Sea Harrier FRS1 1/72 Airfix

Airfix 1/72nd Sea Harrier FRS1 by Tony Adams

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During our club visit to Airfix HQ part of the presentation covered the design of the Airfix 1/72 Sea Harrier FRS1 and in particular showed off the computer 3D model of the model (!) [1]. I was impressed by the apparent quality of the kit and so picked one up in the Airfix shop before we left ( along with a 1/350 HMS Illustrious containing yet more Sea Harriers).

 

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[1] Inspiration (not the back of the guy in fronts head!) [2] Lovely box art is back at Airfix

Having just completed the Sea Vixen I thought I may as well keep with the Airfix / FAA theme and so the model was given the fast track to my workbench.

On opening the box, I was once again impressed with the new Airfix presentation. Along with the excellent artwork on the front of the box, you are supplied with two good quality sprues of “Airfix” light grey plastic, a comprehensive decal sheet, and a lovely full colour painting guide , providing three decal options. In fact the only thing missing was… the canopy – bum. However, two days after reporting the missing item on Airfix’s web site a new one popped through the letter box [3]– brilliant service – what a difference compared to the traumas I had with Revell!

I rapidly decided that there was only one variant of the model I wanted to build and that was XZ457 ( see panel ) in full Falklands livery.

 

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[3] Canopy – express delivery

[4] The pilot figure looks like he should have been flying a spitfire

First up as normal was the office, I had considered including the pilot but on inspection the figure just didn’t look right , I’m sure he is of WWII vintage [4] ,complete with Mae West and flying helmet, best leave it on the sprue.

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Decals are supplied for the instrument panels and once painted the cockpit passes muster, I added seat belts made from painted masking tape and gave the whole thing a wash to bring out any detail that could be seen through the canopy.

The engine compressor fan is nicely rendered, just needing a coat of Alclad steel.harr7

The fuselage was buttoned up, I generally  hold the parts together before running Tamiya thin cement along the joint. By applying pressure you can push a small bead of molten plastic before it dries which fills in any gaps and reduces the need for filler [5].

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[5] The fuselage being squeezed together

[6] The engine intakes were a challenge

The wings were attached before Mr Surfacer was applied to the joints and sanded down. The engine intakes took an age to get flush with the fuselage requiring lots of rubbing down.

The whole airframe was given a coat of Tamiya Grey Primer , decanted from the can and applied by airbrush. A few joints needed further work , so more Mr Surfacer was applied rubbed down and re-primed.

After several further cycles I was happy that no joints were visible, lost panel lines were re-scribed and the model was ready for pre-shading .

Tamiya X-1 was thinned heavily and sprayed along all panel lines [7].

The model was the given a coat of Mr Color Extra Dark Sea Grey, I’ve used Mr Color paints a lot recently,  they airbrush very well , and are thin enough to allow the paint to be built up slowly , which is important for the pre-shading to work effectively. Once dry Dark Grey was mixed with a little white and applied to the centre of the panels to further accentuate the panel shading. [8]

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[7] Preshading of panel lines

[8] The main colour applied over the pre-shading

The radome was masked and given a coat of semi gloss black before the whole plane was sprayed with Klear to provide a gloss finish for decaling. The undercarriage was assembled without drama and the jet nozzles glued in place. The decals went on without problem,  I now use Mr Softener rather than MicroSol as I have had issues with it discolouring the Klear. The only criticism I have over the decals is a slight mis-registration that is apparent in the red engine panel markers, with some of the white carrier being apparent,

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[9] Decals Applied

[10] Dark “Pro Modeller” Wash applied with airbrush

The decals were sealed with another coat of Klear and when dried I sprayed a layer of Pro Modeller wash over the complete model, this was allowed to dry ( about 20 minutes) and then the excess removed with a damp cloth , making sure I wiped perpendicular to the panel lines to ensure I didn’t remove the wash from them.

The weapons ( 2 x sparrows ) and drop tanks were painted , decaled an applied to the model. The final touch was to make a new pitot tube from a sewing needle cut to the correct length.

All in all a very pleasant and pleasing build, another cracking release from Airfix – their Swordfish is now a must buy soon.harr16harr15

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BAE Sea Harrier XZ457  No 899 NAS HMS Hermes, South Atlantic May/June 1982

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XZ457 was the top scoring aircraft during the Falkland conflict claiming 4 kills.On May 21st 1982 British forces landed on East Falklands, and this provoked a strong Argentinean response. Sea Harriers were flying CAPs, but there was only a 25% chance that aircraft would be in position to intercept any given raiding force. Lt Morrell shot down two A-4 Skyhawks from XZ457.

On May 24th 1982 Lt Cdr Andy Auld was on patrol north of West Falkland, when he was vectored onto four Daggers by HMS Broadsword. Auld, flying XZ457, shot down two Daggers with Sidewinders

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