The Harrier jumpjet has always fascinated me when I was a young boy in the late 70s. This was a plane like no other, performing amazing acrobats in mid air like no other, due to its VTOL capability and jet design arrangement. Today, it still has a special place in my modelling heart. The ultimate Harrier kit still remains the 1/24 scale Airfix giant. Though a bit dated in terms of details and coming a little short in terms of accuracy and fit, the kit still packed a wallop when it came to size and sheer impact.
The Airfix 1/24 scale Harrier GR3 kit is one of 3 kits offered by Airfix in this scale. There is the GR1 and FRS1 to accompany the GR3 variant. The Sea Harrier variant remains the most up to date with an updated cockpit and air intake parts ( more of this in another blog later )
To the unititated, Airfix's instruction sheet will need a bit of getting used to as the part number, construction sequence marking and paint marking symbols can get a bit confusing. Be forewarned.
The Gr3 variant will come together with around 250 parts. The plastic is soft, typically Airfix and 'melts' very easily in Tamiya Extra Thin. The parts have a tendency to detach itself from the sprue so a bit of caution is required when handling the parts. You wouldn't want any parts missing because of this. Thankfully, most of the loose parts remained in the box, in my case.
This is a sample of the part sprue.
Construction breakdown is rather tricky due to the ill fitting parts especially on the air intakes and fuselage halves. There is a lot of cleanup required. The most obvious and troublesome flaw in the kit the the hundreds on rivet/fasteners on the fuselage. The GR3 has most of the fuselage in a smooth finish except for some panels in reality. A lot of putty and sanding work will be required. The clear parts are a bit thick and will require some cleaning and polishing. The decals are impressive in size but not in quality as they are badly out of register, especially for the stencil markings involving colours over a white undercoat. That said, 5 different markings are provided, a NATO Harrier ( based in Germany ), a Falkland campaign warbird, an American AV8A, a Spanish and a Thai Airforce plane. All good choices, showing the different paint schemes.
To improve the poor details on the kit, a Flightpath PE set will be added.
Flightpath's superdetailing set consists of PE frets, white metal casting, resin parts, film, printed sheets and a bit of string. The PE is divided into one fret for the cockpit including the seat (yes, the whole seat is PE with white metal),one for the exterior enhancements, one for weapons, one for the Sidewinder replacements (together with resin body), one for the airfield accessories, and ladder. The white metal casting consists of air intake covers, seats, control sticks, seat parts, front undercarriage and Aden gun enhancement muzzle and back while the rope and printed materials are essentially airfield diorama enhancement parts. Resin parts are provided for the wheels, sidewinder and cluster bomb body. The instruction sheets takes at least 3 to 4 readingd and forward planning is absolutely essential. The PE parts seems a bit thick and are a real curse to cut but they do bend quite well after annealling. Be sure you do a lot of dry fitting as some modifications will be neccessary for the cockpit, Aden guns, air intakes, undercarriage, air brakes and rear jet details. On second thoughts, dry fit all the parts. They take a bit of effort but will be worth the time once completed.
Photos and text by CK Loo