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Mike

Sea Harrier FRS.1 1:48

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Sea Harrier FRS.1
1:48 Kinetic


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With the Royal Nay Navy getting out of the carrier business in the late 1970s the Royal Navy was left to operate three Light Aircraft Carriers, or “Through Deck Cruisers” as they were called at the time for a variety of reasons (mostly to save face). While these new vessels were primarily intended to operate Anti-Submarine Helicopters and act as Command & Control ships, it was recognised that they would be able to operate a Vertical Take Off and Landing aircraft. Also there would be a need for them to defend against long range Soviet Air Assets.

As early as 1963 the then Hawker P.1127 had shown it could operate from HMS Ark Royal (R09), and then later the Kestrel underwent trials from HMS Bulwark. Hawker Siddeley as they were then began work on navalising the then Harrier GR1. This aircraft became The Sea Harrier in 1975 when the Royal Navy ordered 24. The new aircraft would be designated FRS.1 (Fighter. Reconnaissance, Strike). The first Sea Harrier would enter service in 1979 with the “carriers” gaining Ski ramp structures to aid in launching the aircraft in a near normal fight mode.

Like the Harrier, the new aircraft was designed around the Rolls Royce Pegasus engine. With a large frontal intake feeding four exhaust nozzles. The front pair were cold, using just compressed air from the engine; while the rear two were hot like a conventional engine exhausting burned fuel. All four nozzles were able to rotate to the give the jet its unique ability for vectored flight. The main visual difference from the RAF Harrier was that the SHAR was designed with an air intercept radar in the nose in the shape of the Ferranti Blue Fox. This would perform as both an air interception and air to surface search and strike unit, and was surprisingly good in the hands of an experienced user. The canopy of the Sea Harrier was also raised to give greater visibility, gaining that familiar bubble front profile. Primary air-to-air armament of the Sea Harrier was to be the AIM-9 Sidewinder, and two belly mounted 30mm ADEN cannons as fitted to the GR1 for close attack.

Squadron operations began in 1980 with the formation of 800 Naval Air Squadron, closely followed by 801 Sqn the following year. This proved to be very timely as the Sea Harrier was very soon to have its moment in the spotlight, where it would prove its worth time and again. Following the invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1982 the Royal Navy was to assemble a Task Force to retake the Islands, with he only air cover for this force operating so far from home (and indeed any land other than South America) was to be the new Sea Harrier. Without endeavouring to explain the whole air war in the Falklands, the Sea Harrier would go on to provide a good account of itself, shooting down 20 enemy aircraft (28% of the total) as well as bombing missions, harassing raids; and providing support to the Army. No Sea Harriers were lost to enemy aircraft, however six were lost to ground fire and accident, unfortunately with the loss of four Pilots killed.

All surviving RN Sea Harrier FRS.1s would undergo re-manufacturing in the early 1990s to become Sea Harrier FA.2s. These would feature a new pulse Doppler radar and the ability to fire The AMRAM missile. They only other nation to use the FRS.1 was to be India, where they are still in service at time of writing.


The Kit
We've been waiting for new toolings of the sorely missed SHARs now for some time, having to make do with some fairly ancient toolings in the meantime. Kinetic have been listening, and almost exactly a year after their very well received FA.2 that we reviewed here, we now have a completely new tooling of the FRS.1 to go with it. Navalised Harrier builders in 1:48 have now officially never had it so good, particularly with the addition of a Royal Navy deck tractor to go with these new kits. How long before we get a kit of some RN carrier deck I the same vein as the US deck released some years ago? I do hope soon.

 

 

 

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The kit arrives in a familiarly styled top-opening box with a SHAR hovering front and centre, and a carrier in the background. Inside you have eight sprues of mid-grey styrene, a sprue of clear parts and a tiny fret of Photo-Etch (PE) brass parts that aren't listed on the sprue diagrams. There's a large decal sheet covering almost all the bottom of the tray, and the instruction booklet with a portrait cover, and landscape inner pages. At the back of this are the painting & markings pages in black and white. A brief scour of the sprues shows some very nice detail, such as the slide-moulded exhaust nozzles with their integral louvers and exterior texture. Panel lines are finely engraved with an accompaniment of similarly restrained rivets here and there, and if you're worried about having something to hang off the pylons, don’t; there are plenty!

 

 

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Parts breakdown follows a familiar vein, as it's the most sensible method, so why change it? Construction begins with the cockpit, which is nicely appointed with raised dials, knobs and so forth on the main panel and side consoles, a clear HUD, separate rudder pedals and control column. The Martin Baker seat is made up of a two-part frame, cushion, head-box topper and rear ejection tube, plus the actuating loop between the pilot's knees. This fits into the tub with the addition of a rear bulkhead, which in turn mates to the nose gear bay, with built-in intake section that leads to the face of the engine fan in a bell-shaped intake housing. The rear gear bay and air brake bay are build up as one unit, with the brake shown being installed as a flex-fit part, which you'll perhaps want to see if you can fit later if you're planning on showing it open. Harking back to the old toy-like kits of the 70s, the nozzles are all joined internally by connecting axles between the sides and linkages that echo the movement of one pair of nozzles on the other. This is simply clipped together and the only glue needed is to secure the nozzle bases to the axles. With these built, you're now able to close up the fuselage.

 

 

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The cockpit sidewalls in the fuselage halves are bereft of details, so if you fancy it, you can make free with the styrene strip and detail it up, or just paint it and any of the intake area that remains visible after assembly. At this point the fuselage is wide open where the wings should be, but it gives you the opportunity to flood the fuselage seams with a little extra glue to firm up the joint. Kinetic's engineers have spent a lot of time with the intakes, creating a three-part assembly that comprises an outer skin, a set of interchangeable blow-in doors (one set of open and closed doors are provided), and an inner skin that tidies up the intake area. Once built up you could paint the trunk white, and handle the intake lip colour change before attaching them to the fuselage sides. The hot and cold exhaust pairs are glued (carefully) into their bases, and a nicely detailed heat-deflecting plate is added behind the hot nozzles. The wings are hovering over the fuselage in the construction step, which is full-width on top and in two halves for the undersides. These drop into the large gap in the fuselage top, and are joined by the turtle-deck behind the pilot. You should now have a block of styrene that looks like a Harrier with the addition of the nosecone part. The flying surfaces are all separate, and you have the option of showing the flaps extended or retracted by choosing one or other set of actuator fairing parts. The elevators have separate swash-plates and simply fit into sockets in the rear of the fuselage, so make sure you get your alignment just right. The rudder is separate too, and poseable to whatever sensible angle you choose, but don't forget to offset the control column, or the accuracy police will be knocking on your door (kidding!).

 

 

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The bicycle style landing gear parts are provided for wheels-down models, and for those of you wanting to put your SHAR in the sky, the same bay doors will fit in the closed position too, with the removal of the hinges. The nose gear leg is split vertically, and fits around the three-part wheel that Kinetic seem quite fond of. The rear leg is one part, and has a three-part wheel added to the stub-axles on each side. Happily, these can be left off until main painting has completed, which is nice. There are a lot of antennae, sensors and blade aerials to add throughout the build, plus a very pointy pitot on the nose and refuelling probe on the port intake, which you might want to leave until later in the build. There are also four small (tiny) leading-edge splitters in PE that are best added before painting with a dot of super-glue. Clear parts are provided for the wingtip lights and other formation lights, as well as the canopy, which has been moulded very thin and clear, with the prominent det-cords moulded into the inside, although there are a pair of det-cord decals at the very bottom of the decal sheet. These delicate parts have been protected on the sprue by large upstands around them, to prevent scratching or worse during transit and storage.  We have been informed by one of our members (thanks Pappy!) that the location of the camera window lens (F6) is mentioned in the instructions but is not drawn. There is the potential for it to be installed the wrong way around with the relief side facing outwards if the builder is not careful.  This may have been corrected in later editions, but please be wary.

 

 

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A SHAR without gas-bags and storage would look a little naked, and in their usual generous style, Kinetic have provided plenty for you to play with. In the box you get the following:

 

2 x External Fuel tanks (large)
2 x External Fuel tanks (small)
2 x AIM-120 with a choice of adapter rail or pylon - never used on FRS-1
2 x Sea Eagle anti-shipping missile
4 x AIM-9 Sidewinder plus adapter rail - twin rails only ever fitted to display aircraft
2 x 30mm Aden cannon pack
4 x 18 round Matra rocket pods – Carried in early years, but unused after 1986
2 x 36 round rocket pods (unused)
1 x BL755 Cluster Bomb (unused by the RAF & RN since 2007/8, and not seen in inventory since 1986)

 

There is a three-dimensional diagram showing which munitions go where, but take careful note of real-life weapons loads before you go ahead if you want to keep it realistic.  Please note that the Sea Eagle missiles have been moulded as if in-flight, with the engine intake exposed, whereas it should actually have an aerodynamic cover fitted, which is jettisoned during the launch sequence so that the engine can breathe.


Markings
The last twelve pages of the instructions give you a clue as to the sheer number of decal options, which is backed up by the large sheet of decals that is covered in hundreds of aircraft codes, and squadron markings. From the box you can build one of the following:

 

 

  • Sea Harrier FRS.1s of 800 Naval Air Squadron based at RNAS Yeovilton and deployed on HMS Hermes, 1981 to March 1982.
  • Sea Harrier FRS.1s of 801 Naval Air Squadron based at RNAS Yeovilton and deployed on HMS Invincible, 1981 to March 1982.
  • Sea Harrier FRS.1s of 899 Naval Air Squadron based at RNAS Yeovilton, 1981 to March 1982.
  • Sea Harrier FRS.1s of HMS Hermes' Air Group, "Operation Corporate" - The Falklands/Malvinas War, Apr-Jun 1982.
  • Sea Harrier FRS.1s of HMS Invincible's Air Group, "Operation Corporate" - The Falklands/Malvinas War, Apr-Jun 1982.
  • Sea Harrier FRS.1 of 809 NAS on establishment / en route to the South Atlantic for "Operation Corporate", late Apr/mid May 1982.
  • Sea Harrier FRS.1 of ex-809 NAS as part of HMS Hermes' Air Group, "Operation Corporate", late May/mid Jun 1982.
  • Sea Harrier FRS.1 of ex-809 NAS as part of HMS Invincible's Air Group, "Operation Corporate", late May/mid Jun 1982.
  • Sea Harrier FRS.1 of 800 Naval Air Squadron, "Exercise Arctic Express", HMS Hermes, 1983.
  • Sea Harrier FRS.1 of 801 Naval Air Squadron, HMS Invincible, 1983.
  • Sea Harrier FRS.1 of 899 Naval Air Squadron, RNAS Yeovilton, 1988.
  • Sea Harrier FRS.1 of 809 NAS deployed to the South Atlantic with 809 NAS on board HMS Illustrious, 1982
  • Sea Harrier FRS.51s of 300 Indian Naval Air Squadron, 1983
  • Sea Harrier FRS.51s of 300 Indian Naval Air Squadron, 2005

 

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While that seems already rather generous, there are further decal options noted in diagrams and tables within those pages, which will give you in the region of fifty (I know!) airframes to choose from. The decals have been designed by CrossDelta, and printed by Cartograf, with good register, colour density and sharpness, with a thin glossy carrier film closely cropped around each decal. The decal designer has also helpfully added sizes in inches to each row of the serials, which will be helpful when you're choosing decals for one of the less detailed options. If only all decal sheets were that descriptive!


Conclusion
After the buzz, and some initial concerns about the depth of the nose (which I shared), the actual kit is happily looks fine in that area, especially when painted. The detail is good, the decal sheet superb and colourful, which if you add in the fact that this is a new tool FRS.1 makes for one compelling package.

 

 

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Kinetic Publicity Photo

Extremely highly recommended.

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Review sample courtesy of luckylogo.gif

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Could this be the answer to getting some BL755s and Matra rocket pods for my Phantoms? I'd be getting a FRS.1 into the bargain too!

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2 x Martel ARM (Radar guided)- Unused to our knowledge

Under the nose of the ''Martel'' is what looks to me to be two halves of the intake of a Sea Eagle missile.

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I think you're right... didn't spot the intake. Will amend the review :)

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They've included the FA2 upper wing as well? Two airbrake wells, with or without chaff/flare dispensers..AND an additional canopy? Is that for a GR3....that has to be the best decal sheet I have ever seen in an off the shelf kit!!! Superb!! Just need to get my mitts on a few of em.....

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Looks that way Bill... I think it was a case of include them or re-tool existing sprues with cut-offs, so they went with wasting a bit of styrene - from their point of view, obviously not shared by an inveterate kit-basher like yourself :)

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Looks that way Bill... I think it was a case of include them or re-tool existing sprues with cut-offs, so they went with wasting a bit of styrene - from their point of view, obviously not shared by an inveterate kit-basher like yourself :)

I never pass up the opportunity to bulk up the spares box Mike, but I'll have to be a bit creative in finding a use for a spare Harrier mainplane!!

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Can't wait! Been wanting to do an FRS.1 for years, but haven't been able to bring myself to start the Airfix one I have. And look at the subjects on that decal sheet!

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That's a great looking kit Mike. Will be looking out for one at Telford.

Nice review as well. :thumbsup:

Chris

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It's a pleasure ^_^ It is a sweet kit indeed. I'm trying to think of an excuse to get another one :hmmm:

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It will be one for me.

Has anyone noticed the carrier in the box after? Don't remember the later model carrier with Goalkeeper air defence weapon system being around with the FRS1 harrier.

Thanks Mike for the review.

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It will be one for me.

Has anyone noticed the carrier in the box after? Don't remember the later model carrier with Goalkeeper air defence weapon system being around with the FRS1 harrier.

Thanks Mike for the review.

Yes Dave (Shar2) did notice it was the late carrier with the CIWS not the early one with the Sea Dart Launcher, when the preview came out.

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Goalkeeper was fitted on the Invincible when I was on her with 800 Sqn with FRS-1 from 1989. The ship still had the Seadart then too, but the cabs were overall dark sea grey.

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:analintruder:Me likes!

The rudder is separate too, and poseable to whatever sensible angle you choose, but don't forget to offset the control column, or the accuracy police will be knocking on your door (kidding!).

:lol::lol::lol: Aw, Mike; ya've just made me laugh there, my mate... :lol:

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That is seriously tempting. Not my normal scale or era, but, wowsers

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I picked up a Neomega FRS.1 cockpit set from Gordon at the show yesterday, so will be testing it for fit in the near future. If it fits, it'll be a nice addition :)

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Sadly the Neomega set doesn't fit without a lot of adjustment. I've given Gordon the bad news, and they're going to look into re-patterning it once they get hold of a kit to use. Can't win 'em all :shrug:

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Both types of 2" Rocket launchers are unuseable as they are depicted with the rockets poking out of the nose.

They are as seen on display aircraft at airshows with a weapon layout around them, and totally unrepresentative of the actual operational loaded (or unloaded) pods.

Selwyn

Edited by Selwyn

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I finally got myself one of these, and whilst I am very pleased with it, having fondled the plastic as soon as I got my hands on it, I am disappointed that they haven't included the ALE-40 panel which all SHAR 1's had fitted, almost permanently from around 1986. They'd included the updated version in the FA2 kit, so it could have been included in this kit, alhtough it would need a slight modification to show the chaff dispenser instead of the two flare dispensers the later version had.

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