Hasegawa 1/72 AV-8B Harrier II "VMA-231 Ace of Spades"






Two aircraft


Scott Van Aken


  2003 Boxing


Still the world's only large scale production VTOL aircraft, theAV-8B Harrier is a major rework of the earlier AV-8A variant. Spurred by a USMCrequirement for larger payload capabilities, the AV-8B was developed byMcDonnell Douglas and after a rather protracted gestation period entered Marineservice in the mid 1980s. The major differences between it and the earlier AV-8Aare a larger wing of supercritical design and a different nose section, allowingthe pilot a greater field of vision. 

The increases wing size provides for more hardpoints, allowingthe AV-8B to carry a greater array of ordnance than the earlier Harrier. Theaircraft also has a more powerful engine and is a bit longer as well, enablingthe plane to carry more fuel for greater range. Getting all of this together andstaying within the required weight limitations was no mean feat. Development ofthe aircraft took a bit longer than one would have expected in order to makesure that all requirements were met. The RAF Harrier GR.5 is a very similaraircraft. The AV-8B has been developed into even more improved versions, most ofwhich can be spotted by the different noses on the aircraft. The same can besaid of the RAF Harrier GR.7 and GR.9. 



It was no surprise when Hasegawa finally cameout with a 1/72 scale kit of the AV-8B. Why there was a 15 plus year delay in producingthis kit after the aircraft had entered squadron service was a real mystery to most modelers. Sure, Italeri produced one duringthe prototype stages, but it was not a full production version. Well, the waitis finally over and 1/72 modelers have a -8B that was well worth the wait.

The kit is everything one has come toexpect from Hasegawa 1/72 jet fighters, including the use of polycaps to holdtogether the exhaust nozzles. The cockpit includes a passable seat and usesdecals for the instrument panel and side consoles. The intakes are molded withthe upper inlet doors sagging down as on the real aircraft, a nice touch.Under wing stores include two drop tanks and a pair of Sidewinders. Bombs willhave to be obtained from a weapons set. Under the fuselage you can have eitherthe 25mm canon or the strakes. There is a two piece canopy, which is also nice,but it is not designed to be displayed in the open position. The nose of the kitis a separate piece, so it can handle other versions of the Harrier beingreleased over time, including the RAF versions, as the airframes are almostidentical.

The instructions are all that one expects fromHasegawa, giving Gunze and FS paint references as needed. Two aircraft are onthe very nicely printed decal sheet. Both are in custom schemes withone from VMA-231 and the other from VMA-311.The colors provided for both schemes are for those that flew during Desert Storm and consist of a couple of mixed colors with FS 36375 undersides (yes, the FS color callout on the external camo are not correct). Standard colors are 36118/36320/36375.

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