The B Side: 1/48th Hasegawa AV-8B Harrier
Depending on who you ask about this Hasegawa Harrier kit you will hear how great or how horribly unbuildable it was. I think most of the criticism comes down to the the way the kit was engineered to be retooled into different variants, making the kit more complex than modelers would like. If you carefully review the parts fit and test assemble components before you glue (not necessarily following the prescribed instructions) the kit is a decent build and turns into a good model aircraft for your trouble. The bottom line for me was that in 2004 it was nice to have a decent (dare I say good) later Harrier series finally available.
Notable Kit Features:
Finely engraved panel detail (a bit too fine in areas)
Separate intake blow-in doors
Positionable jet nozzles and horizontal stabilizers
Separate speed brake (often seen deployed)
Optional gun pods or lateral strakes plus additional weapons stores (How rare for Hasegawa)
I liked the look of the US Marines Desert Storm TPS camouflage seen on the "Ace of Spades" squadron and after a disappointing build of the Monogram A version (or some may reference Tamiya's Harrier disappointment here) I wanted a good looking Harrier on the shelf. - The 1/48th Hasegawa 2004 Rebox "Desert Harrier" kit provided everything I would need for the build.
This is not an easy build partially due to the complex shape of the aircraft with its irregular gear layout and jet exhausts. Couple that with a kit designed primarily for future variants and you get a multi-part fuselage that must be carefully test fitted to bring everything together as it should be... and then you get to deal with the intakes. Patience please, this one requires some time and thought, so come prepared.
Heads up for the stance on the gear - careful fitting / adjustments may be necessary to have all wheels down on the ground
Due to the blown canopy style there is a seam down the center of the main canopy which must be polished away
You may want to check out Jon's Models page on this kit as he has a few ideas on how the kit should be assembled to reduce the possibility of fit problems: Hasegawa 1/48 McDonnell Douglas AV-8B+ Harrier II – Jon's Models (jonbryon.com)
Kit Additions / Modifications:
This AV-8B kit was built out of the box with the only additional item of adding seatbelts
Seems I have misplaced my painting notes on this aircraft kit. I believe the calls were for FS 36230 / 36375 / 35237 however I recall reading a comment from a US Marines maintenance crew indicating that they just added a Styrofoam cup of black paint into the gray to get the second colour so not to sweat it too much... as they didn't :) I didn't do much weathering on this one either as the reference shot I had was for a pretty clean example. I may have gotten it too clean though.
Standard finishing treatment for me at the time: Paint > Pause for 24 hrs.+ > Pledge gloss coat > Pause for 24 hrs.+ > Decals & Weathering washes > Model Master Matt coat > Final weathering & assembly.
The After-Build Report:
I will only recommend this kit to experienced model builders due the the complexity of the assembly of the parts to get it right. If you are looking for a relaxing, easy build... move along and come back to this one when you have some persistence & patience. It does build up into a nice looking aircraft but you will have to work a bit to get it there.
Completed build #101 - December 2008 using the 1/48th scale Hasegawa #9538:2800 kit.
Feel free to comment or ask any questions - Keep on building, gain experience, challenge yourself if you like, but try not to stress yourself out over the build - it is suppose to be an enjoyable hobby after all - Cheers