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KIT REVIEW


Eduard EduArt #1166

Harrier GR.7/9 Limited Edition 1:48 Scale



The Harrier is one of the best-known aircraft of the latter half of the 20th century, renowned as the first operational combat aircraft with vertical takeoff and landing ability.  While the Harrier is in the twilight of its distinguished career today, kits of the Harrier are prolific, including a 2016 new release by Eduard of the British GR. 7/9.  This offering contains the Hasegawa injection molded kit with Eduard detail parts and new decals.

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During the Cold War, the prospect of a European theater-wide thermonuclear war meant that large airbases with long runways were quite vulnerable to annihilation.  The development of directed thrust jet engine designs in the late 1950s opened up the prospect of aircraft that could be achieve vertical/short takeoff and landing (V/STOL) capability.  Such a capability would allow operation from dispersed, decentralized, and otherwise unimproved settings to mitigate the risk of nuclear attack on force strength.  This line of thinking underscored the genesis of the Hawker Siddeley Harrier in the 1960s and kicked off nearly a half-century of operations, 36 named variants, and distinguished wartime performance from the Falklands to Afghanistan.

The first generation of the Harrier was the RAF’s Harrier GR.1/GR.3, which earned its fame as the world’s first operational close air support and attack aircraft with V/STOL capability. The British Aerospace FRS.1 and FA2 Sea Harriers were developed for the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm and operated between 1980 and 2006.  Other variants included the AV-8A and AV-8B flown by the Unites States Marine Corps. 

McDonnell Douglas and BAe developed “second-generation” Harrier IIs beginning in the mid-1980s.  The U.K.’s first Harrier II was the GR.5.  Its airframe featured a significant use of composites, a larger one-piece wing providing greater performance and more hard points, new avionics, and a modern cockpit with a HUD, multipurpose color displays, and a HOTAS configuration among other features.  The GR.7 first flew in 1990, and was an upgrade of the GR.5.  It featured further improved avionics and a nose-mounted forward-looking infrared (FLIR) sensor, night vision goggle capability, a new ECM suite, and yet again new cockpit displays.  The GR.9 followed, upgrading GR.7s with new avionics, communications, and weapons capabilities, including the AGM-65 Maverick and Paveway series of air-to-ground laser guided bombs.

The upgraded British Harriers flew their first combat sorties in 1995 as part of the NATO action in the former Yugoslavia, followed by participation in Operation ALLIED FORCE over Kosovo (1990), Operation TELIC over Iraq (2003), and several years of NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) operations in Afghanistan.

Drawdown of the British Harrier fleet was controversial, and according to some, a premature move since its intended replacement (the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter) was clearly years away from operational status.  The last GR.7s and GR.9s were retired in 2010.  Indeed, the lifetime of the British Harrier II was cut short as the jet arguably still had several years of service remaining.  As an ironic illustration of this fact, the GR.7s and 9s were cleared to carry the most modern targeting pods and air-to-ground munitions months before retirement was upon the U.K. Harrier fleet.  In November 2011, the U.K.’s Ministry of Defense sold their 72 remaining Harrier IIs and stockpiled supply chain inventory to the United States. They are now the under the auspices of the 39th Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan AFB in Arizona, “giving so that others may fly,” and serve as a repository of replacement parts for the USMC AV-8B Harrier II fleet.   

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Eduard’s Limited Edition Harrier GR.7/9 kit contains the plastic from the 1:48 scale Hasegawa injection molded kit consisting of 203 light gray plastic parts on 14 sprues, 20 clear parts on an additional sprue, four black poly caps, two photoetch metal frets, one sheet of clear acetate, 14 cast resin parts, and one pre-cut canopy and wheel hub painting mask set.  Also included is Eduard’s standard color instruction booklet.  Cartograf-printed decals provide markings for six jets:

Strengths: The Hasegawa 1:48 scale family of Harriers has been out for more than a decade and includes around 15 different boxings, from the early AV-8B to the GR.5, Night Attack Harrier IIs, to the GR.9.  By far, they are the best 1:48 scale injection molded kits of the Harrier produced to date, but have their quirks and shortcomings (see below).  Since the kit has been out for so long, this review will focus primarily on the Eduard-related components of this kit.

First, the Brassin resin parts, which replace the kit’s ejection seat, wheels, wheel hubs, and distal portions of the outrigger landing gear are all outstanding.  For example, the kit’s ejection seats are very poor and inaccurate to the point of being unusable.  The Brassin seat is an exquisite casting, with a separate back pad and seat pad and pre-painted photoetch shoulder harnesses and lap belts.  The fidelity of the cast detail on the wheel brakes, wheel hubs, and tire treads is similarly eye-popping.  Other color photoetch parts hold far greater detail than the kit parts for the instrument panel, multifunction displays, and the display frames.  Photoetch metal parts also provide significantly better detail for the cockpit sidewalls, replace the main gear scissors, and enhance airframe details such as vents and antennas.
 
Usually, I cannot say enough about the quality of Cartograf decals, and this kit’s decal sheet is no exception.  However, the choice of markings is particularly awesome.  Eduard selected great schemes to represent here to the point that these are probably the most colorful and diverse ensemble of GR.7 and GR.9 markings ever brought together inside a single box.  These include markings for the Centenary of U.K. Naval Aviation, a shark-mouthed Operation TELIC jet, the artic camouflaged GR.7 that flew in the 2004 SNOW FALCON exercise in Norway, and a Boscombe Down test jet.  I may not need another source for British Harrier II decals for the rest of my life – they’re all great, and I will have a hard time figuring out what scheme to build first and then I’ll distribute the remaining decals to the other GR.7s and 9s that I have in the stash…
  
Weaknesses: The 1:48 scale Hasegawa Harrier is an overall good kit in my opinion, but does have a few quirks to be mindful of.  Some scale modelers bemoan the fit, while others have had an easier time with the Hasegawa Harrier (I’m in that latter camp).  Probably the trickiest fit is between the nose, upper forward fuselage, and the LERX (leading edge root extension), and I recommend lots of test fitting there.  Don’t rush it.  I found a good blog post on the Hasegawa Harrier’s build that contains a slightly modified construction sequence (https://jonbryon.com/av8bplus-html/) and can be of use here for the GR.7/9.   

Do note that there are seams running down the centerline of the Hasegawa windscreen and canopy that should be sanded down and buffed out.  My only critique of any of the Eduard parts is that their photoetch did not go far enough.  The kit’s cockpit side consoles are okay, but replacing them with pre-painted photoetch parts would have been optimal and would better carry over visual consistency from the instrument panel to the side consoles – in other words, no matter what, the detail painted side consoles will probably always look just a little different.

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Eduard’s Limited Edition Harrier GR.7/9 hits a home run, containing a very good base kit paired with outstanding resin and photoetch metal detail parts and an awesome set of markings.  With an MSRP of $100, this limited edition kit might seem pricy.  Consider, however, that the base plastic kit can retail between $38 and $55.  The value of detail parts, masks, and decal sheet, if sold separately, would push the bill into or beyond the territory of $100 just as well.  What you’re getting for the value is arguably quite reasonable.  If you’re a scale modeler who enjoys building jets, this kit has a lot to offer.  If you’re a Harrier fan, this is a must-have.  I’m really looking forward to starting work on this kit, just as soon as I can get my 1:32 Trumpeter AV-8B+ off the bench!          

Sincere thanks are owed to Eduard for the review sample.  You visit them on the web at http://www.eduard.com and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/EduardCompany/

Haagen Klaus
Scale Modeling News & Reviews Editor
Detail & Scale

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