1/48 Tamiya FRS1 Sea Harrier
Tamiya FRS1 Sea Harrier
The British Aerospace Sea Harrier FRS1 entered service with
the Royal Navy just in time for the 1982 war with Argentina
over the disputed Falklands/Malvinas Islands in the South
Atlantic. The Sea Harrier proved itself in that conflict,
downing many enemy aircraft without a single loss in aerial
combat. The overall dark grey camouflage scheme which
was applied to the aircraft en route to the Falklands was
so successful that it was adopted as the standard scheme
on returning home. This model is depicted post Falklands.
I have searched for a highly detailed kit of this extraordinary
aircraft in my chosen scale of 1/48th. The contenders
being a very early mould Tamiya kit or one each from Airfix
and Hobbycraft. The Hobbycraft kit is a cheap
knock-off of the Tamiya kit and the Airfix kit is well, Airfix. The
Tamiya kit offered the best looking kit in the box albeit
without all the goodies like engraved panel lines etc so
I decided just to see what I could make out of this Tamiya
offering as a skill building exercise.
This kit has numerous fit issues, the engine
cover doors on the upper fuselage are offered as separate
items to display the engine inside. But as I did not intend
using this option I had to close them which posed the problem
as they bear only a passing resemblance to the openings. Also
the kit has no wheel wells at all – just a hole in
the bottom of the fuselage with a mounting point for the
nose gear and a similar setup for the main gear. The main
gear is not really a problem as contrary to the instructions
when parked the main gear bay doors are closed, but a new
nose wheel well would require construction. The jet
nozzles from Tamiya were a two piece affair with nearly impossible
seams to remove – the one piece solid nozzles were
instead robbed from the Airfix kit.
As I was not building this model for competition scrutiny
I allowed my self some Creative freedom to facilitate completion. I
was determined not to invest big bucks in aftermarket stuff
to do it. To this end there are a number of improvements
I focused on to get what I wanted as a finished product:
Dress up the cockpit enough for a closed canopy inspection.
Scratch build a nose wheel well.
Add intake guards to make up for the poorly detailed
intakes and fuselage interior.
Full panel line re-scribe.
Auxiliary air blow in doors on intake sides to show
rested position (top ones open under gravity).
External antennas and nose pitot to be replaced. Upper
Red anti collision beacon to be relocated and scratch
built in the correct location to the port side of the
Dummy AIM9 training round with seeker cover made
The cockpit was detailed with some styrene
scraps and a spare resin seat which looked like it would
fit the bill. The
control column also came from the spares box. The kit panel
was in decal form so this was cut up and applied over the
built up areas on the instrument panel. A HUD/Gunsight
was also made from scratch.. The nose wheel was fabricated
in two sections which came together with the fuselage halves. It
is not actually deep enough to take the nose wheel but provides
an adequate representation. The intake blow in doors
were next, each intake lip is a separate piece which joins
the fuselage on the line of these doors.
I cheated and used my razor saw and files to “represent” the
top doors in varying degrees of droop. Not 100%
accurate but an Ok effect for this project.
The other major improvement was the intake
covers, I found pictures of two different styles - solid
red panels and vinyl covered foam bags. The latter looked
much more interesting and proved very easy to make. Once the intake lips
were fixed to the fuselage I blocked up the interior with
tissue paper. I mixed up some milliput and filled the
intakes to the front edge packing it in so that I had a solid
core. Whilst it is still soft using wet tools shape
it to look like a bag in a hole. Making sure that I made
a slight recess around the very edge, once this has had a
dark wash around it it really looks like a removable item.
Although not necessary in this case these can also add considerable
weight forward of the main gear. I added some ring handles
from fine wire.
The rest of the modifications were of a
more mundane nature – panel
line re-scribe, pitot probe replaced with steel pin, also
the interior of the open airbrake bay was given some dressing.
The engine exhaust nozzles from the airfix
kit are one piece and solid – however some clever painting
enabled these to look presentable –these were added
to the blanked off holes in the fuselage after some adjusting.
The engine cover doors were fitted best as I could with some
mountings made from scraps. The resultant gaps were filled
and sanded and panel lines restored with the scriber.
As with all my models I use enamels thinned with multi
purpose thinners. For the airframe colour which in real life
is Extra Dark Sea Grey ( which I would normally lighten for
scale), I used Dark Sea Grey straight from the bottle.
This to my eye gave an appropriate colour when compared to
reference. Black for the radome and light aircraft
grey for the wheel wells and gear. Tamiya clear enamel gloss
prior to decals and weathering.
The decals were from Sky Models, which offered
a fantastic number of British Harriers on the one sheet.
Great value for money. My chosen subject was aircraft
711 from 899 Sqn Fleet Air Arm with the winged fist on the
the Sky Models sheet did not include were all the stencils
etc which were taken from the Tamiya decal sheet.
The model received an acrylic panel line wash followed
by an overall coat of 90% Testors Dullcote mixed with 10%
Glosscote. To add some shading I then tinted my Dullcote
mix with some drops of enamel paint and applied in areas
where I wanted exhaust stains or shading. The
Roundels were very bright from sky models so they got several
shots of this dirty dullcote to tone them down.
Overall this model was a lot of work and there were times
when I thought that It would beat me, but I persevered and
I am quite happy with the finished product and learnt a lot
in the process. I hope you like it.
© Andrew Perren