24 February 2013

PROJECT HARRIER! Airfix 1/24th Scale Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.3

Box Art for the Airfix Harrier GR.3

Here is my latest project (amongst many) which I began yesterday...the monumental Airfix 1/24th scale Hawker Siddeley GR.3 Harrier. I chose this kit for several reasons.....1) The Harrier is in my Top 10 of favorite aircraft; 2) Airfix kits are one of my favorites because they're from the UK and I prefer to model UK subjects; 3) The kit is huge! 1/24th scale equates to model car scale and this will allow me to do some "ultra-detailing". I've dabbled in scratch-building before, but due to my failing eyesight, the scale will allow me to attempt this rather easily.

I obtained this kit from the good folks at Section 8 Hobbies in Buffalo. The proprietor, Justen Hanna, always alerts me when British modeling subjects arrive at the shop and when he called to say one arrived, I obtained it straightaway! Upon opening the sturdy box I discovered a flaw which I never ran across in over 20 years of modeling...Airfix packaged two left side fuselage halves and failed to pack the right side! This kit was therefore unbuildable. A quick visit to the Airfix website (www.airfix.com) directed me to an email link to their customer service department. I wrote a brief email explaining my dilemma. They responded with an email reply the next day that the replacement part was in the post. Sure enough, within two weeks the proper fuselage arrived and I'm a happy guy! Many kudos go to Airfix customer service! They are top notch and is another reason I love Airfix kits!

Anyway, time to put some new blades in the Xacto knife and have at it! Being a relatively strict follower of instructions, I started with the cockpit. Some of the details are pretty good, like the cockpit "dashboard" and side control panels, but others could use a bit of extra detail. So, by taking some scrap plastic, plastic rod and strip and also varying lengths of lead solder, I busied up the backrest. I also added some plastic stock to the side control panels and will add various buttons and switches to give it a busier look.

Here are the cockpit components, including the pilot, after detaching from the sprue. As you can see, some of the details are quite nice, whilst others look a bit spartan. 

After about an hour or so of cutting and snipping pits of plastic stock and lead solder I've busied-up the back of the cockpit wall.
Here is a close up view of the same piece. Note at the lower right side of the cockpit side control panels, I've added a couple of levers to the throttle control quadrant out of various diameters of plastic rod stock.
In this view, I've inserted Airfix's rendition of the Martin-Baker Mk. 9 ejection seat. This is a very sparse piece of molding and is just screaming for detail! Next up, detailing the "bang seat".

As a comparison to the plastic part, here is a photo of a real MB Mk. 9 ejection seat used on early Harriers. Lots of detail can be replicated on the plastic piece by using some simple materials and scratch building techniques. (Photo courtesy of www.ejectionsite.com)