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Sea Harrier FA.2 Kit

Kinetic 1/48 Sea Harrier FA.2 Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review September 2014 Manufacturer Kinetic
Subject Sea Harrier FA.2 Scale 1/48
Kit Number 48041 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros Nice details Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $39.99

First Look

Sea Harrier FA.2 Kit
Sea Harrier FA.2 Kit
Sea Harrier FA.2 Kit
Sea Harrier FA.2 Kit
Sea Harrier FA.2 Kit

As Britain's military budget continued to decline, her last true aircraft carrier, the Ark Royal was due to be retired. In its place, a new class of 'through-deck' carriers was developed in the Invincible class. These carriers would embark a variety of helicopters and a new version of the Harrier VSTOL fighter - the Sea Harrier FRS.1. This new Harrier would optimize the aircraft in the air-to-air role by raising the cockpit for better all-round visibility, adding the Blue Fox radar for all-weather intercept capability, and produced from materials better suited for extended salt-air exposure.

During the 1982 Falklands/Malvinas conflict, the HMS Invincible and HMS Hermes were dispatched to the South Atlantic along with all available surface combatants and support vessels. The FRS.1 provided air defense support to the fleet and to the troops ashore and did a credible job against the Argentine Air Force and Naval air forces operating from their home bases on the mainland. With the help of the last-minute upgrade to employ the all-aspect AIM-9L Sidewinder, the Harrier FRS.1 was able to achieve 21 kills without any air-to-air losses.

In 1984, development started on an upgrade to the Sea Harrier based upon the combat experience gained in the South Atlantic. The improved Harrier would receive the advanced Blue Vixen radar, AIM-120 AMRAAM cabability, greater range, and an updated cockpit. The resulting aircraft was designated as FA.2, and 34 FRS.1 airframes were converted along with 18 brand new airframes. It wasn't long before the first FA.2s saw action, as these were assigned to support the UN forces in Bosnia in 1994.

Kinetic has engineered their first installment in the Harrier family, the SHAR - Sea Harrier FA.2. This kit pushes squarely into the Airfix domain where the only other FA.2 was ever produced in this scale. How does this kit compare to the Airfix mainstay? Let's take a look:

This kit is molded in gray styrene and presented on seven parts trees plus one tree of clear parts and a small fret of photo-etched details. Among the features of the kit:

  • Nicely detailed cockpit
  • Choice of early instrument panel or upgraded 'glass' panel
  • Positionable canopy
  • Nice engine intake with choice of open or closed blow-in doors
  • Exhaust nozzles are interconnected and all pivot together
  • Upper wing surface is one-piece with molded in anhedral angle
  • Positionable landing gear
  • Positionable flaps
  • Positionable flaperons
  • Positionable rudder
  • Positionable stabilators
  • Positionable ventral speed brake
  • Landing gear hubs are molded separately from tires for ease of painting
  • Optional air refueling probe

External stores included:

  • 4 x AIM-9L Sidewider
  • 2 x AIM-120 AMRAAM
  • 2 x Sea Eagle missiles
  • 2 x 100 gallon external fuel tanks
  • 2 x 190 gallon external fuel tanks

This release has 28 marking options:

  • FA.2, ZD613, 800 Sqn, Royal Navy, 2004, 'Satan 1' decommissioning scheme
  • FA.2, ZH809, 809 San, Royal Navy, 2004, 25th Harrier Anniversary scheme

The decal sheet provides the letters and numbering to replicate 26 aircraft including:

  • 5 x 800 Sqn, Yeovilton, disbandment, 2004
  • 6 x 801 Sqn, last HMS Illustrious Detachment, 2005
  • 6 x 801 Sqn, Yeovilton, disbandment, Mar 2006
  • 9 x 899 Sqn, Yeovilton, Oct 2004, and at decommissioning Mar 2005

These decals are nicely done and include a nice suite of airframe stenciling - painting instructions are provided using FS 595 equivalents, Vallejo, and GSI Creos paint numbers.

This is another very nice release from Kinetic and is easily the best SHAR FA.2 kit in any scale.

My sincere thanks to Lucky Model for this review sample!