|KIT:||Monogram 1/48 AV-8A Harrier|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Mold supposedly altered for AV-8B kit|
After decades of trying all sorts of different ways to develop an aircraft that wasn't a helicopter and could land and take off vertically, Hawker (later BAE and other names) finally developed an aircraft that could do just that. The secret was a lot of thrust and the use of guide vents to steer the exhaust. What really helped was the use of a high bypass (I hope I didn't get that backwards) turbofan engine. In this way, the forward exhaust came from the fan and the aft exhaust from the actual turbojet core. In this way the forward exhaust was 'cool' while the aft exhaust was the actual 'hot' exhaust and therefore away from the wings and ordnance.
It also required the use of reaction jets on the tail to move the aircraft while in hover. Again, this is done by high speed air from one of the various stages of compression via an accessory unit on the engine.
The Harrier went through a lot of teething troubles that is typical of new technology (like the V-22), and despite all the 'chicken littles', has grown from a somewhat light attack aircraft into a very capable medium attack jet with multiple capabilities.
I'll set the wayback machine to 1981, the date on the box. At this time, Monogram was not into the engraved panel line thing and really, was one of the last companies to actually fall in line; that happening after they merged with Revell to become Revell-Monogram. The kit is molded in a rather oddly colored bluish-grey plastic. My example showed a bit of flash on a couple of parts and some sink areas, but not much of either. The sink areas are mostly on gear doors, speed brakes and other parts that have a lot of detail on the other side and are a bit thick. Ejector pins mar the fins and body of the missiles and a few other parts, but really, are not all that prevalent.
The kit itself is pretty simple and has the kind of detail that we have come to expect from Monogram kits. The cockpit and various wells are properly busy, and there is a nicely done engine fan, which is quite visible. There are Snakeye bombs and Sidewinder missiles for the wing pylons, and you have options like open or closed canopy, fuselage guns or strakes and a refuelling probe that can be attached should you so wish. The instructions indicate that the wings should be devoid of pylons for the RAF version. I guess so as I don't think the RAF used Snakeye bombs though they did use Sidewinders.
Instructions are quite good and if you've ever built a Monogram kit from this time period, you know that they are well drawn and provide all the color info you need. Markings are for two aircraft. One is the box art airplane from VMAT-203, the training squadron in the initial three color camouflage and high visibility markings. The other is an RAF Harrier GR.1 from 1 Sq, the first operational Harrier unit. Decals are quite shiny and thick. Their quality is dubious, though I have used these kinds of decals with some success. I suggest aftermarket if you can find them.
Having seen this kit built up, I can tell you that it really looks quite nice. When you consider that the only other early Harrier in 1/48 is the Tamiya kit, then you can see that your choices are not very broad. It has always puzzled me that Harriers just don't seem to get the blood stirring like F-16s and Mirages. They are neat airplanes and have a wide variety of markings available. I can say that I've not seen an early Harrier in a contest in what seems like an age.
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