Unboxing the Harrier
The Eduard kit of the Harrier in 1/48 scale is packed in a very small box. Indeed, this was the smallest box of a Eduard 1/48 scale kit that I know, but maybe I`m not aware of something similar. However, when you open the box, it turns out that this Eduard 1/48 Harrier is nothing less than the giant, iconic, the one and only, world`s first VTOL plane, as expected. It features the latest versions of the Harrier – GR7 and GR9. The obviously small box is filled with plastic in such a way that it is one of the major cons of this kit. Check out the further info about it in this unboxing review. The plastic sprues themselves are basically the typical Hasegawa ones, which date back to the beginning of the century. Happily, nowadays Eduard repacked the old sprues to propose a spectacular new miniature of this iconic Harrier, by adding unsurpassed advantages and privileges for the modeler`s ego. This kit is the newest Harrier in 1/48 scale and promises to stay on top of the list with the high quality Harrier kits for quite some time. The new resin and PE upgrades help achieve that, but let`s begin with some vistas inside the box.
In-box review of the plastic materials
There are literally more than a dozen different plastic sprues and they are numbered very good with most of the letters from A to Z. The organization of the details is good, but they are not well protected, which causes a potential danger of scratches, friction indentations or even broken parts. There is one sprue only with tiny little details, which are extremely vulnerable. Unexpectedly, some of the biggest parts of the fuselage are also scratched and there is further info about it in the cons section of this unboxing review. The plastic itself is a light grey plastic and is relatively soft, which personally to me is something that I like, because it can be easily carved and manipulated. The texture of the plastic parts is basically missing, because most of the parts are big, glossy, shiny and the lack of rivets and panel lines can be noticed at first glance. Yet there are few exceptions such as the airbrakes, which are beautifully riveted, and a few others. The Harrier may not have too many visible rivets and panel lines, but they are there. The good thing is that the plastic is soft and easy for… Yeah, this model desperately needs rescribing and riveting improvements. I will add some texturising as well, which is something like my favorite technique for weathering before assembling the model. Check out the DN Models blog for the complete“Assembling the Harrier” article, for more insight into my endeavors to optimize the texture of this 1/48 scale Harrier.
The plastic materials grab the attention with basically nothing, but that`s only at first glance. An in-depth stroll through the plastic sprues shows some really nice and beautiful hints that Eduard or Hasegawa (I don`t know) bring to us. I call them “special parts or special areas” and are something like optional parts, very detailed parts, details with irregular shapes, strange-looking details… The small vertical stabilizer was one of these parts. The sprue with the intake parts too, because the compressor`s first stage is actually part of the intake. The sprue with the ordnance and the weapon pylons are also remarkable, because this Harrier can be made with all the pylons, which are not a few. Then, the sprue with the clear parts – except for the canopy, there is a myriad of tiny little transparent gizmos and gadgets, which I don`t exactly know where to mount. Of course – a small bag with 4 black rings, which are rubberlike parts dedicated to the ends of the two links inside the fuselage in order to make the four nozzles to rotate snugly. In brief, the plastic is good from a historical point of view, but it`s not bad also. Needs a lot of improvements, but the greatest of them are provided by Eduard.
Unboxing of the Eduard surprises
- The photo etched parts are spread over two medium-sized sheets, featuring parts for both the interior and exterior of the Harrier. Just beautiful. The seat will be decorated with seatbelts and even with cable imitations out of photo etch. Perfect. The instrument panel and the side consoles are blessed with dozens of small photo etch upgrades, and some of them are very interesting to make by stacking two PE pieces on top of each other. The screens have three layers for an even more immersive effect. The Harrier will become a real masterpiece with so many sharp and pre-colored details, especially if you choose to display the canopy open. I think about making it movable. Will see. The exterior PE parts provide a lot of improvements too, ranging from the stabilators` plates, to tiny hooks, antennas, pods and other small things.
- Resin. The Eduard`s “Brassin” resin upgrades are the second indispensable advantage of this 1/48 scale Harrier kit. There are resin parts only for the seat and for the wheels, but that`s enough if you plan to display the Harrier with the landing gears down, because they are quite visible. The Harrier is famous for its large, spacious and light cockpit, and if you leave the canopy open – the resin seat will become a spectacular sight to witness, along with the…
- Masks. Eduard also reduces the time for assembling this kit by providing some pre-cut masks. They are very handy and useful, and guarantee long straight shapes of the canopy frame, as well as sharp circular shapes with the exact size of the peripheries of the wheels/the tires. If the masks are carefully applied and detached, they can easily be stored and reused for further Harrier projects without pre-cut masks.
Into the decals
The high quality of the Cartograf decals is another major highlight in this 1/48 scale Harrier. Then, you may notice that most of the instrument panels and the screens in the cockpit have PE upgrades, as well as optional decal upgrades. Or else, you could apply PE parts on top of decals… who knows. These decals provide that freedom of choices, which are unsurpassed if you want to put lights in your 1/48 scale Harrier model and the light should penetrate through all the knobs, buttons, screens, etc. The big decals are bright and colorful, the small decals are almost invisible. There is only one sheet of decals, which looks not so huge, but the decals should be sufficient for the Harrier. The only better thing than high quality decals, are decals for 6 different Harrier airframes:
- Harrier GR.9, ZD406
- Harrier GR.7, ZG479/69A
- Harrier GR.7, ZD464/54
- Harrier GR.7, ZD379/27
- Harrier GR.7, ZG501
- Harrier GR.9A, ZG478/68
Pros and cons of this Eduard Harrier in 1/48
The imperfections are a lot, but let`s face it – the numerous great advantages are not an exception too! Let`s start with the CONS however:
- Rough ailerons and flaps. Nothing short of imperfections. That doesn`t even covers it. The real plane has “coverings” on top of the control surfaces that provide a smooth transition to the wings, while in the model – there are gaps or huge seamlines, which will stay that way after the weathering. These control surfaces are also molded together with the wings, so if you want to display the Harrier in a VTOL mode – it`s recommended to cut the flaps and glue them in a lowered configuration. It`s easily doable, thanks to the thin almost transparent seamlines, but some concealing challenges of the joints will be required. Also, when lowered, the flaps are extended quite significantly, so you will have to add a good amount of surface to the flaps.
- Lack of rivets and panel lines. If you think that the GR.7 and the GR.9 Harriers are new planes and so they should be smooth and clean, without visible rivets – hmm? I doubt about it. Of course it is a matter of personal taste and preferences, but every plane has rivets and panels. Perhaps the long legacy of this kit is the reason for the simplicity of the plastic surfaces, but some major riveting/rescribing is highly recommended.
- The main wheel bay doors are closed. They are molded together with the fuselage, which is good if you make a flying Harrier with the landing gears inside. However, the Harriers on the ground or in a VTOL mode are with lowered gears. The interesting thing is that I came across photos where the bay doors are closed, as well as photos where the doors are open, both in a situation with lowered landing gears. In all cases, the beautiful wheel bays of the Harrier with their labyrinths of cables and tubes are not presented in this kit.
- Not the perfect packing. It is understandable for a kit in the lower price class, but the packing looks kinda neglected, maybe because of the enormous amount of plastic stuffed in such a smaller box. There is no individual plastic wrapping for the sprues, which caused some scratches and friction indentations onto the surface of some details. It`s nothing major and it even looks like texturizing or some kind of weathering, but this is a matter of luck. There is a great chance that some parts can easily be bent, broken or detached from the sprue gates. The tight packing doesn`t deny the free movement of the parts. And there are clear parts along with delicate photo etch sheets in this overfilled box. The boxart is very simple, but it`s beautiful.
- Lack of pilot. The Harrier in a VTOL or flying mode with a ghost pilot? Luckily, I have an extra pilot from my Eduard`s 1/48 F-15C model, which is suitable for the Harrier seat. But an aftermarket pilot figure is required if you really want to display the Harrier in the air.
- Thick trailing edges of all control surfaces. They are just too thick, while they have to be almost sharp as a knife when reduced to 1/48 scale. So, a lot of scratching and sanding are required if you are a perfectionist.
- Bad fit between the nose and the air intake. After a few dozens of test fits, you will notice that the shaft that goes through the intake fan and passes through the bulky part of the cockpit, fits not perfectly with the center of the fan. It is slightly offset, which causes the entire nose of the plane to pitch up, which slightly rises the nose gear according to the rear gear and thus changes the way the Harrier sits on the ground. Not to mention that it compromises the true silhouette of the Harrier. So, a little modifications between the nose section and the air intake are required.
The PROS of this kit are mostly in the PE/Resin surprises from Eduard, which replace a good amount of the plastic details – something that this kit desperately needs. It`s not quite a big amount of PE and Resin parts, but they are from Eduard and are the best, and include parts from the interior and from the exterior of the Harrier, which are essential for its overall final look. The other Pros of this Eduard 1/48 Harrier kit are:
- The flaps and the ailerons can easily be lowered/moved. They are one with the two halves of the wings, but the joints between the flaps/ailerons and the wings are so thin that they look transparent. Note that the joints are not small – they are quite big gaps, which is far away from the reality, however – they are quite thinner than the surrounding thickness of the plastic. This means easier cutting, sanding, reshaping, adjustments and other improvements in order to lower them.
- The white coil on top of the canopy is a decal. It is just one small decal that beautifully imitates the cord on top of the canopy. Ideally, just water is required to apply it for avoiding plausible discoloration due to the chemicals in the decal set solutions.
- 100% LERX and 65% LERX provided in this 1/48 scale Harrier kit. There are airframes in the kit that are fitted with the bigger part, as well as Harriers that have the smaller LERX. Honestly, if you are not familiar with the Harrier – it would be impossible to notice the difference, but if you know what we talk about when we talk about Harriers – then the big LERX is quite a big difference.
- 4 individually moveable nozzles. This is another great point that brings this Harrier kit closer to the realm. Each nozzle is fitted in a small rubber-like ring, which allows smooth rotation inside the nozzle nacelles. A little bit of “interior” modifications and you can make the nozzles to rotate 2 by 2, or to synchronize them to rotate all together.
- Slightly offset vortex generators. These are the numerous little pieces near the top of the leading edges of the wings and are slightly angled– just as they should be. The difference can barely be seen in the bare plastic, but after painting and weathering – these vortex generators will become “one” of the most visible parts of the wings.
- Acetate films for behind the screens of the instrument panels. The cockpit of this Eduard 1/48 Harrier is spectacular with all the PE and Resin upgrades, but this little acetate films are just another awesome hint in the overall cockpit enhancement. The screens will acquire a much more realistic shine after sandwiching the acetate films in two PE pieces.
How I envision that this Harrier will look like
The airframe will probably be ZG478/68, so – a GR.9A Harrier. The double-cross of Lorraine first looked to me quite religious and not appealing for a plane, but after examining it in Wikipedia, I found out that it symbolizes liberty and victory. Add the amazing red contrast on a white tail, and you will get a picture perfect appearance for a scale model. Mitko also suggested me a few striking reference photos of this exact plane, so at this moment – there is no doubt, the airframe will be the F option: Harrier GR.9A, ZG 478/68. My vision for the final display of the model is again for 2 models in 1, like my KittyHawk 1/48 F-35B model. I will make the landing gears to move up and down, the canopy will slide back and forth too. There will be a pilot inside the cockpit, so the imaginary display of the model will be as a plane in VTOL mode with lowered nozzles, flaps and landing gears. The plane will be displayed on a stand and on top of a long pylon, so when everything is retracted – it will look like a flying Harrier. Perhaps with the ailerons slightly in opposite directions and… I don`t know yet. The nozzles will be moving too and I plan to make a special reduction gear mechanism with a flywheel, which will be connected to the first couple of stages of the compressor rotor. A hidden cord inside the airbrake bay will spin the flywheel and respectively the visible part of the compressor will rotate, but I`m still not sure if it will work. Because the engine of this exact plane is basically in the middle of the airframe and maybe the Harrier is the plane with the clearest visible compressor, and thus it should look gorgeous on a macro photo when one can see deep into the compressor, instead only the first compressor stage. Just a tip – follow the DN-Model`s Blog! We discussed with Mitko that I should separate the Assembly Article in several parts, but I don`t know if he will publish it partially or at once. Maybe the first update will come soon… and maybe the rotating compressor “thing” will be one of the first things to make. Another highlight that I plan to do is to make the Harrier with attachable-detachable loadouts. It has so many pylons and they are great for variations. Implementing magnets and a lot of scratchbuilt hinges and other mechanisms for the moving parts will be required. Beside from sticking to the instructions, I will texturise the entire plane, will add a lot of wiring, tubing, extra detailing, and will apply my favorite pre-metalizing method during the painting. Stay tuned to the DN-Models blog to follow the latest updates about this Harrier, and happy modelling!
You can get this amazing kit here: Limited Edition Eduard Gr.7/Gr.9
And DN Models mask sets for it here:
Arctic Camo + Canopy and Wheels