|KIT:||Matchhbox 1/72 Harrier GR.1|
|KIT #:||PK -16 (1973)|
|PRICE:||Long out of production|
The first vertical take-off (VTOL) aircraft to enter service in any Air Force, the Harrier originates from a design study carried out by the Hawker Project Office in 1957.
After some preliminary work, the P1127 design was produced and received support from the American Mutual Weapons Development Programme and NATO. Eventually it was ordered for a Multinational Squadron supported by the U.K., U.S.A. and German Governments. The first R.A.F. Harrier Squadron was formed in 1969.
The machine became famous when it won the Daily Mail Trans-Atlantic Air Race in 1969, and a number have been sold to the U.S.A. (Thanks to the kit instruction sheet.)
Matchbox’s initial Harrier kit comprises 57 parts (including one-piece clear canopy) that are cleanly molded but does feature their heavily engraved panel lines. The kit’s very basic cockpit consists of a well-done pilot, a seat ‘shape’ that also doubles as the aft bulkhead, and a partial instrument panel face attached to the coaming. As the Harrier’s gear doors are closed except during gear cycling, the two small opening to accommodate the landing gear legs are legit. The gear legs and tires actually look good but the two small doors that attached to these are too thick. If desiring to pose the model in flight, two extra outrigger gears are included.
External stores are limited to the wing hard points and to occupy the four separate pylons, two (three-piece) Matra rocket pods and two (two-piece) British GP bombs are included and look adequate. As there are no gun pods or center pylon included, the two strakes are.
Matchbox has engineered the kit so that the four fuselage nozzles can rotate that should appeal to the younger builders while the missing auxiliary intake doors on the separate intakes will not be appreciated by the adult builders.
The assembly is covered in well-illustrated steps with the detailed colour notes offered at the end. As was normal for Matchbox, the decal locations and subject exterior finish are printed on the back of the box in colour.
Matchbox has two decal options with both subjects being finished in the standard tactical camouflage of Dark Green and Dark Sea Grey disruptive pattern over Light Aircraft Grey. The RAF Harrier is from No 3 Squadron and this low-viz example has the unit crest displayed on the nose. Its USMC cousin represents VMA-513, and the latter’s crest is displayed on the fin. Even with this being an original boxing, the decals still look usable.
There is a better 1/72 scale initial Harrier on the market and it is the ESCI original that now belongs to Italeri. However, don’t totally discount this basic kit. With some minor external work like dealing with the missing auxiliary intake doors and heavy engraving, it can be made to look adequate as can be seen in the photograph of a completed 1 Squadron Harrier.
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