1/48 Monogram YAV-8B Harrier Prototype

Gallery Article by George Salerno (Chorse6) on May 5 2017



Back in the early 80s, I recall getting Proceedings magazine from one of my Dad’s patients. They used to run lots of articles and updates on the testing of the YAV-8B Harrier. I thought the livery was one of the best and decided to see if I can finally put one in my display. 

In the late ‘70s, the USMC desired to develop an improved Harrier version. McDonnell Douglas modified the last to AV-8As as prototypes for the B prototypes. Upgrades included new intakes, composite wings, Lift Improvement Devices (LIDs), and other system improvements. Positive test results led to the USMC going forward with the newer Harrier. Many of the improvements used on the YAV-8B were later used to upgrade A models to AV-8C standards in the interim. 

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As the YAV-8B is a cross between an A & B model Harrier, I went to see if anyone took this challenge previously. I discovered Craig Sargent started one (not sure if he ever finished) that can be found here: http://www.zone-five.net/showthread.php?t=13199&highlight=Harrier (He had more detailed information at the old “Trash Modeler” site that I fortunately saved the pages). I generally followed Craig’s plan using the 1/48 Monogram A model nose (Photo 7), cockpit and fuselage aft the first nozzles. I used the Monogram B model for the fuselage portion between the cockpit/intake area and first set of nozzles (Photo 8 and 9). Also, the main portion of the wing is from the Monogram B; however, I used the Hasegawa engine deck area (LERX removed) forward of the wing (Photo 10). So as not to duplicate Craig’s great work and pictures to this point, check out the link. My work is above and I think he did a much “cleaner” job at mating the parts. I will note that I parted with Craig’s methodology by keeping the Monogram reaction nozzles and outriggers as I thought they looked closer to the prototype’s. Unfortunately, this is as far Craig ever posted so I was on my own for the rest (Sincere thanks, Craig!). 

I rescribed the entire model and drilled out holes for all the various vents (which appear to be more numerous than a regular B) and control nozzles (Photo 11). The nose/cockpit area is from the Monogram A kit. I wanted to see if I could squeeze a resin cockpit, but no luck. I modified the kit instrument panel using decals and hand painting instruments. Using the A model tub as the base, I took the side consoles from a resin set, scratched a throttle and some other instrumentation (it was a crowded cockpit) (Photo 12). I also had to modify the windscreen as the prototype did not have a windshield wiper. Once all complete, I merged the A model nose area to the Monogram B model fuselage area with epoxy and Milliput to blend the areas (Photo 13 and 14). 

Next came merging the wings to the fuselage. The leading edge of the wing had to be extended some to meet up properly on the fuselage; this was done with Milliput. As there are essentially parts from three different kits coming together, I tried to pre-paint as much as I could to save some trouble later on (it didn’t). The major challenges were the engine deck area and aft-wing root. It took a lot of Milliput, sanding and patience (Photo 15). 

The intakes were another major challenge for several reasons. I couldn’t determine first if the intakes were more like an A or B (it was a B), but didn’t determine until after working on the A intakes. The prototype also had a set of double inlet doors around it (the A and production B have one). Looking at photos of the prototype (both those online and pictures taken by Ken Acosta of the remaining prototype in Huntsville), it appeared the inlet door area was a little larger than the other versions. From what I can tell, the intake is also slightly different in shape from a production B. After first attempting to modify the Monogram B intakes, I didn’t like the result. I followed up using a set of Hasegawa intakes. This involved moving the inlet door areas slightly forward and adding a small extension to the rear. I modified the Hasegawa inlet doors (which are separate) and made a duplicate set from resin. As my work was not as precise as I’d like, I ended up having to fit each door individually (positioning randomly at rest). I mated the intakes to the fuselage with only minor filling needed. 

As I wanted to have a lot of stuff hanging from it, I prepared all the weapons on pylons early in the process. Most of the weapons were modified from my stash. In order to put the bombs under the innermost pylon, I had to cut the tanks off the Monogram parts and fuse Hasegawa racks to them. I also completed all the landing gear, adding some hoses from wire for effect. I completed the nozzles as well, using the Monogram B set (they looked closer to the prototypes, modified internally) for the forward nozzles and a resin aft set. 

In order to adjust the outriggers as Craig noted, I filled the areas as he did. Instead of using the Hasegawa outriggers, I used the Monogram as I thought they were closer to the references provided by Ken. In order to make the adjustments, I had to separate the gear portion from the bays as Monogram made it all one piece. This also aided later on adjusting the height needed to balance/keep the outriggers on the surface (not a surprise with all the Rube Goldberg modeling). 

The large nose probe was scratch built with styrene and a needle. The “wind vane” instruments were scratched with pieces of photoetch (Photo 17). I was thinking I need to attach this after I did initial painting…should have done it before. Just cause a lot of rework. 

After the major components were assembled, I first painted everything with Alclad White Primer, followed by Gunze Cool White. The Red and Blue on the prototypes were actually automotive paint (Red Ditzler# DDL71660 and Dark Blue Ditzler# DDL14869 respectively.) I tried reaching out to PPG and see if there was a color equivalent, but no joy. Through trial and error, referring to lots of pictures, I ended up using Gunze Character Red (108) and matched my own blue using Testors Dark Blue (little bottle) with some white and MM Gloss Sea Blue. I had a set of the Viginator Kestrel and Harrier decals (Thanks, Ken!), but used stencils for the red striping, “AV-8B”, “Marines” and wing national insignia.  The Viginator details are very nice and all the decals  used went down well.  Depending on the picture, the aircraft was sometimes very clean and others very weathered.  As typical with many prototypes, they made constant changes. I decided to go with the one in Photo 3 and compromised on some weathering. This was done with oils and various smoke paints (Gunze, Alclad).

Many thanks to Ken Acosta for his pictures of the Harrier in Huntsville, Ron Downey at “Aviation Archives” http://aviationarchives.blogspot.com/ who provided a lot of good reference photos and information, and Craig Sargent with his posts of his start.

Enjoy the photos.


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