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BAe Sea Harrier FRS.1 (A04051A) 1:72


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BAe Sea Harrier FRS.1 (A04051A)

1:72 Airfix

 

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The Sea Harrier or SHAR as it became known was developed for the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm from the successful Harrier, beginning with the GR.3, but with some significant modifications that made for a very different-looking aircraft, including a blown canopy that eventually spread throughout the later marks of Harriers, addition of the Blue Fox radar, and other changes to allow the airframe to cope with shipboard operations.  It reached operational service at the beginning of the 1980s, and was considered to be a mistake in some quarters, but it was soon able to show that it was in fact a highly competent aircraft.  On 2 April 1982, Argentine forces landed on the Falkland Islands, a British Overseas Territory located some 290 miles east of the South American coast. Within a short time, Argentine troops had taken control of the islands. When word of the invasion reached Britain, a large Naval task force was dispatched to retake the islands. The Falklands War had begun.

 

By early May, the Sea Harriers of 800, 801 and 809 Naval Air Squadrons, flying from Royal Navy aircraft carriers HMS Hermes and HMS Invincible, were fully engaged in an air war with Argentine air forces who were flying French-built Dassault Mirage IIIs, Israeli IAI Daggers, British English Electric Canberras and US-built Douglas A-4 Skyhawks. By the end of the conflict, 11 Daggers, 20 Skyhawks, 2 Mirages and 2 Canberras had been shot down, either by Sea Harriers or ground fire from British forces. 2 Sea Harriers FRS.1s and 3 Harrier GR.Mk.3s were shot down by Argentine ground fire. Further aircraft were lost on both sides, either to hostile actions or accidents.

 

This cemented the reputation of the Sea Harrier and Harrier in the psyche of the Nation, and they carried on in service in various incarnations into the new millennium, only to be removed from service prematurely by politicians looking to save money, selling off the airframes to the US for a pittance.  Nuff said on that one.

 

The Kit

This is a reboxing of Airfix’s small scale SHAR that was first released as a new tool as recently as 2010 under new management after the company’s financial issues were resolved by a new owner.  It arrives in the modern red-themed box with a nice CGI painting of a pair of FRS.1s over a boat that is billowing smoke, although it’s not clear what started the fire.  Inside the box are three full sprues of parts, a clear sprue, large decal sheet and the folded instruction booklet with spot colour printing.

 

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Construction begins with the three-part ejection seat, which fits into the simplified cockpit tub, which has decals to add detail to the side consoles, and a separate instrument panel with moulded-in coaming, which also receives another decal for instruments.  There’s a modern fighter pilot figure depicted on the instructions, but the plastic part is a WWII era pilot with his hands folded on his lap.  That’s no use then.  The intake and front fan for the mighty Pegasus engine is built within the splitter behind the cockpit, and a circular backing plate prevents the viewer from seeing through the fan blades, which are separate on the part, but may need a little flash removing to separate them properly.  This assembly plus the cockpit, the two gear bays and the belly air-brake bay are installed between the fuselage halves after a little painting, and the heat-resistant plates behind the hot rear nozzles are added on a pair of pegs that slot into corresponding holes in the fuselage.  The fuselage has a big gaping hole on the topside that is reminiscent of the original, as the wings are a separate entity that have to be removed to carry out deep maintenance on the engine on the real thing.  The wings are full-width on the topside, and separate parts on the underside, with delicate vortex generators on the upper wing.  The four exhausts are each made up with two parts, and have a join down the centre of the internal louvers, so take care to align these areas, as they would be the hardest to sand smooth.  They slot into their receptacles in the fuselage sides, and you can pose them for horizontal flight, or in the hover mode if you wish, just ensure they are all set at the same angle.  The two intake lips are provided with separate blow-in doors that are inserted from within the rear of the parts, depicting either a closed set or a set that are dropping down under gravity with the engine switched off.

 

The next step involves making a decision whether to pose the gear up or down, with the retracted position being the easiest, involving placing all the bay doors closed, and the wing-mounted outrigger wheels retracted parallel to the direction of flight.   Wheels down can have all the bays open, with scrap diagrams showing their correct angle, and of course the landing gear with outriggers down.  You can also pose the gear bay doors closed around the gear.  The twin main wheels are attached to the short leg at the rear, and the nose gear is a single part with moulded-in rear bay door, as are the two outriggers which are a different pair of parts from the wheels-up version.  There is gravity “sag” on the tyres, which appears a little extreme on the main wheels and the outriggers.  It’s easy to correct with a slip of styrene glued to the contact patch and sanded to shape once dry.  You also get a choice of whether to deploy the air-brake or pose it flush with the skin of the fuselage, and the open option has a short actuator for the open option.

 

The weapons and fuel tanks are the final aspect of the build, including a pair of AIM-9L Sidewinder with separate fins and adapter rails, plus the four wing pylons that have a pair of auxiliary fuel tanks to hang off them on the inner stations, with the twin Aden cannon fairings under the fuselage adding some old-skool gunfighter punch to the load-out.  Unneeded for these decal options are a pair of Sea Eagle missiles that are left on the sprues, with separate forward fins adding detail to them.

 

 

Markings

There are two options on the decal sheet, both from Operation Corporate, which was the British name for the successful operation to take back the Falklands Isles from the invaders.  From the box you can build one of the following:

 

  • XZ459/25 HMS Hermes Air Group, South Atlantic, May/June 1982
  • XZ458/007 HMS Invincible Air Group, South Atlantic, May/June 1982

 

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Decals are by Cartograf, which is a guarantee of good registration, sharpness and colour density, with a thin gloss carrier film cut close to the printed areas.  The decals for the instrument panels contain the dials and dividing lines, with the centres of the panel transparent for you to paint the panels behind with your choice of brand of paint.

 

 

Conclusion

A welcome reboxing of a nice model of the Sea Harrier’s first foray onto the battlefield very far from home, where it proved itself to be a capable platform.

 

Highly recommended.

 

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Review sample courtesy of

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Not sure it's that nice a model, I have the original issue and, like many here, I was quite disappointed by the plastic in several aspects.

Of course it makes plenty of sense for Airfix to reissue this kit for the 40th anniversary of the war in the South Atlantic

 

P.S. the missiles included are not Martel but Sea Eagle, a weapon integrated on the FRS.1 shortly after the war

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 22/02/2022 at 14:00, Giorgio N said:

Not sure it's that nice a model, I have the original issue and, like many here, I was quite disappointed by the plastic in several aspects.

 

I bought the original release as well and I thought the forward fuselage and the windscreen/canopy were too wide. A few years later I was at a local contest and on display were both the Airfix and Italeri (ESCI) kits. There was a significantly noticeable difference in these areas. To my feeble brain, Italeri looked "right" and the Airfix didn't.

 

Cheers,

Bill

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  • 3 weeks later...

Another warning sign is tyhat Airfix seems to be pricing themselves out of the market - this boxing would set you back almost €30 in my LHS!

 

That same amount of moolah would get me, for instance, about two Eduard MiG-21 Profipacks. 

 

Cheers,

 

Andre

 

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12 hours ago, Hook said:

Another warning sign is tyhat Airfix seems to be pricing themselves out of the market - this boxing would set you back almost €30 in my LHS!

 

That same amount of moolah would get me, for instance, about two Eduard MiG-21 Profipacks. 

 

Cheers,

 

Andre

 

I got the new Eduard 1.72 MiG for about £10 cheaper than this kit in the uk, thats something

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  • 2 weeks later...

Wasn't the tail on the Airfix Sea Harrier too short as well.  It seemed to me I read that somewhere.  I'd like to have an FRS.1 but for now I'll stick with my Hasegawa kits.  I think I've got 8 of them.

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8 hours ago, Grayhawk said:

Wasn't the tail on the Airfix Sea Harrier too short as well.  It seemed to me I read that somewhere.  I'd like to have an FRS.1 but for now I'll stick with my Hasegawa kits.  I think I've got 8 of them.

 

The tail height is fine, it is the rear fuselage that is not deep enough. IIRC the ventral strake is also too shallow

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10 hours ago, Grayhawk said:

Wasn't the tail on the Airfix Sea Harrier too short as well.  It seemed to me I read that somewhere.  I'd like to have an FRS.1 but for now I'll stick with my Hasegawa kits.  I think I've got 8 of them.

The tail on the GR.3 new tool was short if I remember correctly. 

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14 hours ago, Grayhawk said:

 I'd like to have an FRS.1 but for now I'll stick with my Hasegawa kits.  I think I've got 8 of them.

 

Granted the Hasegawa Sea Harrier FRS.1 looks more like the real thing than the Airfix one but, like the Hasegawa Tornado GR.1 that came out at about the same time, it has a nose that is noticeably too short.  Beautifully moulded, however, so ideal as the basis for one of the cottage industry FA.2 conversion sets which replace the nose though (which is what happened to mine). 

 

To my eyes the principal problem with the Airfix 1/72 Sea Harrier kits (there are many as listed somewhere by Mr Sea Harrier Nick Greenhall @NG899) is that Airfix didn't take full account of the raised cockpit the FRS.1 had vis-a-vis the GR.3: the result is just an odd-looking halfway house of a canopy.  For me it still has to be the Italeri nee ESCI Sea Harrier FRS.1 all the way.  Not perfect (eg rear cockpit bulkhead needs shifting) but beautiful surface engraving - and it even looks just like a Sea Harrier from the box.

 

The Airfix Harrier FRS.1 kit in all its boxings has always had nice transfers though.

 

 

Edited by Seahawk
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