Dragon 1/144 Joint Harrier Force
KIT: Dragon 1/144 Joint Harrier Force
KIT #: 4603
PRICE: $9.55 from GreatModels
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Two kits

HISTORY

The McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier II is a family of second-generation vertical/short takeoff and landing or V/STOL jet multirole aircraft of the late 20th century. British Aerospace rejoined the project in the early 1980s, and it has been managed by Boeing/BAE Systems since the 1990s.

Developed from the earlier Hawker Siddeley Harriers, it is primarily used for light attack or multi-role tasks, typically operated from small aircraft carriers and large amphibious assault ship. Versions are used by several NATO countries, including the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, and the United States.

The aircraft is known as the AV-8B Harrier II in United States Marine Corps service and the Harrier GR7/GR9 in British service. Though it shares the designation letter-number with the earlier AV-8A/C Harrier, the AV-8B Harrier II was extensively redesigned by McDonnell Douglas. The AV-8A was a previous-generation Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.1A procured for the US Marine Corps. Both models are commonly referred to as the "Harrier Jump Jet".

Variants as provided in the kit:

GR7

The GR7 had its maiden flight in May 1990 and made its first operational deployment in August 1995 over the former Yugoslavia. While the GR7 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, operating with the Royal Navy's Sea Harrier.

GR7A

The GR7A is the first stage in an upgrade to the Harrier GR9 standard. The GR7A is the GR7 with an uprated Rolls-Royce Pegasus 107 engine. When upgraded to GR9 standard the uprated engine variants will retain the A designation, becoming GR9As. Forty GR7s are due to receive this upgrade. The Mk 107 engine provides around 3,000 lbf (13 kN) extra thrust than the Mk 105's 21,750 lbf (98 kN) thrust, increasing aircraft performance during "hot and high" and carrier-borne operations.

GR9

The Harrier GR9 is an avionics and weapons upgrade of the standard GR7. This upgrade, known as the Integrated Weapons Programme (IWP), allows the carriage of the latest smart weapons, new inertial navigation and Global Positioning systems (INS/GPS). The new weapons being integrated are the Brimstone, Maverick, Paveway III LGB and Paveway IV PGB missiles.

The aircraft will also be fitted with Sniper targeting pods. In July 2007, BAE Systems completed the final of seven Harrier GR9 replacement rear fuselages for the UK MoD. The fuselage components were designed and built as part of a three year 20 million programme.

THE KIT

Dragon's Harrier kit has been around for a while and boxed as both RAF and USMC Harriers. It suffers somewhat from the shape problems that plagues most of Dragon's earlier 1/144 scale kits, especially in the contours of the nose. Fortunately, this part is removed as part of the kit upgrade to GR.7/9 standard and a newly molded nose (as part of a new sprue) is provided.

Other bits on this new sprue are the Brimstone missiles and pod, as well as Sidewinder (or I guess that is AMRAAM) pylons and rails. This sprue also has chaff/flare dispensers for the AV-8B and are not used. Another part of the kit that is a bit odd is the demarcation line between windscreen and canopy. To my eye, it is too far back. Since this part is not really that well molded anyway, one could easily sand off the current framework and rescribe it.

Another area that needs attention are the wing and tailplane tips. These are quite rounded and it seems to me they should be much more squared off. Nothing some time with a sanding stick can't cure, but it does show the age of the molds. At least it isn't as horrendous as their F-16, a kit that Dragon has wisely decided not to re-release.

Since it is 1/144, there are two construction steps on the four page instruction sheet. Gunze and Model Master colors are given and there are markings for two planes. While one is touted as a GR.7A and the other as a GR.9, they look identical. Both are in the three greys scheme with blue/red roundels. The GR.7A is with 4 Squadron while the GR.9 is the boss bird with 41 Squadron and sports an all-white fin. You might want to research the actual colors of these planes as I'm a bit suspicious of the FS numbers called out in the instructions. They give the same shades as provided in the Hasegawa AV-8B kits and those are known to be incorrect. The small decal sheet is well printed and provides quite a lot of very small markings! I should also mention that it looks to me as if the '4 Squadron' badges are actually 20 Squadron, which is also the OCU for the Harrier.

CONCLUSIONS

Nice to see some modern RAF Harriers being offered, despite the shape errors of the kit. As long as you know what you are getting into, it shouldn't be too much trouble to end up with a couple of very nice little models.

REFERENCES

http://en.wikipedia.org

July 2008

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