The Royal Navy’s ability to conduct ship board airborne operations was being seriously eroded by budget restraints. The aircraft carrier serving in the Royal Navy was in serious danger of disappearing. A way around this predicament was to turn towards cruisers particularly the through deck type with the ability to carry VSTOL aircraft. The Harrier fitted the bill perfectly, so the Royal Navy investigated the possibility of creating a Harrier for a life on the ocean wave. Based on the Harrier GR3, the Sea Harrier was modified to have a raised cockpit with a "bubble" canopy for greater visibility and an extended forward fuselage to accommodate the Ferranti Blue Fox radar. Parts were changed for corrosion resistant alloys or coatings were added to protect against the marine environment. The principal role of the Sea Harrier was to provide air defence for the fleet. The “FRS” designation [Fighter, Reconnaissance and Strike] highlighted its multi role use and was a nod to the folk watching the budget.
The prototype Sea Harrier was first flown at Dunsfold on 20 August 1978. The original order by the Royal Navy for 24 FRS.1’s was increased to 34. In the end 57 FRS1s were delivered between 1978 and 1988. The first operational squadron 800 Naval Air Squadron [NAS] was formed in March 1980 initially to operate from HMS Invincible before it transferred to HMS Hermes. In January 1981, a second operational squadron 801 NAS was formed to operate from HMS Invincible.
Sea Harriers took part in the Falklands War [Operation Corporate] of 1982, flying from the aircraft carriers HMS Invincible [801NAS] and HMS Hermes [800NAS]. The Sea Harriers performed the primary air defence role with a secondary role of ground attack; the RAF Harrier GR3 provided the main ground attack force. A total of 28 Sea Harriers and 14 Harrier GR3s were deployed in the theatre. The Sea Harrier squadrons shot down 20 Argentine aircraft in air-to-air combat with no air-to-air losses, although two Sea Harriers were lost to ground fire and four to accidents. Out of the total Argentine air losses, 28% were shot down by Harriers. During the conflict another Sea Harrier squadron, 809 NAS was formed with eight spare aircraft and sent south aboard the ill-fated MV Atlantic Conveyor. On arrival in the South Atlantic these aircraft were divided between the two carriers, four each to 800 NAS and 801 NAS. The 899NAS aircraft were recognisable as they had been painted in light grey low visibility camouflage as opposed to the dark sea grey scheme used by all the other Sea Harriers.
Many Sea Harriers FRS.1 were converted to the FRS.2
In 1979, India placed its first order for 6 Sea Harriers, the first three of which arrived at Dabolim Airport on 16 December 1983. Officially designated the FRS.51 they were based on the FRS.1. Unlike the Royal Naval Sea Harrier, the Indian Naval Sea Harriers were capable of carrying the Matra R550 Magic air-to-air missiles. These aircraft were later upgraded with the Elta EL/M-2032 radar and the Rafael Derby BVRAAM missiles. A further order for ten Sea Harriers was approved in November 1985; eventually a total of 30 Harriers were procured, 25 for operational use and the remainder as dual-seat trainer aircraft.
Sources: Wikipedia, Sea Harrier Association and Fleet Air Arm Museum.
This model is now assembled and the URL to reasd about the process is below, at Click here for additional images for this review.
The now familiar blue coloured top opening box contains just over 270 parts. It’s written on the box lid and I’m going to take their word on that one. All the sprues are either bagged individually or in pairs. Inside the box you will find:
4 x full plastic sprues
4 x half plastic sprues.
1 x clear plastic sprue
1 x small photo etched sheet [as far as I can tell the parts are not used with this release].
1 x A4 sheet of decals.
1 x 23 page A4 construction guide
The cockpit is made up from six grey plastic parts and one clear for the HUD screen. The principal part is a tub with some raised detail on the side consoles. To this is added a rather good looking instrument panel again with raised detail. A two part HUD is added on top of the instrument panel. Rudder pedals, a flight control stick and a rear bulkhead finishes of the cockpit build. The detail on the rear bulk head is pretty good with boxes and cabling. The ejector seat has a good likeness to the Martin-Baker Mark 10H. It is built up from six parts, but there are no harnesses.
The two part canopy looks very good, clear and well formed. There are two canopies included on the sprue so care is needed not to use the wrong one. The correct canopy [F15] has the smaller explosive cord moulded into the plastic. Care is also required as the canopy needs to be glued to a separate plastic sill. The detail on the windscreen is well done and includes a windscreen wiper.
The fuselage is split vertically and the vertical tail is moulded on. The rudder is a separate one piece item. The radome for the Blue Fox radar is a separate part and for once may not need packing with weight. The unusual nature of the undercarriage should not cause any tail sitting. There are a few pieces to put in place before the fuselage halves are joined. This includes the cockpit, the primary engine fan and mounting, forward and the rear under carriage bays and the air brake bay. The four nozzles are designed to be movable, so the mechanism needs to be fitted as well. The detail on the one piece slide moulded nozzles is good, but there is a slight mould line to eradicate. The blast screens for the rear nozzles are separate parts. The massive air intake for the Pegasus 104 turbofan engine is a separate. It is made up from an outer panel, an inner panel forming the intake wall and the auxiliary intakes doors. The doors are moulded together, but there is the option to display them open or closed. The primary compressor fan looks pretty good too. There is the option of adding a refuelling boom as well. There is a generous sill fore and aft in the gap where the wing goes, which should make fitting of the wing easier.
The upper wing is thankfully one piece, so the modeller does not need to worry about setting the anhedral. Interestingly there are two sets of wings included, so make sure you are using the correct ones. They are on sprue “I” and the only difference I can see between the two sets are additional vortex generators and a different leading edge. The separate flaps can be displayed dropped or in a neutral position. There are two sets of actuator housing to aid you to set them at the angle of your choice. The detail in the bays for the outriggers on the lower wing is also rather nicely done. Little details like that really highlight the quality and thought that has gone into this release. The stabilisers are both one piece items although the
The overall treatment of the surface of the plastic is very good indeed. The recessed panel lines and fasteners is very good and there is raised detail were required. There is a little flash here and there, but nothing that a few swipes with a sanding stick won’t cure. The sprue attachment points are pretty thin, which should result in little or no damage to the parts when removed. Overall the shape appears very good indeed and certainly looks like a SHAR. I test fitted the two fuselage halves, the upper one piece wing and the radome. The fit of the main parts is pretty good, admittedly it’s held together with Tamiya tape, and so gluing and some pressure at the joints will improve the fit.
The detail in the bays is very good indeed and will please the majority of modellers. The nose leg is made up from two parts plus two clear parts for the lights and the rear leg is a single piece. The wheels have separate plastic tyres that fit around the nicely detailed hubs. The inside of the gear doors are detailed too. The outrigger legs are amazingly one piece [no don’t groan] and even more amazingly they look very good with excellent detail. The instructions show that the kit can be built with the undercarriage retracted.
You can count on Kinetic being very generous with ordinance and this release is no exception. If you don’t want to spoil the look of the SHAR with weapons then you will need to fit the included strakes. The pre made holes on the under surfaces of the wing will need to be filled in as well. The tips of the rockets in the Matra pods are worth mentioning, they look exceptional for injected plastic. A fair few of the stabilising fins for the missiles are separate parts.
Included with this release is:
2 x 30mm Aden cannon pods
6 x AIM-9 Sidewinders.
4 x AIM-120 AMRAAM
2 x Sea Eagle anti ship missiles.
4 x Matra pods with 18 rockets
2 x Matra pods with 36 rockets
1 x Mk 17 1000lb bomb
2 x 190 gallon fuel tanks
2 x 100 gallon fuel tanks
The large decal sheet is designed by Crossdelta and printed by Cartograf. The quality looks superb: each decal has very good colour density, registry and with a minimum of carrier film. There is a whole pile of spare numbers on the lower half of the sheet which will do your spares bank no harm at all.
There are four distinct camouflage finishes and numerous marking options for this particular release:
- Sea Harrier FRS.1 809 NAS based at RNAS Yeovilton, deployed on HMS Hermes 1981 to March 1982.
- Sea Harrier FRS.1 801 NAS based at RNAS Yeovilton, deployed on HMS Invincible 1981 to March 1982.
- Sea Harrier FRS.1 899 NAS based at RNAS Yeovilton, 1981 to March 1982.
Up to nineteen aircraft can be modelled from the above Naval Air Squadrons. Aircraft are painted extra dark sea grey on top and white below.
- Sea Harrier FRS.1 of the HMS Hermes Air Group “Operation Corporate”. Apr-June 1982. Some crews from 899 NAS were attached to 800 NAS. Extra dark sea grey was extended over the white under surfaces and the white area of the roundel was painted blue. Twelve aircraft from both NAS can be built.
- Sea Harrier FRS.1 of the HMS Invincible Air Group “Operation Corporate”. Apr-June 1982. Some crews from 899 NAS were attached to 801 NAS. Nine aircraft from both NAS can be built.
- Sea Harrier FRS.1 of 809 NAS “Operation Corporate”. Apr-June 1982. Aircraft were painted meduim sea grey and barley grey, with low viz insignia. Eight aircraft can be modelled: four were based on HMS Hermes and four on HMS Invincible.
- Sea Harrier FRS.1 XZ493 of 800 NAS “Exercise Artic Express”, HMS Hermes, 1983. Painted dark sea grey overall. XZ493 was zapped by 338 Sq Norwegian AF.
- Sea Harrier FRS.1 XZ451 of 801 NAS, HMS Invincible, 1983. Painted dark sea grey overall.
- Sea Harrier FRS.1 XZ455 of 899 NAS, RNAS Yeovilton, 1988. Painted dark sea grey overall.
- Sea Harrier FRS.1 XZ491 of 809 NAS. As seen at Yeovilton airshow 1982. Deployed on HMS Illustrious between August and December 1982 Painted dark sea grey overall.
- Sea Harrier FRS.51 of 300 Indian NAS, 2005. Four aircraft can be modelled named: Simba, Cougar, Lion and Puma. Dark sea grey upper and light grey lower surfaces.
The twenty page manual has black exploded line drawings describing the build process. There are many illustrations showing detailed views of some of the more complex structures. There is a very good ordinance section and a guide on where to hang everything. The paint guides are in grey tone and there is a separate stencil guide. Paint references are for Mr Color, but these can be cross referenced on page two with Vallejo, Ammo Mig, Italeri, Humbrol and Tamiya paints. FS and BS paint references are given too. The paint guide has lots of additional information on individual aircraft particularly the ones involved in “Operation Corporate”. There is a single page focusing on the many stencils and markings.
I have to say this is a superb release from Kinetic and certainly shouts out to be built right away and not to be stored away for loft insulation. I am very impressed generally with the moulding quality. But the moulding of the clear parts is becoming a little erratic. It certainly looks like the best kit of the FRS.1 by some way, much better than the Airfix and Tamiya efforts. So watch out for a build blog in the very near future. I might even be tempted to do a dog fight double with Kinetics other superb recent release of the Super Étendard.