1/48 AV-8B Harrier

This next build is a commission build using the 1/48 Revell/Monogram AV-8B kit. The client supported the Marine squadron VMA-223 in Afghanistan in 2011. In appreciation of his support they carried an American flag on a mission aboard and aircraft call sign “ALAMO 12”. Upon their return the American flag and a certificate were presented to him. I have been commissioned to replicate the aircraft. The client supplied the kit to use for this build.


The build itself will be mostly out of the box with some scratch built add-ons. I will need to add the front sensor pod above the nose, modify the nose, extend the tail scoop, and add the two chaff panels in the top half of the fuselage near the tail. All of the decals will be made custom for this build.

Starting off with the cockpit I detail painted the instrument panel and side panels. The seat had only the lower seat belts molded in. I used some cloth tape to make the shoulder straps and upper seat belts. I then looked over the canopy. Harriers have an antenna on the inside of the canopy. Revell molded these on the outside of the canopy giving the canopy a distorted look. I decided to use a decal on the inside for the antenna so I sanded the canopy using 1000 grit then 3600 grit sandpaper to remove the molded antenna and then it was polished with Meguire’s PlastX polish to restore the canopy to a clear glossy finish.

The intake was then painted and the cockpit tub installed so the fuselage halves could be assembled. The instrument panel was then installed and I began to work on the tail section for the extended scoop and the chaff panels. There were roughed in with styrene. I am working on the forward sensor and then will blend the add-ons with some putty.

The second week of the Harrier build was mostly spent on scratch building the fuselage modifications .  The nose was changed to a point instead of the sensor. I used a grey styrene rod and shaped it then used putty to blend it to the nose. The sensor was relocated to just above the nose in front of the canopy windscreen. I used a styrene square rod and trimmed it to fit then drilled a hole in the front to house the sensor lens.

On the tail section I used a styrene tube cut in half lengthwise to extend the tail vent. I then made the CHAFF blocks and used putty to shape them. It is taking layers to build them up. I still have a layer or two and then use sanding sticks to shaper them correctly. While the putty was drying I assemble the jet nozzles, rear stabilizers, and nose gear. I will be making one change to the aircraft. I will be removing the gun pod and installing the lower shrikes. This is because the client wants to add a Litening targeting pod which is mounted between the shrikes and takes the place of the gun pod. I am using the Eduard Brassin version of the AN/AAQ-28(V) Litening pod.  I also assembled the main wing assembly. I am working on the upper CHAFF pods and then I can install the wing assembly and possibly get the base coat of paint on it.

Finishing the third week of the Harrier build I installed the intakes and other fuselage details. The resin Litening pod was painted and applied the decals to complete it. The aft exhaust nozzles and exhaust plates were painted and then I used pastel chalk to weather them. The front exhaust nozzles were painted and the inside was also weathered with pastel chalk.

The wings were built up along with the drop tanks and installed them. I then began painting the base coat of paint on the upper section I used FS36118 and for the underside I used FS36173. I installed the main nose gear and main aft landing gear. I am working on the wing landing gear. Many have said that these will require adjustment so that all four landing gear sit properly. I have had to do this on previous Harrier models. Once the aircraft sits correctly on the gear I can do some more detail painting then onto the custom decals.

The fourth week of the Harrier build has been a little tedious. First was installing the outer landing gear. These were about 1mm too short. This caused the aircraft to wobble on the main gear. I cut small strips of 1mm styrene and added them to the mounting points of the struts.  Now the aircraft sits evenly on all for landing gear struts. I then worked on the AIM-9 missiles. The kit missiles looked a little too thick and had mold marks on the tail fins. I have a couple boxes of the Meng 1/48 weapons and decided to use these. The wing shape, size, and details looked much better. So I built these up, painted, and added decals.

Next came installing the decals. I used some extras for the standard markings and then trimmed and started adding the decals I made for the particular scheme. I used white film decal sheets to print up the decals. It took a couple of tries to get the background color to match the paint. The shark mouth decal took a little bit of time to size it correctly as well.

Finally I did a lot of detail painting for the nose, ECM sensors, refueling probe, and some general touch ups. I need to make the pilots name decal and then I can begin the weathering to match the reference photo before applying the top coat. I can then finish up the canopy and external light details. Hoping to have this completed by the end of the week and then prepare it for shipping to the client.

The fifth and final week of the VMA-223 build is complete! I completed the final touches on the fuselage. I added a clear lens on the nose gear after previously drilling out the molded light. The dorsal light was cut off and a clear lens was added and painted with clear red. The HUD and windscreen was then installed. Next I added the det cord decal to the inside if the canopy and attached it to the canopy frame. The canopy assembly was then placed in the open position so the cockpit details could be seen.

I did some final touch-ups on the weathering and this build was completed. As for a review of the kit, it was a nice kit to build up. The landing gear just required some minor adjustments so it could sit on the gear correctly. The fit of the parts was very good. I did not use the kit decals which by the way were minimal. I would recommend buying an aftermarket set that includes all the placards and correct decals. The resin 1/48 Eduard AN/ AAQ-28(V) Litening pod has some nice details and the decals are very accurate. The only downside is it would have been better if they had clear lenses and maybe some internal details behind them.

All that is left now is to pack the aircraft carefully and ship it out to the client. Thank you for following along. Happy Modeling!

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close