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Desert Harriers (PV-003-72) 1:72 AV-8Bs in Desert Shield and Desert Storm 1990-1991


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Desert Harriers (PV-003-72)

AV-8Bs in Desert Shield and Desert Storm 1990-1991

1:72 Paulus Victor Decals




Hawker, then Hawker Siddelely worked on the world’s first operation Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) attack aircraft surprisingly soon after WWII and the invention of the jet engine, with the ingenious Rolls-Royce Pegasus engine taking a large part of the kudos.  America was also involved, and pretty soon there were US Marine aviators flying Harriers (AV-8As to them) vertically as well as RAF and later FAA pilots VIFFing (Vectoring in Forward Flight) to scare the poop out of their opponents and turn the tables on them.  Known colloquially and somewhat simplistically in the media as the “Harrier Jump Jet”, the warload it could carry led to the inclusion of S for Short in the acronym, becoming V/STOL, and then STOVL for Short Take-Off Vertical Landing.  I give up. 


The Harrier was so useful that as it became long in the tooth, a new Harrier II was conceived that was a visually only subtly different but otherwise a complete redesign of the original aircraft from the more powerful engine out, using larger composite wings and modern avionics to extend its lifespan immensely.  Barely anyone calls it a Harrier II, although the Americans use the code AV-8B, while the UK just used the GR.5/7/9 for the RAF nomenclature.  We’ll ignore the two Sea Harrier variants for our purposes.  The RAF were forced to retire their Harriers earlier in 2011 by the politicians, who then sneakily sold them to America for “spares”, despite denying that it was happening.  Never trust a politician.  America continues to fly their Harriers (and some of ours) while they wait for the F-35 to fill the gaps.


The Decals

Paulus Victor are a new company to us, and have a unique aspect to their products that include a slew of background information and technical assistance to the modeller that often hasn’t been available in the same envelope with decals before.  They provide stories, not just decals in isolation.  Their packaging is also unique, with a high-quality feel to everything, and attention to detail evident in every aspect of the set.  They arrive in a thick Ziploc bag, with an envelope printed in colour on both sides within, and flaps folded-in to prevent excessive movement of the internals.  On opening the envelope (which isn’t glued closed), you’ll find a small lined area for your own notes, plus details of the variations between airframes, and a list of sources for additional information about the conflict.  Within the envelope is a set of folded instructions that are larger than A3 when unfolded, with the six subjects printed on two sides of A4 plus one side of the fold-out half-sheet.  The painting guide helps you through the minor minefield of the painting of these aircraft, which were prepped in a hurry to fly out to the Gulf, with information about the route that included an incredible number of refuelling stops necessary due to the thirsty nature of the “blow torch” jet engines fitted to fighters.  The hot & dusty conditions of the Gulf were conducive to rapid weathering, so some discussion is to be had on that subject too.  Each squadron was prepared in a slightly different manner, and these inconsistencies continued to appear and disappear throughout their deployment, with each wing given their own space on the fold-out, covering VMA-542 Tigers, VMA-231 Ace of Spades, VMA-311 Tomcats and VMA-331 Bumblebees “Killer Bees”.  Beware – there’s a minor bad word on one of the decals for the Bumblebees, so if you’re easily offended, don’t read it and wear a blindfold during application, or model it when it didn’t have the offensive can on its nose.  The key take-away is that you are given the information that you need, and you can use it to make your model more accurate.  The additional bonus decals can be used to depict your own Desert Harrier options if you’ve a mind to do the research yourself.  Speaking of bonuses, you get a free US Marines sticker with front profiles on a faux woven material background.


  1. VMA-311 Tomcats, WL-02, 163181
  2. VMA-331 Bumblebees, VL-17, 162726
  3. VMA-542 Tigers, WH-20, 162946 
  4. VMA-542 Tigers, WH-40, 162069
  5. VMA-231 Ace of Spades, CG-01, 163662 
  6. VMA-231 Ace of Spades, CG-15, 163183




Each subject has notes and even some small photographs of artwork etc., to help you with your preparation, painting and application of the decals.  On the left flap of the envelope, you have nine video links provided, and above them are a list of books you can use for further reference on both the Harriers and the Gulf War itself.  Obviously, links in a printed form are not the ideal format, but they’re by no means the longest URLs ever, and are well worth a look.  Perhaps these could be added to their site at some point to help users with poor typing skills get there.


Now about those decals.




The decals themselves are printed on two rectangular sheets of blue decal paper at a high resolution that renders all of the stencils legible, providing you have good enough eyesight.  They have good registration, sharpness and colour density, and some nicely coloured slime-light decals.  Individual decals are included for variations on the airframe’s livery for maximum detail and with minimal carrier film all round.  On one of the envelope flaps, you are given sound advice to check your references to ensure you have chosen the best colours and shades for your model if you are planning on going for the ultimate in accuracy. 




One of the A5 sides of the envelope has a diagram showing which weapons can be found on which of the seven pylon stations that the Harrier has, and with more text that offers advice on the practical application of that capability, discussing the real-world payloads that the Harriers in Marine service carried during the War.


Just in case you’re new to waterslide decals or would like to refresh your memory, there are a set of general decal handling and application instructions printed on the rear of the envelope, guiding you through the preparation of the surface, the decals and the application of setting solutions, plus how to seal them for posterity.




Decal sheets usually come with brief instructions if any, so this new outlook from Paulus Victor is a breath of fresh air, giving you plenty to read, plenty to help you make a more accurate model, and plenty of advice on how to make your painting and decaling process better and more realistic.


Very Highly recommended.




Review sample courtesy of


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