KIT:

Hasegawa 1/48 AV-8B Harrier II Night Attack

KIT #

7234 (Pt 34)

PRICE:

2800 at Hobby Link Japan

DECALS:

Two options

REVIEWER:

Scott Van Aken

NOTES:

All new tool kit

HISTORY

Touted as the worlds first successful V/STOL attack aircraft, the Harrier first flew over 40 years ago in 1960. An aircraft of this type was not only eagerly awaited by the British, but also by the US Army and the Germans. The Army and Germans opted out after the initial P.1127 Kestrels were flown for a while, but the US Marines stepped in as it seemed to be something they would be interested in. Other than a few NASA planes, all Harriers built in and for the US have been Marine Corps planes.

The original AV-8A/C aircraft entered service with the Marines some time in the late 1970s and were put through their paces. While they were not that difficult to operate and showed a lot of promise, they were constricted by a rather limited payload. Not wanting to let this hamper things, McDonnell/Douglas went a step farther and developed the AV-8B which, along with a more powerful engine, had a larger airframe and the ability to carry a greater payload than the earlier Harrier. The British saw the wisdom in this and opted into the program for the very similar Harrier GR.5 and later aircraft. 

AV-8Bs started entering Marine service in 1985 and have been continually upgraded and improved with each subsequent batch. The second major upgrade from the 'standard' AV-8B is the night attack variant. This one has a built in infra-red system in the nose that allows precision attack in all sorts of weather. Add to this the use of night vision goggles by the pilot and you have a potent nocturnal weapon. Upgrades to the Harrier fleet included IR 'slime light' so that aircraft would not have to be concerned with not being able to see each other and the inclusion of special cockpit lighting.

THE KIT

This is the third standard boxing of the new Hasegawa Harrier II. It is identical to the previously reviewed Harrier II Plus kit with the exception of one different sprue (the R sprue). This sprue is for the nose of the aircraft. The other difference, of course, is the decal sheet. Also like the other kit, the box is absolutely stuffed with sprues!

The kit itself is superbly engineered and very much like their excellent 1/72 Harrier II kits, though there are more options, thanks to the larger scale. First of all, one gets raised instrument and side console detail. You can put decals down atop them if you wish. Another option is for the intakes. These have separate blow-in doors that can be positioned hanging into the intakes as one would really find the aircraft on the deck. Also included are the scabbed on chaff/flare chutes. You also can choose between the guns or just strakes on the underside of the fuselage. The exhaust nozzles are held in by poly-caps so can also be positioned as desired. A separate windscreen/canopy means that you can place the canopy open to see interior detailing.

Decals are for two aircraft. First is the box art plane from VMA-311 'Tomcats' while at sea during 1998. When Harrier squadrons deploy, they take on the tail code of the appropriate HMM squadron which is why this one is coded ET. The other is from VMA-513 'Nightmares'. Like the previous aircraft it has a shark-mouth though not quite as fearsome. Also shown in 1998 markings, the sheet offers the optional YP tail code of HMM-163 if you wish to show the aircraft as deployed. The decals are very nicely printed and judging from my most positive experience with more recent Hasegawa kit decals, should work quite well.

CONCLUSIONS

Hasegawa has yet again, added to our modern Harrier II options in 1/48 scale with what is a super looking kit. Can the RAF versions be far off?

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