Airfix 1/72 Sea Harrier FA.2

KIT #: A04052
PRICE: $16.95 MSRP
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: New mold kit


The British Aerospace Sea Harrier is a naval VTOL/STOVL jet fighter, reconnaissance and attack aircraft, a development of the Hawker Siddeley Harrier. It first entered service with the Royal Navy in April 1980 as the Sea Harrier FRS1 and became informally known as the "Shar". Unusual in an era when most naval and land-based air superiority fighters are larger and supersonic, the subsonic Sea Harrier is tasked primarily for air defense and operating from Royal Navy aircraft carriers, shooting down 20 aircraft in the Falkland war in air combat with no losses. It was also used to launch ground attacks in the same manner as the Harriers operated by the Royal Air Force.

The Sea Harrier was marketed for sales abroad, unsuccessfully to Argentina and Australia, India became the only operator other than Britain in 1983. A second, updated version for the Royal Navy was made in 1993 as the Sea Harrier FA2, improving its air to air abilities and weapons compatibilities, along with a more powerful engine. This version continued manufacture until 1998.

The Sea Harrier served in the Falklands War, both of the Gulf Wars, and the Balkans conflicts, it mainly operated from aircraft carriers positioned within the conflict zone. Its usage in the Falklands War was its most high profile and important success, having protected the British Task Force as its only fixed-wing fighter available. The Sea Harrier was withdrawn early from Royal Navy service in March 2006 and replaced in the short term by the Harrier GR9, the intended replacement is Lockheed Martin's F-35 Lightning II. The Sea Harrier is in active use in the Indian Navy, though in the long term it will be replaced by the Mikoyan MiG-29K.

There are only six surviving ex-RN Sea Harriers; two FRS.1 and four FA.2s, of which two of the latter are in the US. One of the US planes has been returned to flight status and is appearing at a limited number of shows on the US East Coast.


Opening the now familiar folded thin cardboard box, one finds three grey sprues and one bag with the clear bits in them. The molding on the kit isn't bad. Though I find the engraved work to be a bit overdone, it is not a deal killer and is well excecuted. I found no flash, not ejector pin marks that would be seen, but I did find a few sink areas on drop tanks and fuselage halves opposite the rather large alignment pins. The ejector marks on the wing halves should be sanded flush to be sure they don't interfere with fit. As you might expect, two of the three grey sprues is identical to those offered in the FRS.1 kit with only the fuselage sprue being different.

The kit has a multitude of options. There are inserts to the intakes that can portray the aux intake doors either flush with the surface or with the upper ones dropped down as they are with the engine off. Gear doors can either be posed full open, with the main ones closed or all of them closed as in flight, though there is no in flight display stand. Other options are open or closed canopy. Like the FRS.1 kit, the FA.2 does offer the gun packs, and there are AAMRAMS to use. In addition to the aforementioned drop tanks, there are Sea Eagle ASMs and two different Sidewinder set ups; one with a single launch rail and one with twin rails.

Detail is fairly good for the cockpit with a three piece bang seat. The landing gear is nicely done and main wheels are flattened. Gear wells have good detail though for most, the doors will be closed making that a moot point. There is also a posable speed brake and the exhaust nozzles can be rotated. Like all Sea Harrier kits, you can see the huge fan blade through the intake.

Instructions are very nicely drawn, though frustratingly, Airfix still insists on only supplying Humbrol paint numbers instead of giving a nice conversions chart with real paint information. This does not, however, extend to the full color decal and painting guide, where the shades are called out. There are three markings options with all aircraft in Medium Sea Grey. One is the box art plane from 800 NAS, while planes from 801 NAS and 899 NAS are also provided. Decals are first rate and should work beautifully.

Another very nice new kit that won't break the bank. I've been informed that this kit has several shape errors, though to be honest, I surely don't see them right off so it must be something that is rather subtle. The molding is good and the engineering looks to be equally well done so this one should go together well.


September 2010

Thanks to me for picking this one up.

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