Farewell Sea Harrier, Welcome Harrier…

The build of the Sea Harrier FA2 and the Harrier GR7 is complete.

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One thing that was most evident was the improvement in the quality of Airfix kits in recent years. The Harrier GR7 is plainly a lot older, with less well-defined panels and a poor fit of the parts. The mouldings are either tired or were never any good, because there is a lot of excess ‘flash’ on the mouldings. The Sea Harrier kit is newer, much crisper and of a better formulation of plastic. Some things just don’t make sense. Take the wells into which the main gear retracts…

In the GR7 model (left), there is plainly no room to fit a large two-wheel bogey, so why give the impression of an hydraulic actuator and piping on a panel that can’t be there? In the FA2 (right) the wheel well and airbrake wells are realistically deeper.

Same with the weapons. In the GR7 kit, you get an impressive choice of things to dangle from the pylons – smart bombs, ECM/ESM pods, targeting pods, etc. However, all of them are designed for pylons with tabs, all the pylons have a couple of pins instead. So the only thing that goes on without some modelling action are the full rig of 7 x BLU755 cluster bombs, which is what was supplied with the GR7 kit when it was first released. The modelling itself is not as good: compare these two AIM-9L Sidewinders. I could only bring myself to finish one type!

Still, it was fun enough. The main issue with the Sea Harrier was the array of huge decals that needed to be put on the model. These were the special colours for the farewell flight in 2004, featuring the badge of 800NAS. the biggest covers most of the back of the ‘plane. Note the espresso that must be consumed to give one courage…

The decals (soaked from backing paper in water as normal) are applied onto the model which has first been painted with some stuff called MicroSet. When it has dried you put on some MicroSol which softens the decal allowing it to sink into place properly (above right), including all the panel lines.

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Then it’s a case of varnishing, applying more decals, varnishing again, touching up paint, attaching more stuff, varnishing again and so on. (Note the home-made paint masks on the canopies – very proud of those…)

And then it is done. Actually, it is nice to have a pristine Sea Harrier FA2 to go alongside my original one which I have subsequently made to look a bit more used with some airbrushing along the panel joints.

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So, there we have it. The last ‘Sea’ anything flown by the squadron. Such a pity.

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