- Published on Sunday, 03 July 2011 17:31 Robin Jenkins
1/72 BAe Harrier GR7A/GR9A
Kit number A04050
Available from Airfix
When the Harrier II was withdrawn from RAF service at the end of 2010, having fallen victim to the Defence Review earlier that year, a truly unique aircraft was lost. Developed from the earlier Harrier GR1/GR3 V/STOL series, it was radically redesigned both in appearance and structure; it saw service with the RAF as the GR5,GR5A, GR7, GR7A, GR9 and GR9A versions, each successively upgraded over the last model, as well as 2 training versions. Operational use included Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as service with the Fleet Air Arm from 2006. All still had the ability to capture the public's imagination when they made to hover by their pilots at airshows and still remain a firm favourite (below)
Rumours of a new Harrier in 1/72 from Airfix surfaced in 2010 and now I am pleased to say it is with us finally. Comprising of 3 dove-grey sprues, a small transparent sprue, decals, instructions and stencil placement diagram, the slim box is surprisingly full. The first of the sprues (below) holds the four part fuselage/nose assembly, tail structure, intakes, airbrake, refuelling probe and some underwing pylons and ordnance. The surface detailing is fine and restrained, with only that on the nose halves being slightly too deep for my taste; the overall feel of the pieces is one of quality and Airfix have definitely caught up with the market leaders in 1/72 models with products such as this.
The second sprue (above) contains the upper wing halves, alternative upper centre sections, engine nozzles, more pylons and ordnance, cockpit tub, one of the undercarriage legs, flaps and ailerons. Again, all of high quality; I was particularly impressed by the multiple upper wing vanes, which are as good as you will ever get in plastic moulding in this scale.
The final sprue (below) holds the lower wing surface, the other undercarriage legs, the underwing undercarriage legs, the wheels (all pre-flattened), cockpit detail, pilot, drop tanks and some more ordnance. Strangely, and harking back to Airfix's past, the only item which did not impress here was the pilot figure!
The small clear sprue (above) holds the windscreen and canopy. This was, in all honesty, the most disappointing part of the kit. Mine was slightly scuffed and it is much too thick to be portrayed open (though should be fine closed). Also shown is the impressive decal sheet, all in register with plenty of stencilling. This is another area in which Airfix have improved in leaps and bounds recently.
With this much stencilling, Airfix have taken the decision to include a large, clearly illustrated stencil data diagram (below); this is not common in smaller 1/72 kit such as this one and is a move I warmly applaud.
Finally, even the 12 page instruction booklet catches the eye, since, as well as being clearly laid out in the standard Airfix manner and identifying the correct alternative parts for the two versions, has its last 3 pages printed in colour to show off the marking options (above). These are:
- BAe Harrier GR9A: ZD433, Harrier Detachment, Operation "Herrick", Kandahar, Afghanistan, 2009
- BAe Harrier GR9A: ZG506, Royal Air Force Cottesmore, December 15th, 2010
- BAe Harrier GR7A: ZD404 "Lucy", Harrier Detachment, Operation "Herrick", Kandahar, Afghanistan, November 2006
Airfix have chosen 3 different schemes to show the variety that the aircraft carried. Of course, the 2 different grey schemes from Afghanistan will be most often chosen, but I found the inclusion of the grey/green scheme worn by ZG506 on the day of decommissioning rather poignant.
Now, I've read comments that Harrier aficionados are disappointed with the ordnance included - there being no Aden pods, for example and that some of the smaller aerials and scoops are overscale. Well, wake up boys! This is a cracking little kit, accurate in shape, having good surface detail, with both 65% and 100% LERXs, most of the ordnance required, excellent decals and only the pilot figure being really poor. Polish up the canopy, add a few parts to the cockpit and replace a few smaller parts with card or sprue and you have a real winner.
So what do we think?
An excellent choice and execution by Airfix. Very impressive and definitely recommended.
Our thanks to Airfix for the review sample. To purchase directly, click THIS link.