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Harrier GR.1 50 Years (05690) 1:32

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Harrier GR.1 50 Years (05690)

1:32 Revell




The Harrier began life as a Hawker Siddeley product, and was the first aircraft capable of Short/Vertical Take-Off and Landing (S/VTOL) to reach service, and until its eventual replacement the F-35 Lightning II began flying it was pretty much the only aircraft that was actually capable of carrying out the task it was designed for, although the Harrier was very good at its job unlike other pretenders.  We’re excluding rotary wing aircraft just in case the pedant in you was awakening.  The GR.1 was the first to reach service with RAF and as the AV-8A in US Marine service as a close air support and reconnaissance aircraft, becoming a favourite with pilots despite the relatively high workload imposed on them by the complex controls necessary to maintain attitude and attitude at slower speeds – long before computers were really good enough and available to assist stability at sizes that could be carried by an aircraft.  It was replaced by the GR.3 with the Ferranti LRMTS in an extended nose that gave it a funny look (is that blasphemy?).  The Harrier II eventually replaced it with composite components and a much improved capability.



The Kit

This is an old kit – let’s get that out of the way at the beginning.  It has raised panel lines as you would expect from its mid-70s heritage, and the detail is also what you’d expect with a pilot figure that is kind of funny-looking to put it politely, although he’s quite photogenic he just seems a bit… wide, especially given the cramped cockpit of a Harrier.  The box is a top-opening affair with a nice digital painting of the aircraft on the front, and a golden 50 years strapline below the title, plus a picture of the paints, glue and brush included in this model set.  If you’re a “serious” modeller, you’ll probably just toss these in the back of the drawer and keep the brush for weathering or something similarly lacking the requirement for a sharp point.  Inside the box are five sprues in Revell’s trademark green/grey styrene, plus a clear canopy, a modest-sized decal sheet and instruction booklet that includes the separate health warnings sheet that is bin fodder for most of us.  You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all, and when has a modeller ever skewered themselves with a scalpel?  Preposterous!


What to say about the detail?  It’s adequate and can be upgraded easily enough either by adding scratch-built parts or by obtaining aftermarket, although the majority of sets available in this scale seem to be for the later Trumpeter kits of the AV-8B or Harrier II.  If you want an earlier Harrier in this scale however, it’s pretty much the only game in town in injection moulded styrene so you’ll be looking at this kit whether you want to or not.  The raised panel lines are restrained and with a decent scriber you could re-scribe the airframe if you are minded to, which is best done before you begin the build.














Construction begins with the internal mechanism that allows the exhaust nozzles to operate in unison when completed, with two axles and two control arms clipped together without glue.  These are then hidden within the two engine halves that are split into top and bottom, joined by a set of ancillary parts that fit to the top and a two-part intake and engine face that is visible from outside.  The curiously broad pilot is next, and he has a front and back part with detailed painting guide pointed out as you go, which is also the case for the simple cockpit floor, ejection seat with moulded-in belts and separate headrest, plus decals for the side consoles.  The instrument panel also has a decal, which is a good thing as it’s otherwise devoid of any detail whatsoever.  A control column, rudder pedals and the pilot (if you want him) finish off the cockpit, then the canopy is made up from clear glazing, a styrene frame and square block underneath to secure it in the track before you close the model up.  To us modern modeller that seems a strange thing to do, but if you paint the canopy and cockpit rear deck beforehand, it should work out with some tape stuck to the clear parts to protect them from paint.  The cockpit, engine and rear air-brake bay are glued into the starboard side, then the canopy is trapped in place when the fuselage is closed up around it.  The four exhaust nozzles are made up from top and bottom halves trapping two vertical vanes in place in their grooves with a little glue.  They’re simple parts, but with some effort can be made more realistic with good references of the correct type and a little putty, styrene or foil.


With the fuselage closed up the intake lips are fitted, with a lightly recessed set of blow-in doors depicted on the outside with the option of cutting the top ones out and replacing them with dropped ones that obey the laws of gravity like the real thing.  There are a ton of references out there to help you, or you can just leave them be and enjoy some retro-modelling with a heavy dose of nostalgia for me as I built this kit as a youngster and it ended up hung from my ceiling by a few pieces of cotton and a drawing pin.  The nozzles are attached to their axle-stubs next, taking care with the glue so they remain moveable, and there are a pair of ribbed heat-protection plates behind the rear nozzles, which are known as the hot nozzles.  The wings are simple affairs with a soft approximation of the vortex generators on the upper surface, although if you’re a detailer you’ll need to replace them with some more sharp in-scale parts.  The wings are fitted to the fuselage on each side by the usual tab and slot, and each one has a pronounced anhedral like the real thing, and a pair of clear lenses for the wingtip lights.  The cockpit coaming and windscreen are also fitted at this stage, and as with the canopy they’re a product of their time, slightly thick and with some mild distortion visible.  The tail fin is two parts, as are the elevators although the swash-plates are moulded into the fuselage so moving them from the neutral position would require some surgery. Adding the rear pen-nib fairing with integral puffer jets over the boat-like tail strake finishes off the main airframe, with only the wheels, nose cone, air-brake and weapons left to do.


The Harrier has bicycle undercarriage with a single wheel at the nose and dual wheel at the rear.  The nose leg is split vertically and traps the two-part wheel in place, with the rear wheel also made of two parts but with the three-part wheels fitted into the stub axles at each side.  You can add either two belly strakes to the underside or the two gun packs, as the Harrier needed one or the other to reduce the jetwash wrapping round under the fuselage and reducing lift enough to make it an issue.  The outrigger wheels that stop the aircraft from keeling over are next, and again the two-part wheel is trapped between the two-part leg, then fitted into their wells with the curved bay door finishing off at the front.  It’s worth mentioning that you can also build your Harrier with the wheels up by omitting the legs and wheels and using different outrigger parts.


Now for some stores.  Whilst you’re not spoiled for choice due to both the kit’s age and the fact that it’s an early version of the Harrier, you do get enough to fill the wing stations and don’t forget you’ve also had the choice of two gun pods for the underside of the fuselage.  On the inner stations there are a pair of additional fuel tanks, which are made from two halves plus an insert for the tail fins and moulded-in pylons.  On the outer station are a pair of Matra rocket pods with their pylons moulded in, all of which slot into the underside of the wings on tabs.  While your Harrier is on its back, you fit a couple of antennae, a clear nav light, and the air brake with its large retraction jack that fits onto the bay you installed earlier.  Flipping the model back over, the two bunny-ear intakes behind the cockpit are added, the nose cone and pitot are popped into the nose cavity, and another clear nav light fits into the spine of the fuselage.  The last act is to drop the cover over the engine that allows the viewer a peek inside if you lay off the glue.




There are two decal options provided on the sheet, and it’s nostalgia time again with grey/green camouflage over light blue and big bright roundels under the wing, just like the diecast Harrier I had as a kid.  There are some scrap diagrams showing the stores and their stencils, with their locations shown as dotted lines on the main drawings so that they don’t obscure the view of the roundels and codes.  From the box you can build one of the following:


  • No.3 Squadron, RAF, Wildenrath, Germany, August 1974
  • No.20 Squadron, RAF, Wildenrath, Germany, August 1971






Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin matt carrier film cut close to the printed areas.  The instrument panel decals don’t have a coloured background, so you’ll need to paint the panels a background colour before use.




It’s an old kit but it checks out.  If you set your expectations accordingly and either leave out the pilot or replace him with something a little more realistic, a decent model can result.  Sadly, the kit I built as a kid went to landfill many years ago but its nice to see it again.






Revell model kits are available from all good toy and model retailers. For further information visit

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I remember building this as the Airfix 1/24 was out of reach of my pocket money. Not a bad kit with plenty of scope for super detail. The boxing I had came with USMC decals as well. The clever linkage between the nozzles so they all moved in sync failed fairly early on. May treat myself to this out of nostalgia. 

Edited by John_W
Spell check :(

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This has solved a little mystery for me - a photo of my old bedroom ceiling back in 1980-something showed a big Harrier painted as a Sea Harrier. I knew it wasn't the Airfix 1/24 but didn't know what kit it could have been. 


Obviously going to have to buy the kit reissue now...😉

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Might be worth mentioning that this kit does not represent a production Harrier but reproduces the external features of a pre-production batch with serials from XV277 to XV281. I see that the decals offered are for two proper GR.1, converting the kit to this standard would involve a bit of work to change the shape of the different parts

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Sadly I think Revell need to do better that this. Only thing this kit proves, in my opinion, is the need for far better treatment of the early Harrier series in 32nd scale.

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I think this is a great little kit and forms a good basis for a GR3. I’ve just finished an old one (pre- the new re-release) and it’s come out pretty well.

From front to back:


Ditch the nose cone parts and replace with a GR3 LRMT thimble nose – I carved mine from balsa wood (yes, not resin!) and finished with putty. Add holes for the port side camera and the underside reaction control vent.

I added a pitot static tube using Master’s Hawk T1 tube – seems nearly identical to the Harriers (both made by Hawker around the same time?)


I opened up the nose gear doors and added some plastic card wheel bay with strip styrene details.


The intake door (upper 4 per side) need drilling out and replacing with card hanging down under gravity at different angles depending on whether the door is at the top or at the side. Those door cavities should also be boxed in internally – there’s no interconnection between the blow in cavities.


The one shape error that needs correction is adding putty to build up the fairing immediately behind the blow in doors, to remove the ‘pointy’ look and make it chunkier. Fair and sand to shape.


In the cockpit, I ditched the aft bulkhead with integral seat and replaced with card, some fuse wire pipe detail and a seat from Revell’s big Tornado. Instrument panel was sanded flat and drilled to represent instrument faces, other details added to fill it out. The HUD display of solid plastic was cut off and replaced with some clear plastic card and the HUD controls added, again by scratch building under the coaming. Card to fill in the gaping hole for the canopy to "move" within, and some detail to represent the actual scale railing.


Sand off the two big exhausts on the upper engine inspection door and add one smaller one starboard side, just upstream of the grill. (This is a change from GR1 to GR3 I think).


Add a RWR from card and fair into the forward fin. Use card to add height to the fin as the GR3 has a taller fin housing some new electronic guff.


Add a corresponding RWR aft on the tip of the tail cone and fair in. Open up some of the holes on the tail area, add internal baffle to the reaction control vent (aft, nose and wing upper and lower).


On the underside, I cracked the main landing gear doors open slightly, and shortened the airbrake about 6” in scale. (There a great set of videos on the web showing how to convert a GR3 back to GR1 standard here  - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMFNoumIFDE).


Fill in the resultant gap, add some rib detail on the airbrake well. I scabbed on a couple of plates to simulate the ALE-40(V)4 chaff and flare set aft of the brake.


On the wings, I dropped the flaps and ailerons, added in the fuel vent pipe from plastic rod (drilled out) and drilled out the reaction control vents at the tips, upper and lower, adding some deflector plate internal detail.


Finally, weapons: sand all the bumps off the gun pods and drill out vent holes. I drilled out the muzzle hole as well instead of the kit aerodynamic fairing.

Wing tanks need the fins removing - these got damage by debris early on in the Harrier’s life so were ditched.


If you’re making a Falklands fit Harrier, remove the 68mm SNEB pods and use either Sidewinders and rails or BL755 cluster bombs (I used the Wingman Models ones). You could have a go at scratch-building the big Royal Navy 2” rocket pods if you feel keen! If you want an RAFG machine, keep the SNEB’s and perhaps add a centre line pylon and scratch build the reconnaissance pod?


Add a couple of blade aerials behind the canopy and one under the LRMTS nose. 


As you can see, to get a good representation of a GR3 (or for that matter a GR1) is just a case of a bit of scratch building, the old way. No resin, no etched stuff but very satisfying all the same.


Very useful source is the Haynes manual on the Harrier, great photos of GR3 in it.


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On 2/22/2020 at 5:07 PM, ColinT said:

The one shape error that needs correction is adding putty to build up the fairing immediately behind the blow in doors, to remove the ‘pointy’ look and make it chunkier. Fair and sand to shape.



It is not really an error from Revell, the aircraft originally taken by Revell as pattern had this shape of fairing. This was very soon changed to the final design used on all later first generation Harriers.


n 2/22/2020 at 5:07 PM, ColinT said:

As you can see, to get a good representation of a GR3 (or for that matter a GR1) is just a case of a bit of scratch building, the old way. No resin, no etched stuff but very satisfying all the same.


I'm sure you felt great satisfaction in building your harrier and I'd love to see the completed model. However when the modeller has to add plenty of details and, most important, has to modify the shape of main "structural" parts of a kit to achieve the final result, I would not really use the name "good basis" to define such a kit. Many of the steps you described would be no problem for a very experienced modeller but most others would not find this so easy.

Unfortunately it matter little how good or bad a basis this kit is, today it is the only basis for a 1/32 first generation Harrier... until someone else comes out with a new kit we're stuck with this one

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Posted (edited)
On 3/6/2020 at 9:06 AM, Giorgio N said:


It is not really an error from Revell, the aircraft originally taken by Revell as pattern had this shape of fairing. This was very soon changed to the final design used on all later first generation Harriers.


Actually it really is an error. Revell have, in their pursuit of some sort of compromise, ended up with neither one thing nor the other. Their moulding being far too skinny and pointy.

Luckily there are plenty of P1127(RAF) photos from the examples at Gatow. Just Google 'XV278'). Unfortunately the example at East Fortune has been too heavily 'Harrier-ised' to help here. But photos of any of the preserved P1127s and Kestrels can help with this detail, which didn't alter until the Harrier completely revised the intake geometry.


I've overlaid the kit's forward nozzle fairing shape (shown as ye traditional olde redd line - of course!) with a fairly faithful drawing of the correct shape. below.

Some may feel their putty sculpting skills are up to the task, but I'll heat form some new sheet plastic fairings as I think I can get the shape of the two sides more consistent plus the font and rear openings will be hollow, that way.

The fairing shape is also suitable for P1127, Kestrel and P11274(RAF) models, should you feel inclined to take a stab at those beauties from the Revell kit.

I think this was the first kit I ever gave to someone by request back in 1975 in its first time around, and while a retool would have been vey, very welcome a good model can result from it. An accurate one will be a bit harder..



Edited by Reparty

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