Matchbox 1/72 Sea Harrier FRS.1
Matchbox 1/72 Sea Harrier FRS.1
$3.00 (cheap) at a model show 10 years back
Two options (RN and India)
Modeldecal sheet #70 used
This is the last all-British designed and built fighter aircraft.
The Sea Harrier or Shar is pretty well known –
especially after its exploits in the 1982 Falklands War.
This particular aircraft – ZA175 – was delivered to
the Fleet Air Arm in October 1981 and served in the Falklands.
This aircraft had one confirmed kill over the
Falklands when piloted by Lt. Cdr. N. 'Sharkey' Ward of 801 NAS, HMS Invincible.
It survived the war and later was converted to an FA2 in
It now resides in the Norfolk and
Suffolk Aviation Museum in the UK (see
wanting more history on the Sea Harrier has lots of sources available but a good
overview can be found at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_Harrier.
This was the first Shar kit ever
issued back in 1982 and makes a nice little model.
It was reissued by Revell Germany at least once in
the 90s when they still had rights to the Matchbox brand name.
Mine was this later Revell issue, so it is not
moulded in the usual two colours of plastic used by Matchbox but all in light
The panel lines on the wings were done by the famous
Matchbox trench digger but the fuselage lines are a bit more restrained or at
least less obvious.
The kit comes on two sprues – one is common with the
Matchbox Harrier GR1 kit – wings, tailplanes, weapons, etc. and the second has
the new fuselage for the Shar.
The original Matchbox issue
had decals for two grey/white Shars – one pre-Falklands Royal Navy machine and
one from the Indian Navy.
There was a later Matchbox issue with the same
Indian Navy decals but with an all grey Royal Navy machine.
I can’t remember what my Revell issue came with in
the way of decals.
The Esci/Italeri one is the
best 1/72 Shar available.
The others (Hasegawa and Fujimi) may well be better
than the Matchbox one, I don’t know.
This kit has very little detail but the basic shape
looks accurate and it still looks surprisingly good when finished.
I built this several years ago but from
memory, it was an easy build.
Fit was good and seams needed little filling,
I added a cockpit floor and a
white metal seat but nothing else as in this scale there’s very little visible
in the cockpit.
As for the exterior, I
started by filling the blow in doors on the intakes as mine was going to be
represented in flight.
I also filled the traditional Matchbox trench–like
panel lines on most surfaces – especially the wings and tail planes!
I like to use auto body spot and glazing putty for
filling and it did a great job on the panel lines and seams.
I also used Tippex ( it’s a brand of white
typewriter correction fluid – everybody here remembers typewriters, right? ) as
a filler for smaller spots and shallow panel lines.
I added small plates at the
inner ends of the tail planes from plastic card.
aren’t quite the right shape but they do improve the look of the model.
I also added an airbrake with small strakes from
plastic card glued to the fuselage.
It stands a little proud of the fuselage surface but
conveys the effect of the closed airbrake nicely.
By the way – if you do this, note that the airbrake
on the Shar is a bit smaller than the one on the Harrier GR1/GR3.
The exhaust nozzles are designed to swivel (but
not in unison like the old Airfix Harrier kit) but I left them off and added
them after the fuselage was painted.
I had to make a couple of small
intakes from plastic card on the upper fuselage.
I replaced the kit pitot tube with a pin!
Various blade antennae were added – the largest one
is below the starboard front nozzle.
Unfortunately, Matchbox did
their Shar on the cheap!
As I said above, they made a new fuselage but used
the wings and weapons sprues from the GR1 kit.
That makes economic sense but that left us with a
Shar with no gun pods!
That was quite a rare sight in reality so I dressed
mine with gun pods stolen from an Airfix GR3.
Matchbox did add some very poorly shaped Sidewinders
to the Sea Harrier sprue but they are awful, so I mounted AIM-9Ls that I had
spare (I think from the Monogram F-16XL) with suitable launch rails from plastic
card attached to the Matchbox outer pylons.
I think I used spare set of old Hunter 100 gallon
tanks on the inner pylons.
This is an all over Extra Dark Sea Grey
machine airbrushed with Gunze acrylic.
I sprayed it with Microscale gloss before decaling.
I wanted a simple paint job
using the all over grey camouflage from the Falklands but with the tail fin
squadron markings that were not carried during the conflict.
I found just what I wanted for aircraft ZA175 on Modeldecal sheet 70 representing a post Falklands scheme.
At that time (I think it was 1983), she was serving
in 800 NAS.
The decals applied easily and included many stencils
that really show well on the grey paint.
The model was given a single finishing coat of
The result may be a bit too glossy but I decided it was
about right for a machine newly repainted after the war.
I also didn’t see much weathering
visible in my
reference photos so I left it clean.
the Matchbox kit the best Shar model you can find?
No, of course not, but it looks like a purposeful
Shar to me and was an easy build.
This would be a suitable kit for a beginner but of late, I
have been buying more old Matchbox, Frog and Airfix kits– nostalgia driven, I
suppose, but they are such fun to build!
Modeldecal 70 – Richard Ward who produced this wonderful series of decals
included detailed drawings and photographs with each sheet.
I was content to use that for reference along with various old
magazines I have from the 80s.
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