Build Date: Nov. 12 Start, Finished Dec 10, 2017
I received this new kit from Raymond of Kinetic/Lucky Model while I was in Hong Kong in November 2017. I am obligated to build this kit as soon as I can and give him feedback on his new kit.
This is the newly released 1:48 Harrier two-seater trainer from Kinetic. This kit is of particular interest to me as this kit is made from a new mould and their newly acquired injection machine. From first inspection of the parts, it appears to be very promising as the parts are flash free, crisp in details and the panel lines are deep enough for panel wash after a coat of paint. A detailed kit review has been done by Brett Green on Hyperscale. As this is a trainer aircraft minimum amount of external stores are provided on two sprues. On inspection of the kit’s instructions, it appears this will be an easy to build model and I should be able to finish this within a month.
The kit provides decals for ten aircrafts. The decals are by Cartograf and so we can expect good quality. From the choice of markings, I have elected to do the Spanish Navy’s TAV-8S Matador. The decals provide markings for aircraft 808. When I was searching the Internet for details of this aircraft I found photos of this aircraft sporting a shark mouth nose art during IAT 94 (International Air Tattoo) airshow at RAF Fairford, England, July 1994. This kit provides all the markings for this plane except for the shark mouth hence, I will be making the nose art decals for it. If anyone wishes to make this aircraft, note that the decal is available from a Spanish decal maker, however, the cost including tax and shipping is almost the price of the kit!
I start the build with the cockpit. The kit cockpit is truly excellent straight out of the box. The kit seats for the Martin Baker Type 9D1-Mk2 are accurate and very detailed for a kit seat. Seat belts for the seats are provided with kit as photoedge parts. I am not a fan of photoedge seat belts as they look stiff so I opted to detail the seat with my own scratch builds. I stretch fine diameter rods from the kit sprue tree to make the protective cage on the right side of the seats and the seat top ejection pull handles. I made the seat back cushion and seat belts from Milliput model putty and the buckles details cut from thin styrene stock.
To make the decal for the shark mouth, I first draw the image on the model. I applied matt clear tape to the nose of the fuselage to use as the drawing surface. I use lead pencil and freehand draw the image according to my reference photos. Since the image is symmetrical about the centerline of the plane, I only need to draw one side of the shark mouth up to the fuselage joint. After I am satisfied that my drawing matches that of the real plane, I remove the tape and scan the image to my computer as a JPEG image for manipulation on a drawing software. In the software, I clean up the image pixel by pixel and then mirror the image about the centerline to create the complete shark mouth. I print a copy of the marking on paper and then cut out the image to test fit it on the model. It fits perfectly. Next step is to print the image on white decal paper and hand paint the colour.
If you would like to make this same decal for this model, just click the below link for my graphics file of the shark mouth. Click for shark mouth graphics file
The cockpit is painted in a medium grey colour. I picked Gunze H350 as the colour of choice and it seems to match up well with photos of the real plane. The side walls are well represented and moulded with deep and clear details. However, the raised details on the instrument panels and the side consoles of the cockpit are very shallow. This makes it very difficult to paint the details. I patiently dry brush the details with white paint to make them stand out. Thank goodness the instrument panels will be hidden by the shroud and the dials and other details won’t be visible in the completed cockpit. I applied instrument dial decals only to the lower portions of the instrument panels as these might be visible outside the shroud.
The wheel wells, speed brakes wells, and the intake assembly are all moulded in individual panels. This feature enables Kinetic to mould deep details of hydraulics and pipings on these side walls.
The instruction ask us to cut the intake shroud into halves and glue each halves to each fuselage walls. I don’t think this is the best way to assemble this and so I ignore the instruction. I assembled the complete engine intake assembly as a whole and then force fit it into one side of the fuselage as shown on below. The fuselage half has enough flex so it is perfectly fine to push the intake behind the cockpit tub. It is important to push the intake assembly as far forward as possible to ensure the shroud edge is flushed with the intake fuselage joint, as you will see in the following photo why this is so.
Before assembling the intakes, I painted the intake shrouds with gloss white paint and the compressor blades with Alclad aluminum paint.
I want to model the auxiliary air inlet doors in the open position. On a Harrier, these doors are alway dropped open on gravity when the engine is shut off. I noticed that the glue joint for the intake shroud to the fuselage joint can seen through the open doors. After the fuselage halves are glued together, I applied putty to the top part of the intake shroud joint and sand that smooth to make it look seamless. I carefully re-spray the putty area with gloss white paint.
After sanding and touch up painting, the seam would not appear when looking through the open doors.
Assembly of the model is very straightforward and no particularly bothersome joints to fix. Very little putty is required to fill in at joints. The joints at the air intakes to the fuselage have noticeable gaps.
Instead of using modelling putty to fill in the gaps inside the air intakes, I got the inspiration to use my white caulking material instead. I used this material to fill in gaps during my house renovation projects and I thought it would do well in this particular modelling application. A bit of the caulking was applied to the joints with the tip of an applicator. Then I blend smooth the caulking with a Q-tip wetted with tap water. The white colour of the caulking blended in perfectly with the white interior of the intakes and I won’t even have to repaint at the touch-up area.
For the Spanish Navy paint scheme, I painted the top side of the model with Gunze H315 (FS16440), and Tamiya White X-2 for the bottom. The fin and the nose cone was painted with Gunze H2 Gloss Black. Model Master Fluorescent Red FS28915 was the perfect colour for the high vis paint at the tail cone. I sprayed the model with 2 coats of Future floor wax to achieve a glossy and smooth surface for the decals to go on.
I printed my shark mouth decals on white decal paper using my colour inkjet printer. I opted to paint the red lip of the mouth by hand.
Decaling of the model continues and it is almost done.
After decaling, I washed the panel lines with a mix of medium grey enamel wash to highlite the panel lines and slightly dirty up the underside of the aircraft. Kinetics did a fine job of making the recessed panel lines depth on this model just right. The grooves are deep enough as it takes on a wash very easily and the wash stays inside the grooves during the removal stage.
Finally, the model is sprayed with a light coat of MIG Matt Varnish and followed by a light coat of Future floor wax to achieve a semi-gloss finish. I used a little bit of transparent white glue to tack the canopies to the model. The canopies fit perfectly to the model in the closed position.
Following the reference photo of this aircraft, I choose to display the model with the smaller 100 gal wing tanks and loaded the outboard hard-mount with just an empty missile rail.
I really enjoyed building this model kit from Kinetics. The fit up of the parts were worry free and only slight clean up of the joints with a sanding stick and putty were needed. The shape looks accurate when compared to photos of the real twin seater. Even without enhancing the cockpit and the seats, I think any modeller can produce a fine model of this interesting Harrier variant. The only critique I have of this kit is the instructions could be made easier to understand and the decal instruction should be printed larger and the text more legible as I found them blurry.
I fully recommend this kit to any modellers looking to build a 2-seater Harrier Trainer aircraft.