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Harrier GR1/GR3 Kit

Kinetic 1/48 Harrier GR1/GR3 Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review November 2020 Manufacturer Kinetic
Subject Harrier GR1/GR3 Scale 1/48
Kit Number 48060 Primary Media Styrene, Photo-Etch
Pros Nice kit and decals Cons See text
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $43.99

First Look

Harrier GR1/GR3 Kit
Harrier GR1/GR3 Kit
Harrier GR1/GR3 Kit
Harrier GR1/GR3 Kit
Harrier GR1/GR3 Kit
Harrier GR1/GR3 Kit
Harrier GR1/GR3 Kit

In the beginning, engineers at Hawker Aircraft conceived of building a lightweight airframe around the big Pegasus fan engine from Bristol with movable exhaust ducts. The aim was to create an aircraft that could take-off and land vertically while able to perform as a high-speed tactical aircraft in forward flight. The prototype was the P.1127 which led to the Kestral, and despite a series of crashes during testing, the type was approved for production as the Harrier. The United States also took part in the evaluation of the aircraft with one of the Kestral prototypes being flown by the Air Force and NASA (that aircraft is on display in the National Museum of the USAF). It would be the Marine Corps that saw the potential of the tiny VSTOL (vertical/short take-off/landing) aircraft by being able to deploy on helicopter carriers into a battle zone and then operating from clearings near the battle to provide rapid support of the troops in contact with hostile forces. Like the Marines, the RAF saw the Harrier as a close air support asset that could be operated in Europe against Soviet/Warsaw Pact forces from unimproved sites away from targeted airfields.

The Harrier entered RAF service in the late 1960s and limited action until their rapid deployment in 1982 to the Falkland Islands. By this time, the Harriers had received upgrades to the GR3 which included improved avionics and weapons and the distinctive nose extension which housed a laser rangefinder system. While the Royal Navy departed the UK for the Falklands, the Harriers were hastily modified to carry the AIM-9L Sidewinder along with the Royal Navy's Sea Harriers, and enroute to rendezvous with the carriers, the Harriers were able to receive some dissimilar air combat training against French Mirages to prepare for action against Argentina's Mirages. While the Sea Harriers took care of air defense, the Harrier GR3s provided close air support to the troops and served as back-up air defenders with their heaters (AIM-9L) and guns. The British Harriers did not see further action after the Falklands and were retired by 2006, replaced by Anglicized McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier IIs.

Over the years, there have been a variety of 1/48 kits of the Harrier GR1 and GR3, and most were copies/derivatives of Tamiya's venerable GR1 kit. The only one I can recall that built into a decent model was the Monogram AV-8A kit, though you needed to go aftermarket for the RAF Harrier markings. Earlier this year, Kinetic began showing CAD drawings of the GR1/GR3/AV-8A as a follow-on to the two-seat trainers produced earlier and they showed promise of a really nice kit. Well a box from Kinetic arrived today and we have the GR1/GR3 and the AV-8A kits for review, we'll start with the GR1/GR3. The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on seven parts trees plus one tree of clear parts and one small fret of photo-etched details. Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Nicely detailed ejection seat with photo-etched pilot restraints
  • Cockpit has potential though no instrument face decals provided
  • Positionable canopy
  • Canopy has nice det chord details molded
  • Nozzles are slide-molded one-piece with nice details'
  • Nozzles are movable with a similar system as the old Tamiya kits
  • Choice of open or closed aux intake doors
  • Detailed landing gear and wheel wells
  • Choice of GR1 or GR3 nose and tail details
  • Positionable rudder
  • Positionable stabilator
  • Positionable ailerons
  • Positionable trailing edge flaps
  • Positionable speed brake

External stores options include:

  • 2 x AIM-9L Sidewinder
  • 30mm Aden cannon pods
  • 2 x 100 gallon external tanks
  • 4 x Matra 155 rocket pods
  • 2 x 2" rocket pods

The kit includes one sheet of decals which provide the following options:

  • Harrier GR1, XV788, 1 Sqn, RAF Wittering, 1970
  • Harrier GR1, XV788, 1 Sqn, RAF Wittering, 1970 - changeover to low-viz roundels
  • Harrier GR3 (w/o laser nose), XV795, 1 Sqn, Belize City Airport, 1975, 'The Intruder'
  • Harrier GR3 (w/o laser nose), XV787, 1 Sqn, Belize City Airport, 1975, 'Hot to Trot' (sharkmouth)
  • Harrier GR3, XV760, 233 OCU, RAF Wittering, 1977
  • Harrier GR3, XZ997, 1 Sqn, HMS Hermes, 1982, Operation Corporate
  • Harrier GR3, XZ997, IV Sqn, RAF Guetersloh, 1992

The decals provide a nice set of airframe stencils and these are printed by Cartograf.

A few notes worth considering:

  • The instructions provide color information using Mig equivalents (again) though a cross-reference table is provided
  • The color profiles are printed in black and white, so good luck sorting out colors unless you have other references. Please print color profiles in color!

Kinetic has really come a long way since their first kits and even their Sea Harriers, and this kit could easily be the best Harrier kit in any scale. Stay tuned for a quick-build review. The kit is available from Lucky Model at $43 USD (plus shipping).

My sincere thanks to Lucky Model for this review sample!