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Sea Harrier FRS.1

by Piero de Santis


Sea Harrier FRS.1
800 Sqn, HMS Hermes
Falkland Islands, Spring 1982


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I would first like to thank everyone who said they enjoyed my Jaguar model. This time, I chose one of my favourites from the Harrier family.

I have a particular affinity with the Harrier, probably because we both "entered operations" in the same year!



This is a BAE Sea Harrier FRS.1 (serial XZ457 code 14) from the Royal Navy's 800 Squadron on the carrier "HMS Hermes" during the Falklands War in the spring of 1982, with a score of 4 air-kills.

The Sea Harrier (SHAR) was the star of the conflict, with a ratio of 21-0 scores in air-to-air fights, maybe because RN's pilots were better trained, maybe for the AIM-9L, maybe something else… but at the end the result tell the story!



The Model


When I decided to build a SHAR FRS.1 in 1/48th scale there were two choices: Airfix and Tamiya (but don't think about today's Tamiya standard!).

Each has its pros and cons. The Airfix kit has a good shape, but with wrong flaps and nozzle plates moulded as part of the fuselage. Tamiya has "strange" shape, but better detailed undercarriage and separate nozzle plates. Both has a lot of work to do before became a "real" SHAR!



My decision was radical. I decided to take an old (out of production) Monogram's AV-8A Harrier GR.1, the Airfix's FRS.1 and a Flightpath's detail etched set. I know, it's not "cheap", but also when we have to build a Hasegawa's kit, it is hardly ever built straight from the box either!

Monogram's AV-8A has good fuselage, wings, undercarriage, intakes, nozzles, airbrake, cannons pods and cockpit tube.



Conversion and Construction


The task was not difficult. Cut off the front of the fuselage of both kits from the pointed nose to just aft of the cockpit tub. Take the Airfix nose and discard the Monogram one.

Use all the tail fin and the tail cone RWR fairing, inner wing pylons and fuel tanks from the Airfix kit… Oops! Clear parts and pitot too, obviously.

From the Monogram kit: cockpit tub, fuselage (minus nose, tail fin and tail cone end), undercarriage, outboard wing pylons and rails, cannons pods, horizontal tail surfaces, nozzles and plates, intakes and airbrake.



From Flightpath's etched sheet: instrument panel, cockpit details, undercarriage doors, horizontal tail plates, yaw sensor, antennas, wing fences… what else? Yes, access ladder! Martin Baker MK.10 seat is in resin from Airwaves.

Today, Neomega make a resin cockpit set for the SHAR… a must if somebody want to build one! AIM-9L Sidewinders are from a Hasegawa Weapons set.



Painting and Markings


In early service, the SHAR was finished in gloss Extra Dark Sea Grey with White undersurfaces. Roundels were Blue-White-Red and a large Squadron badge was on the tail: too hi-viz for operations!

During the Atlantic- trip to the Falkland Islands, the aircraft were repainted on board. The first thing to do was to overpaint all the White surfaces with the Extra Dark Sea Grey. Tail badges were overpainted too. The White of the roundels was overpainted with Blue. Codes were repaints in Black or Dark blue. Aboard on the "Hermes" this job was hand-made(!), because there was no air-condition locals. The end result was that the SHAR look very "stealthy" and Argentine pilots dubbed it "La Muerte Negra"!



Other SHARs arrived in the middle of the operation were in Medium Sea Grey and Light Aircraft grey.

I always prefer to use Humbrol enamels: Extra Dark Sea Gey was 112.

During the war, operational tasks were very frequent and in really bad weather, so the paint flaked off many significant areas including panels, flaps, pylons and cannons. This sometimes exposed the zinc primer colour. I depicted this on my model.

For the decals, I did the same job for the roundels as described for the real airplane. Stencils came from the Airfix kit, while serial and code numbers came from other decal sheets.

I hope this article provides some answers to the many questions that I read daily on HyperScale.



Additional Images


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Model, Text and Images Copyright © 2001 by Piero de Santis
Page Created 15 July, 2001
Last Updated 04 June, 2007

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