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ESCI 1/72 Sea Harrier FRS.1 - Finished

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Updated on 8th Aug 2022




Hi Folks,


This thread started in the Falklands War 40th Anniversary Group Build... but I ran out of time.


It also started as an Airfix FRS.1 build, but reading up, the Airfix SHAR isn't that highly regarded (I checked on BM¬†ūüôĄ).


So I looked for the 1983 kit that is still considered the best FRS.1 in 1/72. I quickly found out that the ESCI (now sold by Italeri and just re-released) is actually a much better and more accurate model.




£7.00 on that well known auction site. Looks nice,



More parts, still wrapped.


Not entirely sure how good the ESCI decals are, though they were printed by Cartograf, just rather a long time ago.



The Airfix decals however do get good reviews, they were put together with the help of Nick Greenall 9f the IPMS Harrier Special Interest Group, and I'll be using them.



Both kits, and a carefully selected selection of modelling stuff (tools, paint...) are got packed for a week away in Yorkshire to fill those idle minutes when I'm not getting dragged over the hills by the dog. It was on a previous visit to the North York Moors that I sat outside a pub in the twilight revelling to the sight and sounds of Harrier GR.7s screaming low overhead. Sigh. :crying:


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OK, here we go! On holiday and live from Yorkshire! Sun is shining, pint of 'Old Golden Hen' at hand :beer:... 


The obligatory sprue shots...






All looks good. I remember reading on someone else's build that the bulges under the wings, where the outer pylons fit, aren't supposed to be there. Removing them shouldn't present too many problems but I'll check first. A few sink holes, but again nothing major and the quality of the mouldings and plastic looks amazing for 1982! The panel lines rival Fine Molds recent offerings.




Canopy - Oops. That doesn't look healthy :huh:. There's some damage there. But I think a dip in Klear is in order which may hide the damage? We'll see.


I like the det cord in the canopy. How many manufacturers have included that at 1/72? This really does look like a nice kit. The det cord may need a bit of paint? That may test my painting ability a bit.



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Evening folks,


I was thinking I might make the Airfix kit as well as the ESCI, but having taken the Airfix sprues out of the bag, I'm having second thoughts.


I can see now why the kit came in for such criticism. I'm not usually overworried about panel lines, but these really are something. And the smaller parts, especially the u/c, aren't even that well moulded, they lack sharpness and detail. Airfix really had the 'B' Team working on this kit.


It's been done before (e.g. the excellent double build by @alex_stela), but here are a few comparison pics;


Airfix tail fin;



ESCI tail fin;


I don't have any Sea Harrier plans, but the difference in panel line and access panel details is evident. Compare the Radar Warning Receivers, the Airfix attempt is frankly pathetic.


The wings tell a similar story, Airfix;





Again, a surprising number of differences. I don't have plans, but the ESCI wing panel lines and access panels are very similar to the 1/48 Kinetic kit.


Enough of this Sea Harrier navel (Naval?) gazing... back to my ESCI build. Some mega dry fitting;


No major fit problems that I can see. I chopped the bent and rather fanciful pitot probe off, I would have probably broken it anyway.


39 years in the box being pressed up against another part haven't done the port wing top any favours;


I think it may need the VERY HOT WATER treatment.


ESCI had a go at making the auxillary intakes correct for ground display, top ones slightly open due to gravity. I didn't want to get into a complicated build, but I think they need opening up a bit more, and the closed ones need a bit of enhancing (scribing).



The starting point of almost all plane kits is the cockpit and I'm not at all convinced by ESCI's instrument panel coaming, nor the size and shape of the i/p below it. Not easy fixes I fear. To fit a larger i/p will require a complete new coaming.



If any of you Sea Harrier experts can suggest things I need to do, please shout now! My knowledge of the FRS.1 is sadly lacking.


Thanks for looking.



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  • Johnson changed the title to Another Sea Harrier - Definitely ESCI

'evening modellers,


A bit more dry fitting revealed just how bad the cockpit is;




The tub isn't wide enough for the (new) ejection seat, there's a gap on the LHS. I suspect that the tub, and therefore the side panels, are too low. The i/p is too far down the fuselage and the i/p and it's fit to the coaming... :S. Oh yes, the top of the coaming interferes with the front canopy/windscreen and prevents it fitting flush to the fuselage which is wider than the windscreen anyway. No mention of a HUD.


It's generally a good kit, did ESCI just give up here? I see some scratch building (not in the plan) on the horizon! That's modelling. :D

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  • 1 month later...

Now that the GR.3 is done I can spend a bit of time on the FRS.1, though finishing by the 24th is unlikely.


Got the wings straightened. Held on a steel bar with pegs and careful application of boiling water. Careful so as (1) the plastic is not overly softened and deformed by the pegs and (2) it's boiling and can damage fingers!




But for now, still trying to make a silk purse out of the ESCI cockpit...

The tub is too narrow for the fuselage, and no support for the tub on the port fuselage wall, so some plastic added:


The i/p coaming is the wrong shape, too long and even prevents the front canopy part/windscreen from fitting properly, but I'll reshape that later.


The ESCI seat isn't much anything like a Martin Baker Mk.10, so I invested in a PJ Productions resin seat which is more like the real thing. And to replace the ECSI i/p, a Kits World 3D set which is better but will still need some work. I'm a few years late for the Eduard Airfix FRS.1 PE set which looked excellent.




Sorry, I seem to be a bit dissatisfied and tetchy today. Must be the weather¬†ūü•Ķ.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Evening Folks,


Well, even with the extension I'm nowhere near completion. As usual I've spent far too long in the cockpit, so my build will have to continue as a WIP.


ESCI didn't give me much to start with. I don't think they could have had access to the cockpit judging by the what they included.


The tub had to be widened, floor and consuls raised, rudder pedals added and the i/p modified. The coaming reshaped and a cut out for the HUD (still to be made). Internal ribs added and the raised cockpit sill added. Detail added behind the cockpit. Apart from that, it was fine.




I toyed with using the Airfix i/p decal, which wasn't bad. But in the end went with the Kits-World 3D printed screen. Not the greatest quality, but gives a reasonable visual impression at 1/72.




Thanks everyone who looked in, and ENZO for the GB.



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  • Johnson changed the title to ESCI 1/72 Sea Harrier FRS.1
  • Johnson changed the title to Sea Harrier FRS.1ESCI

That cockpit really looks the business! One small point, the PJ Productions seat isn't correct for a SHAR, the type fitted to the SHAR has a noticeably different head box shape. Unfortunately, your two best options (Aeroclub and Pavla) in 1/72 are now out of production.



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Hi Mark @Harry Lime,


Thanks! The cockpit was a bit of a challenge but I'm happy with the result. Bit daft and obsessive really considering how much actually gets seen, I just can't help myself!


Regarding the MB Mk.10 seat, I agree that the PJ seat isn't quite correct. I've been studying photos and I've modified the head box quite a lot. I think it will probably 'do'. Still got to add the straps and firing handle. It does look a bit rough, er... because it is a bit rough! Not the best resin moulding I've seen. I think may have been 3D printed?




The lower side panels don't come up quite far enough but I don't think it will notice once installed.





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As I was working on the SHAR (hiding from the heat!) it suddenly occurred to me that I hadn't posted an update for some time. So, what's new? Well, I've finally made it out of the cockpit!


The port wing was pretty warped from being pressed against another sprue in the box for the best part of 39 years. I straightened it with boiling water and it looks OK.




but it was still a bit out of alignment, and later this caused problems joining the wing to the fuselage (and there's a pylon hole missing!)






I had to glue it one section at a time leaving each joint for a day to set before moving on.


This was a few days ago, and since then it's been good progress. The wing problem meant more filler than I'd have liked, the ESCI panel lines are so fine the slightest bit of sanding obliterates them.


The engine cowls also needed quite a bit of work, ESCI had cast the part with the auxiliary doors very slightly open at the top, more or less correct for ground parking. I opened them up some more and re-scribed the closed ones. Of course, now its glued to the fuselage, I'm wondering if I should have opened them up even more? I may have to bite the bullet and cut them out and add real doors from plasticard.


The gun pods, which are definitely on the small side, have had their ventilation holes drilled and the wing fuel tanks finished as are the jet nozzles. The intake at the front of the tailplane has been opened and holes drilled for the engine fire access holes.




A bit do do on the underside and then time for some paint! :penguin:


Thanks for looking! Suggestions, comments, criticisms (!) all welcome.



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2 hours ago, Johnson said:

The engine cowls also needed quite a bit of work, ESCI had cast the part with the auxiliary doors very slightly open at the top, more or less correct for ground parking. I opened them up some more and re-scribed the closed ones. Of course, now its glued to the fuselage, I'm wondering if I should have opened them up even more? I may have to bite the bullet and cut them out and add real doors from plasticard.

It's what I did on my Gr.3 (also ESCI) but I think yours are close enough.




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On 8/14/2022 at 10:37 PM, alt-92 said:

It's what I did on my Gr.3 (also ESCI) but I think yours are close enough.

Thanks Dirk, I agree. They varied a lot.


So, switching to the underside I did a trial fit of the pylons...





I'd forgotten that the ESCI wing had the fairing that was used when a pylon isn't there. They presumably based this on a Sea Harrier without a pylon in place. Then (incorrectly) added the pylon. I've removed the fairing, I did mean to photograph this as it's quite an important modification for the ESCI kit, sorry. Anyway, so now the pylon doesn't fit the wing profile. Doh!!! :doh:


More unanticipated work.  y4mYjuvbvdvu8F5WvpUXdZbpjPi0kFs7LePFuosM


Back soon, hopefully with something a bit more interesting!



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Finally got the HUD in place. Last bit of the cockpit stuff, apart from the seat.






Not something I usually try, but I've pre-shaded the engine auxiliary doors in an attempt to give them a little more depth for when the EDSG goes on.



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'evening folks,


All the various aerials and vents are now on.




I added various bits and bobs on the nose, and the little IFF aerial. ESCI had moulded this on the seam line just behind the pitot fairing, but in reality it's very slightly offset to port. I replaced the wing fuel dump tubes - which were faint raised sections between the flaps and ailerons - with stretched sprue of the correct diameter. Also replaced the ESCI UHF aerials behind the cockpit with thinner plasticard.




The slot in the middle of the fuselage (that looks like the hole all our old Airfix kits had for the stand) is for the centre pylon - 1000LB bomb! The front wheel well is totally devoid of detail, I may have to add a floor at least. I can add the inner pylons after painting and decals if an underwing s/n is to go on. I debated whether to glue the 30mm gun pods on, but I've decided to add them later with PVA glue. Their positioning is a bit tricky and PVA is much more forgiving.


Paint next, but in a few days. Tomorrow is Mrs J's birthday, modelling may have to take a back seat.



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Paint, at last!


Xtracolor Extra Dark Sea Grey which, IMO, is a tiny bit dark. I really hate making judgement calls on paint colours, a real...



Anyway, after much experimentation I settled on a mix of 85% Extra Dark Sea Grey and 15% Dark Sea Grey which I reckoned to be right. It made the EDSG a tiny bit lighter (DSG isn't really that much lighter than EDSG) but more importantly, gave the EDSG a touch more blue which I felt it lacked.


Here's the model, masked and ready for the paint. The weird thing sticking out of the bottom of the fuselage is my Heath Robinson device to hold the SHAR when I'm painting it. It worked and didn't drop off, thankfully :phew:.






The finished result...




Happy with that! :penguin:


Lots more to do, but a lighthearted break now as I go off for the weekend to Blitzbuild 2 - Airfix Red Arrows Gnat in 24 hours! :D



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  • Johnson changed the title to ESCI 1/72 Sea Harrier FRS.1 - Paint!

Somehow I've missed this one! Looks like ESCI have kept you busy, what a lot of work to get it to behave! Really impressed with the cockpit and the paint job is lovely, looking very clean. In that photo, the EDSG looks bang on to me.



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  • 3 months later...

It's been ages since I updated this build, having been distracted by the F-15 GB which was fun but building the Hasegawa F-15C Eagle was much more of a challenge than I'd anticipated. Anyway, I was very glad and somewhat relieved to get back to this very nice kit.




Possibly because it was a cheap ebay purchase, the canopy was damaged and was going to need a bit of work.




In addition to the obvious damage above, the canopy had a mould line and it looked a bit like a frosted glass window that you might put in your bathroom. The only thing for it was a rub down with Micromesh inside and out (avoiding the moulded MDC in the top) and then a dip in Klear (or Johnson's 'pledge revive it' which I'd read here on BM is the same stuff). I'd not tried this before and the result was better than I'd hoped for;




I should have taken a pic from the other side where the damage was, but the 'klear' was great, giving a lovely sparkling finish and removing 90% of the evidence of damage. I dipped the canopy after painting the EDSG framing as I wasn't sure what affect enamel paint would have on the klear, which is essentially an acrylic varnish.


I wanted white lines inside the frame, more MDC I think. These are very prominent in photos of Harriers. I considered painting them but reckoned that I'd struggle to achieve a consistent line and was worried that I'd mess up a canopy that I'd worked hard on recovering. In the end I got a new 10A scalpel blade and cut very thin strips of white decal (D-Day stripes from an old Hasegawa P-51B kit). I was happy with the results;




The semi-circular item is the rear face of the canopy, scratch built, with the box that controls (I think) detonation of the MDC during ejection. It really needs a yellow stencil 'EXPLOSIVE CANOPY DETONATOR BENEATH'. Not yet sure if I can replicate this, but I may give it a try.





The only good thing about the Airfix Sea Harrier kit are the decals, worth buying just for them. Typical modern Airfix; thin, go down fine, well researched, excellent printing and registration. Lots of stencils to keep me busy and ruin my eyesight.




Here I must give thanks to Nick Greenall*¬†@NG899 and his fellow SIG modeller Richard who donated me the roundel blue 16 inches high side number 004 and airbrake number 4 and ZA175 codes so that I could model the Sea Harrier flown by 801 Naval Air Squadron's CO, Lt Cdr ‚ÄėSharkey‚Äô Ward (and other 801 NAS pilots). Richard also sent me roundels but the bulge in the fuselage was too much for the side decals which broke up, something Xtradecal roundels are prone too, a result of the number of layers of brittle paint. I fell back on the Airfix roundels which were fine and possibly a slightly better colour red. In hindsight (don't you hate it) I should have seperated the¬†0 0 a bit, but at the time I was completely focused on trying to get the 004¬†correctly aligned. There's always going to be something!




* Nick has been a great source of Harrier information and I'm deeply indebted to him!


Lots still to do. But I really must finish this in the 40th anniversary year!





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  • Johnson changed the title to ESCI 1/72 Sea Harrier FRS.1 - Canopy and Decals!

That's looking amazing, great work saving that canopy. The white stripes are genius; how did you debond And then restick the paint slivers? The result is really nice.


The whole thing is looking great in fact, those decals really bring it all together. I know you're onto the fussy stuff but but good luck with the home straight!




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1 hour ago, Ngantek said:

The white stripes are genius; how did you debond And then restick the paint slivers?


Thanks for your kind words Andy, but I wasn't quite accurate in my choice of words (I've edited my post above). I cut strips of white decal which although fragile weren't too difficult to separate and position on the canopy. But I'm being pretty careful with it as I don't think it would take much to knock them off.


I meant to add, I used some Microsol on the 'RESCUE' decal on the canopy and it fogged the Klear slightly! Now hidden by the white stripes, but lesson learned, Microsol and Klear don't mix.


The top Micro Detonation Cord could do with a bit of paint, probably grey as it isn't as pronounced in photos as the white around the outside. But I know I couldn't paint that raised detail at the top of the canopy. I think it will have to say as it is unless someone has a brilliant suggestion.





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  • Johnson changed the title to ESCI 1/72 Sea Harrier FRS.1 - On her feet!

Almost there!


On her feet, or 5 wheels, which wasn't easy getting them all in contact at once with a flat bits in the right place.


The large nav light on the fuselage is just a bump of plastic. I gave it a coat of Humbrol silver paint then several coats of clear Tamiya X-27 red acylic. The bottom light was similarly treated. The wing nav lights just got a coat of X-27 (port) and X-25 (stbd) as they look pretty dull when not turned on. Jet nozzles, 100 gal tanks and sidewinder rails are on. It was good to see into the cockpit again for the first time in months.


I'm still debating whether I got the right amount of satin/matt in the final coat, she looks a bit matt to me. Sea Harriers were painted with gloss (or satin) but they got a bit duller during their time in the South Atlantic winter.



I probably ought to add some weathering (which always scares me). A bit of paint wear on the bottom of the engine intakes and the fronts of the fuel tanks, showing the original white paint underneath. and some light staining on the wings and fuselage.


On the underside the air brake well has been given some muck, doesn't show that well in the pic



I left attaching the 30mm cannon pods until after painting it. Why I decided to do that I cannot remember, but it definitely wasn't a good idea as I messed up the paint which then took most a day to correct, and still isn't 100%. I see from the photo above there's a bit of staining on the port wing I missed, hopefully a light coat of varnish will hide that. The pods diverge a bit much at the front, just the way ESCI made them, and the way they fit the fuselage. But if I'd stuck them on during construction I'd have been able to correct them.


Still to do;

  • angle of attack sensor
  • pitot tube
  • Fit the airbrake
  • front wheel well doors
  • ejection seat
  • weathering
  • 1000LB bomb on centre pylon
  • Side slip vane in front of the windscreen
  • AIM-9L missiles


Thanks for looking. Cheers!


Edited by Johnson
the 'to do' list is getting longer!
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Wow Charlie, what a cracking job on this, what a beauty.  I built the Airfix FA2 and didn't like the undercarriage either so it's the first model I have built in flight.  Quite a pleasing model when built.

Great work on the FRS.1, love it.


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1 minute ago, bigbadbadge said:

Great work on the FRS.1, love it.


Thanks Chris, I can't believe I started this in June... when it was warm!


The ESCI kit is a really great starting point. It's been a bit of a challenge at times, but it's been an enjoyable build and now it's nearing completion I'm pretty happy.



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Lovely work! I like the level of satin, it still has that sheen in the light. For whatever reasons (blimming science again no doubt) matching the same finish as the real aircraft never seems to look right on a model, and I suspect you always need to use more matte to get the same look from a viewing distance, even if that means the paint looks very different up close.


I'd leave the stain. I had to look hard to see it only after you'd pointed it out, which suggests to me that it's prominence is in the 'natural paint variation' range.


Nice work on the undercarriage, it sounds like a nightmare. 


I too ran afoul of leaving things in pieces too late. I'm still undecided as to the best course, making painting much harder and risking lots of bounceback from awkward corners; or leaving potential problems for when it's too late to properly correct them. Even well dry fitted, the join is never the same after painting.


Generally really nice work, looking forward to the finished model





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Thanks Andy!


3 hours ago, Ngantek said:

matching the same finish as the real aircraft never seems to look right on a model, and I suspect you always need to use more matte

I agree. I prefer a matt or slightly matt finish on a model. It's a subjective scale thing that I don't really understand, it just looks better to me.


3 hours ago, Ngantek said:

I'd leave the stain.

Good advice (I'd only make it worse!)



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