Selected WW2 70th Anniversaries this month:
2009 and 2015, I will be pursuing a general modelling theme that
marks selected 70th Anniversaries from WW2.
800 Sqn Fleet Air Arm, RNAS Yeovilton, April 2004
Airfix, 1/72 (Airfix Club Issue).
Difficult to remember 6 years after its premature withdrawal in March 2006, but April 2012 was the original planned out of service date of the Sea Harrier (those JSFs really should have been flying by now!!!!). This is also the 30th Anniversary of the Falklands war, which was undoubtedly the Sea Harrier's finest hour.
So as a celebration of all things SHAR, here is Sea Harrier FA.2 ZD613 in 800 Sqn's flamboyant 2004 "Satan 1" farewell scheme.
As a footnote, 70 years ago this month, 800 Sqn's Fairey Fulmars were preparing for Operation Ironclad, the Madagascar landings.
Like most FAA modelling enthusiasts, back in 2007 I was pleased to learn that Airfix's new owners had decided to produce two new mould Sea Harrier kits. However, given the rather large number of SHARs in my collection already, plus the equally large number of unbuilt ESCI/Italeri SHAR kits in the stash, buying the new Airifx kit was not a priority. Fortunately, Airfix kindly provided one as 2010's Airfix Club special edition kit, including a rather nice set of Cartograf printed transfers/decals for the 800 Sqn decommissioning scheme.
On opening the box, first impressions suggested that Airfix had made a reasonable stab at a 1/72 Sea Harrier, although,like many of the new Airfix kits, its very deep deep panel lines are a disappointment. As my build progressed, it was clear that the kit is well engineered with no real areas of difficulty in assembly, although some thought needs to go into the best sequence of painting various parts. I needed a smidgeon of filler (Tippex) on the fuselage join on the nose, behind the cockpit canopy and underneath the tail, but despite my worries about the rather loose looking front end of the wing to fuselage joint, after a quick rub down with wet or dry it went together very well.
However, as the fuselage took shape, a few worries set in. Firstly, the radome does look rather too bulbous. I have to admit that the finished kit appears generally OK in this respect, but it still looks a little too "waisted" for me on close inspection. Compared with the SHAR 1, the SHAR2 has an inserted rear fuselage section to restore the weight balance of the heavier radar and longer radome, and this also looks a little too prominent on the kit - on the real thing it does alter the fuselage lines , but not as much as Airfix portray (it should be parallel from front to rear, but the kit has it splaying out). Again, a little sanding can easily address both these issues if the modeller wishes.
More significant issues are the front windscreen, which is too wide and a little too shallow. It also lacks the SHAR's prominent wiper blade (I added a simple one made from wire, attached with Krystal Kleer), plus the main canopy has no engraved det-cord (even a decal would have helped with this distinctive feature) and it looks to me as though the solid rear section is too small. I also have this niggling doubt that the entire cockpit section is too bulbous - most noticeably if you look at it head on.
The real thing at Yeovilton in 2004
Elsewhere on the airframe, rather inexplicably, the distinctive air scoops on the upper fuselage aft of the auxiliary intakes are completely missing (some sprue ones were scratched up instead) and the outrigger wheel wells are totally devoid of detail (unlike the very detailed airbrake, nose and main undercarriage wells). The tail fin is also commendably thin - a little too thin perhaps?
The decals in this special issue of the kit, not surprisingly, are very nice indeed. I used some Klear to make sure that they settled on the surface, and after leaving them overnight to set, the end result was very pleasing.
Despite all of these nit-picks, some of which may just be the result of my long familiarity with the other manufacturer's kits influencing my perception of the "correct" shape, the finished kit really looks quite smart and I definitely enjoyed building it. For most modellers wanting a SHAR2 in their colleciton, this will be a very satisfactory choice and is certainly easier than adding resin bits to a SHAR1 kit, especially on the wings. However if you are an absolute stickler for detail and accuracy, it does have its issues; in most respects the 1980s era ESCI/Italeri kit (with a resin conversion when required) will still be a better choice.
Many more Sea Harrier models can be seen on my comprehensive Harriers Pages
C Sqn, Queens Dragoon Guards (QDG), attached to 3 Cdo Brigade, Basrah, Iraq, 2003
Airfix 1/72, with various accessories.
The Scimitar entered service in the early 1970s as a fast armoured reconnaissance vehicle. Armed with a 30mm Rarden Canon, it was originally fitted with a Jaguar 4.2 Litre petrol engine, allowing it to move around the battlefield at very high speed. More recent models have been retrofitted with a Cummins diesel engine, retaining much of the performance but gaining considerably more fuel economy.
Scimitars have seen active service around the world, including the 1982 Falklands War, 1991 and 2003 Gulf Wars, as well as in Afghanistan, where the Scimitar Mk.2, an upgraded version marrying the Scimitar turret with a Spartan hull, is now entering service.
The QDG are an amalgamation of the former 1st King's Dragoon Guards and the Queens Bays (2nd Dragoon Guards); 70 years ago this month, both regiments were serving in North Africa as part of the forces concentrated around Tobruk/Gazala, awaiting Rommel's forthcoming onslaught.
I'm enjoying this "decorating tanks" lark at the moment; they look so much better with some clutter in the upper deck stowages!
This is the ancient Airfix kit, which represents a very early vehicle in its delivered state - however the real thing was quickly found to be seriously lacking in stowage, so quickly gained a whole range of upper deck add-ons.
I have used sprue and silver foil for mine, complete with a few more Kingfisher accessory rucksacs (in european woodland DPM this time - think I've cracked that!) and water bottles, plus some spare etched grids.
More AFVs and tanks on my Dark Side pages
Background Picture - 800 Sqn's 2004 Sea Harrier decommissioning scheme