Airfix 1/72 Harrier GR.5






1 sq and 3 sq


Scott Van Aken




After the second world war, there was a great deal of interestin designing an aircraft that didn't need a runway from which to operate. Anumber of developments were tried including aircraft that take off and landvertically, aircraft that were launched from trailers using rocket booster,aircraft with separate lift and flight engines, and aircraft that had engineswhich swiveled from vertical take-off to flight mode. All of these systems werecomplicated or required piloting skill in the landing and takeoff mode that arenot available in the average pilot. 

It wasn't until Hawker further improved on some experimentsusing vectored exhaust nozzles as well as stabilizing thrust nozzles in the tailto keep the aircraft pointing the right way, that a viable vertical take off andlanding (VTOL) aircraft was finally developed. To be sure, the development ofthat aircraft was not short and many systems had to have bugs worked out ofthem, but the result is a very capable VTOL aircraft, the Harrier. 

What is really surprising is that this is basically it when itcomes to combat aircraft of this type. Like the swing-wing, it seems to be atechnology that is either way ahead of its time or is a bit of a dead end. It isthe perfect platform for a sea-going attack aircraft, and as such has found agreat deal of use with the Royal Navy and the US Marines. The RAF also hasseveral squadrons of the aircraft, but I think that is more because it is aBritish design than anything else where the RAF is concerned.

The GR.5 and US AV-8B are basically the same aircraft. It has alarger airframe and wing than the previous Harrier GR.1/3 or AV-8A. It also hasa more powerful engine. In fact, there is very little that is the same betweenthe earlier and later Harrier. The RAF and USMC are constantly having theaircraft upgraded with improved systems. I think the RAF is up to GR.9 aboutthis time. Not sure if the GR.5 is still around or if all the airframes havebeen upgraded. 


Airfix's kit of the Harrier GR.5 was first released around 1991,if the box date can be used for reference. What is surprising about this kit isthat it is of the raised panel line variety. By now, almost all other kit makersnew products had engraved panel lines. Not sure exactly why this is unless theywere using parts from the ancient GR.1/3 kit.

Anyway, you get a sorta OK cockpit which is a tub, seat, controlstick and instrument panel with decal. The canopy can be displayed open if youwish. Other options are gear up or down, guns or strakes and a bunch ofunderwing ordnance. In fact, it looks like half the kit is bombs, fuel tanks,guns or missiles.

It also looks like you can do several versions with this kit asthere are four different noses, however only the one for the GR.5 is shown asused. Those of you with the other Harrier kits, let me know if one can do otherswith what comes in the kit.

The instruction sheet is a 7 step construction with colors givenin these steps. Naturally they are Humbrol numbers with no clue as to whatnumber is what color. This is really poor on Airfix's part as there are a numberof modelers who don't have access to Humbrol paint. At least a generic colorcallout would be appreciated.

Decals are for twoaircraft, both in what appears to be green over grey. One is from 1 sq and theother from 3 sq. As you can see from the sheet, most of the decals are forcommon markings with just a bit of color for the unit markings. Of course, allHarriers are now in grey (I believe), but this version should be in oldercolors. There is a very nice Modeldecal sheet for these aircraft so if you haveit, use it!!

Overall, a nice kit. Not great, but nice and the only one I knowof in this scale.

Review kit courtesy of me and my wallet!

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