Box art picture of the sprues picture of the decals

Splash tribute Sea Harrier

Project start 2022-05-01

Build thread

I was completely determined not to get dragged into any new builds until I'd completed a good part of the bench queens, but when Alan "Splash" Ashdown, one of the nicest people on the forum, died, and the decicion was made to have this GB double as a tribute to him since he quite literally served with distinction in the Falklands campaign, I felt it was the least I could do to take part. This meant I was totally unprepared for this GB, and had to make do with whatever the stash would supply, which left me with only a Hasegawa Sea Harrier.

The kit is the 1978 tooling, which Hasegawa used as the base for their FRS1 and GR1 offerings. That makes it new enough to be considered a "modern" kit, with a decent level of detail and modern features like recessed panel lines, but at the same time still old enough to be fairly basic when it comes to interior parts. Frankly, I like that era; good enough to build a very decent model, but not yet the somewhat over engineered kits that followed, which had you pay for loads of detail not everyone cared about, but which those who do care typically throw out in favour of after market resin or etch.

Not entirely surprisingly the kit comes with markings for two machines that were involved in the Falklands crisis, alhough only one of those would have been present at the time when actual hostilities were taking place. So, again I have a choice of one, a Sea Harrier from 899NAS based on HMS Hermes. Payload will consist of fuel tanks, Sidewinders and gun pods, all of which are provided by the kit.

The cockpit module is a single piece representing both the tub and the ejection seat. I have a much nicer resin ejection seat lying around, but to fit it would involve loss of the cockpit tub and a complete scratchbuild of the interior, which risks a DNF. The pilot figure isn't all that great either, but should be sufficient to create a busy interior and hide the lack of seat detail. As expected, instruments are provided as decals.
The main fuselage and the gun pod halves are joined. Fit is pretty good, but that won't prevent some work along the spine, and probably some panel line restoration, since the (otherwise lovely) very fine lines will probably be wiped out by the slightest sanding.
I've made a start at filling in the trenches of the Sidewinder locator tabs; they make it easy to get the missiles on correctly, but it never looks good to me, so I prefer filling them and lining up the missiles by hand.

Just some small steps today. I've done some painting on the cockpit tub, and got the decals on. The decals are about twice as wide as the consoles in the plastic, so some trimming will have to be done after they've set and been treated with solvent. I failed to notice earlier that the back of the ejection seat is very visibly hollow, so I've started work on blocking that off.
I've mostly cleaned up the Sidewinders, but they'll need another pass. A small amount of filler along the spine of the fuselage is curing, and I got some painting done on the engine front and exhausts.

I've completed the cockpit, such as it is, and closed up the forward fuselage. For once, I seem to be building an aircraft that will be somewhat controlable, since I didn't lose, forget, or otherwise ommit the control stick. On the down side, I had to choose between cutting off the pilot's legs, or cutting off most of the instrument panel; I decided he'd probably like the legs more than the instruments.
I had a bit of trouble with the canopy. I'd dipped it in Clear earlier, but that didn't work out. Apparently, it wasn't quite as clean as it should have been, and the coat was an uneven mess. Soaked it in IPA overnight, then washed it with detergent. At that point, it wasn't just clean, but also very visibly scuffed (most likely not my recent doing), so some work with very fine sandpaper was needed. I find that Tamiya gloss varnish is slightly better at hiding minor blemishes than Clear; if it's nice and shiny when dry, use Clear, if it's matted when dry, but clear and shiny when wet, switch to varnish.
An Airfix Shar crossed my path last week, and I couldn't resist pouncing on it. This causes some changes of plan. This Harrier will be re-assigned to HMS Invincible, and change it's colours to Medium Sea Grey and Barley Grey, courtesy of the Airfix decals. I'll also swap out the Sidewinders for a pair from the Airfix kit.

I spent quite a bit of time on the Harrier, with little to show for it. A lot of minor, but time consuming cleanup and filling/sanding going on. This includes the main fuselage, which also needed a bit of re-scribing of lost panels, and all of the weapons load.
The Airfix Sidewinders look great, but the rear fins are to thick for the lots they're supposed to fall into, which lead to some finnicky filing and fitting.
The gun pods, as with all Harriers I've ever seen, were hard to align, with in this case no alignment pins and instructions that roughly translate to "stick on about there-ish". I ended up dry fitting the Airfix pods, which do have minimal alignment pins, noting the position relative to the panel lines, and then lining up the Hasegawa's with the corresponding panel lines. Filling and sanding the inevitable gaps between the fuselage and the pods would have been problematic, especially between the pods, so I was relieved when the gap filling properties of thin cement preved sufficient; if the gap is narrow enough, flooding the area with cement will cause the plastic to disolve and flow into the gap, in effect using locally created sprue soup as filler. Usually, you get a slight dip where the gap used to be, looking suspiciously like an engraved panel line.

The canopy had the MDC explosive cord engraved in, but unfortunately it is raised, rather than engraved. A simple wash to bring it out doesn't work here. I tried drybrushing it, but removing the inevitable scuffmarks alongside the MDC also wrecked the layer of varnish, despite the varnish being well cured acrylic, and white spirits being used to wipe unwanted paint. Apparently acryic resin isn't as immune as I'd thought. I ended up wiping the lot, effectively resetting the canopy. After the reset, I tried again with pastel crayon. This made less of a mess, but still required a bit of corrective wiping with water. Turns out the inside of the canopy had a small, very slightly rough spot, and an small amount of crayon won't budge from it. This will not be the clearest canopy ever..
Hasegawa have managed to lose the rear bulkhead of the canopy; the rear end is simply open. Like anyone who plays with paints and glues, I fully appreciate the value of proper ventilation, but this is daft. High speed air combat over the South Atlantic in an open cockpit airplane is just plain out of the question.
One could argue, probably with justification, that this will never be seen, and is therefore irrelevant, however, the moment airbrushes or rattlecans enter the picture, things change. I can pretty much guarantee leaving this as is will deliver a catastophic amount of medium to dark grey overspray into the cockpit, especially the inside of the canopy. I've fitted a thin strip of Evergreen inside the canopy frame at the end of the spur, and filled in the gaps between strip, spur, and frame with Clearfix.

Construction is mostly complete, and the Harrier has made it's way to the paintshop, where it will pick up some colour over the next few days. I gambled and skipped the single colour overall step after a light coat of primer, and went straight to the first colour, Barley Grey. Predictably, some minor issues became visible, not the results of the fitting and sanding, but some nigh invisible gaps between the wing halves. Easy enough to fix, although more grey will need to follow afterwards.

It looks like I may have hit a snag. Three day ago, I put the Medium sea Grey on, and the paint is still tacky. It looks perfectly nice, but there's no telling when I'll be able to continue.

The paint has finally dried. I've started fitting the remaining parts, along with decals and spot painting. Since the paint is currently a very high gloss, meaning some duller varnish will certainly be needed, I've left the masking on the canopy for now. I'd already decided to do some of the canopy frames with painted decal paper, so the very last stage of the build will be unmasking the canopy and creating the frames, hopefully without getting a jarring difference in glossiness or even colour.

All that remains is a top coat of varnish, and the decals that overlap the cockpit frames, along with the decals that will make up the cockpit frames.
I've only now spotted a rather ugly blunder on my part: the starboard tail plane angles downward a lot more than the port one. If I'd caught this earlier, I might have been able to fix it, but I'm afraid at this stage, this Harrier is doomed to lopsidedness.

All done..

Together with the Airfix kit mentioned earlier, that was built in parallel.

Finishing materials:

ModelMaster white primer overall
Hu167 Barley Grey lower wings
X3 Medium Sea Grey everywhere else
Alclad 'light sheen' varnish

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