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  1. This month's project has been the futuristic looking Piaggio Avanti of the Italian Navy (as seen at this year's Yeovilton Airshow), using the AModel kit. As with all AModel kits, it needs a little care to complete, but captures the "Gerry Anderson" looks of the real thing well. Indeed, I briefly thought about painting it white and using a set of spare Spectrum decals instead of the kit ones! The kit includes a comprehensive interior layout, but this is a little wasted due to the small and not entirely clear windows. ... and the real thing at Yeovilton: FredT
  2. Harrier AV-8B II Plus - MM7224 / 1-19, GRUPAER "The Wolves", Marina Militare, Spring 2012 (1/48th scale Hasegawa kit) The latest model (build #14) in my Harrier Project is an AV-8B II Plus of the "The Wolves", Gruppo Supporto Aerei Imbarcati (GRUPAER) (Planes Embarked Group, Italian Navy). Although it was in the plan, I decided to bring it forward after following SaintsPhil's build of the same variant and service operator. Not a case of "anything Phil can do...", but "you don't see any for ages, and then two come along at once!" was my thinking. The following ramblings are probably of most interest only to Harrier fans ... This is the standard Hasegawa AV-8B II Plus 1/48th scale kit, not the specific Italian Navy aircraft boxing which is now an eBay rarity. I therefore had to source the decals separately - the other variation in the box, the AIM-120 missiles, I did not require. Other items sourced outside of the box include the pilot, the two undercarriage bays and a Paveway (GBU-12). I purchased the undercarriage bays a while back and thought I may as well use them. As it seems a waste to install them and not really see them for a "dispersal" staging, I decided to go for broke and show the aircraft after take-off with the undercarriage partly retracted. They're still not easily visible, of course, but now serve more of a purpose. It may just be me, but I found the Aires undercarriage bays required a lot of work to get them to fit - the front bay sides are very thin as a result. This approach also required all the intake auxillary doors to be opened (much fun) with the internals of the intakes adjusted to create the rears for the door areas. The flaps were dropped. The main flaps required some simple plasticard additions to their front and some work is required to all of the fairings under the wing. There are a few reference photos to be had from the web showing the sequence of undercarriage retraction, so I think I have it right. I left the ailerons neutral, though I perhaps should have dropped these a tad as well? The rest of the construction is the usual Hasegawa Harrier model stuff. This boxing was a reasonable all round fit - no sleepless nights over the LERX fit, etc. She's brush painted of course, using Life colour's acrylics: Dark Gull Grey (FS36231) for the upper surface camouflage and Dark Compass Grey (FS36320) for the undersides. On the real aircraft the paints are very close in tone and shade, making them almost indistinguishable in some areas, particularly when weathered. Note the Hasegawa instructions have the upper surface colour in a straight line under the wings, but it in fact follows the HTPS scheme (official) and curves up after the front nozzles and back down level with the flaps. I chose to do the radome in the upper surface colour but without a Klear coating, leaving it the same colour and tone as the original paint. Likewise the wing leading edges. it's a subtle difference like the real radome variations. Now, the decals ... GRUPAER was founded in February 1991 when they started to work up at the USMC Cherry Point base in preparation for the receipt of their first Harriers (TAV-8B IIs) on 7 June 1991. It wasn't until April 1994 that they received their first (of 16) AV-8B II Plus aircraft. In October 2011, "The Wolves" commemorated twenty years of existence and also 30,000 hours of flying. An AV-8B II Plus, MM.7224 / 1-19, the last Harrier the Marina Militare Italiana received (and the last new-build AV-8B II Plus ever made?), was specially painted in a one-off wolf tail scheme and "30.000" hours logo to mark the event. Having seen the photographs of the result, I couldn't resist having a go at it. With significant help from a fellow member of the West Middlesex Scale Model Club, we produced the necessary decals and printed them on an inkjet printer. I used a set of the Tauro decals and some of the Modelfriends decals in combination with some odds and ends from the spares box to complete the markings. It's not strictly accurate, colour-wise, but close enough for me as a scratch effort and a Harrier nut! Several coats of Klear sealed the paints ready for the decals. Weathering (limited as depicted after recent application of the scheme) from Tamiya and rounded off with a spray of Humbrol matt varnish to seal before a final coat of brushed Vallejo matt varnish. Still awake? For me, this build was quite a challenge. However, I'm pleased with the result, even if there is a fair bit of artistic licence applied. Here's how she turned out ... Comments, critique and suggestions for improvement are welcome as ever.
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