1/48 Hasegawa AV-8B Harrier II+

VMA-513 "Nightmares", OIF

by Craig Sargent on Nov 9 2008

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30 years since the first flight of the AV-8B

 

Today (November 9th) marks the 30th Anniversary of the first flight of the YAV-8B Harrier. To commemorate the occasion, there is a Group Build for the Super Harrier running at present through to November 30th. This model did not participate as it was finished last year, well before the GB started.

Some time ago, I was approached by someone who saw my previous AV-8B build on ARC, and asked if I would be interested in a commission build of another Harrier, this time utilising the Hasegawa kit. Not sure if the offer was serious, I replied with a tentative "yes", and the rest flowed from there, until soon I was neck deep in a commission build. At the time, Shawn was serving on VMA-513 and had just recently returned from the "Nightmares" deployment to Iraq.

After a few e-mails to gather info, the subject aircraft and configuration was decided upon. Shawn was keen to have a model of the unit's "double nuts" aircraft as it appeared when serving in Iraq. VMA-513 also had the unique distinction of being the first unit to drop JDAMs from a Harrier in combat. To that end it was also decided the aircraft should be carrying the GBU-38 JDAM, at a time when there were none available in kit form.

The instructions from Shawn were for the aircraft to be in flight, armed with JDAM, gun pods, Litening pod and a pair of drop tanks. I started by assembling most of the aircraft before starting any detail or paint work. A few changes were made to the model to overcome some of the fit issues I had experienced previously with Hasegawa's quarter scale Harrier.

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These include:

  • separating the two halves of the lower LERX piece (part J2) and fitting these to the fuselage first, instead of the upper LERX piece, to avoid the step under the wing leading edge

  • leaving out the intake/fan face (part A5) until after main assembly to improve nose and intake alignment

  • remove the large round mating piece from the rear of parts C1 and C8 that mates with the compressor face to improve fit and prevent the banana-shape/nose up appearance

  • added scrap plastic to the intake/fan face corners to fill some obvious gaps

The gun opening was corrected and a bulkhead, for the cannon muzzles to attach to, scratchbuilt. An opening was created in the underside of the gun fairing for a stand of 5mm square brass stock to mount in to. This was created using a technique I learnt from Gary Wickham (www.scalespot.com) using two pieces of Evergreen channel stock embedded into the gunpod/lower fuselage.

The cockpit was stock except for photo-etched HUD, modified pilot and detailed rear cockpit bulkhead. The pilot was taken from a Hasegawa F-4 and had the late-pattern helmet/head added from a Hasegawa F/A-18F. Arms were modified and seat belts and current pattern survival gear added from Milliput and Tamiya tape. Moving map and FLIR display images were printed from a photo of a Nightmares cockpit in-flight over Iraq for some added authenticity and then added to the kit instrument panel.

Gear doors were glued in the closed position on all four gear bays and despite my misgivings all fitted perfectly without the need for any filler or sanding. Same thing went for the LIDS door and speedbrake door - both fitted closed flawlessly. Unfortunately, I can't quite say the same for the auxiliary intake doors which all required filling, sanding and rescribing to get a good fit

The GBU-38 was converted from a 500lb bomb from Hasegawa's Weapons set. The GPS guidance kit was made from brass shim and plastic card, with fittings from Tamiya tape and stretched sprue. The textured coating was added by painting the bomb body in Mr Surfacer and stippling it with a stiff brush when it was semi-dry. The Litening pod had the intake shape corrected and a resin copy of the seeker head added. The seeker head was modelled deployed as it would be on a mission in theatre.

As there were no markings available for this aircraft, all artwork was created in CorelDraw based on photos provided by Shawn and printed on my ALPS printer. These included the Maverick and gun run markings for this particular aircraft (Nightmare 03 had the distinction of dropping the first JDAM).

The pilot was painted with a current pattern flight suit and MARPAT digital camouflage helmet cover. The model was preshaded and then painted with Gunze acrylics, and paint touch-ups, weathering and grime added after decalling. As the decals were a little dark when printed, they were overpainted with lighter colours of the base colour to fade and blend them into the camouflage. An oil wash was added and then the whole model sealed with a flat coat.

The model was shipped from Auckland, New Zealand to Pensacola, Florida and the only damage it suffered was a detached drop tank, easily fixed at the receiving end. The model now resides in the United States with Shawn where he has mounted it on a stand in a Plexiglass case with VMA-513's tour patch and button.

Craig

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Photos and text by Craig Sargent