wheels on first and make sure they're solid. Then add the main undercarriage unit and adjust to get all four wheels on the ground. Makes a hard job very easy.

Polishing the canopy. Be very careful as it's thin and will crack if it gets warm. Best to do a bit wait ten minutes, then a bit more. Packing the inside with bluetack or similar helps as well.

It is a great kit though. Enjoy it.

 

 

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On 11/11/2017 at 5:04 AM, SleeperService said:

You'll be fine with this kit as long as you test fit sub-assemblies together. The smallest error can cause major alignment issues down the line.
Top tip for the under carriage. Put the nosewheel and outrigger wheels on first and make sure they're solid. Then add the main undercarriage unit and adjust to get all four wheels on the ground. Makes a hard job very easy.

Polishing the canopy. Be very careful as it's thin and will crack if it gets warm. Best to do a bit wait ten minutes, then a bit more. Packing the inside with bluetack or similar helps as well.

It is a great kit though. Enjoy it.

 

 

Ok, this is how much of a neebie I am. What is bluetack? What do you use to polish the canopy? I have not bought this kit as of yet, but I am certainly planning on it. I want to do a display of the Marines fighter/attack aircraft thru the decades. AV-8 is a must, then the F/A-18C or D, I forget which one. and of course the newest, and most ridiculous F-35B. I saw Meng has an offering in 1/48 of the F-35, I have yet to look for reviews, but I have heard good things about the armor class kits, so maybe this is a good option over the more expensive KittyHawk, which I can't seem to find for less that 60 dollars plus shipping. Anyway, thanks for the input and tips, I am still in absorb mode, haven't yet begun my first build. I will be doing the MH-6J with conversion kit from CZ, which will be my first experience with resin and PE........I need to make sure I have everything down before I start the build. I am still collecting the gear that I am going to need, including paints.

 

Thanks in advance, Anthony Stalker6Recon.

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