Wednesday, April 13, 2011


SMN looks at a kit from China
The GR7 Harrier’s maiden flight was in May 1990, with first combat duties over the former Yugoslavia in August 1995. The aircraft was an important part of the UK Harrier fleet, all of which have recently been retired in a round of massive defence spending cuts. Now UK forces fly no Harriers at all, but you have a chance to make your own Harrier Memorial display with this fine 1:32 scale injection kit from the Chinese company Trumpeter.

What’s in the box?
This Harrier is satisfyingly large in 1:32 scale, a size that has given Trumpeter a chance to really pack in the detail, and the component count too, for there are more than 440 parts on 22 runners in the box, plus photo-etch and rubber-like tyres. There are several evenings work here in assembly alone, without counting detail work, painting and weathering.

Complex canopy
Trumpeter has gone to a lot of trouble with this one, including using special slide-moulding for the fuselage and canopy - it’s a special technique that allows complex 3D shapes (the canopy has a bubble cross-section) to be accurately produced.

Component breakdown
There’s a decent level of cockpit detail, and the Pegasus engine is well done too. As you can see from the pictures, Trumpeter’s design team decided to produce the fuselage in front and rear sections, rather than the standard left and right half configuration that’s the usual component breakdown. It’s a good idea for bigger kits like this, as the possibility of warping is reduced. Mind you, the real life Harrier is not a huge aircraft, so even at 1:32 scale, you have a model which can still just about sit on a shelf top - when assembled it is 452 mm (17.8 in) long, with a wingspan of 291 mm (11.5 in).  

SMN score
This is one of the bigger kits of the Harrier, and one of the best, too. There are few fit and finish issues, though the canopy needs very careful parting from its runner, and the edges polished smooth. Soft tyres for main and outrigger undercarriage are satisfying extras, and help supply that little bit of extra realism. For Harrier lovers, we’d say a solid 8.9/10, which is enough to hit a top score if you put in the effort on the so important final detailing. 

The Trumpeter GR7 is coming soon, meantime the AV-8B version to the same scale is available here.

Pix courtesy Trumpeter, SMN studio. 
Thanks to Andrew Clarke for the Harrier GR7a pic.