KIT: Hasegawa 1/72 Harrier GR.7 'RAF'
KIT #: 00380
PRICE: $16.98 MSRP
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Kim Elliott
NOTES: Based on the previous AV-8B with supplementary sprues and decals for the GR.7

HISTORY

The second generation Harriers as used by the British were developed from the USMC AV-8B, but differ subtly in avionics fit, weapons and countermeasures. Instead of one 25 millimeter Gatling gun, the GR.5 was fitted with twin 25 millimeter Aden revolver cannons. The RAF also use Sidewinders on launch rails under the landing-gear outriggers. The GR. 7 is an upgraded variant of the GR. 5, roughly equivalent to the Night Attack Harrier II, and has now been superseded by an improved version, the GR. 9. The first BAE development GR. 5 flew for the first time on April 30, 1985 and the aircraft entered service in July 1987. The GR. 7A is the first stage in an upgrade to the Harrier GR. 9 standard, being a GR. 7 with an uprated Rolls-Royce Pegasus 107 engine. The Harrier GR. 9 is an avionics and weapons upgrade of the standard GR. 7.

 The GR. 7 had its maiden flight in May 1990, and began to flow to operational squadrons later that year. Assigned to patrols over Bosnia in July 1995, it saw operational deployment over the former Yugoslavia. They participated in air strikes as part of Operation Allied Force, the air campaign against Serb military targets in Kosovo in 1999. RAF GR. 7ís played a prominent role in Operation Telic, the UK contribution to the U.S.-led war against Iraq in 2003. GR7ís participated in strike and close air support missions throughout the conflict. While the GR. 7 deployed on Invincible class aircraft carriers during testing as early as June 1994, the first operational deployments at sea began in 1997. This arrangement was formalised with the Joint Force Harrier Wing, which has operated in Afghanistan since September 2004. The Royal Navy operated the type from March 2006 until early 2007, at which time the GR. 9A was phased in.

THE KIT

The kit is comprised of 75 parts on 10 grey sprues, with one sprue of clear parts, four black polycaps, and a comprehensive decal sheet. The 5' X 5 1/2" decal sheet has unit markings for two aircraft,  RAF No. 20 and No. 4 Squadrons, plus full stenciling for one aircraft. The decals, by Hasegawa, are crisp, in register, and come in a clear protective bag.  Another clear bag holds the polycaps and the clear parts. The 2 part canopy is clear, with the MDC engraved internally,  but has a mold line on the exterior which should be removed. Decal for the MDC is supplied. Four of the sprues are specific to the GR. 7 version, featuring the nose, LERX, tailcone, cannon pods and missile rails. The remainder are common with the AV-8B. Although the instruction sheet is in Japanese, sequential exploded line drawings are adequate for most of the assembly.

 The mouldings are crisp, free of flash or distortion, and feature fine engraved panel lines. Air intakes feature drooped auxiliary intake doors. Outline and dimensions match published 1/72 drawings; it looks like a Harrier. This is state-of-the-art injection moulding from Hasegawa at a reasonable price. However, several areas need help from aftermarket suppliers:

 1. the aft jet nozzles are vastly over-simplified

2. the airbrake is moulded integral with the fuselage, in the closed position, and lacks definition

3. the ejector seat is simplistic, and possibly suspect - it should be a  Martin-Baker Type 12 Mark 2

4. a pair of Sidewinders and fuel tanks comprise the limited under-wing stores, plus the ventral cannon fairings.

5. only the early small LERX are supplied. While correct for early GR. 7 models, the later, larger type could have been easily given as an option.

 Decals supplied are for early RAF service(1997), in the two-tone green scheme featured on the photographic box-art. Full stencil and unit markings for  4 and 20 squadrons are on the sheet  provided. There have been a number of finishes applied to this aircraft since service introduction; again, this is an area in which aftermarket suppliers could  fill the void.

CONCLUSIONS

 Overall, this looks like a typical Hasegawa product at an affordable price with good accuracy and reasonable detail. Those looking for the ultimate detailed Harrier, or later operational finishes, will need to find extra resin and decals to complement their ambitions.

 Review kit courtesy of your editor.

June 2007

Kim Elliott

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