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Hawker Harrier

Monogram 1/48 Hawker Harrier Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review February 2014 Manufacturer Monogram
Subject AV-8A Harrier/Harrier GR.1 Scale 1/48
Kit Number 5420 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Nice kit, simple build Cons No external tanks, no RAF armament
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) Out of Production

First Look

Hawker Harrier
Hawker Harrier
Hawker Harrier
Hawker Harrier

Hawker Siddeley developed the first practical vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft with its P.1127 Kestrel which was developed into the Harrier GR.1 for RAF service. Looking for a tactical edge, the US Marine Corps adopted the type as the AV-8 Harrier. There were skeptics of this aircraft on both sides of the Atlantic, but as the USMC and RAF explored the possibilities of the Harrier, the aircraft gained momentum.

In the early 1970s, when the Army-Navy football game was played at Annapolis, it was tradition that the Navy would fly many of the aircraft types that were going into service or were front-line types through the stadium. I didn't say over the stadium. On this occasion, the F-8, F-4, A-7 and other types were putting on their usual show for the attendees in the stadium. Then this tiny jet dipped into the stadium, stopped over the 50 yard line, performed a 360 degree rotation in the hover, then zoomed off again. The only sound left in the stadium was that of jaws dropping as the Harrier had defied the laws of gravity and aerodynamics in one simple demonstration.

As more experience was gained with the aircraft, another group of skeptics pointed out the vulnerability of the Harrier to fighters. A series of flight tests were conducted at Edwards AFB, first against the F-100, then the F-4, and then other types, all defeated by the Harrier which used its thrust vectoring in-flight to gain the advantage. Meanwhile the RAF explored increased payloads by using rolling takeoffs with partially vectored thrust (V/STOL).

The early Harriers represented a work in progress which, in the case of Britain, saw its GR.1s upgraded into the GR.3 and the a new variant developed for the Royal Navy as the Sea Harrier FRS.1. Both of these types would see their first combat in the Falklands, but that is another story. The AV-8A would also not see combat though the lessons learned from this aircraft would lead to the AV-8B (which did see combat) and ultimately to the F-35B.

The Harrier was a very popular subject with kit makers for many years and Monogram developed their own tooling as well. Developed in the early 1980s, this kit is still one of the best early Harrier kits available and is a simple build. You'll recall that Tamiya had a nice kit of the Harrier that featured the Pegasus engine that could be seen through a dorsal access hatch and a mechanism that would rotate all four nozzles in unison. Despite these features, the kit had a few minor fit challenges and it lacked a very visible detail on the aircraft, the auxiliary blow-in doors. While these were closed in-flight, they were open on the ground with the engine running, and the upper doors would drop down when the aircraft was parked. These points were addressed by Monogram in this kit.

Molded in light gray styrene, this kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented four parts trees plus one small tree of clear parts. Among the features and options in the box:

  • Nicely detailed cockpit
  • Optional pilot figure
  • Positionable canopy
  • Auxiliary blow-in doors in shut-down position (tops open)
  • Positionable nozzles
  • Positionable speed brake
  • Positionable stabilators
  • Choice of ventral gun pods or ventral strakes
  • Optional Mk.82 Snakeyes on the inboard pylons
  • Optional AIM-9 Sidewinders on the outboard pylons
  • Optional air refueling boom

While this kit is designed to render either the AV-8A or GR.1, the weapons in the kit are only usable for the AV-8A and you'll want the standard rocket pods and iron bombs used by the RAF in those days if you're doing the GR.1.

Markings are provided for two aircraft:

  • AV-8A, 159375, VMAT-203, KD/11, USMC
  • Harrier GR.1, XV776, RAF

I believe this kit has been reissued a time or two but are still available (and inexpensive) at kit swaps and even on eBay.