Dragon 1/144 USMC AV-8B
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Two kits in the box|
The McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) AV-8B Harrier II is a family of second-generation vertical/short takeoff and landing or V/STOL ground-attack aircraft of the late 20th century. It is primarily used for light attack or multi-role tasks, typically operated from small aircraft carriers and large amphibious assault ships.
Although the AV-8B Harrier II shares the designation with the earlier AV-8A/C Harrier, the AV-8B was extensively redesigned from the previous-generation Harrier GR.1A/AV-8A/C by McDonnell Douglas. British Aerospace joined the improved Harrier project in the early 1980s, and it has been managed by Boeing/BAE Systems since the 1990s.
The AV-8B is used by the United States Marine Corps. The British Harrier GR7/GR9 versions are used by the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy. Versions are also used by NATO countries: Spain, and Italy. The Harrier models are commonly referred to as the "Harrier Jump Jet". The type is scheduled to be replaced by the F-35C.
Dragon has done the 1/144 military modeler a real favor by releasing a number of kits of modern fighter and attack aircraft. There have been some really nice one, and there have been a few (such as their F-16) which have some major shape concerns. The AV-8B kit is one of those that is somewhere in the middle. It is nicely molded with a ton of ordnance options, but there are a few areas of concern when it comes to some of the shapes.
The first one that comes to mind is the nose. This area is far too pointy, even with the replacement piece that is provided for the radar-nosed plus version. The modeler is encouraged to use some putty to reshape the nose to more like what is shown on the box art than what comes in the kit. The other area I'd fix is the fin. It is also too pointy and could benefit from sanding the top to a more prototypical shape. I've shown the two major sprues as well as the instruction sheet layout diagram. Of course, most all of them are duplicated as you do get two full kits.
As hinted at in the above paragraph, to do an AV-8B plus, the nose that is there has to be removed and the one on the H sprue substituted. Wings and tailplanes look pretty good. The kit does have a plethora of weapons options so there should be plenty to choose from. You can have everything from regular bombs to LGBs to Sidewinders and targeting pods. I should mention that there is a cockpit of sort with a pilot shape sitting in the seat. This is a simple kit as these go, with only two construction steps.
The instructions point out all the options and provide color information in both Model Master and Gunze paints as well as the generic name. Both planes are in the more modern three greys scheme with fancy fin painting. This is provided as a decal, though the background color has to be painted on. One is from VMA-513 with the lighting bolt on the rudder and the other is from the training unit, VMAT-203 with all the crimson. Decals are well done and should work quite well.
There are many who think that we are in the Golden Age of modeling and I have to agree. This is just an example of the variety of fine models available to us in all scales. For those who like modern aircraft and don't have a ton of space, then this is the kit for you.
My thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the review kit. You can get this and other fine Dragon kits at your local shop. If not in stock, have them order it for you.
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