First Generation Harriers and Pro-genitors;

the P1127 Kestrel & P1154 RN

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GR.3 - 1417 Flight, Royal Air Force Belize, 1987.

Fujimi, largely out the box, but with the Ejector seat modified to look more like a Mk9.

Fujimi's Harrier kits are reasonably accurate, but not easy builds. This one represents an aircraft of 1417 Flt, RAF Belize in the mid 1980s. Whilst I was serving in HMS LIVERPOOL, during our 1987 "West Indies Guardship" deployment (its a dirty job, but someone has to do it!), we exercised with 1417 Flt off the coast of Belize, providing our splash target for them to practice attacking fast moving sea-borne targets with Aden Guns and Rockets. Our activities attracted much interest from heavily armed (and not altogether friendly) Honduran and Guatemalan gunboats, which added a little spice to the proceedings.

The GR.3, easily recognised by its extended nose fairing to house the laser target marker and range finder, was the RAF's second major Harrier variant, with improved avionics and uprated engines. Harriers were deployed to Belize from 1981 to 1993, in response to potential threats from Guatemala and Honduras. The aircraft were ideally suited to the rough deployed conditions, if occasionally limited by the temperature.

GR.1, 1 Sqn, RAF Wittering, December 1970.

ESCI AV-8A, 1/72, with Sky decals.

The first operational variant of the Harrier family was the GR.1 and up-powered GR.1A. Original performance from this radical aircraft was marginal, requiring that only the most skilled RAF pilots flew the Harrier.

Hawker P1127 Kestrel.

Airfix OOB

The P.1127 was a flying test-bed for the Pegasus engine and vectored thrust concept. As the Kestrel, nine aircraft were flown by a joint UK-US-West German evaluation squadron to determine tactics and capability for VSTOL operation. With the subsequent cancellation of the P.1154 (see below), the Kestrel was further developed into the operational GR.1 Harrier for the RAF.

Hawker P1154 RN.

Maintrack Project X Vacform - what if? markings for 804 Sqn, FAA.

The P1154 was the planned in-service version of the experimental P.1127. Two very different variants were proposed, a single seater ground attack aircraft for the RAF and a twin seater interceptor for the Fleet Air Arm.

These conflicting requirements could not be reconciled in a single airframe, and the growing divergence of the 2 designs helped to ensure that this project, like the TSR.2 would never see the light of day. The Fleet Air Arm bought the excellent F-4K Phantom instead, whilst a basic austerity version, based on the P.1127 but using some of the 1154 systems, was purchased for the RAF as the Harrier GR.1, and eventually developed into the superb Sea Harrier for the Fleet Air Arm.

Many more to come - watch this space !

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