Monday, 3 October 2016

Trumpeter 1/32 AV-8B Harrier II Plus

www.bowemodels.com

As I have said many times before, you've got to hand it to Trumpeter for supplying us keen modellers with plenty of large scale jets. And they are always well moulded and generally well fitting, with plenty of ordnance options and often some really nice interior detail. That's the good part.

On the other hand, they also have a dark side to their reputation. The lovely interior detail is often a waste of time as it can not be seen, they suffer from some (occasionally crazy) accuracy problems, and their decals are often only fit for the waste bin, being inaccurate in colour and artwork and generally minimalist, with rarely any useful stencilling. Although to be fair, in more recent releases, the decals have been improving in quality.

If you want any kind of Harrier in 1/32 this and it's sister kits are the only option. The rivet counters have, as ever, already gone to town on it and pointed out accuracy problems in their usual manic "end of the world" screaming argot. But you know what, it's not actually that bad at all. It certainly looks like it's real world counterpart, just some doubts about the shape of the nose, gun pods and wing kink may be justified, and the ordnance selection is problematic, both in terms of accuracy and also what options are appropriate for this aircraft.


The relatively well detailed internal engine is a complete waste of effort and only needs to be built to provide support for the outlets. The cockpit is not quite right, and given it is extremely visible under that canopy I elected to replace it with the rather wonderful Aries resin set. The only other significant shape corrections I employed were to use the Wolf Pack Harrier II + air scoop set (as these are a distinct feature of the "Plus", not catered for by the kit) and I also scratch corrected the gun pod link housing but otherwise I left things as they were. I used the SAC metal undercarriage set to replace the kit plastic - less because of accuracy or detail but more because I find metal undercarriages are pretty much essential on larger models for stability. Also check your references for the ordnance carried by this aircraft, not everything offered in the kit is appropriate. Some additional detailing to the exterior and undercarriage was provided courtesy of photo etch from our friends at Eduard.

The plastic goes together very well however, no real fit problems and only a little filler required in a few places. The only other area worth mentioning are the kit supplied markings. There are three options, two USMC machines and an unidentified Spanish aircraft. The two USMC schemes are more or less identical and I opted for the main (first) one. My internet research failed to find any example of the particular machine represented but I decided to go with it regardless. It may be accurate, or it may be made up by Trumpeter, who knows. I am sure someone out there can tell me, but it's too late now anyway. I opted to re-generate the "dark" markings myself. This is because the decals provided by Trumpeter are black, they should be low visibility mid grey according to every other example of the AV-8B I have seen. Even Trumpeter's own box artwork agrees with me. Black mark (literally) against them for that one.

But the end result pleased me immensely - as a Brit I am very proud of this unique and ground breaking aircraft design which is (to my mind) rather poorly represented in the plastic kit world, certainly in modern toolings. And to build a large scale once like this is very satisfying and I hope you enjoy the end result.

































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